The Tyranny of Choice and Its Repercussions

What if too much choice is bad for us? Is it possible many modern ills can be laid at the feet of our unbridled options and their consequences? Could it be that this uncertainty we’re feeling is down to there being too many decisions? Perhaps, instead of liberating us, all these decisions we have to make oppress us instead.

Are we living in a tyranny of choice?

The term ‘Tyranny of Choice’ is not mine (I wish). Instead, it was coined by the psychologist Barry Schwartz. The idea, as he explains in an article, is that while we believe as a society that more choice is better, research shows that’s not necessarily true. For many, more choice creates less well-being.

The reason that some experience a fall in well-being is down to something Schwartz calls ‘maximizing’. Mind you, we don’t all do this. Some of us are ‘satisficers’ – or willing to go with the first option that satisfies our criteria. So, if a satisficer is buying toothpaste they’ll grab the first box that satisfies their conditions – say one that says ‘extra fresh’ on the label.

For maximizers that’s not enough, though. They’re after the best. So, even when they find one product that is good enough they keep going. Then, after they’ve found several, they’ll compare them. As you can probably guess, the more products there are, the harder their choice becomes. How do you decide how different dimensions compare? For example, how do flavor, quality, cleaning power, if it was made ethically, price, and size compare when buying toothpaste?
Continue reading The Tyranny of Choice and Its Repercussions

The Four Principles of How to be Lucky (According to Science!)

In some moments our lives seem far luckier than at others. Like when you go traveling the first time. For those months everything just seems to go your way. You meet interesting people, find opportunities and have a ton of lucky coincidences – way more than before. It’s like your charmed or something.

But for a logical person who doesn’t believe in superstition that can’t be, right? Luck is random, after all.

Well, it turns out that it might not be entirely true. It’s quite possible to actually be luckier during some times than others. And it’s not down to fairy dust, lucky numbers or your astrology sign.

Instead, according to psychologist Richard Wiseman’s book the Luck Factor, being lucky comes down to behavior and beliefs. In his book, he discusses four principles which separate the lucky from the rest. It would seem that during those lucky times, like when we first start traveling, we unconsciously embrace those behaviors.

Now imagine what you could do if you were consciously aware of those principles. Then you could take steps to enhance them in your daily life and end up not just with periods of good luck but a whole life filled with it.

For that reason, without further ado, here they are (along with a few observations of my own, of course).
Continue reading The Four Principles of How to be Lucky (According to Science!)

6+ Simple Insights To Make Your Query Letter More Effective

Do you loathe the query letter? I sure did when I started out. And it wasn’t just because I didn’t know how to write them, but also because when I did it was so damned hard to figure out what to make of the feedback I got back.

I mean, there are so many reasons somebody might not get back to you or turn you down when they do. Yes, obviously they might not be impressed by your letter. But it’s as likely they’re overworked, got distracted or don’t need any freelancers. The problem is, you don’t know which it is. And so, often you end up trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

To help you avoid that fate, today I’ll explore what I’ve learned over the years about writing query letters. In that way, you might have a guiding light and won’t have to learn by trial and error like I did.
Continue reading 6+ Simple Insights To Make Your Query Letter More Effective

Why We Resist Change, How to Convince People and Cultural Antibodies

Have you also noticed the teeth gnashing in intellectual circles? Just check out serious magazines like The New Yorker, Scientific American and The Economist. They’re all talking about how we’re not half as logical as we think we are. And with good reason. The pile of research about the subject is getting bigger by the day.

  • There is cognitive dissonance. This says that if we hold two beliefs that are contradictory, we’ll distort one of them until they once more get along. Often – like I discussed in my article 3 Big Mental Mistakes – we prefer distorting the evidence rather than our dearly held beliefs.
  • Then you’ve got the confirmation bias. It makes us disregard evidence that contradicts our position while paying extra attention to the stuff that confirms it. Heck, we even forget events that contradict our held beliefs!

  • As if that wasn’t enough, there is the backfire effect. Here when you show people evidence that their core beliefs hold no water, they don’t change their minds. Instead, they come to believe more strongly in their original positions.
    Continue reading Why We Resist Change, How to Convince People and Cultural Antibodies

How To Be More Proactive And Boost Your Freelancing Success

When you’re reactive, you treat the symptoms that you have. When you’re proactive you prevent the sickness from ever arriving. Sure, in some lines of work you might be able to get along without being proactive. Perhaps if you work on the factory line you don’t have to be.

Freelancing is not one of those fields.

There, proactivity decides if you’re going to prosper or perish. Heck, even the strain of freelancing will be inversely proportional to how proactive you are. This is because being proactive will let you counter the natural freelancing cycle. You might see a period of slow work coming and push extra hard to find new clients to fill the gaps. It is also how you keep yourself and your skill set current. And that’s the only way you can stay ahead of the curve.

This makes it an essential freelancing skill. So what do you do if you don’t have it? That’s what we’re going to cover in this article at the hands of:

Why Experimenting Will Make You A More Successful Writer

It happens to us all at one time or another. You find a formula and a groove that work well for you and settle into it. For a time it works. You improve, write more engaging texts, boost your readabilty, and get more popular. Then the effect tapers out. You plateau. You know you have to change things up, but you don’t know how.

Your groove has become a rut.

What’s more, you’re afraid. You’ve been doing things in one way for a while now. What if you change things up and your readers don’t like it? Or what if you can’t write in the way you’d like to? Wracked with indecision you keep going the way you are. It’s not so much that you think ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ but more that you don’t actually know what to fix.

I hear you. I understand your pain. I’ve been there myself. (As I said, it happens to us all). Still, you can’t let that fear rule your writing. It’s time to, be more proactive, change it up and start experimenting if you want to be a successful writer. In the rest of this article, I’ll explain why.
Continue reading Why Experimenting Will Make You A More Successful Writer

Why It Is So Important To Be Part Of A Community

We don’t understand ourselves that well. The more time the behavioral sciences spend studying us, the more judgement errors they find. For example, Daniel Gilbert spends a whole book on how bad we are at figuring out what makes us happy.

At the heart of the digital nomad life resides a similar misconception. We have an inborn need to belong and be part of a community. And yet many people seek out this life to be free and unattached. They don’t seem to realize that when a need goes unfulfilled it ends up dominating your mental landscape. (Try locking yourself in a room without seeing anybody for a week if you don’t believe me). And when a need goes unfulfilled it ends up leeching the color and enjoyment out of everything else.

Yes, I did cover this at length in why most digital nomads fail. Don’t worry. I’m not going to get into that side of it again. Instead, today I’d like to discuss the other side of the coin. If we have an evolved need to belong what advantage does our community give us? To paraphrase Mont Python, what has the community ever done for us? And why if it is so meaningful, do so many of us fail to recognize it for being as important as it is?
Continue reading Why It Is So Important To Be Part Of A Community

How To Easily Crush Your Bad Habits On The Road

There is so much going on when you’re living on the road that it can be hard to stay productive. That can be stressful. At the same time, it’s not all bad news. In one regard, the road gives you a huge advantage. It allows you to easily crush your bad habits.

How so? Because many habits are at least in part linked to things and places. For example, seeing the balcony might cue you to smoke. Similarly, when you pass that doughnut place where you know everybody, the call to go in can be irresistible. When you’re on the road, all those external signals fall away. This makes it easier to shed those nasty unconscious subroutines that you’d rather get rid of.
Continue reading How To Easily Crush Your Bad Habits On The Road

What You Need To Know To Avoid Digital Nomad Scams

Hey, I get it. You want to get in on the digital nomad life. Who doesn’t? Travel the world, see some beautiful places, wake up to the sound of waves and make money all the while. It’s living the dream (and yes, that’s still true even if you disregard the myths or the disconnect). But that can soon turn into a nightmare if you can’t avoid digital nomad scams.

I even get why that happens. People get so excited they lead with their heart instead of their head and end up leaping before they’ve looked. That’s dangerous. There are sharks in these waters.

I talked to Pieter Levels from Nomad List about this. “Getting a digital skill is ruthlessly hard,” he told me, while “building a business takes years.” In our instant gratification society, many don’t want to wait that long. “So they try to find a shortcut.” And that’s where the scammers come in.

In effect, it’s another version of the get rich quick scheme, but this time with swaying palm trees in the background.
Continue reading What You Need To Know To Avoid Digital Nomad Scams

3 Big Mental Mistakes Which Distort How You See The World

Your brain is a pretty damn amazing, but it’s hardly perfect. It is riddled with innate biases, oversights and weak spots that can lead you astray. Even worse, unlike other tools, you can’t put it aside and use something else for a while. The result is that often you’re blind to the unconscious mental mistakes you’re making.

In fact, most people are convinced that other people make mental mistakes but they themselves don’t. This mistake is called the ‘bias blind spot’. It’s not a bad name though I prefer the ‘I know you are, but what am I?’ bias. Whatever you call it, it might be the worst ones out there as it means you take no action to correct your other errors.

It’s like that rude friend who keeps offending people but insists it’s everybody else’s fault.
Continue reading 3 Big Mental Mistakes Which Distort How You See The World