10 ideas to take with you into 2021

The Best of Intentional Wisdom - 2020 edition

Grab the champagne and fire up the Auld Lang Syne because that is a wrap on 2020.

Many will remember this as one of the worst years in history and that’s understandable given the suffering humanity has endured this year. But there are bright spots as well. I’m thankful to have welcomed my third child into the world, to have a happy, healthy family, and that I’ve had the opportunity to launch and grow this newsletter.

I thought it would be fitting, therefore, to finish the year with a top-10 list of sorts. So below you’ll find the top-10 most-read Intentional Wisdom articles this year, and one idea from each that I hope you can take with you into the New Year and apply to your own life.

So without further ado, here they are:

#10 — Resilience Reflections of 1940 in today’s pandemic

In this article, I drew inspiration from Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile, a gripping tale chronicling the almost unbelievable resilience of the British people as they endured years of nightly bombings during WWII.

Idea: In Churchill’s words “Never, never, never quit.” The ability for humans to adapt, survive, and even find joy in the toughest of times should not be underestimated.

#9 — How I Create Intentional Wisdom A behind-the-scenes look at creating a weekly newsletter

From idea generation and development to writing, publishing, and promoting, I shared an inside look at my process in this piece.

Idea: Start something. Learn along the way. Share what you learn. By building in public, we not only scratch our own creative itch, but we also help others who may be looking to do the same.

#8 — Setting the right course Mapping out a strategic plan for the year ahead

In this article, I laid out the framework I am using to plan my own 2021, which includes starting with “why” and who I am trying to be, and then moving on to “how.”

Idea: Think bigger. Ten times bigger. James Clear says “your current habits are perfectly designed to deliver your current results.” If we want different results, we need to do things differently. Considering what it would take for a 10x improvement in each area of our lives is a good place to start.

#7 — The Psychology of Money When the reasonable decision is not the rational one

In this piece, I reviewed Morgan Housel’s new book, The Psychology of Money, which masterfully mixes historical examples, personal anecdotes, and compelling data to teach us (or remind us of) some of life’s most important financial lessons.

Idea: Wealth is what you don’t see. It’s the car or house that wasn’t purchased. It’s the investment portfolio that continues to grow (creating future options for you) because the magic of compounding was never interrupted. So many gems in this book.

#6 — Motion vs. Action Why getting reps beats almost all other strategies

In this article, I describe the difference between motion and action. The former gives us the illusion of making progress, but the latter is where we actually do. This idea belongs to James Clear and is laid out in his excellent book, Atomic Habits.

Idea: Stop talking about “doing the thing,” and just do the thing.

#5 — Overcoming a history of division It’s time to take personal responsibility for our future

In this article, I showed that the political climate we face today—full of distrust, misunderstanding, and heated rhetoric—is quite literally as old as the U.S. itself. In fact, such challenges have not been the exception over the last 244 years, but more like the rule.

Idea: Be part of the solution, not the problem. We need to find humility and common ground, not further divisiveness. Looking inward is a good place to start.

#4 — I can’t In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter what they think

In this piece, I wrote about all the reasons we tell ourselves why we can’t do what we want to do. Money, time, what people will think of us—and how our ten-thousand-year-old brains are sabotaging us in this regard.

Idea: Who cares what they think? The greater risk is not embarrassing ourselves, but rather, it is waking up at 80-years-old and realizing that we never did what we were meant to do because we were afraid.

#3 — Margaritaville is a mirage The joy is the work, not getting to the finish line

In this piece, I look at the concept of retirement and show that it’s really only a modern invention—and a potentially flawed one at that. Rather than thinking of it as the “end” of our work, we should think of it as the point where we get to focus mostly on tasks we want to do.

Idea: We need purpose, identity, and community to thrive, even in our golden years.

#2 — You think you know who you are? Prove it. 1980s gameshows and identity-based habits

I’ve written quite a bit in this newsletter about identity-based habits, another James Clear concept, and in this article, I discussed it in detail. Essentially, we need to first figure out who it is that we are trying to be in every part of our lives, and then build systems to achieve and affirm those identities on a daily basis.

Idea: Focus less on what you are trying to do, and more on who you are trying to be.

#1 — Everything changed, in an instant Why now is the time to do what you need to do

And my #1 most-read article of the year was this one, in which I chronicled my own experience in New York City on September 11, 2001.

Idea: Tomorrow is not guaranteed. That important thing you need to do, or that important conversation you need to have, is not for another day. It is for today.


That will do it for 2020. Thank you so much for reading Intentional Wisdom this year! I’ve really enjoyed writing it, and all of the positive words of encouragement I’ve received along the way have made this endeavor personally rewarding for me. If you know anyone who might benefit from reading these articles, this week’s newsletter probably sums up the content here better than anything else, so please do pass it along.

All my best to you and your family in the New Year,