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The President Whose Quarter Life Crisis Was Worse Than Yours

You’ve been working really hard for the past few years. You have pursued some of your passions and let others fly by. Now you look around and realize that time is marching past faster than you anticipated. You are not capturing each moment aggressively enough. Your golden youth is fading and you still don’t know what you are doing with your life.

If it is any comfort, I know a guy from small town Kansas who could tell you a thing or two about the quarter life crisis. At 30 years old this guy, let’s call him Harry, didn’t have much. He didn’t have a house, a car, or a job. The only thing he could really claim as his own was a cartload of debt from a failed business venture. He dropped out of college (due to lack of funds) and moved back in with his mom. He proposed to his long-time crush and she had completely rejected him, multiple times.

But you know the thing about Harry was, he didn’t let the loneliness and social pressure of his late twenties get him down. Instead he continued marching forward as best as he could, taking every new setback and strike of bad luck (and believe me, he had plenty of them) with a sideways smile and determination to recover. He kept on working hard, regardless of whispered snickers around him. And he kept on proposing to his sweetheart.

Can you guess what happened to Harry?

He didn’t fall into unrecoverable depression and spend the rest of his day’s in his mother’s basement. He did become one of the most influential presidents in American history. He did join Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in creating the treaties that ended World War Two. He did successfully lead the country through a post-war recession and issue the Marshal Plan to rebuild Europe. He did create the Truman Doctrine to contain communism during the cold war. He did oversee the Berlin airlift and assist in the founding of the United Nations and NATO. Oh, and he did eventually woo his stubborn country girl sweetheart and marry her.

Harry Truman

According to gumtree.com,  86% of the 1,100 young people they surveyed admitted feeling under pressure to succeed in their relationships, finances, and jobs before hitting 30. More and more 25-30 year-olds seem to be simultaneously battling increased social pressure and loneliness, a killer combo. The Depression Alliance estimates that a third of twenty-somethings are depressed.

However, although the quarter life crisis may be rampant, it does not have to be a negative experience. Dr. Oliver Robinson, from the University of Greenwich in London, studies the quarter life crisis extensively. His research has convinced him that it could have positive benefits. In fact, he thinks it may be a necessary part of growing up:

“The results will help reassure those who are experiencing this transition that it is a commonly experienced part of early adult life and that a proven pattern of positive change results from it.”

Alice Stapelton is a life coach who focuses on helping people undergoing the quarter life crisis. She told Forbes:

“The Quarter Life Crisis should not be regarded as a negative experience; it is about questioning what you have created in your life already, and asking yourself if you could achieve more by choosing different goals or career paths.”

The trouble is that social media makes it impossibly easy to compare ourselves to an unrealistic version of our peers. Social Media gives people the ability to portray themselves in an ideal way, or “put on their Sunday best” as Stapelton put it.

Imagine if Harry Truman had been on social media comparing his humble farming life to his friend’s brand new finance job and yellow mustang rather than following his own path and setting his own goals.

The trick to making the most of a quarter life crisis is to learn to set your own goals and stick to them. Stapelton puts it perfectly:

“Becoming an adult is about learning to set your own timelines, not trying to match your parents’ or friends’ achievements.”

We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and focus on who we are, what we want to do with our lives, and how we plan to accomplish those goals.

If you have to compare yourself to anyone, forget the glitzy friends of friends on instagram and remember Harry Truman’s humble roots. Through hard work and perseverance, you can propel yourself through the quarter-life slumps to a happy and fulfilled adulthood.

Life Hacks, Personal Productivity, Productivity & Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism

Author: Greg McKeown Publication date: 2014

Publisher: Crown Business

Length: 261

Rating: 5/5

As I pursue a life of maximum productivity, I’ve enjoyed reading as a way to decompress and learn from experts about how to make the most of my time.  One of the best books I’ve read about productivity so far, is Essentialism, by Greg McKeown.

Essentialism is more than just tips for being  productive. It offers a whole new outlook on life, work, and time management. McKeown’s premise is that being incredibly busy is not necessarily a good sign. In fact, a lot of the time we stay so busy doing nonessential stuff that we don’t have time for the things that are truly important to us.

Our current work culture tends to glorify those who seem able to handle a superhuman amount of work. However, just because someone is heading up three projects, starting a freelance business on the side, organizing a local running club, and volunteering as a little league coach doesn’t mean that said person is happy and productive. In fact, less could be more both for work and life. If we can learn to say no to the things that aren’t absolutely essential to us, we will have more time to focus on things that really matter. Essentialism is about doing less better.

One of my favorite parts of the book were the simple illustrations and charts inserted throughout the text. They broke up the pages and made the book fun and easy to read. Though the graphics were simple, the way he was able to represent his points visually was powerful.

essentialism

McKeown didn’t just study essentialism, while writing his book he practiced what he preached. A lot of business related books I read drag on way longer than they should. The actual juice could have been condensed into an 800 word blog post. It is frustrating to have to comb through a lot of unnecessary filler paragraphs to get to the value. Essentialism isn’t like that. I learned something new and was inspired afresh by each chapter and almost every paragraph.

thomas jefferson
Life Hacks, Personal Productivity, Productivity & Lifestyle

Lessons in Productivity from Thomas Jefferson

When you sell your time for a living, being as productive as possible becomes a huge priority. I enjoy looking to experts to learn about life. Thomas Jefferson may be just the right guy to go to to learn more about productivity. What did he know about it? Well he managed to fit organizing a successful revolution, developing the government of a new country, serving as Secretary of State, establishing religious freedom and separation of church and state in the U.S., serving as Vice President of the United States, founding a university, serving as President of the United States, reducing the federal debt by 25 percent, doubling the size of the U.S, authoring two of the most important documents in American history, raising two daughters, and much much more into his eighty-three years of life.

How did he manage?

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Life Hacks, Personal Productivity, Productivity & Lifestyle

So You Wanna Get More Done? Take a Break!

If you are feeling grumpy, tired, or just unsatisfied with your current level of productivity, maybe what you really need is to take a break! Alejandro Lleras at the University of Illinois, conducted a study based on the idea that the brain counts constant stimulus as unimportant. He said:

The brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. For example, most people are not aware of the sensation of clothing touching their skin. The body becomes “habituated” to the feeling and the stimulus no longer registers in any meaningful way in the brain.

James A. Levine, a mayo clinic professor, suggests increasing productivity by breaking up 15 minute intervals of intense work with short bits of fun and rest. He says, “The thought process is not designed to be continuous.”

As I was researching this topic, I came across a few tips for how to make the most of your short breaks:

Move!

Humans aren’t meant to sit for hours upon hours at a time. Getting up and walking around, even for a few minutes, can help your circulation flow which subsequently improves productivity.

Turn off the Screen

Although checking your twitter feed or scrolling through personal social media is a tempting and easy way to spend a relaxation break, your mind does not recover efficiently when it is bombarded with the information overload on your smart phone or computer screen. A little bit of social media is fine, but make sure you turn it off at some point. Perhaps lunch break is a good time to try and keep your phone turned off. Go outside, catch some sunshine.

Socialize

An interesting article from Gallup Business Journal points out that humans are social creatures. A few recent studies have linked business environments with lots of social interaction to increased productivity. So don’t be afraid to take an extra five minutes to strike up a conversation with a colleague.

Take a Nap

According to research quoted by Forbes.com:

The 10-minute nap produced immediate improvements in all outcome measures (including sleep latency, subjective sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance), with some of these benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes.

The take away here is that your brain is a muscle that needs tending to. While short hard bursts of exercise can help build it up, it cannot function at top performance for extended periods of time. Many top grossing companies have recognized the importance of proper breaks. For example, the headquarters of Ben and Jerry’s, AOL, and Zappos all provide napping rooms for their employees. HBO, Nike, Forbes, and Apple offer on-site yoga classes. Google has a food pantry, bowling alley, and napping pods. Zynga (the company that made Cityville and Farmville) offers their employees relaxation lounges. Here at Tapity, we’ll take all this research as justification for our ping pong table.