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Featured Articles

For Better Creativity, Don’t Let Your Hourly Wage Dictate How You Spend Your Day

“What’s that?” I ask myself as I pore over my time sheets. “I’m making hundreds of dollars an hour doing this, but only a few dollars per hour doing that?”

I’ve been working hard this year to increase my income, and this is my new hobby—figuring out how much money the different things I do make over time. I use a timer to track and record each of my business tasks so that, every so often, I can look back and see what work is most productive for my bank account.

But just as interesting as peeking at the inner workings of my business is the effect it’s had on other areas of my life. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been great. The more I increase my hourly wage, the more irritable and stressed out I get when I feel like I’m using my time unproductively.

Not just at work; everywhere. Watching a movie with my wife. Wasted time. Taking the dogs out. Wasted time. Driving into town to see friends. Wasted time.

When you’re working to increase your income, there are tradeoffs to make—you don’t get to just snap your fingers and make more money—but what I didn’t realize as I started this experiment is that I was falling into a subconscious trap: putting a dollar value on every hour.

Ever felt like you were in the same trap? The more you earned, the more stressed out you became? You’re not alone, and here are some ideas to solve the problem.

Continue Reading →

Ikea Effect: The Science Of Labor, Love, And Crappy Furniture

A home down the street from me went up for sale the other day. It’s fun to keep track of the market activity around me, so I stopped by the open house to meet the realtor. When I got to the door and saw the asking price, though, my jaw dropped.

They’re asking how much for… that!?

Since I keep track of real estate activity, I immediately knew they were asking at least $30,000 too much. “How could they possibly think they’ll get that much for it?” I wondered.

The realtor greeted me and told me a bit about the owner. She had the home built herself and customized every aspect of it to her taste. She picked the carpets, countertops, fixtures, tiles, and paint colors. She’d really poured her creative energy—and a lot of labor—into this place. She saw it as a masterpiece.

Unfortunately, I saw a house like any other but with paint colors I’d never choose.

The seller was suffering a case of what’s know as Ikea Effect—a psychological phenomenon that explains how we come to love and value the things we put effort into.

In this case, our home seller was experiencing the negative side of the Ikea Effect, but there are a few positive ones you should know about because they can, in fact, save you a lot of money (or even make you a lot) and add an extra layer of happiness to your life.Continue Reading →

Making Excuses: Two Tales Of Extreme Hardship Illustrate The Science Of Success (And How To Emulate It)

Little 11-year-old James had a big, very impractical idea. He was going to graduate from high school. Before you dismiss what would seem a pretty average accomplishment for most, consider his story.

James lived in rural, war-torn Uganda. He lost his entire family to disease by the time he was six and was raised by his poor grandmother who didn’t earn enough for the $130/quarter tuition.

A high school diploma was not in the cards for James.You could hardly blame him if he saw his goal as impossible and gave up to go work in the fields.

But he didn’t. Instead, he and his grandmother devised a crazy plan that would secure the financing he needed to finish school. All he needed to start was a goat to sell. His grandmother was able to sell one of hers and, with the proceeds, James was able to buy shoes, a change of clothes, and a ticket for an 8-hour bus ride to the capital city where he’d stay with his aunt.

That’s where the plan gets really interesting. To get the money necessary for school, he needed to sneak into the president’s compound and ask for help. He’d have to scale a barbed-wire fence and get past the armed security guards but once inside, he learned, he’d be greeted warmly and given money for tuition.

So that’s what he did. And—to everyone’s amazement—it worked. Today, at age 32, James has two masters degrees and a great job. [1]

Making excuses and giving up would have been easy. The hurdles between 11-year-old James and James of today were immense. But something deep inside compelled him to take responsibility for his life and do whatever it took to realize his goal.

At the age of 11, James had mastered his psychology and brought his dreams to life. His story is heroic, but it’s also well-explained by science. Regardless your situation in life, there’s a direct link between the excuses you make for yourself and how much success you achieve.

If you have big plans for yourself—but you see immense hurdles in front of you—you’ll need to learn to be like James.Continue Reading →

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