On getting things done

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Love what you do - that's how you get things done. Discipline and treating yourself with kindness also go a long way. Ben Casnocha, a successful entrepreneur and writer (I'd add "personality"), noted the following about people who "get stuff done" on his blog:

  • People who get stuff done maintain a high commitment to themselves. They don't want to let themselves down. The chief motivation to achieve comes from within, not external factors. It is very easy to not keep promises you make to yourself ("Gee, I think I'm going to stop smoking" or "Gee, I'm going to join the gym this month").
  • People who get stuff done strive for "good enough." Good enough is a key principle in entrepreneurship. If your aim is "perfect," the future is so far away it may be hard to get going.
  • People who get stuff done think about the short term future - At the end of meetings, they ask, "So what are the next steps?" It's easy to analyze the present or dream about the distant future, but actionable tasks over the next 2-4 weeks is most important for keeping the ball moving.
  • People who get stuff done "dream" and "talk" as much as the next guy, but they share these dreams and ideas with others. By sharing your intentions with others, you introduce yet another accountability mechanism.

  • The action habit, in my opinion, is indeed a learned habit, not a permanent part of a "successful personality."
These points are well documented in social psychology. For examples, simply announcing intentions in public makes it more likely for you to follow through on your commitments (though we may have to make exceptions for many politicians, whose politics sway with the wind and the public's short term memory). Breaking down big long term goals into smaller short term goals help people to feel efficacious and successful in tackling particularly long-term oriented tasks. A woman who won her cancer battle told me once how she was inspired by a friend's observation about her weight loss: "I don't look at losing 30 lbs in a month; I think of how I could lose 1 lb a day." While I don't advocate drastic weight loss, the point remains: increasing opportunities for short term successes does wonders to motivation and self-confidence.

The first point regarding self-commitment is quite spot on as well. Taking yourself seriously is probably the first step to getting things done (the second being NOT taking yourself THAT seriously). Remember the Coen brothers' A Serious Man? (“I’ve tried to be a serious man,” Larry Gopnik would plead.) I know seeing myself as a "professional" has helped me commit to my daily work, regardless of type or scope of the work. In some ways, self-commitment relates to the second point about being ok with "good enough" work. Commitment to oneself may involve belief in one's place in the world and capacity for worthwhile work. If something is deemed imperfect, a high or low opinion of one's expected worth and work may prevent the work from ever seeing the light. What brings out the less-than-perfect work? You can take the stance that the work will continue to evolve from where it is, and even if it does not, you are ok with it being "good enough" in serving its purpose. Just "doing it" helps to eventually you get into the habit of "doing stuff", not to mention the fact that seeing "good enough work" actually being received as "good enough" often enough can foster the sense of self-efficacy. Being good at "good enough" can feel much better than not having anything to show at all.


"America's joyous future"

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SAG nominations: True Grit makes an appearance

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After a rather embarrassing and questionable (more than usual) slew of Globes nominations, we're back to regular award season logic with the Screen Actors Guild award nominations. These were voted on by a randomly chosen block of actors so there may be a bit of favouritism but still probably a better indication of what passed as "good" this past year according to the industry. They also certainly hold more clout for the coming Oscars. Annette Benning seems to be locking down that Kids nomination over Julianne Moore for the same film, which is the correct choice by my estimation. True Grit is back in the game, though noticeably absent from SAG's cast performance category, the equivalent to Oscars' best picture.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

BLACK SWAN (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
THE FIGHTER (Paramount Pictures)
THE KING’S SPEECH (The Weinstein Company)
THE SOCIAL NETWORK (Columbia Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
JEFF BRIDGES – “TRUE GRIT” (Paramount Pictures)
ROBERT DUVALL – “GET LOW” (Sony Pictures Classics)
COLIN FIRTH – “THE KING’S SPEECH” (The Weinstein Company)
JAMES FRANCO – “127 HOURS” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
JENNIFER LAWRENCE – “WINTER’S BONE” (Roadside Attractions)
NATALIE PORTMAN – “BLACK SWAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
HILARY SWANK – “CONVICTION” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
CHRISTIAN BALE – “THE FIGHTER” (Paramount Pictures)
JOHN HAWKES – “WINTER’S BONE” (Roadside Attractions)
JEREMY RENNER – “THE TOWN” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
GEOFFREY RUSH – “THE KING’S SPEECH” (The Weinstein Company)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
AMY ADAMS – “THE FIGHTER” (Paramount Pictures)
MILA KUNIS – “BLACK SWAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
MELISSA LEO – “THE FIGHTER” (Paramount Pictures)
HAILEE STEINFELD – “TRUE GRIT” (Paramount Pictures)


Golden Globes Nominations

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Caught me by surprise this morning. The Social Network looks to have a very friendly awards season.

Best Motion Picture – Drama
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King's Speech
The Social Network

No True Grit huh? Interesting. What happened to The Town?

Best Foreign Language Film
Biutiful (Mexico/Spain)
The Concert (France)
The Edge (Russia)
I Am Love (Io Sono L'amore) (Italy)
In A Better World (Denmark)

Biutiful might win this, and it would be undeserved.

Best Animated Feature Film
Despicable Me
How To Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3


Best Director – Motion Picture
Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan
David Fincher - The Social Network
Tom Hooper - The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan - Inception
David O Russell - The Fighter

The Fighter looks horrible. Why is it getting the love?

Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture – Drama
Halle Berry - Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman - Black Swan
Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine

Wow, Halle Berry. Where did she come from?

Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture – Drama
Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network
Colin Firth - The King's Speech
James Franco - 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling - Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg - The Fighter

Javier Bardem's notable absence - what does this mean for the Oscars?

Best Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical
Alice in Wonderland
The Kids Are All Right
The Tourist

This is a joke. Only The Kids Are All Right is worth its film footage. Let's check out the rest of the category's metacritic rating:

Alice in Wonderland 53%
Burlesque 48%
Red 61%
The Tourist 37%

Best of the year!

Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical
Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right
Anne Hathaway - Love and Other Drugs
Angelina Jolie - The Tourist
Julianne Moore - The Kids Are All Right
Emma Stone - Easy A

Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical
Johnny Depp - Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp - The Tourist
Paul Giamatti - Barney's Version
Jake Gyllenhaal - Love And Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey - Casino Jack

Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture
Amy Adams - The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter - The King's Speech
Mila Kunis - Black Swan
Melissa Leo - The Fighter
Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom

Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture
Christian Bale - The Fighter
Michael Douglas - Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Andrew Garfield - The Social Network
Jeremy Renner - The Town
Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy - 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg - The Kids Are All Right
Christopher Nolan - Inception
David Seidler - The King's Speech
Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network

The Ghost Writer?

Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Alexandre Desplat - The King's Speech
Danny Elfman - Alice In Wonderland
Ar Rahman - 127 Hours
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross - The Social Network
Hans Zimmer - Inception

I could really do without the 127 Hours soundtrack.

Best Original Song - Motion Picture


Feeling stuck? Robin Williams will help you save the world

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I've always thought humour was a sign of intelligence, if not extraterrestrial then feral. Research studies dedicated to humour are still far and few in between compared to other topics explored in psychology, so it's always a pleasure to read how humour is making our life better. In a recent study by neuroscientists at Northwestern University, it was found that all you need in life is Robin Williams.

In their humor study, Dr. Beeman and Dr. Subramaniam had college students solve word-association puzzles after watching a short video of a stand-up routine by Robin Williams. The students solved more of the puzzles over all, and significantly more by sudden insight, compared with when they’d seen a scary or boring video beforehand.
If Mr. Williams is too busy to entertain you, worry not: you can now book me as comedienne extraordinaire. I consider myself a Mr. Williams disciple of sort, since it was his stand-up comedy that served as a stimulat-or for mine. I have a total of one stand up show under my belt. They said I killed it, whatever "it" was, and this was for a Jewish audience so you know I'm good. All you need to do is put up with Jewish and psychology jokes, and you'd be Genius in no time.



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