The Best Posts of 2014

The holidays are a time to relax and spend time with family. We reflect on the year just ended and look forward with eager anticipation to the blank canvas that is the year ahead.

To that end, this week’s post is six posts, but they’re all posts you’ve seen before. Or maybe you missed them. They’re the most-viewed, most-shared, and most-loved posts of 2014.

So grab a warm beverage, put on the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, curl up under a warm blanket, and enjoy.

Please see original posts for photo credits.

Set Goals That Will Take You Someplace

You need more direction than “any place but here”

When I was in Scouts, we did an orienteering exercise where we had to hike out across the Red Desert of southwestern Wyoming, away from Boar’s Tusk for some number of miles. It was surprisingly difficult.

We set out, weaving our way through the sagebrush-strewn floodplain with the monolith at our backs. Every now and then, we’d slide down in to a dry creekbed and scramble up the other side. This was a good time for us to check our sixes and make sure the ancient volcanic core was still behind us. It usually wasn’t. We kept veering off course.

When you’re heading towards a landmark, you naturally course-correct along the way. It’s always in sight. You go around an obstacle and start heading towards it again. Easy.

To make any reasonable progress, we finally had to pick a point on the horizon that was in the right direction, and start heading towards that. Once we stopped trying to focus on what was behind us, and paid attention to what lay ahead, the hike got a lot easier.

It’s a good lesson to keep in mind every January 1.

Boar’s Tusk, Sweetwater County, Wyoming. Photo courtesy of ©Flickr/carfull

How to Keep Your Cool Behind the Wheel

Don’t let other drivers ruin your day.

I have a short commute, and I still pass hundreds of cars on my way to and from work. Let’s say it’s a thousand. Statistically, 50–70 of those thousand drivers are experiencing some degree of road rage. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I’m one of them.

There is a Jekyll and Hyde transformation that can take place when we get behind the wheel. It doesn’t happen every time, and some people transform more readily than others. It’s prevalent enough that Disney documented the behavior in the 1950 Goofy cartoon “Motor Mania”, where mild-mannered Mr. Walker transforms into the raging motorist Mr. Wheeler.

Here are some tips and things to think about so that you are more Walker than Wheeler.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockPhoto/Carlos_bcn

Why You Need a Weekly Review

Track Commitments, Make Progress, and Be More Relaxed

Any navigation system is based on two pieces of information: a correct understanding of where you are, and a clear vision of where you’re going. The tools have varied over the years—compass, astrolabe, sextant, GPS—but the tools are just a means of executing on the plan: get from point A to point B.

Once you know where you are and where you’re going, you can put together a plan to get there. This is true for navigation, getting out of debt, getting into shape, and getting things done.

The week is a very natural unit to plan around. It provides a good bridge between daily planning and your long-term goals. With a weekly review as part of your planning process, you’ll keep track of the commitments you’ve made, make consistent progress towards achieving your goals, and be more relaxed along the way.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/CCat82

7 TextExpander Macros to Increase Your Typing Efficiency

Make every keystroke count.

The most important thing you can do to increase your productivity at the computer is to learn the keyboard shortcuts for the apps you use. Seriously. Common operations all have keyboard equivalents so you can perform that action without having to move your hand away from the home row.

Close behind that are using accelerator apps like LaunchBar and TextExpander. LaunchBar (and the like) lets you launch apps, invoke scripts, and do a whole bunch of cool things without using the mouse. It’s one of the first third-party apps I install when setting up a new computer.

TextExpander watches what you’re typing, and when it sees you type in an abbreviation you’ve set up ahead of time, it will replace the abbreviation with an expanded piece of text. These can be substitutions that never change (“omw” becomes “I’m on my way.”), or they can run scripts and include the output in what you’re typing. It’s a great way to increase your efficiency when typing.

Here are the seven TextExpander macros I use the most.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/Nastco