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I started my formal half-marathon training program on Monday. It was straightforward: Run three miles.

 

My alarm hit at 5 a.m., I warmed up for five minutes, and ran straight out and straight back on flat ground. Three miles. Steady.

On Wednesday, I had the exact same assignment: Run three miles.

My alarm hit at 5 a.m., I warmed up for five minutes, and then I went on a loopy ass hill course.

Guess what Friday’s task is? Yep—three miles.

It would be easy for this training course to become tedious. And it’s only Week One. By switching up how I tackle each workout—even though they’re technically the exact same—I’m able to stay interested because I’m doing something different.

That helps keep me motivated. And, more practically, it keeps my muscle groups guessing, which helps make me fitter.

I’ll probably try a bunch of other weird stuff between now and race day. Running around a track. Running barefoot. Hiking. (OK, it’s not all “weird.”)

Go ahead and figure out a way to apply this to anything. I know I do. It’s a hell of a lot easier to do the same thing over and over if you do it in a different way each time.

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a-picture-of-a-lady-who-is-tired-of-running

Doing it anyway is an exercise in mental fortitude.

I’ve had this George St. Pierre—the MMA/UFC fighter—quote in my head for quite a while. It’s about how not even he is immune to crappy training days. (He probably lifted it from someone else, but that’s beside the point.) The quote is:

You don’t get better on the days when you feel like going. You get better on the days when you don’t want to go, but you go anyway. If you can overcome the negative energy coming from your tired body or unmotivated mind, you will grow and become better. It won’t be the best workout you have, you won’t accomplish as much as what you usually do when you actually feel good, but that doesn’t matter. Growth is a long-term game, and the crappy days are more important.

I mean, what if most of your days are crappy days? I would argue that’s bound to happen at some point. And getting your reps in—I don’t care what you’re doing—is way more important, in the long run, than the quality of those reps.

Why a lot of crappy work is good, too.

Here’s a great example. I like to run. I’m almost always thinking about running a half-marathon (13.1 miles) or longer. Training for a half-marathon takes at least a couple months.

I also have small children. They get sick, a lot, so I do, too. The upshot is that, during any given training stretch, I’m likely to be sick for a week or more. I’m human, so, yeah, sometimes I end up just sitting around during a sick week.

But my good sick weeks are the ones where I’m able to convince myself to at least do something. OK, I’m not gonna get a nine-mile run in. But if I can run for one mile, or take a brisk walk for three, that’s way better than if I would have sat around eating Cheetos and watching TV.

This can go on for more than a week. Still—better than doing nothing at all.

Crappy work is by definition crappy. But it’s also by definition work.

Truly long-term crappy work is a problem. But a week? Two weeks? A month? That’s nothing in the grand scheme of a career or a life.

Do some crappy work. You’ll bounce back.

Photo: Unsplash

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Yet another reason to practice empathy.

If outsourcing was the greatest U.S. job-killer of the 20th Century, automation will be that for the 21st Century. Machines don’t just build cars anymore. They can run complex algorithms and analyze data. Soon, they’ll be able to put that data into action.

Even those of us in the creative industry have a right to worry. Artificial intelligence can already create a nonsensical, terrifying Christmas song. It’s not hard to imagine a world where that applies to all sorts of creative work.

So…fuck.

But the one thing robots can’t do is feel.

Artificial intelligence and automation will continue to improve—exponentially. But what it won’t be able to do—at least not for a long time—is stuff like read a room. Sense a mood. Know when to not say something.

And that’s the crux of what Megan Beck and Barry Libert at the Harvard Business Review say will be workers’ value in the not-so-distant future.

Skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become differentiators as artificial intelligence and machine learning take over our other tasks.

These skills are already valuable. But they’re about to become competitive. If you can relate to other people, you’re in much better shape than your wallflower coworkers.

Pretty soon, you won’t be able to beat a robot. So you’d better start practicing to become a better human.

This kind of robotic takeover of work is still years off. But probably not that many years. I’m 33, and it won’t surprise me if bots start replacing workers en masse before my kids start college. Look how fast the internet replaced physical objects (banks, books, newspapers, CD collections).

That’s scary. But it helps to prepare. I’m no mental health professional, but here are some things I recommend:

  • Read anything by Brené Brown, but particularly Daring Greatly.
  • Practice empathy—there are a lot of good resources online.
  • If you have the means, see a counselor or therapist regularly. (It’s  one of the best things I’ve done in my life. Plus, this type of person can give you better suggestions than I can.)
  • Get off your phone and talk to strangers.

Even if you feel like the least emotionally intelligent person in a room, you’ll be surprised how fast you can start to work through the fog.

Photo: Unsplash

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What you want to do, and what you can do, are sometimes two different things.

Two years ago, I ran a half-marathon. That’s 13.1 miles. It was the furthest I’d ever run in my life. And once I finished, I assumed I’d just keep running progressively further.

Didn’t work out that way.

Fast-forward to today. I’m not in half-marathon shape. I have two young kids. I have a job I love that on a slow week is 40 hours. I have commute time. Lunches. Laundry. Cleaning. And the sleep loss. God, the sleep loss.

I don’t have a whole lot of room in my life to run for an extended period of time. But I’m gonna run another half-marathon this year anyway.

How? Easy.

I’m going to run a shitty half-marathon.

I’ve already run a good half-marathon. This time, I’m going to do it shitty. Which means I’m going to adjust my definition of success. Specifically, downward. Here’s what that looks like for me:

  • I’m not aiming to finish in any particular amount of time.
  • If I have to run-walk the course, that’s fine.
  • When I can’t train, I’ll do the next-best thing (like getting off my bus a few stops early).

This sounds like cheating. Maybe it is. But the way my life’s structured right now, it’s a path to doing what I want to do.

It’s like that saying—”you can have it all; just not all at once.”

Maybe someday I’ll be a legit half-marathoner. Or at least, maybe I’ll run one in sub-two-and-a-half-plus hours.

That day is not today. It’s not this season, and it’s not even this year. That’s OK. I’ll still have fun trotting my way around more than a dozen miles of whatever city I’m in.

In the meantime, the rest of my life will continue to function the way I want it to, and the way I need it to. If all I have to do to achieve that is run a little slower or a little less, that sounds like a fair deal.

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Marshawn Lynch knows how to do Twitter.

One of the hardest things to do is write a social media post that promotes a product without sounding like it’s trying to promote a product. It’s a subtle art.

Marshawn isn’t one for subtlety, but he executes this perfectly anyway.

  1. This is written exactly how Marshawn Lynch talks.
  2. This video is exactly the kind of goofball joy you expect from Marshawn Lynch.
  3. It’s entertainment with a small ask: Go here to watch the full thing.
  4. The promo actually isn’t even in this tweet. Marshawn’s team trusts that you’ll go down the rabbit hole to see why they made this.

Make better promotional posts. Make them like this.

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If you count the hits that Ichiro Suzuki accumulated during his baseball career in Japan, he’s MLB’s all-time hits leader. Pete Rose, who is MLB’ hits leader if you don’t count Ichiro’s Japanese hits doesn’t (surprise) think we should.

A lesser person would match Rose’s fire with fire. A diplomatic person would say “no comment.”

Ichiro walks this razor thin line between both and sees Rose’s commentary for what it is: fear.

Rose…has argued that Ichiro’s 1,278 hits in Japan are essentially invalid.

“I don’t think you’re going to find anyone with credibility say that Japanese baseball is equivalent to major-league baseball,’’ Rose told USA Today. “I’m not trying to take anything away from Ichiro, but the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high-school hits.”

All of which Ichiro takes in with a typically unique interpretation. In his mind, this is Rose’s method of paying homage to Ichiro.

“I was actually really surprised and happy that he was so serious about it, and so vocal about it,’’ he said. “Because in the 16 years I’ve been here, what I’ve noticed is, usually, let’s say Americans, if you’re looking at another player, and you feel you’re better than that person, then it’s easy for that person to give encouragement or give praise to that player.

“But as soon as they’re maybe at the same level or maybe they’ve passed that person, then they start becoming defensive and maybe stronger in their words. How I took it was, he really was interested and serious about that. He didn’t just let me be. He got into it. I was really happy he actually was even acknowledging the fact it was happening.

“Some people have told me about five years ago he did an interview where he wished and hoped I could pass that number. I feel like back then he probably didn’t think I could do it.”

Well played, Ichi.

Source: Ichiro still defying expectations at age 42 as he chases 3,000 hits | The Seattle Times

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A pen and planner with text that says "How to tackle big projects"

I’ve learned from years of experience and observation that there’s no “secret” way to tackle a big project. Everyone feels the same way: When you’re asked to move a mountain, your first reflex is, Damn, that’s a lot.

It is, but the people who tackle big projects for a living do it by breaking the whole thing down into smaller bits.

Let’s say I’m asked to literally move a mountain. It’s not a matter of, How am I gonna lift this big-ass mountain? It’s:

  • What do you mean by “move”? Can I make a tunnel?
  • What’s my budget?
  • What are my resources?
  • What’s my timeline?
  • How do I allocate my budget and resources on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis to finish my project on time?

If you work for someone else, the last question is the only one you have to answer yourself. Figure out that equation:

(Budget + Resources) / Timeline = Work required per day to finish on time

Then, you just have to do what has to be done that day. If you can do a day’s work, you can get the project done.

A pen and planner with text that says "How to tackle big projects"
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Text over a typewriter that says How to Republish Blog Posts Without Taking an SEO Hit

This blog is several years old, but a couple years ago, for a couple years, it lived on Squarespace. When I moved it back here to WordPress, I wanted to preserve all the posts I had written during that two-year span so there wasn’t some weird two-year gap in content.

As a result, I have multiple versions of the same content posted to both sites. For example, I published this post on my old site:

Screenshot of Instagram blog post on Squarespace website

And now it’s syndicated on this site:

Screenshot of syndicated blog post on WordPress website

Google doesn’t like this and will penalize both sites in search rankings—unless there’s an HTML tag that tells Google which blog post is the original.

That tag is called rel=canonical.

All you have to do to use it is add some code in the syndicated post’s HTML header section that says:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://youroriginalblogposthere.com">

That tells Google that the syndicated post is syndicated and that all search traffic should be directed back toward the original.

(Note: I use the Thesis WordPress theme on this site, so I end up just having to paste the original URL into a box in my New Post composer screen.)

If you’re curious about some of the more technical aspects of this and why it’s necessary, check out this post from Neil Patel, which I found while researching how to syndicate my posts properly. You can also read Google’s rel=canonical page if you want the official explanation.

Text over a typewriter that says How to Republish Blog Posts Without Taking an SEO Hit
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Quote on top of stacks of books: "How I've Read 3 Books This Year Without Being Much of a Reader"

When I started running—struggling to run is what I should say—one of the best pieces of advice I read was go slow. You’ll run further if you slow down and pace yourself.

I came across similar advice recently with reading, which I also suck at, from Belle Beth Cooper.

When I first started to focus on building healthier habits a few years ago, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to ask too much of myself.

I would go from reading hardly ever to attempting to read one book per week. Or from getting up at 9 a.m. most days to trying to roll out of bed before 6 a.m. every morning.

The distance between where I was starting and where I wanted to be was so great that I would fail a lot. And each failure made it harder to succeed the next day.

But, she goes on to say, if you take the habit you’re trying to create and break it down into something much smaller to start with, you have much greater odds of success.

The point is to focus on repeating the habit every day, but not worrying about how effective that habit is. In other words, quantity first; quality later.

I read that post back in January. To date, I’ve read three books this year:

I’m midway through my fourth right now: A People’s History of the United States. In fact, I read a little more than one page of it last night.

A couple things help to keep me going:

  1. Designate a time to read every day. I take the bus to and from work, so both those times are easy opportunities to get a few pages in.
  2. “Pay” for other activities with reading on the days you don’t feel like it. Remember, it’s all about getting in at least one page a day. One page counts. If I want to do something else—listen to music, browse social media, whatever—I’ll “pay” for that activity by reading one page out of my book. Sometimes I end up really liking that page and I’ll read a lot more. It’s a great way to trick the mind.

If all goes well, I’ll be updating the number in the headline of this post a handful of times this year.

Quote on top of stacks of books: "How I've Read 3 Books This Year Without Being Much of a Reader"
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How to Hide a Pinterest Image in a WordPress Post

This post has a nice, landscape image just above that ends up looking great if you share it to Twitter or Facebook. But you won’t see any Pinterest images in this post.

Won’t see.

Click your Pinterest bookmarklet or browser extension, though. You should see something like this:

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That’s because the tall image on the left—all 734 X 1100 pixels of it—is hidden in this page’s HTML code at the bottom of this post.

It’s a pretty genius trick that I picked up from a food blog called Pinch of Yum. All you have to do to make it work is wrap your image code in a short div tag:

<div style="display:none;">Paste your image code here</div>

Viola! Image hidden.

Hiding a Pinterest image on your WordPress page has several advantages:

  • You don’t have to share a big, vertical photo, that’s a duplicate of your main title image, on every post.
  • You don’t have to awkwardly stuff a thumbnail of your Pinterest image at the bottom of your post.
  • You can share Pinterest-optimized images that are bigger than your blog post container.

There are a lot of other upsides to doing this, and I encourage you to click over to Pinch of Yum to read about them. You’ll also find a tutorial on how to build your own Pinterest-optimized (read: vertically oriented) images with headlines in Photoshop.

How to Hide an Image in a WordPress Post

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