How to Make a Fresh Start

7 Steps to a Life Course-Correction

Do you ever feel off course? Like you’re drifting through life or headed in the wrong direction? Or maybe “wrong direction” doesn’t even make sense because the destination itself has disappeared.

Pointer in the sea on the boat.

If so, you’re not alone. Though it can feel that way sometimes.

The truth is that every person makes course-corrections in life—probably thousands of them. I certainly do.

Navigating life is a lot like driving a car. When driving, you spend almost every second adjusting the direction of the car to the desired course. Most of those adjustments are minor, almost imperceptible. But sometimes you make a 90- or even 180-degree turn.

Oftentimes, the need for a course-correction is forced upon us. Something sudden or tragic happens that demands a response.

But we can also take the initiative. We can be proactive in setting a new direction—in making a fresh start.

Twice a year I make a deliberate fresh start. Doing so helps keep me on—or get me back on—the path I want to be on. And when the inevitable tragedy hits, the reorientation is much less jarring.

In two days (on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent), I’m going to make another fresh start. Following is the process I am using to prepare for it. You can use these 7 steps at any time to make your own fresh start: (more…)

Which is Better: To Earn Money or to Save It?

This post is from contributing author Matthew Houtsma. Matthew and I have been friends for over 30 years. We attended school together from kindergarten through college, have traveled together in Europe, and co-founded an SAT prep company. Matthew is always looking for ways to save money, particularly when it comes to travel with his wife and three boys. The tagline of this blog is “helping you have more time and money for what matters most.” But many of us overlook key factors in how we value money. In this post, Matthew talks about one such factor and how a proper understanding of it can help you have more money and time.

Would you rather get a $1,000 bonus at work or save $900 on plane tickets for an upcoming trip you have already decided to take? Or, would you be better off earning $1,000 driving for Uber or negotiating with your cable and phone company to save $720: $60 per month for the next 12 months, say?

Man holding glass jar with money in it

While you might think the first option is obviously better in both scenarios, for the vast majority of working adults, the second option is preferable. The reason why is simple but important to understand and keep in mind: (more…)

How to Do Everything at the Most Optimal Time

Discover the Best Time—Based on Your “Type”—to Fall in Love, Interview for a Job, Ask for a Raise, etc.

Is there an optimal time of day to fall in love, interview for a job, or ask for a raise? According to the book The Power of When, which I just finished reading, there is. The author, Dr. Michael Breus, argues that there are 4 types of people. For each type, Breus lays out the most optimal time of day to engage in a wide range of activities from training for strength to seeing a therapist to presenting your ideas.

A picture of a lion

One of the four types of people is the “lion,” the quintessential morning person.

“’When’ is the ultimate life hack,” writes Breus. “It’s the foundation of success, the key that unlocks a faster, smarter, better, and stronger you. Knowing ‘when’ enables you to perform ‘what’ and ‘how’ to your maximum potential.”

In this post I briefly summarize the 4 types of people. Then I show the most leveraged time of day for your type, and the other three types of people, to undertake important activities in order to get from them the most bang for the buck. (more…)

Last Chance to Get $1,075 from these 2 Credit Cards?

These 2 Cards May Disappear with the Marriott/Starwood Merger

Marriott and Starwood are in the process of merging. One likely outcome is that Chase and AMEX will discontinue a couple of currently available Marriott/Starwood credit cards with nice signup bonuses (worth $488-$587 in travel). If you’re interested in these cards, you should consider grabbing them before they’re potentially gone.

2 credit cards stuck in the sand

Here are the cards that folks in the know speculate will disappear: (more…)

How to Get Roadside Assistance on the Cheap

And Why I’m Cancelling My AAA Membership After 25 Years

Have you ever locked your keys in the car, ran out of gas, or found out your car’s battery is dead? Those are frustrating situations. And when they occur, it’s nice to get help. That’s why I’ve been a member of AAA for—gasp—25 years: because AAA offers great roadside assistance. But I had to decide by today whether to renew my membership or let it lapse.

Roadside service technician changing a tire

After a quarter of a century, I finally got around to researching whether the cost of membership is worth it. And for my wife and me, I’ve decided that it is not. Following is why I’m cancelling my AAA membership and, more importantly, how you can get roadside assistance on the cheap—even for free. (more…)

My Top 10 Posts of 2017

Get Outsized Value from These 10 Most Popular Posts

As 2017 draws to a close, I wanted to recap for you the 10 most popular posts on my blog this year. You should be able to get outsized value from these posts, especially the #1 most popular.

Here are the top 10 posts, starting with the most popular: (more…)

Is the Apple Watch Worth the Cost?

My Thoughts after One Month with the Apple Watch

Last month I got an Apple Watch. The questions I repeatedly get asked about it are: “What do you use it for?” and “Do you like it?” And there seems to be a third, unspoken question: “Is it worth the cost?”

A watch on an apple, as a play on the words "Apple Watch"

In this post I answer those questions. My aim is to help you decide whether you would find it useful, whether you would like it, and whether you would think it worth the cost. (more…)

How to Love Your Job

3 Ways to a Job that You are Passionate about and Good At

Do you jump out of bed in the morning looking forward to your work? Or is your job boring? Or a grind? Or even something you dread? What would it mean to you to have a job you love?

Man leaning back in his chair, smiling with content about his job

I was recently introduced to a paradigm for thinking about work that I find brilliant. It’s one of those ways of thinking about things that is so simple yet so profound. For most people, I’d wager it is the key to their job satisfaction. (more…)

21 Ways to Get the Most out of Sleep

Quick Tips from the Book “Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success”

It’s incredible that we—myself included—give such little thought to something that we spend so much of our life doing: sleeping. When I’m rested, I’m efficient. I’m effective. I am energized to pursue what matters most. Perhaps you feel the same way. But it’s hard to get rested. And being tired makes everything harder, slower, and less enjoyable. Perhaps you agree again.

In his recent book Sleep Smarter, Shawn Stevenson writes, “The research is in, and it’s 100 percent conclusive: When you don’t sleep well, you get slower, less creative, and more stressed, and you underperform.” That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can sleep well.

Stevenson provides 21 essential strategies to sleep your way to a better body, better health, and bigger success. In this post I share the top actionable insight or two that I took from each of the book’s 21 chapters: (more…)

How to Get the Best Seat on a Southwest Flight [Complete Guide]

And Do So Without Paying $150+ Extra for Business Class

Whenever you fly, you want to get the best seat on the plane for your money. With Southwest, getting the seat you want is more complicated. That’s because there are no assigned seats on Southwest flights. Rather, as passengers board the plane, they may choose any unoccupied seat.

I'm holding my son Michael on a Southwest flight

My son Michael and I on a Southwest flight last summer

Over time, I’ve given an inordinate amount of thought to how to get the seat you want on a Southwest flight. Here’s a complete guide to scoring your desired seat, whether that be an exit row, an aisle, or a window. (If you prefer the middle seat in the back row near the lavatories, you can stop reading now.) (more…)