More info on method ok?

I love marketing.

I love having conversations about marketing, planning marketing strategies, learning new techniques — because I believe in what I do and I’m not shy about getting out there and selling my products.

A lot of entrepreneurs are excited to start a business because of what they want to create or the people they hope to serve… but aren’t as enthusiastic about marketing.

But here’s the truth: you can’t have a successful business or make a positive impact without marketing.

Businesses must make money. To make money, you’ve got to sell. To sell, you need to tell people about what you do. That is marketing. 

If you believe that marketing is unethical, slimy, and salesy — and diminishes the beautiful and beneficial work you create — don’t despair. The most effective marketing is rooted in generosity, creativity, honesty, and transparency.

I’ve been in business for over two decades, and I’ve helped more than 64,000 entrepreneurs create their dream businesses with my online program, B-School. None of that could have happened if I kept quiet. And nobody wants to buy from someone who’s pushy or aggressive. 

In this guide, you’ll learn 12 authentic marketing strategies I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Meet people exactly where they are
  2. Inspire customers to buy with their hearts
  3. Stay connected through email
  4. Build a website that sells for you
  5. Be generous
  6. Give voice to their fears (without fear-mongering)
  7. Establish credibility
  8. Deliver value, for free 
  9. Deliver an outstanding customer experience
  10. Master copywriting
  11. Ask your customers what they want
  12. Know when to quit and when to commit

12 Authentic Marketing Strategies to Supercharge Your Growth

Ready to take your business to the next level? Here are the time-tested steps to marketing success. They come from over two decades of business experience and some brilliant marketing mentors.

Each strategy includes an Insight to Action step to help you move beyond thinking and into doing. Keep a notebook handy, and give yourself 5 to 10 minutes to work through the prompts in each step.

1. Meet People Exactly Where They Are

View Transcript

Do you think you know what your customers need — more than they do? 

As creatives, we fall in love with our products and services. But when sales don’t take off, it makes us want to scream, “How do you not know how amazing this is?!” 

Here’s what you have to remember: Your business exists to serve your customers. And the best way to do that is to meet them exactly where they are. Start by helping them reach the goals they want to achieve. Use the language their using to describe their pains, frustrations, dreams and aspirations.

For example, a new customer might not be ready for the advanced dance class that you want to sell (like Joana in today’s episode), but if you meet beginners with compassion and help them get results based on where they’re at, they’ll not only tell others how great you are, but be more likely to continue onto your advanced offerings.   

Approach your customer with compassion. Meet them exactly where they’re at. The golden rule of marketing is don’t fall in love with your product, fall in love with your customer.

Insight to Action: Think about your ideal customers and answer these questions with them in mind:

  • What are the biggest pains, concerns or frustrations your ideal customers are experiencing right now?
  • What can you do to demonstrate that you understand their emotions and that you can help them achieve results?

2. Inspire Customers to Buy with Their Hearts

View Transcript

Do you know what you’re really selling

Customers rarely buy what you think you’re selling, so you’ve got to get clear on what they really want.

For example, if I buy a garlic press, I’m not buying a kitchen tool. I’m buying future memories of cooking the perfect pasta dish for my friends. If I buy anything from CosaBella, I’m not just buying undergarments, I’m buying the extraordinary comfort, confidence and beauty of Italian-made lingerie.

The key to getting customers to open their wallets is getting them to open their hearts, imagination, and emotion. 

Insight to Action: 

  • In the center of a page in your notebook, write down the product or service you’re selling, and circle it.
  • Around it, write down the emotional benefits people associate with that item. What feelings — the non-obvious hopes, dreams, and aspirations — does it help them experience?
  • Circle the benefits you genuinely provide, so you can highlight them in your marketing.

3. Stay Connected through Email Marketing

A lot of businesses have an email list… but they do nothing with it.

If this is you, one of your best marketing tools is right under your nose! An email list means you have a slew of raving fans who’ve raised their hands to stay in touch with you. That’s pure gold, my friend.

These email subscribers are your potential customers. That’s why it’s important to make growing and nurturing your email list a core part of your business. 

The most effective way to grow your list is to offer a free opt-in, sometimes called a lead magnet. It’s a relevant, valuable freebie you give away in exchange for an email address. It’s usually digital (so it doesn’t cost you much to give away), and could be something like a:

  • Chapter from your book
  • Free PDF or online course
  • Coupon code

A great freebie establishes trust with your new subscriber, lets them get to know your brand, and demonstrates the value you have to offer. 

But here’s the key. You have to stay in touch! Once you bring people into your world with an enticing opt-in, follow up with an automatic sequence of welcome emails to continue to earn trust and nurture the relationship. Then, choose a frequency (every week, 2 weeks, 1X per month) and be consistent with your email marketing.

Insight to Action: Think about your customer, and answer these questions to make a plan for your winning opt in offer:

  • What do they need help with?
  • What’s a major frustration they’re struggling to solve?
  • What do they want most (e.g. money, guidance, time, a specific result)?
  • What tips would your customer benefit from learning?
  • What resources would genuinely help them?

4. Build a Website That Sells for You

View Transcript

A great website isn’t just about pretty graphics. It has to serve your business goals: getting people on your email list, delivering value to visitors, and generating sales.

Focus on getting people to opt into your email list, so the right people have a chance to learn more about your products down the road.

This is important: Don’t clutter your site with elaborate design or functionality that distracts from your top business goal. Don’t install every shiny new widget that doesn’t support that goal.

Everything on your site should convey a brand that’s real to you, inspires trust, and confidently sells what you offer.

Insight to Action: Choose a website platform to host and build your site. About a bajillion exist, but here are four that our students love:

  1. WordPress — for any kind of content creator.
  2. Shopify* — if you sell physical or digital products.
  3. Squarespaceeasy drag-and-drop builder for artists, ecommerce, podcasters, and more.
  4. Kajabi* — all-in-one platform to market, sell, and deliver online courses.
  5. MightyNetworks* — bringing together your website, online courses, and memberships in one platform.

*Note: We’re proud affiliates of these products and services, and we do receive a small commission from each sale.

5. Be Generous

Worried about being heard above the noise?

My friend and marketing master Seth Godin says differentiation, the way we traditionally approach it, is selfish — it’s about making a thing and convincing people they want it. 

Instead, realize the person you seek to serve has a problem they want to solve, and they don’t know who’s best to help them solve it. Your job as a marketer is to help customers get what they want, not to convince them they want what you sell.

“Differentiate” yourself by providing what people need and aren’t getting from other businesses in your market. In other words, be generous.

Insight to Action: Make a chart to find the hole in the market you can fill. 

  • Draw an X and Y axis, so you have four quadrants. Label each axis on a scale representing options in your industry.
  • For example, a florist might draw “romance versus funerals” and “cheap versus bespoke.” If businesses in their market already provide bespoke romantic arrangements, cheap romantic arrangements, and cheap funeral arrangements, but no one is offering bespoke funeral arrangements, the florist could fill that gap.
  • Which quadrants do your competitors live in? Which quadrants are underserved? Position yourself in the underserved quadrant to serve the needs that aren’t being met.

6. Give Voice To Their Fears (Without Fear-Mongering)

View Transcript

Appealing to fear is a long-established marketing strategy. Because it works. You might think it’s unethical, but effectively using fear in your marketing doesn’t have to mean fear-mongering.

If you use fear tactics with discretion, you’re actually practicing compassion. Great marketing strategies come from understanding and connecting with what drives your customer. Depending on the solution you offer, that might be fear or pain or frustration or excitement or aspiration.

Empathize with your customers and communicate through your marketing that you understand where they’re coming from. Give voice to their very legitimate fears and show them how you can assuage those fears — ethically, honestly and transparently.

Insight to Action: Pull up reviews from books, products, and media your target audience consumes. Copy and paste quotes that jump out at you and answer these questions:

  • What’s the biggest fear your ideal client has about their current situation?
  • How can you empathize with their concerns and fears, validate them and show them how to overcome them?

7. Establish Credibility — Fast

View Transcript

When you’re brand new to business, you’ve got a tricky task: You want to appear legitimate and trustworthy, so you need testimonials and success stories. But you’re brand new and don’t have a track-record — yet. It’s a real “chicken or the egg” kind of situation.

So how do you establish credibility to attract those first customers who will eventually evangelize your business?

Here are five easy ways to get street cred from the get-go:

  1. Improve your online image. A clean and professional website is a must in modern marketing. It doesn’t have to be expensive or award-winning — just functional, simple and clear. It shows you take your business seriously.
  2. Highlight your experience. Even if you haven’t sold anything yet, you still have experience that makes you qualified to offer the products or services you sell. Detail your experience on your about page to inspire confidence in customers.
  3. Communicate what you do clearly and confidently. Being confident about what you sell demonstrates professionalism and shows your faith in your offer. Don’t pull punches when you describe exactly what you do and how it can make a difference in your customer’s lives. Passion is contagious.
  4. Get client reviews early. Before you make sales, offer services for free or for a discount, and ask new customers for testimonials and reviews in exchange.
  5. Get press. Pitch local and online press, and do some guest posting. Once you’ve landed notable placements, stick those logos on your website — logos im-PRESS people, so don’t be afraid to brag!

Insight to Action: 

  • Choose one credibility-building step from above and do it now.

8. Deliver Value, For Free

We love a free sample, don’t we? Those little bites of smoked gouda on a toothpick at the cheese counter? Can’t resist!

Even though you might not buy a meal immediately after you accept that free sample, you’ll silently thank the restaurant for the bite that warms your belly. Most importantly, you’ll remember that restaurant and keep coming back for more. 

You can use the same strategy online. Even better, it’s a lot cheaper to give away something digital.

Tons of free tools exist to help you share your ideas with the world. I do it through this blog, MarieTV, The Marie Forleo Podcast, MF Insider emails, and even free products like my free training, “How to Get Anything You Want”.

I love sharing ideas with readers, listeners, and viewers, whether or not they ever buy from me.

Giving away value freely is the perfect opportunity to serve your target market and delight prospective customers. Plus, if something is good and free, it can spread like dancing parrot videos, so it’s an organic marketing strategy.

You can’t begin to make your impact on the world unless you have attention and trust from your audience. You earn those through customers experiencing your products or services, and you can expedite those experiences by offering a few nibbles for free.

Insight to Action: 

  • What can you offer for free that’ll genuinely help your customer get closer to their desired outcome? Be generous.

9. Deliver an Outstanding Customer Experience

View Transcript

Marketing doesn’t stop once a customer decides to buy. The experience you deliver is one of your most important marketing strategies.

Follow these four steps to go the extra mile with your customer service

  1. Make an A+ first impression. Be intentional about the first thing your new customers experience — whether that’s an ad, social media, your website’s home page, your email welcome sequence, or the front door of your retail store. What frustrates them about competitors in your industry? How can you solve those challenges? From the second someone says “yes” to your product or service, give them a royal treatment.
  2. Use your customer’s language. Your customer wants to feel like you get them. An easy way to let them know is to speak their language. What words and phrases do they use to talk about their problems and needs? That language is the jet fuel that’ll help your business take off.
  3. Details matter — go the extra mile. What perks will knock the socks off your customers? What extras are other brands stingy about that you can include for free? Think free wifi or snacks on a long flight or a free recipe book with your new blender.
  4. Have your customer’s back. Remember: Your job is to help your customer get what they want. Use all of your communication with your customers — from your sales pitch to troubleshooting emails — to help them achieve their goals.

Insight to Action: 

  • Draw two columns on a page. On one side, write down everything that’s dazzled you as a customer in the past month. On the other, write down everything that’s frustrated you. Now, think about your own business. How can you make customers feel more of the wow and less of the waaaah in your own business?

10. Master Copywriting

View Transcript

No matter what you sell, you’re going to use copywriting. Copywriting includes the words you use on your website, emails, ads, video scripts, graphics, social media, product labels — in other words, everywhere you interact with customers.

Compelling copywriting is crucial to successful marketing.

Here are three key tips to effective copywriting:

  1. Keep it clear. If you confuse people, you lose people. Don’t use cutesy, clever words where plain language will do. Always opt for clarity and simplicity. Customers have to understand what they’re reading if they’re ever going to opt in or buy from you.
  2. Turn the spotlight on your customer. Focus your words on the problems, aspirations, and goals of the people you serve. Customers want to feel seen, heard, and acknowledged. Talking about yourself doesn’t give them that. You do that by talking about what they want.
  3. Don’t ramble. Effective communication doesn’t waste a single word. Keep your copy tight and right.

When it comes to website copy, clear and customer-focused beats clever and cute every time. 

Insight to Action: Use these copywriting exercises to write short, powerful sales copy:

  • Let it go… Write a long, windy, rambly first draft to get your ideas down without giving into perfectionism.
  • Write it rude. Write as if no one will be offended by what you’re writing. Screw all of the parentheticals and soft language that weakens your point, and just get your ideas down honestly.
  • Trim the fat. Now take your first draft and edit the bejeezus out of it. Cut as many words as you can to eliminate the fluff. Cut common filler words, including: that, just, you can, and start.

11. Ask Your Customers What They Want

You’re saying, “Okay, Marie, I’m with you that I need to speak to my customer’s desires and needs… but what if I don’t know what those are?”

Have you tried talking to them??

Seriously, get in touch with the people you hope to serve and the people who’ve already been customers. Ask them what they’re struggling with. Find out more about their fear, frustrations, dreams and aspirations — then incorporate that into your marketing.

This is vital: Telling customers you care isn’t the same as actually caring. You need to put in the work to demonstrate you care about making real change in their lives.

Do the creative work behind the scenes to keep innovating and delivering something that stands out from everyone else in your industry. Take the risk of being different. Offer what you know will truly serve your audience, rather than what you think will make you money.

Insight to Action: 

  • Engage with your prospects and customers now. Get them on the phone. Ask questions to get them talking to you via your email newsletter. Take time to really listen and find out who they are, what they’re struggling with, and what they want to achieve. Do it because you’re genuinely interested — we can all smell fake engagement from a mile away.

12. Know When to Quit & When to Commit

View Transcript

How do you tell the difference between when to persevere and keep going — and when you need to cut your losses and give up on a specific marketing strategy or marketing campaign? 

If you’re not seeing results, ask these questions to figure out whether you should quit or commit to your marketing plan:

  1. What metric are you measuring? What are you trying to increase or improve in your business? Email subscribers? Sales? Website traffic? If those numbers are heading the direction you want them to go, keep going. If they’re not, change your strategy.
  2. Why are you really doing it? MarieTV grew into a smart marketing strategy for my business, but it didn’t start that way. It started as a fun experiment. Creating something because you enjoy doing it provides enormous personal ROI, and often the marketing metrics will follow. 
  3. What’s the opportunity cost of staying the course?  Everything you say yes to means saying no to something else. What projects or strategies are you not getting to because your time is invested in your current strategy? If staying the course keeps you from spending time and energy on something more valuable, don’t be afraid to quit.

Insight to Action: 

  • Write down your answers to the above questions to determine the goals, motivations, and benefits of your current marketing strategy.

14 Digital Marketing Platforms to Boost Your Business

Digital marketing is vital whether you run an online or brick-and-mortar business. Your exact strategy will depend on your customer and your goals, but here are some channels to consider: 

  1. Blog: Post content to connect with your audience, share your ideas, and offer free value to potential customers. Here’s how to generate a year’s worth of content ideas.
  2. Email newsletter: In content marketing, your list is your business. Use your email newsletter to deliver exclusive, top-notch content to wow prospective customers — and make the occasional sales pitch.
  3. YouTube: Videos and shows, like MarieTV, deliver enormous value to your audience and show off all your unique YOU-ness to potential customers.
  4. Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms are places to open the door and connect with your customers on a more personal level.  
  5. Search engine optimization: Help new prospects find your content and products on Google by using relevant search keywords.
  6. Guest blogging: Tap into other people’s audience by writing on established sites.
  7. Affiliates: Incentivize supporters to spread the word about your products and services with a commission.
  8. Advertising: Go old-school in a new-school kinda way by advertising through Facebook, Google AdWords, video and audio commercials, and programmatic ads that find your target customer automatically wherever they are on the web.
  9. Influencers: Work with people who run popular blogs and social media accounts to create content that boosts your brand awareness.
  10. Text or chat: Just like email, you can ask customers to opt in with their phone numbers or through Facebook Messenger, and send occasional messages and promotions.
  11. Webinars: Especially if you sell a premium product, a free webinar is a genius way to help your audience move closer to their goal and give them a taste of your expertise.
  12. Ebooks and digital downloads: A free ebook, PDF worksheet, or audio or video download can entice visitors to opt into your email list AND show them exactly what kind of value you provide.
  13. Referrals: Enlist existing customers to help spread the word with a referral bonus, like a free month of a subscription or a discount on your services.
  14. Forums: Reach out to power users on forums like Quora and Reddit, and offer them free access to your product or service. Once they fall in love with it (and YOU!), they’ll naturally recommend it in response to questions they answer when it’s a fit.

6 Offline Marketing Strategies to Spread the Word

Traditional marketing strategies let you get up close and personal with your customers. These methods are often more expensive than digital options, but they help you reach a different audience and can lend street cred to your business.

  1. Trade shows: Great for product-based businesses who want to connect with retailers. 
  2. Free swag: Have you ever asked a friend about a sticker on their laptop, bumper sticker on their car, or stress ball on their desk? Swag is a fun way to help fans spread your brand around.
  3. Get quoted in the press: Show off your expertise and your business by offering yourself as an expert source or feature story to local newspapers and TV. Connect with reporters through Help A Reporter Out (HARO), ProfNet, or a database for diverse experts.
  4. Publish research: A brilliant way to showcase your expertise and get press coverage is to share insights from surveys and other research you conduct at your company. 
  5. Flash mob: Get creative, and book a flash mob! Be sure to record it, so you can use the video for online marketing, too.
  6. Mailers: Mail flyers to customers in a target location to introduce them to your brand and include an exclusive discount or offer.

322+ Free Tools to Start a Business

Think you need a massive, Madison Avenue budget to get the word out about your business? Not anymore!

There has never been an easier, more affordable time to run a business.

My comprehensive guide offers 322+ FREE business tools and resources to help you plan, design, market, and manage your way to success. You have everything you need to start and grow your dream business today.

Get your free tools guide now.

Insight to Action: Your Marketing Strategy Checklist

Growing your business is no cake walk. It takes consistent attention and action.

However, if you truly aim to serve, marketing your products and services can be one of the most creative and fulfilling aspects of running your business.

Below are all of your insight-to-action steps from this guide. Crack open a fresh notebook, and commit to checking one or two off your list anytime you’re ready for a fresh marketing strategy.

  1. Meet people exactly where they are. Shine a spotlight on your customers, and write down the ways you can help them achieve their goals.
  2. Inspire customers to buy with their hearts. Draw a mind map to recognize the true benefits customers get when they buy from you.
  3. Stay connected through email. Devise a winning opt in offer that’ll move your potential customer closer to their goal.
  4. Build a website that sells for you. Research top website-building platforms, and pick the one that’s the best fit for your business.
  5. Be generous. Make a chart to find the underserved quadrant in your market and create an offer to fill the gap.
  6. Give voice to their fears (without fear-mongering). Mine reviews of products in your industry to become familiar with customers’ emotions, needs, fears, and aspirations.
  7. Establish credibility fast through a professional online image, clear communication, and freebies for reviewers. Choose one tactic, then do it TODAY. 
  8. Deliver value, for free. How can you offer genuine value for free to your potential customers?
  9. Deliver an outstanding customer experience. Make a list of the best and worst customer experiences you’ve had in the past month — and strive to be the best!
  10. Master copywriting. Write glorious copy by letting go or writing rude to get down a first draft, then trim the fat to punch it up.
  11. Ask your customers what they want. Engage with your prospects or customers in person, via email, or on social media. Listen, then deliver the best offer to help them achieve their goals.
  12. Know when to quit and when to commit. Determine the goals, motivations, and benefits of your current marketing strategy to decide whether to continue.

Above all, remember this: Marketing is about making change, not making dollars. Your marketing strategy is a success if it touches the hearts of the people you aim to serve and delivers the amazing gift you alone can offer the world.

The post Marketing Strategies: 12 Secrets to Marketing Success That’ll Supercharge Your Business appeared first on .

anyone like this post as much as me

With quarantine limitations still in order here in the US, spending so much time at home has brought up some interesting challenges.

Even though I’ve worked from home for two years, this period of time has taught me that working from home can easily blur the lines between work and self-care.

When your home is also your office, bringing work into your self-care space can create some hazy boundaries. This makes it hard to a) find the motivation to work and/or b) switch off from work.

Working from home can blur the lines between productivity and self-care. Here's how to balance work and self-care when you work from home.

When I was working in an office, I found it easy to mentally check out from work as soon as I left the office at 5pm. But now, I’ll catch myself making dinner at 5 then going back to my computer while I eat (so bad, I know).

Working from home means the same place where you eat, relax, and socialize becomes associated with work.

If you’re on regular Zoom calls, your work meetings are now in your sacred space. It’s almost like inviting your co-workers into your living room for a meeting.

To add to this, your typical forms of escape from work might not be available with quarantine limitations still in effect. For example, the yoga studio, the gym, your local pool, and the coffee shop where you would catch up with a friend.

The places and activities that you associate with self-care aren’t available right now. This can make it hard to disengage from work while simultaneously making you feel like you’re resting too much.

In this post, I’m sharing a few tips that have been helping me to set boundaries so I can better balance work and rest from home.

How To Balance Work & Self-Care When You Work From Home


Working from home can blur the lines between productivity and self-care. Here's how to balance work and self-care when you work from home.

1. Create a ritual to bookmark the start and end of the day

When working in an office, your commute might have been your signal that the workday was starting or ending. Working from home makes it a little harder to keep a similar structure.

A friend of mine said during the first few weeks of working from home, she would roll out of bed at 7:55am to check in on her computer at 8am. She was enjoying getting the extra sleep knowing she didn’t have to commute.  After doing this for a while, she started to crave some time to herself before work. She began getting up around 7 instead to make time for a cup of tea and journaling, which gives her a chance to get ready for the day ahead.

Be intentional with how you want to start and end your day. Think of the time before and after work like your wind-up and wind-down time.

At the end of the day, do whatever you can to get out of the work mentality. Turn off your computer screen, close your laptop, and get away from your desk. I also find that going for a walk around the block at the end of the workday helps to decompress, and it almost feels like a mini-commute (but much more enjoyable). 


2. Set a time to stop working and checking notifications

When you’re spending most of your time at home, it’s tempting to check your phone or computer after hours. Since they’re always in close proximity, you might find it hard to resist checking in if you find yourself with nothing to do. 

Create a boundary to help you maintain this separation between work and rest time. That might look like not checking emails before 8am or after 5pm, or setting app limits from 6pm until 8am the next day.

On the weekends, it can be tempting to work when you have the resources right in front of you. If you want a work-free weekend, try putting your laptop out of sight, keep your office door closed (if you have an office), and delete your email app from your phone until Monday.

The thing is that you have to set these boundaries for yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.


3. Separate your spaces for work and self-care

Try to create separate spaces, even if they’re small, to separate your work and self-care areas. For example, I have a corner in my living room that I’ve dedicated as my workout spot (which just means it’s where I put my workout mat). It’s not very big, but it’s enough space to do what I need to do.

Another example is sticking to doing work from a dedicated area. If you’ve been using your couch or bed for both work and relaxation, it might be sending confusing signals to your brain. I find that when I work on the couch, I’m less productive and it’s harder to concentrate (even if I’m not watching anything on TV). My back and legs also tend to hurt more because my coffee table isn’t tall enough to work from. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working from these spots sometimes, but it’s better to have a desk and chair set-up that you use exclusively for work.

If you don’t have the space to separate your work and non-work life, try to create different moods in your home.

For example, you can use scents, sounds, and textures (from clothing) for different times of the day. You could use one essential oil during work and another one for after work. Or you can wear form-fitting (but still comfy) clothes during work and change into your comfiest, loose clothing afterward. Subtle changes like this can create the illusion of separation when you don’t have much space to work with.


More Tips to Balance Work and Rest

If you feel like you’re working too much and not getting enough rest, check out these posts:


If you feel like you’re resting too much and not being productive at home, check out these posts: 


Share your thoughts! How have you been maintaining boundaries while working from home?

The post How To Balance Productivity and Rest When You Work From Home appeared first on The Blissful Mind.

Thanks for the info

john-silliman-yoZWr8iQ93o-unsplash

I’d like to speak to any of my readers who have supported the current U.S. president in the past, or who are planning to do so again this year. Believe it or not, I’ve been trying to understand where you’re coming from.

I wrote and rewrote this post at least three times before figuring out what I wanted to say. I knew that if I insulted you, you wouldn’t listen—which is fair, because I don’t tend to listen to people who insult me either.

One of you wrote to me recently to say that I must think everyone who supports Trump is a moron. But that’s not true, I replied. I think a lot of them know exactly what they’re getting with their candidate.

And that, to me, is the greatest problem and what I find the scariest of all.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, however. As I said, I’ve been trying to understand why so many people would support someone with the clear intention of destabilizing the world. So first, I thought I’d try to take a step back and think about it more. To start, I went back four years and what seems like a lifetime ago.​

Why Vote for Trump in 2016? A Few Actual Reasons

What, I wondered, would cause a version of myself to be attracted to such a candidate—could there be anything?

In fact, I realized there could be several things. One, there was a destructive approach to his strategy as a first-time candidate that I respected. He came into a traditional party structure and refused to follow its rules, somehow managing to impose his own and getting everyone else to follow along. There’s no doubt about it: this was a remarkable feat.

Under the right circumstances, being an outsider can convey power and status, especially when the insider choices are so undesirable. If you’re frustrated with the political process in America (and there are many good reasons to be), then I can see why it’s attractive to encounter a successful candidate who disregards nearly all of it.

Similarly, I tend to admire people who question norms and protocol. Should the U.S. president have to spend his time hosting state dinners and welcoming sports teams? Must he pretend to respect his opponents in the primary, even if everyone knows they all hate each other?

Clearly, there’s a line between bravado and carnage. But on the surface level, someone who says “Screw this, I’m going to do it my way” has a certain appeal.

So I get it! At least some of it.

Furthermore, if you believed that things “aren’t the way they used to be” and along comes a candidate who makes a direct appeal to the past instead of the future, then I understand how some of those pieces clicked into place for you. Mitt Romney was honest when he told Michigan that its auto manufacturing jobs weren’t going to come back—and he lost the election. Trump promised them otherwise, even though he had no ability to make it happen—and he won.

Lastly, perhaps you supported him four years ago as a protest vote of sorts. You didn’t like Hillary, for whatever reason, so you thought “I’ll just add to the number of votes for the other side, even though we all know he won’t actually win.”

Voting for Hillary was the obvious choice for me, but if I a) didn’t like her, and b) thought she was going to win no matter what I did, then I understand the protest vote logic.

Of course, much to everyone’s surprise—including the president himself, it seems—he actually won! Russia helped, and so did James Comey, but I don’t deny the fact that a lot of people in the right swing states truly believed in him. The phenomenon was real.​

What We’ve Learned in Four Years

But now it’s time for the reality check. That was then, and now here we are four years later. For everyone who said, “Let’s give him a chance,” ask yourself: how did that turn out? For anyone who thought he would grow to be presidential and stop bullying people online all day, what happened?

Again, you need to acknowledge reality. This is an administration that has separated families and put immigrants in cages. On a daily basis, the president uses a social network to insult not only his enemies, but eventually every single person or group he encounters. No one is safe, not military veterans, the disabled, or even his own revolving cabinet of advisers.

Above all, this is an administration that refuses to acknowledge facts or tell the truth. Over and over, the president and his allies lie directly, and his supporters (maybe you?) don’t seem to mind.

As the saying goes, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

If you have children or grandchildren, how do you explain to them that the president of the United States makes payoffs to porn stars? (And do you remember that the greatest moral controversy of Obama’s eight years in power was when he wore a tan suit to a press conference?)

ThinkAgain

Making America Worse Than Anyone Thought Possible

One of the great ironies of the president’s agenda—if such a thing exists, since so much of it is driven by personality instead of ideology—is that the promise to “make America great again” has actually made America much worse off.

Back in 2016, Trump campaigned with rhetoric about how the world was laughing at the U.S. because we were “weak.” I travel a lot, or at least I did before the pandemic—and I can assure you that the world thinks very differently about American leadership now than it did four years ago.

It’s not a positive change. Our allies are shaken, and our enemies are emboldened. Why do you think Russia has invested so much in trying to destabilize the U.S.? They achieved a tremendous victory four years ago, and they’re on the verge of doing so again.​

It’s Time to Correct a Big Mistake

So here’s what it comes down to: if you voted to support Trump last time, you made a big mistake.

Sorry, but it’s true. The consequences of the 2016 election have been severe and enduring. The pandemic was always going to happen, but it didn’t have to be this bad. Conflict in society is inevitable, but we don’t need to reach the point of complete collapse.

Still, here we are. We all make mistakes. No one can change the outcome of the last election, but so much more is at stake for the next four years. No matter what you thought about this president until now, there’s still time—a very short amount of time—to redeem yourself and walk away.

For my readers who are more progressive, it’s important for you to show up too. Don’t give in to the lie that this election doesn’t matter, or that because Bernie Sanders (or whoever you preferred) didn’t win the nomination, it’s not worth it. You need to do your part!

But I’m not writing this letter to you, because you don’t need my encouragement.

Instead, I’m writing to anyone who is thinking of supporting the president’s reelection, whether you’ve followed my work for a while or have just stumbled upon this communication.

Here’s what I would say to you, as strongly as I can: please don’t vote for Trump this time. You need to reconsider, and change course while you still can.

If you’ve never voted for a Democrat before, this is the time to jump ship.

If you have to go against the wishes of your family, so be it. Now is the time to be courageous.

I’m not asking you to donate to the Biden campaign or join a political party (I’ve never belonged to one myself). What I’m saying is that his candidacy is the only path forward to prevent further breakdown of civil society.

One candidate in this election is a decent, competent person. His biggest weaknesses are that he seems a little out of touch and he talks too much. The other candidate is a sexual predator who has encouraged armed militias to support him if he doesn’t win the election. He has deployed the National Guard to tear gas peaceful citizens for the sake of a photo op. Why is this a hard choice?

MaskVote

So for anyone who’s ever thought, “America should be better than this,” here’s what you need to do. First, register to vote (there’s still time in most states) and request a mail-in ballot if you can.

Second, talk to your parents and grandparents who support Trump. If they’re getting their news from Facebook, that’s half the problem—tell them what’s really going on, show them the evidence from actual news sources, and encourage them to change their minds.

International readers, I haven’t forgotten about you. Most of you know that the whole world is watching this election, and the outcome will affect your lives in many ways. Far-right governments are on the rise worldwide, and they gain strength when they see that a leader in the richest country in the world can get away with this.

So if you’re not in the U.S., encourage your American friends to do the right thing—tell them that you don’t hate them if they voted differently (or didn’t vote at all) before, but now’s the time for them to step up and make a change.

Last but not least, for anyone who says “Wow, Chris, I like your other work, but I don’t like you being so political”—the reality is that our lives are always political. I have been writing about things that matter since I started my blog in 2008, and if anything ever mattered, this is it.

I don’t care if you unsubscribe from my newsletter or stop reading my blog (and there’s no need to send me a message letting me know), but I do care that you decide where you stand in this critical time of history.

Simply put, you need to choose a side. Please choose the right one this time.​​

Yours in democracy,

Chris Guillebeau

P.S. To my fellow artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and creators: guess what? You need to take a side, too. Attempting to be neutral in this situation is another mistake. Be brave and speak up!

###

Images: 1, 2, 3

Cool post thanks this is really good

Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me soon after I got married. At that point, I had just been married for a few months. I didn’t even know *if* I wanted kids, much less *when* I was having them.

Caught off guard, I replied matter-of-factly, “I have not decided if I want to have kids.” Little did I realize that I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who put off having children until it was too late, as well as women who had difficulty conceiving for various reasons, with the implicit message being that I was going to regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on producing babies.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I would receive constant questions around “When are you having kids?” from relatives and random people, followed by a routine, almost ritualistic pressurization to have kids.

Lest you think that it ends after having a child, it doesn’t. The people who previously tried to tell you to have “just one kid” when you were indifferent to the idea, will now tell you to have a second one, along with reasons why you should do so. It seems like this questioning process never ends.

The problem with asking people “When are you having kids?”

I understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, settle down, get married, and have kids. This is the life path that we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the life script that we’ve been told is *the* way of life, that would bring us ultimate joy and happiness.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture, where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. There are even sayings built around this notion, such as 生儿育女 (shēng ér yù nǚ), which means to birth sons and raise daughters, and 子孙满堂 (zǐ sūn mǎn táng), which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren, used to signify the epitome of happiness.

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to depict a vision of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that you should have kids. “When are you having kids?” they ask, somehow expecting you to give them a straight answer to what is really a personal question.

The problem with this question is that it’s rude. It’s presumptuous. It’s also insensitive.

1) There are many different paths to happiness

Firstly, everyone has their own path in life. Some people want kids, while some don’t. Some think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see them as a burden. At the end of the day, having kids isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are significant ups and downs that come with having a kid, and for some people, the ups do not justify the downs. For these people, it may simply be better to remain childless, rather than having kids just to fit in or to fit societal expectations, and then set their lives up for unhappiness. To assume that everyone should have kids, just because you think that having kids is great and important, is rude and disregards that person’s own preferences in life.

For example, Oprah Winfrey is an inspiring woman and humanitarian who chose not to have kids, but has instead dedicated herself to her personal life purpose of serving the world. Oprah hosted her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show for 25 years, founded a leadership academy for girls and became a mother figure to the girls in attendance, and started her own television network. These are things that most do not get to do in their lifetime. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for people worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

Is she not being a responsible or purposeful person or woman by choosing not to have kids? Definitely not. In fact, I dare say that she lives a much more purposeful life than many in the world, including some people who choose to have kids.

There are many famous celebrities who have chosen not to have kids as well.

  • Chelsea Handler is a talk show host who chose not to have kids. She has said honestly in interviews that she doesn’t have the time to raise a child, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[2][3]
  • Betty White is an actress and comedian who chose not to have kids because she’s passionate about her career and she prefers to focus on it.[4]
  • Ashley Judd is an actress and politican activist who chose not to have kids because she feels that there are already so many orphaned kids in this world. To her, her resources can be better used to help those who are already here, and I respect her for such a noble choice.[5]

And then there are others, such as Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei (the actress for Peter Parker’s aunt in Tom Holland’s Spider Man film series), Renée Zellweger, and Rachael Ray. These people choose not to have kids for different reasons, such as because they’re already pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, because they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or because they just don’t feel a deep desire to have kids.

Not having kids has not prevented these people from being happy in life, and there’s no reason to assume why people must have kids in order to be happy. People need to stop painting this narrative that one must have children in order to be happy. There are plenty of people with kids who are unhappy, and plenty of people without kids who have found inner fulfillment in life through other ways. There is no one path to happiness, and people need to realize that.

2) You may well cause hurt and pain

Secondly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids, but maybe they are facing fertility struggles. For example,

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[6]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[7]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[8]

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,[9] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[10]

For some people, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain, struggle, and losses as they experience miscarriages, undergo round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in hope of the double blue lines on their pregnancy kit each month.

And then there are people who cannot have their own biological children due to issues with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth.

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[6]

3) Not everyone is in a place to have kids

Thirdly, having kids is simply not a reality for some people due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in a place like Singapore.

Some people may be facing problems with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people facing chronic health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, which make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

4) Some couples could still be thinking

And then there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids, like myself when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having a kid should be an automatic decision, because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that will change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you’re bringing into the world.

For those yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want, not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the initial years after I got married, I just wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life with my husband before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, both my husband and I were genuinely happy spending the rest of our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids at all, not in the way my culture obsesses about it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems, and I was fully focused on supporting him through these. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“This person’s baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

It was as if I was some vehicle, some production machine to have kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband would never get it (as a man), not even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is also a complex one. It is a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple in question.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants to carry grandchildren or their aunt wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to nurture another life.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7, whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for a new life, or who will be responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 18-21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violenceabuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities, and not make parenthood seem like it’s some magical band-aid that solves a lack of purpose or life’s pressures. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a big strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through 6 years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you tend to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, insensitive, and it disregards people’s privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them about it.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they really don’t want kids,
  2. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  3. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (c), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon coffee chat, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people their personal space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking women or couples, “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like how you would a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, you can simply ask, “Are you and your partner planning to have kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a generic answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change a person’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids, and some people will not have kids. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths and there’s nothing wrong with them.

For Me

For my husband and I, we eventually had a few discussions and decided to have a baby, and had our baby girl this year (2020). 😊 Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only annoyed me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision between me and my husband, that has nothing to do with them. It was after we had the space to settle down and enjoy married life without kids, and took some time to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid last year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are other things that I’m working on, other things that are happening that I look forward to sharing in time to come. Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it. I’ll talk to you guys soon! 🙂

Always love everything about method

By Leo Babauta

I’ve talked with several people lately who have tasks lists from the floor to the ceiling, and it just overwhelms them. They’re not alone — I can relate, and lots of people have this problem.

If we’re fairly organized, our task list has everything we could possibly want to do on it, and it’ll get longer and longer.

That’s the good scenario — most people don’t have everything on the list, and the tasks are scattered across different systems and lists, in email inboxes and messaging apps, in browser tabs and pieces of paper, and in their heads.

Either way, it eventually gets so overwhelming that many people will give up whatever system they’re doing and start afresh, because the old system wasn’t working. In truth, they just didn’t have a way to deal with the overwhelm.

So what can we do?

It turns out, several key things.

Get Clear on Priorities

Let’s call this Step 0 — if you’re already clear on what matters to you, you’re ahead of the game.

But think about this: if you don’t know what matters, how can you focus on anything? Everything will seem urgent and important, and you’ll be scattered in lots of directions.

If you know what is most important, you can focus on that. The rest can wait. It’s like if you’re a doctor in a hospital, and one person needs a life-saving heart operation, and a hundred people have ankle sprains. You’ll focus on the heart operation, and let the ankle sprains wait for a few minutes.

Get clear on what matters to you. Make a list. Write out why. It’s worth spending 30 minutes on this.

Get clear on what’s important this week. And what you need to focus on today.

If you can get clarity on what matters & what to focus on, it will make you so much more effective than jumping around from task to task as if you were putting out a thousand small fires.

Change How You Relate to Your Tasks

Think about your list of tasks right now — does it feel stressful? This is a sign that you think of them as burdens, as something stressful, or as a potential way that you’re going to let people down or fail or look stupid. Or maybe all of the above.

How I’ve often related to my tasks is something like, “If I don’t do this task, I will be deficient and let people down.” If I have a list of tasks that’s full of these kinds of potential failures … of course it will be stressful!

How do you relate to your tasks?

Is there a more empowered relationship you can create?

Some examples:

  • I’m fully committed to this task because it’s incredibly important to me, so I’m going to create a sacred space of 30 minutes today to be fully present with it.
  • This task is an opportunity for me to serve someone I care deeply about, with love.
  • These tasks are training ground for me to practice presence, devotion, getting comfortable with uncertainty.
  • These tasks are an adventure! An exploration of new ground, a learning space, a way to grow and discover and create and be curious.
  • This task list is a huge playground, full of ways for me to play today!

These are some examples from my life, but they don’t have to be your relationship — what empowered way would you like to relate to your tasks?

Find that, and practice it daily.

A Short List

I find it helpful to have a long list of tasks, separated by area (work, personal, finances, etc.) and project, if applicable. But this long list can’t be done today.

So I create a short list, of just stuff I’m going to do today. I call it  “Today’s Joy List”. I try to keep it to 5-6 things, though often I give in to the temptation to add more joy opportunities than I actually have time for. 🙂

If I have meetings, those are on the list, and the more meetings I have, the fewer tasks I allow myself to put on the list.

What things have to be done today?

What things would be a really powerful use of your day?

Just focus on those. The rest can come later.

Full Focus

With a short list of high priority tasks, and an empowered relationship to those tasks … the world is yours!

The final thing I would say is to focus on one thing at a time. If you can practice this regularly, the overwhelm starts to lessen.

The opposite of this is constant switching between tasks. Doing quick emails, working on a task, but 30 seconds into that task you go check your favorite website or messages, etc.

Full focus is picking something important to work on, and then clearing everything else away. Make this the only thing in front of you. Notice the urge to go do something else, breathe, then bring focus back to the task.

Let it be your whole world. Be grateful to have this task in front of you, this opportunity to serve people you care about, this opportunity to play and be curious, this opportunity to learn and find joy and delight.

Now that I’ve shared these ideas of working with an overwhelming task list … how would you like to practice?

I always adore everything like this

john-silliman-yoZWr8iQ93o-unsplash

I’d like to speak to any of my readers who have supported the current U.S. president in the past, or who are planning to do so again this year. Believe it or not, I’ve been trying to understand where you’re coming from.

I wrote and rewrote this post at least three times before figuring out what I wanted to say. I knew that if I insulted you, you wouldn’t listen—which is fair, because I don’t tend to listen to people who insult me either.

One of you wrote to me recently to say that I must think everyone who supports Trump is a moron. But that’s not true, I replied. I think a lot of them know exactly what they’re getting with their candidate.

And that, to me, is the greatest problem and what I find the scariest of all.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, however. As I said, I’ve been trying to understand why so many people would support someone with the clear intention of destabilizing the world. So first, I thought I’d try to take a step back and think about it more. To start, I went back four years and what seems like a lifetime ago.​

Why Vote for Trump in 2016? A Few Actual Reasons

What, I wondered, would cause a version of myself to be attracted to such a candidate—could there be anything?

In fact, I realized there could be several things. One, there was a destructive approach to his strategy as a first-time candidate that I respected. He came into a traditional party structure and refused to follow its rules, somehow managing to impose his own and getting everyone else to follow along. There’s no doubt about it: this was a remarkable feat.

Under the right circumstances, being an outsider can convey power and status, especially when the insider choices are so undesirable. If you’re frustrated with the political process in America (and there are many good reasons to be), then I can see why it’s attractive to encounter a successful candidate who disregards nearly all of it.

Similarly, I tend to admire people who question norms and protocol. Should the U.S. president have to spend his time hosting state dinners and welcoming sports teams? Must he pretend to respect his opponents in the primary, even if everyone knows they all hate each other?

Clearly, there’s a line between bravado and carnage. But on the surface level, someone who says “Screw this, I’m going to do it my way” has a certain appeal.

So I get it! At least some of it.

Furthermore, if you believed that things “aren’t the way they used to be” and along comes a candidate who makes a direct appeal to the past instead of the future, then I understand how some of those pieces clicked into place for you. Mitt Romney was honest when he told Michigan that its auto manufacturing jobs weren’t going to come back—and he lost the election. Trump promised them otherwise, even though he had no ability to make it happen—and he won.

Lastly, perhaps you supported him four years ago as a protest vote of sorts. You didn’t like Hillary, for whatever reason, so you thought “I’ll just add to the number of votes for the other side, even though we all know he won’t actually win.”

Voting for Hillary was the obvious choice for me, but if I a) didn’t like her, and b) thought she was going to win no matter what I did, then I understand the protest vote logic.

Of course, much to everyone’s surprise—including the president himself, it seems—he actually won! Russia helped, and so did James Comey, but I don’t deny the fact that a lot of people in the right swing states truly believed in him. The phenomenon was real.​

What We’ve Learned in Four Years

But now it’s time for the reality check. That was then, and now here we are four years later. For everyone who said, “Let’s give him a chance,” ask yourself: how did that turn out? For anyone who thought he would grow to be presidential and stop bullying people online all day, what happened?

Again, you need to acknowledge reality. This is an administration that has separated families and put immigrants in cages. On a daily basis, the president uses a social network to insult not only his enemies, but eventually every single person or group he encounters. No one is safe, not military veterans, the disabled, or even his own revolving cabinet of advisers.

Above all, this is an administration that refuses to acknowledge facts or tell the truth. Over and over, the president and his allies lie directly, and his supporters (maybe you?) don’t seem to mind.

As the saying goes, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

If you have children or grandchildren, how do you explain to them that the president of the United States makes payoffs to porn stars? (And do you remember that the greatest moral controversy of Obama’s eight years in power was when he wore a tan suit to a press conference?)

ThinkAgain

Making America Worse Than Anyone Thought Possible

One of the great ironies of the president’s agenda—if such a thing exists, since so much of it is driven by personality instead of ideology—is that the promise to “make America great again” has actually made America much worse off.

Back in 2016, Trump campaigned with rhetoric about how the world was laughing at the U.S. because we were “weak.” I travel a lot, or at least I did before the pandemic—and I can assure you that the world thinks very differently about American leadership now than it did four years ago.

It’s not a positive change. Our allies are shaken, and our enemies are emboldened. Why do you think Russia has invested so much in trying to destabilize the U.S.? They achieved a tremendous victory four years ago, and they’re on the verge of doing so again.​

It’s Time to Correct a Big Mistake

So here’s what it comes down to: if you voted to support Trump last time, you made a big mistake.

Sorry, but it’s true. The consequences of the 2016 election have been severe and enduring. The pandemic was always going to happen, but it didn’t have to be this bad. Conflict in society is inevitable, but we don’t need to reach the point of complete collapse.

Still, here we are. We all make mistakes. No one can change the outcome of the last election, but so much more is at stake for the next four years. No matter what you thought about this president until now, there’s still time—a very short amount of time—to redeem yourself and walk away.

For my readers who are more progressive, it’s important for you to show up too. Don’t give in to the lie that this election doesn’t matter, or that because Bernie Sanders (or whoever you preferred) didn’t win the nomination, it’s not worth it. You need to do your part!

But I’m not writing this letter to you, because you don’t need my encouragement.

Instead, I’m writing to anyone who is thinking of supporting the president’s reelection, whether you’ve followed my work for a while or have just stumbled upon this communication.

Here’s what I would say to you, as strongly as I can: please don’t vote for Trump this time. You need to reconsider, and change course while you still can.

If you’ve never voted for a Democrat before, this is the time to jump ship.

If you have to go against the wishes of your family, so be it. Now is the time to be courageous.

I’m not asking you to donate to the Biden campaign or join a political party (I’ve never belonged to one myself). What I’m saying is that his candidacy is the only path forward to prevent further breakdown of civil society.

One candidate in this election is a decent, competent person. His biggest weaknesses are that he seems a little out of touch and he talks too much. The other candidate is a sexual predator who has encouraged armed militias to support him if he doesn’t win the election. He has deployed the National Guard to tear gas peaceful citizens for the sake of a photo op. Why is this a hard choice?

MaskVote

So for anyone who’s ever thought, “America should be better than this,” here’s what you need to do. First, register to vote (there’s still time in most states) and request a mail-in ballot if you can.

Second, talk to your parents and grandparents who support Trump. If they’re getting their news from Facebook, that’s half the problem—tell them what’s really going on, show them the evidence from actual news sources, and encourage them to change their minds.

International readers, I haven’t forgotten about you. Most of you know that the whole world is watching this election, and the outcome will affect your lives in many ways. Far-right governments are on the rise worldwide, and they gain strength when they see that a leader in the richest country in the world can get away with this.

So if you’re not in the U.S., encourage your American friends to do the right thing—tell them that you don’t hate them if they voted differently (or didn’t vote at all) before, but now’s the time for them to step up and make a change.

Last but not least, for anyone who says “Wow, Chris, I like your other work, but I don’t like you being so political”—the reality is that our lives are always political. I have been writing about things that matter since I started my blog in 2008, and if anything ever mattered, this is it.

I don’t care if you unsubscribe from my newsletter or stop reading my blog (and there’s no need to send me a message letting me know), but I do care that you decide where you stand in this critical time of history.

Simply put, you need to choose a side. Please choose the right one this time.​​

Yours in democracy,

Chris Guillebeau

P.S. To my fellow artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and creators: guess what? You need to take a side, too. Attempting to be neutral in this situation is another mistake. Be brave and speak up!

###

Images: 1, 2, 3

Valuable Post

By Leo Babauta

I’ve talked with several people lately who have tasks lists from the floor to the ceiling, and it just overwhelms them. They’re not alone — I can relate, and lots of people have this problem.

If we’re fairly organized, our task list has everything we could possibly want to do on it, and it’ll get longer and longer.

That’s the good scenario — most people don’t have everything on the list, and the tasks are scattered across different systems and lists, in email inboxes and messaging apps, in browser tabs and pieces of paper, and in their heads.

Either way, it eventually gets so overwhelming that many people will give up whatever system they’re doing and start afresh, because the old system wasn’t working. In truth, they just didn’t have a way to deal with the overwhelm.

So what can we do?

It turns out, several key things.

Get Clear on Priorities

Let’s call this Step 0 — if you’re already clear on what matters to you, you’re ahead of the game.

But think about this: if you don’t know what matters, how can you focus on anything? Everything will seem urgent and important, and you’ll be scattered in lots of directions.

If you know what is most important, you can focus on that. The rest can wait. It’s like if you’re a doctor in a hospital, and one person needs a life-saving heart operation, and a hundred people have ankle sprains. You’ll focus on the heart operation, and let the ankle sprains wait for a few minutes.

Get clear on what matters to you. Make a list. Write out why. It’s worth spending 30 minutes on this.

Get clear on what’s important this week. And what you need to focus on today.

If you can get clarity on what matters & what to focus on, it will make you so much more effective than jumping around from task to task as if you were putting out a thousand small fires.

Change How You Relate to Your Tasks

Think about your list of tasks right now — does it feel stressful? This is a sign that you think of them as burdens, as something stressful, or as a potential way that you’re going to let people down or fail or look stupid. Or maybe all of the above.

How I’ve often related to my tasks is something like, “If I don’t do this task, I will be deficient and let people down.” If I have a list of tasks that’s full of these kinds of potential failures … of course it will be stressful!

How do you relate to your tasks?

Is there a more empowered relationship you can create?

Some examples:

  • I’m fully committed to this task because it’s incredibly important to me, so I’m going to create a sacred space of 30 minutes today to be fully present with it.
  • This task is an opportunity for me to serve someone I care deeply about, with love.
  • These tasks are training ground for me to practice presence, devotion, getting comfortable with uncertainty.
  • These tasks are an adventure! An exploration of new ground, a learning space, a way to grow and discover and create and be curious.
  • This task list is a huge playground, full of ways for me to play today!

These are some examples from my life, but they don’t have to be your relationship — what empowered way would you like to relate to your tasks?

Find that, and practice it daily.

A Short List

I find it helpful to have a long list of tasks, separated by area (work, personal, finances, etc.) and project, if applicable. But this long list can’t be done today.

So I create a short list, of just stuff I’m going to do today. I call it  “Today’s Joy List”. I try to keep it to 5-6 things, though often I give in to the temptation to add more joy opportunities than I actually have time for. 🙂

If I have meetings, those are on the list, and the more meetings I have, the fewer tasks I allow myself to put on the list.

What things have to be done today?

What things would be a really powerful use of your day?

Just focus on those. The rest can come later.

Full Focus

With a short list of high priority tasks, and an empowered relationship to those tasks … the world is yours!

The final thing I would say is to focus on one thing at a time. If you can practice this regularly, the overwhelm starts to lessen.

The opposite of this is constant switching between tasks. Doing quick emails, working on a task, but 30 seconds into that task you go check your favorite website or messages, etc.

Full focus is picking something important to work on, and then clearing everything else away. Make this the only thing in front of you. Notice the urge to go do something else, breathe, then bring focus back to the task.

Let it be your whole world. Be grateful to have this task in front of you, this opportunity to serve people you care about, this opportunity to play and be curious, this opportunity to learn and find joy and delight.

Now that I’ve shared these ideas of working with an overwhelming task list … how would you like to practice?

such a great post

john-silliman-yoZWr8iQ93o-unsplash

I’d like to speak to any of my readers who have supported the current U.S. president in the past, or who are planning to do so again this year. Believe it or not, I’ve been trying to understand where you’re coming from.

I wrote and rewrote this post at least three times before figuring out what I wanted to say. I knew that if I insulted you, you wouldn’t listen—which is fair, because I don’t tend to listen to people who insult me either.

One of you wrote to me recently to say that I must think everyone who supports Trump is a moron. But that’s not true, I replied. I think a lot of them know exactly what they’re getting with their candidate.

And that, to me, is the greatest problem and what I find the scariest of all.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, however. As I said, I’ve been trying to understand why so many people would support someone with the clear intention of destabilizing the world. So first, I thought I’d try to take a step back and think about it more. To start, I went back four years and what seems like a lifetime ago.​

Why Vote for Trump in 2016? A Few Actual Reasons

What, I wondered, would cause a version of myself to be attracted to such a candidate—could there be anything?

In fact, I realized there could be several things. One, there was a destructive approach to his strategy as a first-time candidate that I respected. He came into a traditional party structure and refused to follow its rules, somehow managing to impose his own and getting everyone else to follow along. There’s no doubt about it: this was a remarkable feat.

Under the right circumstances, being an outsider can convey power and status, especially when the insider choices are so undesirable. If you’re frustrated with the political process in America (and there are many good reasons to be), then I can see why it’s attractive to encounter a successful candidate who disregards nearly all of it.

Similarly, I tend to admire people who question norms and protocol. Should the U.S. president have to spend his time hosting state dinners and welcoming sports teams? Must he pretend to respect his opponents in the primary, even if everyone knows they all hate each other?

Clearly, there’s a line between bravado and carnage. But on the surface level, someone who says “Screw this, I’m going to do it my way” has a certain appeal.

So I get it! At least some of it.

Furthermore, if you believed that things “aren’t the way they used to be” and along comes a candidate who makes a direct appeal to the past instead of the future, then I understand how some of those pieces clicked into place for you. Mitt Romney was honest when he told Michigan that its auto manufacturing jobs weren’t going to come back—and he lost the election. Trump promised them otherwise, even though he had no ability to make it happen—and he won.

Lastly, perhaps you supported him four years ago as a protest vote of sorts. You didn’t like Hillary, for whatever reason, so you thought “I’ll just add to the number of votes for the other side, even though we all know he won’t actually win.”

Voting for Hillary was the obvious choice for me, but if I a) didn’t like her, and b) thought she was going to win no matter what I did, then I understand the protest vote logic.

Of course, much to everyone’s surprise—including the president himself, it seems—he actually won! Russia helped, and so did James Comey, but I don’t deny the fact that a lot of people in the right swing states truly believed in him. The phenomenon was real.​

What We’ve Learned in Four Years

But now it’s time for the reality check. That was then, and now here we are four years later. For everyone who said, “Let’s give him a chance,” ask yourself: how did that turn out? For anyone who thought he would grow to be presidential and stop bullying people online all day, what happened?

Again, you need to acknowledge reality. This is an administration that has separated families and put immigrants in cages. On a daily basis, the president uses a social network to insult not only his enemies, but eventually every single person or group he encounters. No one is safe, not military veterans, the disabled, or even his own revolving cabinet of advisers.

Above all, this is an administration that refuses to acknowledge facts or tell the truth. Over and over, the president and his allies lie directly, and his supporters (maybe you?) don’t seem to mind.

As the saying goes, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

If you have children or grandchildren, how do you explain to them that the president of the United States makes payoffs to porn stars? (And do you remember that the greatest moral controversy of Obama’s eight years in power was when he wore a tan suit to a press conference?)

ThinkAgain

Making America Worse Than Anyone Thought Possible

One of the great ironies of the president’s agenda—if such a thing exists, since so much of it is driven by personality instead of ideology—is that the promise to “make America great again” has actually made America much worse off.

Back in 2016, Trump campaigned with rhetoric about how the world was laughing at the U.S. because we were “weak.” I travel a lot, or at least I did before the pandemic—and I can assure you that the world thinks very differently about American leadership now than it did four years ago.

It’s not a positive change. Our allies are shaken, and our enemies are emboldened. Why do you think Russia has invested so much in trying to destabilize the U.S.? They achieved a tremendous victory four years ago, and they’re on the verge of doing so again.​

It’s Time to Correct a Big Mistake

So here’s what it comes down to: if you voted to support Trump last time, you made a big mistake.

Sorry, but it’s true. The consequences of the 2016 election have been severe and enduring. The pandemic was always going to happen, but it didn’t have to be this bad. Conflict in society is inevitable, but we don’t need to reach the point of complete collapse.

Still, here we are. We all make mistakes. No one can change the outcome of the last election, but so much more is at stake for the next four years. No matter what you thought about this president until now, there’s still time—a very short amount of time—to redeem yourself and walk away.

For my readers who are more progressive, it’s important for you to show up too. Don’t give in to the lie that this election doesn’t matter, or that because Bernie Sanders (or whoever you preferred) didn’t win the nomination, it’s not worth it. You need to do your part!

But I’m not writing this letter to you, because you don’t need my encouragement.

Instead, I’m writing to anyone who is thinking of supporting the president’s reelection, whether you’ve followed my work for a while or have just stumbled upon this communication.

Here’s what I would say to you, as strongly as I can: please don’t vote for Trump this time. You need to reconsider, and change course while you still can.

If you’ve never voted for a Democrat before, this is the time to jump ship.

If you have to go against the wishes of your family, so be it. Now is the time to be courageous.

I’m not asking you to donate to the Biden campaign or join a political party (I’ve never belonged to one myself). What I’m saying is that his candidacy is the only path forward to prevent further breakdown of civil society.

One candidate in this election is a decent, competent person. His biggest weaknesses are that he seems a little out of touch and he talks too much. The other candidate is a sexual predator who has encouraged armed militias to support him if he doesn’t win the election. He has deployed the National Guard to tear gas peaceful citizens for the sake of a photo op. Why is this a hard choice?

MaskVote

So for anyone who’s ever thought, “America should be better than this,” here’s what you need to do. First, register to vote (there’s still time in most states) and request a mail-in ballot if you can.

Second, talk to your parents and grandparents who support Trump. If they’re getting their news from Facebook, that’s half the problem—tell them what’s really going on, show them the evidence from actual news sources, and encourage them to change their minds.

International readers, I haven’t forgotten about you. Most of you know that the whole world is watching this election, and the outcome will affect your lives in many ways. Far-right governments are on the rise worldwide, and they gain strength when they see that a leader in the richest country in the world can get away with this.

So if you’re not in the U.S., encourage your American friends to do the right thing—tell them that you don’t hate them if they voted differently (or didn’t vote at all) before, but now’s the time for them to step up and make a change.

Last but not least, for anyone who says “Wow, Chris, I like your other work, but I don’t like you being so political”—the reality is that our lives are always political. I have been writing about things that matter since I started my blog in 2008, and if anything ever mattered, this is it.

I don’t care if you unsubscribe from my newsletter or stop reading my blog (and there’s no need to send me a message letting me know), but I do care that you decide where you stand in this critical time of history.

Simply put, you need to choose a side. Please choose the right one this time.​​

Yours in democracy,

Chris Guillebeau

P.S. To my fellow artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and creators: guess what? You need to take a side, too. Attempting to be neutral in this situation is another mistake. Be brave and speak up!

###

Images: 1, 2, 3

Always adore everything about method

Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me soon after I got married. At that point, I had just been married for a few months. I didn’t even know *if* I wanted kids, much less *when* I was having them.

Caught off guard, I replied matter-of-factly, “I have not decided if I want to have kids.” Little did I realize that I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who put off having children until it was too late, as well as women who had difficulty conceiving for various reasons, with the implicit message being that I was going to regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on producing babies.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I would receive constant questions around “When are you having kids?” from relatives and random people, followed by a routine, almost ritualistic pressurization to have kids.

Lest you think that it ends after having a child, it doesn’t. The people who previously tried to tell you to have “just one kid” when you were indifferent to the idea, will now tell you to have a second one, along with reasons why you should do so. It seems like this questioning process never ends.

The problem with asking people “When are you having kids?”

I understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, settle down, get married, and have kids. This is the life path that we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the life script that we’ve been told is *the* way of life, that would bring us ultimate joy and happiness.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture, where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. There are even sayings built around this notion, such as 生儿育女 (shēng ér yù nǚ), which means to birth sons and raise daughters, and 子孙满堂 (zǐ sūn mǎn táng), which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren, used to signify the epitome of happiness.

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to depict a vision of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that you should have kids. “When are you having kids?” they ask, somehow expecting you to give them a straight answer to what is really a personal question.

The problem with this question is that it’s rude. It’s presumptuous. It’s also insensitive.

1) There are many different paths to happiness

Firstly, everyone has their own path in life. Some people want kids, while some don’t. Some think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see them as a burden. At the end of the day, having kids isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are significant ups and downs that come with having a kid, and for some people, the ups do not justify the downs. For these people, it may simply be better to remain childless, rather than having kids just to fit in or to fit societal expectations, and then set their lives up for unhappiness. To assume that everyone should have kids, just because you think that having kids is great and important, is rude and disregards that person’s own preferences in life.

For example, Oprah Winfrey is an inspiring woman and humanitarian who chose not to have kids, but has instead dedicated herself to her personal life purpose of serving the world. Oprah hosted her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show for 25 years, founded a leadership academy for girls and became a mother figure to the girls in attendance, and started her own television network. These are things that most do not get to do in their lifetime. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for people worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

Is she not being a responsible or purposeful person or woman by choosing not to have kids? Definitely not. In fact, I dare say that she lives a much more purposeful life than many in the world, including some people who choose to have kids.

There are many famous celebrities who have chosen not to have kids as well.

  • Chelsea Handler is a talk show host who chose not to have kids. She has said honestly in interviews that she doesn’t have the time to raise a child, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[2][3]
  • Betty White is an actress and comedian who chose not to have kids because she’s passionate about her career and she prefers to focus on it.[4]
  • Ashley Judd is an actress and politican activist who chose not to have kids because she feels that there are already so many orphaned kids in this world. To her, her resources can be better used to help those who are already here, and I respect her for such a noble choice.[5]

And then there are others, such as Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei (the actress for Peter Parker’s aunt in Tom Holland’s Spider Man film series), Renée Zellweger, and Rachael Ray. These people choose not to have kids for different reasons, such as because they’re already pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, because they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or because they just don’t feel a deep desire to have kids.

Not having kids has not prevented these people from being happy in life, and there’s no reason to assume why people must have kids in order to be happy. People need to stop painting this narrative that one must have children in order to be happy. There are plenty of people with kids who are unhappy, and plenty of people without kids who have found inner fulfillment in life through other ways. There is no one path to happiness, and people need to realize that.

2) You may well cause hurt and pain

Secondly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids, but maybe they are facing fertility struggles. For example,

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[6]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[7]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[8]

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,[9] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[10]

For some people, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain, struggle, and losses as they experience miscarriages, undergo round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in hope of the double blue lines on their pregnancy kit each month.

And then there are people who cannot have their own biological children due to issues with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth.

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[6]

3) Not everyone is in a place to have kids

Thirdly, having kids is simply not a reality for some people due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in a place like Singapore.

Some people may be facing problems with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people facing chronic health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, which make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

4) Some couples could still be thinking

And then there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids, like myself when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having a kid should be an automatic decision, because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that will change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you’re bringing into the world.

For those yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want, not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the initial years after I got married, I just wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life with my husband before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, both my husband and I were genuinely happy spending the rest of our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids at all, not in the way my culture obsesses about it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems, and I was fully focused on supporting him through these. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“This person’s baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

It was as if I was some vehicle, some production machine to have kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband would never get it (as a man), not even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is also a complex one. It is a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple in question.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants to carry grandchildren or their aunt wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to nurture another life.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7, whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for a new life, or who will be responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 18-21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violenceabuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities, and not make parenthood seem like it’s some magical band-aid that solves a lack of purpose or life’s pressures. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a big strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through 6 years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you tend to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, insensitive, and it disregards people’s privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them about it.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they really don’t want kids,
  2. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  3. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (c), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon coffee chat, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people their personal space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking women or couples, “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like how you would a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, you can simply ask, “Are you and your partner planning to have kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a generic answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change a person’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids, and some people will not have kids. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths and there’s nothing wrong with them.

For Me

For my husband and I, we eventually had a few discussions and decided to have a baby, and had our baby girl this year (2020). 😊 Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only annoyed me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision between me and my husband, that has nothing to do with them. It was after we had the space to settle down and enjoy married life without kids, and took some time to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid last year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are other things that I’m working on, other things that are happening that I look forward to sharing in time to come. Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it. I’ll talk to you guys soon! 🙂