The Myth of Passion

It seems as though everyone is talking about “passion” these days. From bloggers to career counsellors to even post-secondary institutions. The mantra takes on different forms, but usually contains elements of “find your passion and the money will follow,” “if you do the thing you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,”  and the like.

The implications are usually quite simple: everyone has a passion, a thing they love to do more than anything else, and if you’re not doing that thing, you’re missing out. And how do you know when you’ve found your passion? Well, lightning strikes, the heavens open up, there’s a glorious rainbow — in other words, “you just know”.

Finding Your Passion

So there’s a lot of people out there spending a lot of time (and money!) on books, exercises and programs intended to help them discover their passion.

But what of the people who get frustrated and feel like they’re going nowhere (maybe even going backwards!) every time they try to discover their passion. The message coming from all sides seems to be clear: everyone has a passion. If you can’t find it, there’s something wrong — either with your approach, or (gasp!) with you. Try harder. Try this other program. Do more soul-searching.

It can be devastating.

If you’ve found yourself in that position, I want to let you in on a little secret. There’s a good reason you may never find your one true passion: you may not have one.

The Myth of Passion

Okay, before you all start flogging me or rapidly unsubscribing from the site, hear me out.

Some people simply love many things. Rather than having all their energy funnelled into one passion, they distribute it across many things that they love equally. There are no angelic choirs, no booming voices from the sky, and no electric sparks. There’s never one thing that jumps out above all else as something you were truly born to do.

And that’s perfectly okay.

Yes, it’s okay to love painting and abstract mathematics and classical Latin and quantum physics and playing the jaw harp. It’s okay, even fantastic, to love all of them equally, and to be unable to choose one of them as your “true passion.” And you know what? You don’t need to.

Doing What You Love

The “find your passion” mentality tells us that our life’s work should be related to our one true passion. That turns out to be not very helpful to those of us who don’t have a solitary passion. So what do we do instead?

First, stop focusing on finding your passion. The longer you spend searching for that one thing, the less time you’ll have to actually do the things you enjoy.

Second, give yourself permission to explore the things you love. Yes, that’s plural. Remember, you’re not supposed to be looking for one thing — instead, realize it’s okay to spend your days doing more than just one thing! (This isn’t really all that novel — after all, no one ever only does one thing between waking and falling asleep — but it’s just rarely said out loud)

Third, do that which you love. It’s that simple, really. If you enjoy doing something, then do it. It doesn’t have to have lightning bolts, it doesn’t have to make you boatloads of money (although somewhere along the line, you’ll probably want some income, somewhere), it doesn’t have to be done for more than 5 minutes at a time (unless you want to) and it doesn’t even have to be important. It just has to be something that you like doing. End of story.

What If You Don’t Know What You Love?

Realizing that you can have many loves is liberating — but it can also be paralysing to suddenly be free. It’s like the prisoner who is released from prison for the first time in a decade, who just wants to go back to his cell because the opportunities “out there” are just too overwhelming.

There’s an exercise in Barbara Sher’s bestselling book Wishcraft (available for free to read online) in which you are challenged to describe your ideal day. For a long time, I was stuck trying to complete the exercise. I couldn’t figure out what I would want to do so much that I would want to do it more than anything else on that ideal day.

I’d fallen victim to the myth of passion. I thought my ideal day should be comprised of me doing the thing (or maybe two things) that I loved more than anything else in the world. And I kept drawing a blank; I couldn’t think of a single thing.

So I asked my Twitter friends for advice, and of course, they came through in spades. It’s not hard to figure out what you enjoy, or what you love to do. Simply think back to what you’ve enjoyed doing in the past. When was the last time you had a good time? And the time before that? It might have been a simple 5 minute breakfast with your significant other, it might have been a day out in the mountains, whatever.

What you enjoy and love doesn’t have to be grand, and it doesn’t have to be the first thing that jumps out as “oh my god, do I ever love doing X” (although, you might have a couple of those!). It just has to be something that made you feel good while you were doing it.

And you can have as many of those somethings as you like. The myth of passion is simply that: a myth. You may not have one. You may have as many as there are stars in the sky. And that’s okay.

The Private Eye Guide to Self-Discovery

If you’re like me, you’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out who, exactly, you are. What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you enjoy doing? What are your passions? Who are you, anyway?

There are dozens of different ways you can approach this question. You can introspect and examine your life until you come up with an answer. You can ask those around you for their impressions. You can find answers in religion or culture. You can take any number of quizzes to give you your personality types.

Today I want to share with you a fun way to start unlocking some of that self-discovery: 30 minutes as a Private Eye.

The Private Eye Approach

One of the most fun and impactful ways that I’ve found to discover things about yourself is to put on your detective cap and visually investigate the world you’ve created. 

The basic idea for this private eye approach to self-discovery is based on the idea that the spaces we create around us are external representations of our inner selves.

Now, if that sounds kind of esoteric and wierd, stick with me for a moment — it’s actually based on research done by psychologist Samuel Gosling. Gosling did an experiment to determine whether you could learn as much about a complete stranger by spending 15 minutes in the place where they live, as you could by being that same person’s close friend.

The results were remarkable — in many cases, 15 minutes was enough for a complete stranger to come up with a more accurate survey of the person than their friends had been able to provide.

Part of the reason is that we tend to put on faces for those around us. We act in certain ways, disguising our “true nature” (often unintentionally) because we want to make a certain impression. But when we think no one is looking, or when allow our subconscious to manifest itself, a very different picture may arise.

(Thin-)Slice Of Life

The Private Eye exercise is intended to get you looking at your life from a different angle and a fresh perspective.

Your initial impressions can give you accurate insight, even when you only examine something from an abstracted perspective or for a very brief period of time. It’s a technique known as ‘thin-slicing’, and as I mentioned above, research shows that it’s an incredibly accurate way of gathering information and making decisions.

Malcolm Gladwell’s describes some of this research in his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Here’s a quote from that book:

Gosling says, for example, that a person’s bedroom gives three kinds of clues to his or her personality. There are, first of all, identity claims, which are deliberate expressions about how we would like to be seen by the world… Then ther is behavioral residue, which is defined as the inadvertent clues we leave behind… Finally, there are thoughts and feelings regulators, which are changes we make to our personal spaces to affect the way we feel when we inhabit them…

Just as important, though, is the information you don’t have when you look through someone’s belongings. What you avoid when you don’t meet someone face to face are all the confusing and complicated and ultimately irrelevant pieces of information that can screw up your judgement.

In other words, by simply taking in all the information and clues that you’ve created in an environment, even a complete stranger can get an astonishingly accurate picture of who you really are — a potentially more accurate picture than if they were to meet you in person.

Pick Your Spots

You’ll need to determine a space that you will ‘snoop around’ in. Bedrooms are good for this, although if you didn’t exactly have a say in designing the room, it may not be as revealing. In general, you want to identify a space that you spend a lot of time in.

It also needs to be a space that you’ve had an impact on — be it the magazine you were reading, the bookshelf you organized, or the bowl you didn’t take back to the kitchen after dessert last night. And it should be a space that you’re in fairly frequently. Daily, or even multiple times a day, is best.

For some people, a home office is a good option. Even the cubicle you call your own at work can be suitable, so long as when you look around it,  you can see that you’ve had an impact on the space. It is important to choose as large a space as possible — for example, don’t just choose the kitchen table, but instead, focus on the whole room.

Really, you only need to identify one space, but if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can do any number of rooms. It can be a good way to spend a lazy afternoon or evening.

Go Under Cover

You may wonder how exactly this space can possibly tell you anything about yourself that you don’t already know. After all, you have already met yourself in person (many times!) and you look at your personal space every day.

The trick is to step back, remove your ‘self’ from the process, and try to look at your surroundings abstractly.

Remember when you were a kid, and you’d play dress up? You’d put on a certain shirt, or hat, or funny glasses with nose attached, and all of a sudden, it was like you were someone else. Actors and actresses experience this too — as they sit in the makeup chair or in costuming, they feel themselves becoming someone else.

This is the experience we want to aim for, in order to look at the space around ourselves with new eyes. It may seem strange that I’m suggesting using detachment from your authentic self as a means to help you find your authentic self, but trust me — it works. And it’s only temporary.

A quick Google search will reveal a number of ways that you can get into character. One technique is to put on an awful hat, pair of reading glasses (pop out the lenses), trench coat and even a pipe if you have one. It can be a fun afternoon to just stop by a thrift store and see what you can find. As a bonus, you’ll have your next Hallowe’en costume all ready to go!

Even if you don’t want to spend the money, feel goofy for playing dress up, or just want to investigate a space that isn’t in the privacy of your own home, there are other non-dress-up options as well. An effective solution is simply to sit, close your eyes, and let your imagination go. Set yourself in a dusty private eye’s office (or however you imagine a PI might work), and spend about 5 minutes mentally exploring the space.

Snoop Around and Take Notes

However you do it, the key is to get into character as much as possible. Become a detective, whose mission it is to discover hidden secrets about whomever lives or works in this space.

Like any good detective, you’ll want to make sure you have a notepad handy to record your findings. I find a digital camera useful, too, since it allows me to capture visual reminders that I can reflect on later, but this certainly isn’t a necessity.

Initially, just make an initial pass through the space — no more than 10 minutes. Look around, under, in, and through. Snoop around, and just try to soak in as much information as you can, taking notes on anything that catches your eye, or any patterns that you identify.

Once you’ve made your way around the room, leave the space and write down your overall impressions. Do this in the third person — “the person who lives here …” — as this will make it easier to keep yourself removed.

Map Your Mind

The last step to getting your space to give up its secrets is to go abstract, and make a map. Barbara Sher refers to this as a Living Quarters Map.

Start by sketching a rough floor plan of your space (be it a whole house or just a single room). Then, walk through your space again. This time, look specifically for projects that you’ve been involved with.

These projects may be things you’ve completed, they may be things you haven’t completed. They may even be projects that you never actually started. The key is to identify any thing in your space that reflects one of your actual or intended projects.

For each project you find, mark it on your map. Take a picture if you’ve still got your camera handy. Don’t dwell on the state of the project, just note that it was important to you at one point, write down a few details, mark it on your map, and move on. The key is to remain in your detached, detective mindset.

Review the Evidence

When all is said and your map is done, put it aside. Give yourself a mental break and leave it for a day or two. After you’ve given it some time, but your detective hat back on, and review your map again.

Do you see any patterns? Maybe you’ll find that in every room, you had a variety of magazines and books scattered about. Maybe you’ll see photos of friends and family. Maybe it will be little trinkets always organized decoratively into little groupings.

Now — look at your map plus all the notes you took on your initial pass through the room. What matches up? By taking these two aspects and putting them together, often even stronger patterns will emerge. Sometimes, the exact opposite will happen, and you’ll see completely opposite sides of your character emerging.

Render Your Verdict

Regardless of what you find, each pattern you find will give you an insight into your interests, desires and passions.

Note that each of those are in the plural for a reason: interests, desires, passions. In all likelihood, you will find a multitude of patterns emerging. This is a good thing. It’s important to not try to artificially boil your interests down into one overriding theme.

If a single, overriding theme emerges, that’s fine, but it’s not necessary (and it honestly isn’t all that common). You are the sum total of all  of your passions. You are a complex person, with complex interests, desires and passions.

Weekly Reads: Switch to Monday Edition

No, you didn’t travel in time, and you’re not going crazy. This week’s link collection is being posted on a Monday. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m going to experiment with posting the Weekly Reads at the beginning of the work week rather than on the weekend.

The major reason is that it gives me a bit more flexibility if I happen to head out of town on the weekend or (gasp!) have plans Saturday night — previously, I would have written the piece on Thursday or Friday, and just queued it up. But doing that means that I potentially miss a whole bunch of awesome articles to pass on!

Speaking of Saturday, this past one was Valentine’s Day (or, as some folks I know call it, “singles awareness day”). My day was pretty low key, and featured mostly some good old fashioned home cooking. The highlight of the day had to be some oh so good Chocolate souffles (note, don’t check the link if you’re hungry and/or a chocoholic!)

If you would like to pass on anything you think I might be interested in, post the link as a comment to this thread! I’m always looking for new things to explore. Note that comments on this site are moderated, especially if they contain links, so if it doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry!

Made Me Think

What is School for? and Learning All the Time (from Seth Godin). This pair of posts from acclaimed author Seth Godin reminded me of my early post on education (and how it’s not for everyone). Lifelong learning is a big deal, and it ought to be. Schooling people to think and act a certain way? Not so much. As a bonus, in Learning All the Time, Godin provides a link to the 100 Best Business Books of all time. There’s enough there to keep you busy for quite some time.

Remember Your Vowels to Manage Conflict on Twitter (from TwiTip). Not just for Twitter, actually, this link is a fantastic formula for handling conflict wherever you encounter it. The key is hidden in the vowels: Acknowledge, Engage, Ignore, Open and Understand. My struggle is usually with Ignore — once I get past that point and onto Open and Understand, I’m alright. Being able to identify that as a potential pitfall will be a valuable tool for me going forward.

The Biology of Belief (from Time). It really shouldn’t be a surprise that someone with an interest in both science and religion would find this article fascinating. I personally believe that, despite what the “death to religion” crowd would have you believe, religion must have remained a vital part of thousands of years of human culture for a reason — it must “work” on some level. That something like prayer can actually change the way the brain works, permanently? Very cool.

Money Matters

Retirement Calculations (5-part series; from Canadian Dream: Free at 45). The keeners among us are busy maxing out retirement plans, collecting income statements from employers, and maybe even filing taxes in hopes of a juicy return. For me, it’s also a time to dream — and plan — about achieving financial independence and having the option of leaving the workforce. If you haven’t given much thought to the numbers, or just aren’t sure where to begin (and are Canadian) this series is way cool.

7 Concrete Tips To Curb Your Spending (from Alex Shalman). One of the things that’s becoming more and more apparent given the “economic climate” of the day is that many people have been spending more than they earn, on a regular basis. The problem is compounded by job loss, but even those still employed are having to take a good look at their income and expenses. I’ve never been a big spender, so a lot of what Shalman suggests is familiar territory for me. But it’s a good reminder, and gave me some good ideas for saving money, myself.

The Power of Suggestion

I had a moment the other night. As I sat in bed, I was literally overwhelmed with just a lot of stuff. From having the shakes to all sorts of bizarre conflicting thoughts (which just wouldn’t. shut. up.) and finally just giving in to a major breakdown, tears and all, it was a hard hour.

Apparently, I was feeling stressed, and since I had been ignoring it and pushing it aside, my body finally said enough was enough, and made me stop. In some ways, I almost felt as though my subconscious had decided to assert control over my body for a little while, since my conscious mind hadn’t been doing a very good job.

That’s not to say it was an entirely comfortable experience, though. Even now, as I reflect on it, I’m quite uncomfortable. It’s a really bizarre sensation to feel as though you are — and simultaneously are not — in control of your body. Of course, this was compounded by all sorts of things running through my head.

At the fore was the notion that maybe what I was experiencing was indicative of some higher reality: that I am not my body, and that my consciousness (the “real me”) is in fact quite separate from its “earthly trappings”.

But let’s back up for a moment, shall we? After all, this post is entitled The Power of Suggestion.

The Power of the Mind

I’m a big believer that the mind has the ability to make things real, at least insofar as we experience it as being real. That you can so completely convince yourself of something, even if it is not “really there” (ignoring for a moment ideas about the objective or subjective nature(s) of reality…), and not know the difference.

A lot of what I’ve been reading lately has talked about this. My mom lent me a book to read (Initiationby Elisabeth Haich) which speaks a great deal about the difference between who we are (in the body), and who we are (in a true, eternal, essential sense). As frequent readers will have noticed, I enjoy reading Steve Pavlina’s blog, and he also talks about this subjective nature of reality.

Even my relaxing TV watching has played its part — for example, we had a “Stargate SG-1” marathon over the weekend.

Those of you familiar with the show might recall an episode from Season 6 entitled “The Changeling”. Even if you’re not familiar with the show (or the episode in question), the following scenario might seem familiar: Teal’c, a main character of the show, dreams and wakes repeatedly between two versions of reality — in each, being utterly convinced that this reality is the true one, and that the other was the dream.

Now, I’ve most certainly had that happen before. I remember once having a dream in which I was woken up by the phone ringing. I answered it, and no one was there, so I went back to sleep. It rang again, and I was awoken again. Still no one there. Repeat one last time, and this time, upon answering the phone … well, the dial tone of my real-life phone (which I had apparently finally reached over and picked up) woke me up once and for all… 

Or did it? I remember being so confused upon waking the last time. Was I really awake? Or was this just another dream?

What Have You Been Filling Your Brain With

As I lay awake in my confused and “out-of-control” state last night, thoughts about the nature of reality were flooding into my head. Like I said, I had this feeling that my feeling of separation between body and consciousness was really an indication of reality. And it freaked me right out.

See, for some reason, I have made a distinction in my mind between believing something completely, and experiencing it completely. Let me unpack that a bit — and apologies if it’s a bit unclear, I’m not sure I completely understand it myself.

I have no problem giving conscious consent to an idea. Acknowledging something as true, believing it to be so, that sort of thing. But at the same time, I am always acutely aware that the mind can be convinced of things, and create reality where there is none. Extreme cases of this would be mental conditions such as schizophrenia.

I similarly have no difficulty with having an emotional connection to an idea which I believe. Feeling in my heart that it is true, that sort of thing. But at the same time, I am aware that emotions can be subject to the power of the mind and senses. For example, when you get frightened watching a scary movie — there is nothing inherent in the fear; rather, it is a response to your mental processing of the sensory input.

As I have realized more and more the truth of those two “but at the same time” comments, I have become increasingly skeptical and unsure of any “truth.” Is what I am perceiving as truth merely something I have become convinced of? Or is it a reflection of something that really “is”? 

This has been tearing me up, and last night was no exception. I cried out to just know truth. And at the exact same moment, I cried out that I did not want to know truth. I didn’t want to experience it. I was afraid that any experience I might have would be due to the power of suggestion, and that the seeming reality of the situation would convince me entirely of something false.

And that as a result of becoming so convinced, I would become unable to change my mind and beliefs: that I would become so deeply convinced, that I would no longer think rationally about the situation, thereby losing my ability to integrate new information and make informed decisions.

Last night, a lot of this culminated in the physical response I experienced — shaking and twitching, just simply due to the tension I had been holding in. The end result, though, was an exhausting journey which brought me once again face-to-face with this problem I have yet to resolve: the power of suggestion. Do I think these thoughts because they are real, or because I have implanted them by what I have read, seen and heard?

Am I just duping myself?

Mixed Messages

Here’s the flip side. As some of my Twitter followers may have noticed — and as I alluded to in my recent Weekly Reads — that I’ve recently started investigating Interaction Design (IxD). This is a relatively new field, but the jist of it is that we invest a lot of time and money in creating and designing things for people to use.

Take a piece of software for example: until recently (and still ongoing, in many places), you would have a programmer who was responsible for coding the software, and a designer, who would make it “look pretty”. Sometimes, you’ll get a designer or programmer who tries to take into account what the user actually wants — but because we base our decisions on “features” and “general usability principles”, we often end up making things work.

Don’t get me wrong, features and general usability principles are good, but what IxD does is shift the focus to figuring out what the user’s end goals are — and then sets out to determine how to provide a means to meet those goals. Features and usability are byproducts (important ones!) of this design process. And it is once the initial legwork has been done that programming and beautifying can begin.

As I read more and more, I realize that Interaction Design is what good marketers have been doing for a long time. If you try to sell people something that they want, you’ll probably have more success. In other words, if you identify the consumer’s goal, you can target a message that will demonstrate a way to reach that goal. Good marketing is concerned with good messaging: sending a message that evokes a response on the part of the audience.

But what if — as open happens in marketing — you have an audience that doesn’t think they want something, but you want to sell to them anyway? You first have to convince them. Really, when you think about it, how did we decide that we want sugary colored circles of pulverized and bastardized (formerly-known-as) grains to start the day, when we were used to having sweet, fresh fruit with a piece of (fresh, real) bread lightly toasted.

This is also a big part of marketing. The power of suggestion.

It’s the way that we determine how to funnel people to their particular goals, but somewhere along the line, we slip in a subtle shift that completely changes the outcome. Marketers do this all the time (you want to look cool? we’ll slip in a shift to indicate that cigarettes will get you there). Interaction Designers do this sometimes too (oh, you’ve arrived at my product page? Let me funnel you toward our purchasing area, even though you just came to do some research). And yes, spiritualists and religious people do this too (to be fair, I do not believe that all religion is nearly so nefarious as to be doing this intentionally. Some, yes. All, no.)

Part of me very strongly believes in harnessing the power of suggestion. When I go into a meeting about communicating our services to instructors, or when I develop a webpage intended to end in a product sale, the power of suggestion seems to be my best friend. I can put the idea in your head that my solution will meet your goal.

Heck, when you (or I) have a good product or service, we  don’t even have to lie about it, nor even stretch the truth! I really might be able to help you meet your goals!

In a very real sense, our ability to communicate depends on the power of suggestion.  Communicating depends on my ability to suggest things to you that make sense enough for you to accept them enough to at least understand the words.

So I love it, and I hate it. It is the laser beam that can correct eyesight, or guide munitions to their targets; the immunization which cures a disease and causes an epidemic. Yes, the power of suggestion is hugely powerful and impactful.

Where am I going with this? I’m not entirely sure. I’d say I’m open to suggestions, but you all know how that goes 😉

Weekly Reads: IxD Edition

Normally, I try to have something witty or at least interesting to say as a prologue to my weekly collection of links, but so far, I’m coming up empty.

As I indicated last week, I also don’t have my laptop at the moment (the repairs were to take 5-7 days, so you’d better believe I’m counting down!) so the list of links this week is also a bit shorter than usual.

On the plus side, I guess that’s a good thing in some ways, since it means I haven’t been bored at work :-). I’ve been busy researching and learning about Interaction Design.

The team I’m on at work is going to be working on implementing best practices, and it looks like I’ll be particularly responsible for the design, usability and accessibility aspects of things. With that in mind, if you have any IxD links to pass on, please do so — I’d love to add them to my reading pile.

If you would like to pass on anything you think I might be interested in, post the link as a comment to this thread! I’m always looking for new things to explore. Note that comments on this site are moderated, especially if they contain links, so if it doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry!

Made Me Think

Do You Believe in Free Will (from PsyBlog). Ah, free will. Basis for world religions around the world, and debates amongst philosophers for the ages.  But a new study shows that believing in free will can also have some interesting relations to behavioural patterns: a disbelief in free will decreases helping behaviours and increases aggression.

What Are You Good At? (from Seth Godin). What’s the difference between process and content? In this insightful piece, Seth Godin examines the value of having domain knowledge (skills, abilities, “head knowledge”, etc.) and its relation to the emotional intelligence that gives the ability to visualize, make connections, etc. I love this piece, because it really speaks to me. I don’t know if this is true of all scanners, but I find I more naturally identify with process than content anyway.

Why You Should Celebrate Your Mistakes (from Zen Habits). One of my favorite sayings is “there are no mistakes, just opportunities to learn.” Leo Babauta explores this understanding, by discussing how without mistakes we would never have opportunity to learn. Here’s a snippet: “So if you value learning, if you value growing and improving, then you should value mistakes. They are amazing things that make a world of brilliance possible.” Good stuff.

Bonus Material

Discovering Ricotta (from the New York Times). I’m really getting into this whole eating “real food” thing. While I have yet to make my own cheese, I think my first attempt may be with ricotta. I enjoy the store-bought stuff well enough (heresy!), so I’m eager to try some of the real thing. And it sure seems easy enough.

Weekly Reads: Free Time Edition

If you’ve been following the posts the past week or so, you will no doubt have noticed that I’ve republished a number of articles from the old Sententia in commemoration of the Chinese New Year. There will be two more articles yet to come in the series, which I suppose is good, because as of yesterday my computer is in for repairs, and so I’ll be somewhat out of commission.

However, never fear; I’ve got a fair number of posts queued up, and I do still have internet access (though somewhat more limited) at home, so the posts should be able to keep on rolling. Comment moderation, etc. will be a bit slower, but I’ll try to keep up on that as well.

Now, the real question is… what will I do with all the extra time I’ll have, not being able to spend my evenings online? It’s way too cold to be spending much time outside… I do have some books I’ll continue reading, but I’m open to other ideas, too! Feel free to leave a comment if you have some suggestions for me…

If you would like to pass on anything you think I might be interested in, post the link as a comment to this thread! I’m always looking for new things to explore. Note that comments on this site are moderated, especially if they contain links, so if it doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry!

Made Me Think

How to Learn Any Language in 3 Months (from Tim Ferriss). I really enjoy language learning, and seem to also have an aptitude for it. Ferriss’ article focuses on applying Pareto’s principle (AKA the 80/20 principle) to language learning, a technique I found very valuable when I studied Latin in University. Students of Latin, check out Anne Mahoney’s list of 1000 Essential Latin Words. The first 250 words make up 50% of the vocabulary you’ll need to know; if you spend some time familiarizing yourself with the list, you’ll find it that much easier to comprehend texts without running to your dictionary every other second. (Then again, I still prefer the natural language method for learning languages, but that’s another topic for another day.)

Wrapping Your Head Around the Project (from LiveDev). I run into this situation often at work: I get really into a project, work on it all day, but am not able to wrap it up before it’s time to go home. So I leave it for the next day — at which point, I just can’t seem to get back into it. Glen talks about this problem — and offers some techniques for getting past it — in this interesting article from LifeDev.

Guided Meditation as a Tool for Speaking with Spirit Guides (from Erin Pavlina). I can remember two times in my life that I’ve participated in a guided meditation, although until reading this article by renowned medium Erin Pavlina, I never really considered it as meditation. Regardless of your aims in mediation — maybe you want to listen to your inner voice, speak with spirit guides, talk to your future self, or something completely different — Pavlina gives some really practical tips to get you on your way.

Communication Concepts

So You Want To Be An Interaction Designer (from Cooper) and So You Want to Be an Interaction Designer 2006 (from AdaptivePath). How had I not heard of Interaction Design (commonly abbreviated IxD) before this week? There is just so much in these two articles that resonates with me and calls to something within me. Is this another fleeting passion of my scanner-ness? Who cares, it sounds fascinating, and I think I’m going to spend some time checking it out. Any Interaction Designers have some favorite introductory books they’d like to recommend?

Six Ways to Get People to Say “Yes” (from CopyBlogger). No, it’s not about Jedi-mind-tricks, although the effect can be almost the same. Whether you’re in marketing and sales or not, there’s huge value in learning the fine art of persuasion. The key is to show people what’s in it for them — and in this article, Dean Rieck gives six great tips on how to do just that.

Choosing a Good Chart (from The Extreme Presentation(tm) Method). If you’re at all involved with data visualization — maybe you have to generate reports for your management at work, for example — you may be used to just choosing charts more or less at random. “Pie Chart? Nah, did that last time. Let’s do a bar chart this time!” But did you know there’s a rhyme and reason to why (and when) you should use different chart types? Check out this easy reference guide whenever you need a quick reminder of what’s what.

Bonus Material

6 Words That Make Your Resume Suck (from SquawkFox). Layoffs are really starting to hit a lot of people hard. If you want to get a jump on the competition, check out this fantastic piece from SquawkFox. Often we’re told to put specifics on our resumes, but its in the examples that this article really shines. Even if you’re confident of your job security, it never hurts to keep your resume up-to-date; it saves a lot of time if you put in updates as they happen, rather than doing one major overhaul every several years!

Company Man – Jim Lahey reveals his recipe for no-knead pizza dough (from TastingTable). Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread cause a firestorm of breadbaking when it showed up in the New York Times a couple of years ago — and it’s what got me into my love of baking. Now, Lahey’s back with a recipe for no-knead pizza dough. I haven’t tried his recipe yet (I love my current kneaded version, from Bertinet’s fabulous book Dough — if you enjoy baking and/or eating fresh bread, this book is a real winner) but if its anything like the original No-Knead Bread, it will be a winner.