“The perfect is the enemy of the good”

17 04 2012

taken from JD Roth, of getrichslowly.org, but I’m sure it’s been said before.

On my past blog post about the one bowl of vegetables diet, my friend asked if it matters if it’s fresh vegetables or frozen.  Long story short, it doesn’t matter.  Eat whatever you can get your hands on.  If that doesn’t work after a month, tweak it.  This goes back to the 80/20 rule.  A few things (20% of effort) leads to most of the results (80% of rewards).  It’s much more important to start eating a bowl of vegetables a day than to decide if you should go for frozen or fresh vegetables.

Here is a simple three step method for doing something well (good), but not perfect.  For simplicity let’s stick to the idea of a diet, but this could apply equally as well to working out, learning something, or a million other things.

First, you need a plan.  As the quote suggests, this plan does not need to be perfect, only good enough.  In terms of diet a good place to start would be the Paleo Solution, Primal Blueprint, Four Hour Body, or Atkins Revolution.

Second, you need to get started.  In the case of the diet you could just pick one at random, read the diet (a small part of each book), and get started.  Or, you could ask SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR VENTURE for advice.  In the case of the diet you need to find someone that was fat or got fat and then lost the weight.  It is not helpful to ask for help from people who are still overweight or from people who are naturally skinny.  I used to be naturally skinny, but started to get a spare tire and made adjustments accordingly, so I believe I am a decent source to ask.

Third, you need to follow through.  Execute your plan as best you can, sticking to it for as long as possible.  If you trip up, forget about it and keep going.  It is common to miss a workout once in a while, what’s important is that you keep going and don’t use that as an excuse to stop.

These three basic steps will lead to pretty good results for most things you want to try.  I will post about a slightly more sophisticated system that I call “the process of awesome” in a future post, but really, to do most things, these three steps are good enough.

Compare this simple “good enough” three step approach with an attempt to be perfect.  If you were trying to do something perfectly, you’d get stuck in step one, researching a plan.  Especially when it comes to dieting, there are so many opinions, plans, research papers, etc, that you’d never stop reading and get started.





$10 to a better life

7 01 2012

Sometimes in life we become obsessed with the large problems, but it’s important to remember that the little things count and can often be fixed or improved on the cheap.  You may not be able to afford the $30000 for a brand new car, but  $10 can improve your life more than you might think.  In fact, 5 minutes of your time and $0 can improve your life a lot more than you might think.

For example: I remember when I was a kid, it seemed like every day my dad would walk out of his room and stub his toe on the same piece of furniture.  He’d yell and curse, but never take the 10 seconds to move the furniture, or the 5 seconds to ask one of my older brothers to do it.  In 10 seconds my dad could have fixed this near daily cause of pain and anger in his life.  Would he still be at a high stress job and have three sons to raise?  Yes, but at least he wouldn’t be stubbing his toe everyday.

So my challenge for you is to look for some small problem or annoyance you encounter on a normal basis and look for a small, simple, or cheap fix.  Feel free to post your success story in the comments.

A couple examples from my own life to give you some ideas:

  • I used to own an Ikea lofted bed with desk attached underneath.  To prevent myself from banging my head on the metal frame, I bought a $2 foam pool noodle, cut it to fit the bar, and zip tied it on.  Cost: Trip to Home Depot and $2.
  •  I used to hate microwaving a plate and having to use a pot holder or paper towel to grab the plate.  I didn’t want to get a plastic bowl for fear of toxins, so I turned to google to see if there was a better product.  After a little searching I discovered the Handy Gourmet Cool Touch Microwave Bowl, with a ceramic bowl in a plastic container to keep heat in the bowl and off your hand.  It also comes with a lid to stop splatter in the microwave that doubles as a Ziploc type snap cover.  I now use this thing thrice daily and it is the centerpiece of my spartan dish method, which I’ll talk about in a future post.

Need some ideas?  Here are a few small things that you might try:

  • Block the phone number of someone you don’t want calling you.
  • Move or get rid of a piece of furniture that you consistently bump into or dislike.
  • Buy some Wood Filler or spackle at a home improvement store and fill in old nail holes in your walls that you hate staring at.
  • Sell, give to your friends, or donate clothes you never wear to free up space in your closet.
  • If you drink tea or make coffee with a french press, a little $15 electric kettle is awesome, it boils water in a couple of minutes and you rarely have to clean it.

If you can’t think of a solution, try googling your problem, you might be surprised at the creative ways people have solved it and are willing to share.