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The 1% Rule for When You’re Feeling Rather “MEH, SUCKS” About Everything and Everyone, Even That Hot Pastry Chef

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

Well it’s Thursday and for everyone’s delight, I’ve compiled a random list of shit I absolutely should not know, but do:

  • That you should photograph interiors with a wide-angle lens, set to 20mm instead of zoomed all the way out. (Otherwise you get distorted walls that curve in.)
  • A ball of wool is technically called a “skein.” (And US 19 wooden knitting needles are my fav!)
  • If there’s an elliptical fan light window on top of the front door, the building is actually Federal style—not Georgian. #important
  • When illustrating fashion sketches, if the shoulder goes up, the hip goes down.
  • Senior women over 60 years old are actually rated as the best hosts on Airbnb. 🙂
  • Light roast coffee—are you ready for this?—has way more caffeine in it than dark roast. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? That’s because a strong taste means that the beans have been roasted longer, and just like alcohol burns off of food, so does caffeine. (If you follow me on Insta, then you saw me geeking out at a coffee plantation last week here in Costa Rica.)

The point? I’m never, ever happier than when I’m learning something new. Like, I will be an ecstatic maniac while taking a Skillshare class. Or I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and cook with a Masterclass running in the background. Or I'll fantasize about running off to London and taking the most unseemly classes: special effects makeup, for one. (My friend Sarita worked on Harry Potter and all sorts of fun films, and sometimes I see her Instagram and I’m all, I WANT TO KNOW HOW TO DO THATTTTTT!)

But this isn’t about me: this is about mitigating stagnancy. If you are feeling listless, uninspired, and “meh,” the answer is not to push yourself harder, hoping you’ll “get over it.”  (Lookin’ at you, overachieving perfectionists who are ready to burn themselves right out.) The answer is to pull yourself softly in a new direction—even if it’s just in your spare time.

To my point, I’m obsessed with James Clear’s Atomic Habits (we share the same literary agent—isn’t this game fun?!), where he talks about the importance of becoming just 1% better every day. He did the math: if you can get 1% better every day for a year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for a year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero and basically hate your entire life. (My words.) His argument (and it’s a convincing one), is that we always try to make these big, sweeping changes, under the assumption that big change happens when you change something big, but that’s not actually the case. Rather, success works like compound interest does: the effects of your little daily habits multiply as you repeat them. Making a choice that is one percent better or worse seems insignificant in the moment (like, that General Tso’s Chicken isn’t going to move the scale that much), but, as Jimbo says:

“When we repeat 1 percent errors, day after day, by replicating poor decisions, duplicating tiny mistakes, and rationalizing little excuses, our small choices compound into toxic results. It’s the accumulation of many missteps—a 1 percent decline here and there—that eventually leads to a problem. Similarly, making a choice that is 1 percent better…[can] determine the difference between who you are and who you could be. Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”

Which is all to say: if you can move toward being 1 percent more satisfied with your life every day, you will end up being 37% more satisfied by the end of the year. And for me? Learning something new every day? That’s my daily 1%. That’s what makes me feel more whole—even though it’s happening little by little. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then a lesson a day KEEPS ME FROM INSANITY.

Unless I’m on my period, then all bets are off.

May 21


Fuck Shit Balls I Didn’t Finish Those Edits, Yet. And Other Stuff That Doesn’t Matter. (In Memory of Enrique.)

May 21, 2012

So I’m not sure what you did yesterday, but I, for one, witnessed somebody drown. You’re probably thinking I’m joking, because who mentions something like drowning so nonchalantly? But I am not, unfortunately, joking. And while I’m calm now, yesterday I was anything but. It was sunset, and I was with my Costa Rican girlfriends […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


Sep 5


Are You Going To Be Someone Who Does? Or Doesn’t? (Warning: Contains Least Amount of Swear Words Ever Written On TMF)

Sep 5, 2012

It’s 5am. I’m checking out of my hotel in Buenos Aires, and I’m hoping the $80 eye cream I bought is ACTUALLY HELPING ME NOT LOOK LIKE I JUST CRAWLED OUT FROM UNDER A MOSSY, EARTH-STENCHING, FUNGI-COVERED ROCK. Mostly because I knew Andrés would be checking me out–hopefully in more ways than one. Andrés isn’t actually his name, as […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


Sep 7


One Big, Sexy Question for Instant Clarification On: What the Hell Do I Want to Do With My Life?

Sep 7, 2018

I was reading something on the Internet yesterday that was praising this woman’s work, and I thought to myself: there’s such a difference between doing work and having work. (And yes, I italicized “such” in my mind.) To do work is to take on a task, whoever’s task it might be. To have work, though—work […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired, Feeling Disillusioned With Life


May 11


2 Minute Guide to Reclaiming Your Life

May 11, 2010

If you clicked on this post, you either: a) Need to get a grip. b) Want to reclaim your life. c) Have no time to do either. d) Googled “mating habits of porcupines” and this just came up. e) You read everything I write because you’re secretly plotting my demise. With the exception of letter […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


Aug 31


Slugs, Angel Hair Pasta & Vespas, Or, The One Thing That DOES Define You In This Life

Aug 31, 2010

So, I’m sitting in the bar at this restaurant. I’m lovingly twirling my fork into a steamy, lemony, buttery, most delightfully angelic heap of angel hair–the creamy, makes-you-throw-your-head-back-with-glee kind of pasta that, I was thinking, should probably be forbidden for nuns, because, I swear, this pasta is far more decadent than the best sex you […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


Jan 15


Your Life in 6 Words.

Jan 15, 2013

Remember that one time I got loose, drank too much eggnog* and packaged everything together in the TMF store for a wild, wild west of a discount–and then told all continental U.S. buyers that I’d even take it a step further and send a surprise to their doorstep? Right. That time. Just last month for […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


Nov 28


Marilyn Monroe Wouldn’t Give a Damn.

Nov 28, 2012

Remember earlier this year… …when I sauntered over to Ecuador and had a twelve year old pierce my nose, as well as agreed to having a random Ecuadorian man sit on top of me on the beach to doodle all over my back with a mysterious black, sticky ink? Maybe we didn’t know each other […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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