1. Removing 2 Little Words from Every Email
As Strunk and White put it in the classic manual The Elements of Style, "Omit needless words
." So many of our emails are peppered with "I think" and "I feel"—caveats that are meant to be considerate but are ultimately needless. Even if you can't rid yourself of the habit, you can make use of the Delete key, because what you want to send are the ideas, not a permission slip to dismiss them.
2. Confidently Ordering the Confusing Coffee
What is the deal with the pour-over coffee at Starbucks
? You've heard it's great, but it looks complicated, and you're not quite sure how to order it. You might fumble. The barista might give you that dead-eyed stare only baristas and extraordinarily peeved vampires can perfect. The person behind you in line might sigh or roll his eyes. But it might be the best coffee ever. And you might sit in the window, sipping it, not looking busy, not looking important, not looking cool, but enjoying the coffee that you went in for.
3. Wearing White
After Labor Day? Yes. Before Labor Day? Sure, fine, whatever. We're talking about wearing it to a picnic, to an art class, while cradling an infant. We're talking about wearing it while eating spaghetti Bolognese.
4. Hitting Up Every Single Contact to Raise Funds for the 5K Charity Fun Run
It can be strangely seductive to internalize the too-cool-for-high-school attitude of thinking: "I don't care that I got a C. Whatever, I didn't even study." If you don't try your hardest—on the presentation, on the painting, at your polka-dancing lesson—you are less vulnerable to criticism, but then nothing ever really belongs to you either.
5. Keeping a Diary, Not (Just) a Blog
Public confession can be an act of courage. One thinks of those bloggers who lay themselves bare, presenting intimate details of their lives to thousands of readers. But there is another kind of bravery that has nothing to do with the secret hope of a book deal (not that every blog has that motive!). There is the kind of bravery that is knowing yourself, recording your ideas because they matter to you
, because writing through your feelings at the end of a miserable day is a way to make it better, because documenting the highlights of a noteworthy one will help you remember it.
Next: Your secret skill that's about to change the world