work/life balance

‘…life is about balance.  The good and the bad.  The highs and the lows.  The pina and the colada.’ – Ellen DeGeneres

 

I haven’t worked since December 1st.  It’s about time to get back at it!  Honestly, I’ve done a couple of things to earn money since then, but for the most part…I’ve been doing other things…things that don’t make me money…things that simply make me feel happy, content…fulfilled.  And while the term ‘work/life balance’ has become overused and perhaps stigmatized, I still pay heavy attention to it, and feel that you should too!

For most of us, it’s simply expected that work at a job will take up the most amount of time in our lives…more than most of the other things we do.  I came to realize that it’s highly beneficial to enjoy the work I’m doing, considering all of the time it takes up.  I also figured out that self-employment can lead me to a place where I can work when I want to, and work how much I want to.

My previous career was teaching English, in which I worked a 190 per year schedule.  I enjoyed the vacation weeks, and the summers off, but it always felt that the job was pulling, looming over me, causing me to still think and stress about it even when I wasn’t there.  I had nightmares about lesson plans (this was early on in my career), and I felt this incredible guilt if I was ever too sick to work a day.  I could never shut it off.  This wasn’t the only reason I quit.  There were many more, and you can read about some of it here.

Before leaving though, I had started a landscaping business called East Concord Grass Roots.  It began as a way to make some more money in the summers after my daughter was born.  But I began to enjoy the freedom and autonomy associated with running my own thing.  I could choose the days I wanted to work.  I could say, ‘no thank you’ to jobs I didn’t want to do.  I could work an extra long day when it fit.

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What I eventually created though, was a schedule in which I was able to stay home with my daughter on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I managed to get my work done on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  3 days per week!  Once in a while, I’ll work a weekend day, but it’s not that often.  So from about April 1 to December 1 (which is 34 weeks), at 3 days per week on average…that’s 102 days per year.  I’m really surprised with that!  I just did the math for the first time right now…and can’t believe it!

Within those (let’s call it) 100 days per year, I’ve been able to make more money than when I was teaching.  That was also a huge surprise to me, as I realized it soon after starting the business.  Now, I certainly don’t make a lot of money, and live quite modestly.  I have a small, old house.  I drive an old car with 220,000 miles on it.  But this is all part of the balance…the decisions…the work and the life.  Taking both into heavy consideration, I’ve found a sweet spot for myself.

Early on in parenthood, I made the decision that I’d put in as much effort (quality and quantity time) as possible…especially in the younger, foundational years.  I’m so happy and proud that I’ve been able to do that.  And as I’ve aged, I’ve come to understand that I love to spend a lot time at home…reading, writing, cooking, creating, working on the house, etc.  These last two winters have really proven to give me plenty of that.  This previous winter was the first that I gave up snow plowing, as it was generally a source of stress and anxiety for me.  I did have to make sacrifices to live more frugally through those months.  But it was a deliberate decision, related to work/life balance, that I made in order to stay happier.  I was able to read and write more than I ever have during that time, and now I truly feel ready to attack another Spring season.

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Work and leisure and family are all so particular depending on who I talk to.  I’m not naive, thinking that anyone reading this should quit their job and start their own business.  I will say though, that I don’t believe that most people give this idea the attention it deserves.  I will also say that I see most people highly stressed by their job, and wonder if they consider the long term and far reaching effects of that…on their own body, life span…and on their children.  I will ask if you’ve given thought to this question:  Can you make enough money in 100 days per year as opposed to 260 days that most people work?  Can you be happier doing so?

Many of us follow the routine, structure, and norms of the current society…and then find ourselves in situations where we ask how we got there.  Maybe we find that we don’t enjoy being there.  We want something else.  I’m just writing this to let you know that if that’s you wondering…there are ways to figure it out.  It’s worth your exploration.  The variables of time and money will certainly run the gamut, depending on your family and the field you work in.  But it’s easy to see, this at-bat that we have in life…this one chance that we get…isn’t about chasing a paycheck or ‘burning the wick at both ends’ because that’s what we’re ‘supposed’ to do.  It’s about trying to achieve a rich and fulfilling period of time based on what it is that you want.

So what is that?

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Fictional case study #2 (Good guy Gary)

‘the path to success is to take massive, determined actions’ – Tony Robbins

 

It is interesting that we often look outside of ourselves for direction and advice.  We ask others what they would do. We actually value that advice more than we consider our very own.  Most people are just built that way. And with today’s social media world, it’s all on display. We’re constantly evaluating our choices, actions, posts…by the amount of likes or type of comments we get.  It’s harder to go truly insular these days, and stay discipline with your own feelings and opinions. But for the select few that can go there…and that can keep returning there…the payoff will be insane!

Take this fictional story as an example of that:  Gary is a 41 year old good guy. He works for an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) company.  He has a 5 year old daughter named Madison. Gary is divorced and has his own place.

He’s recently noticed that he’s about 30 pounds overweight.  He feels strong from the work he does, but he hasn’t seen his own muscle definition since two years out of high school.  He has that trendy new shape that’s now a popular hashtag on instagram…#dadbod. And even though that trend has made it seem more acceptable to wear the extra layer of blubber, he knows how much more attractive he’d be…how healthier he’d feel…if he lost the weight, or better yet…turned most if that weight into muscle!

Another thought that Gary has been having lately, is that he recognizes that he is modeling behavior for his daughter Madison.  She soaks up everything at this young age, and is watching his every move. As she’s growing up, he’s having more and more conversations with her about healthy eating and exercise…but when Madison is at Mom’s house, Gary is eating chips on the couch.  He isn’t practicing what he’s preaching. And deep down, he knows that he’s influencing his daughter. In some way, she’s going to inherently take on some of his practices. We are all ‘products of our environment’. Sure, there is the nature vs. nurture debate.  But either way, we are shaped by what we come from. The apple still falls from the tree, regardless of how far it rolls away.

Gary hasn’t done much research on exercise.  Like most of us, he hasn’t majored in exercise science…but he understands that some cardio, some strength training, and a lot of eating healthy is what will transform his body.  And he wants to get to the gym…he just doesn’t know which one to go to.  There’s Planet Fitness over here, Bikram Yoga over there, a power-lifting gym, a place that coaches olympic lifting…not to mention the 3 new crossfit gyms in town! bHe told himself (and his daughter) that one of his New Year’s resolutions was to get into better shape.  But it’s mid March now, and he figures it’s too late to have a beach body ready for the summer. He might as well wait until Fall to start really making a push for the next summer.

As Gary starts thinking about it too much, you can see how he starts getting into trouble.

He’s also feeling a little insecure…not that he would come out and say that to anyone! When he was a kid, his dad taught him that men don’t show emotions or feelings like that. Most of Gary’s buddies though, belong to one of these local gyms, or at least play men’s league basketball once a week.  Gary runs out of breath just going up a flight of stairs. He doesn’t want to have to start at square one at the gym, when everyone else is killing it. He’d be ‘that guy’…the one that can’t bench-press the big 45 pound weight plates…the one that’s sweating all over the elliptical machine after 5 minutes of use.  He doesn’t want to be that guy. Actually, he doesn’t want others to see him as that guy. This is again, an example of how some of us let others control how we live (or don’t live) our lives.

And even though this isn’t something Gary would discuss with Madison, it’s somehow passed down to her anyway.  Gary thinks he puts off an ‘I live on my terms’ vibe to his daughter…but the subconscious nuance to that is out of his control.  The subtleties of his actions, of his reactions, of his initial responses to everyday occurrences…are unfortunately telling Madison, ‘our family doesn’t crush it.  We worry some…about how we come across to others. We think and talk, more than we actually do.’  Gary could tell Madison how important it is to not worry about what others think, but his actions are creating 10x the results in the opposite direction.  It isn’t even a contest.

/nuᐧance/ – a subtle difference in;  shade of meaning, expression, or sound.

Another thought Gary has been having is about his gear.  His running shoes are so old and dirty. He only has 2 or 3 pair of athletic shorts.  His ipod is big and clunky and old and doesn’t hold a charge. He sees that everyone else has cool stuff!  New compression shorts and pants, bright sneakers and socks, and that cool armband thing that conveniently holds a new ipod out of the way.  And everyone pretty much only wears dryfit materials now, which Gary has none of. He thinks he’s going to look stupid…no matter what he does.  He thinks he should probably stock up on some of this gear over time…then he’ll be ready for the gym.  

On top of that, he knows the potato chips and chillaxing on the couch needs to change. He actually has some good ideas about eating healthy, but he thinks that he should finish up eating all of the junk in the house, as not to waste, then start getting healthier with his diet.  Once he gets his diet right, then he’ll feel more ready to approach the gym.

Boy…some of us can see that Gary is soft…physically and mentally.  He should just go! Who cares about all that stuff he’s worrying about?  

On the other hand, some of us can truly identify with Gary.  Sometimes it feels that we need to first take care of A, in order to feel comfortable trying B.  And sometimes it seems that other people have all the right stuff. And we don’t. But that’s just a losing mentality.  

By thinking too much…by wondering what ‘most others’ are doing…by giving energy to what other people might feel…Gary has already lost.  

If he focused on doing, and just starting somehow…he’d be well on his way to ‘healthy Gary’, who would be (by the way), the absolute best role model for Madison.  

At the first hint of a feeling that Gary had about being out of shape (that very day!), he should have laced up the old running shoes and gone out for a 5k run…no ipod necessary.  Leaving from his house, taking it nice and slow, he could easily complete the 3.1 miles. Imagine the pride and sense of accomplishment after that! Then, he could have made stir fry vegetables and rice for dinner…with some yogurt (instead of ice-cream) for dessert.  

Now picture Gary’s mindset the following morning…as opposed to all of that negative thinking he was doing in the other model.  Imagine the effect and influence on Madison that next morning as they approach the day together. I wonder what different experiences they’d have.  I wonder how much more she’d be exposed to in her childhood, going this route. And I wonder how much further Madison would reach into her own potential, living with a dad who creates action, instead of one who sits and worries.  

I don’t think we understand this effect as well as we should.  I know that I don’t myself. And I’m trying to be more aware of it every single day.  It is very obvious that the far majority of us have wonderful intentions. We all, of course, want the best for our children.  Gary wants Madison to be healthy…and wants her to know how to achieve and maintain that lifestyle.  And deep down, we all believe that we’re teaching our children all about what is right and wrong.  It’s worth considering though, that within that teaching, it’s much more effective to focus on doing…not on lecturing or thinking.  

 

Thank you for reading!

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Fictional Case Study (julie’s jelly)

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When we do more than we think (more actions with less pondering), we create the paths that we choose to walk down.  We make our own life happen, the way we want it to…the way that is most tailored for who we are deep down to the core.  We live, and die on our own sword.  

Take this fictional story as an example:  33 year old mom of two boys, Julie…wants to start her own jelly business.  She’s passionate about the strawberry jelly she makes at home. Her family loves it. She wants to start selling it online, to get it to as many folks as possible, and to create another stream of income for the family.  Her job as an elementary school teacher doesn’t provide her with the income that she really desires.

Julie tells her coworker (John) about her business idea at lunch break.  John says, ‘yeah that sounds fun, but I don’t think I’d ever buy jelly over the internet.’  

Julie then tells her boss Stacey (the principal at her school), who she is really friendly with. Stacey says, ‘It’s a good idea, but I tried selling candles online….and it didn’t really amount to much.  It’s harder than it looks.’

I hope you can identify with Julie.  She is really passionate and interested in her idea, but the two people that she thought would encourage her the most to go do it…actually shot her idea down.  Now, if Julie is thick-skinned, and loves a ‘chip on her shoulder’ attitude, she can use it to motivate her even more so. But most of us would start second guessing our idea, thinking, ‘maybe it is too hard to sell online…I’m not sure people will buy my jelly after all’.  Before you know it, Julie has put the recipe, canning jars, and label maker in the back of the cabinet.  

John and Stacey aren’t to blame for this.  If we went back and told them how Julie felt after speaking to them, they’d probably say that they didn’t mean to deter her at all…she probably caught them at a tough time during the day…and they actually really believe in Julie’s business idea…of course she should do it!  They were telling stories that they thought would be valuable to Julie, knowing what to expect when she does do it.  

This story illustrates the fact that we often put our hopes and dreams in the hands of others.  And we often choose people who aren’t necessarily ready to accept, and then motivate us in a way that’s tailor made for us.  We’re actually expecting too much from others when we do that. We look to others (who aren’t even aware by the way) to inspire and motivate us…to encourage our ideas.  That’s just a losing mentality.

I understand wanting to tell people what your up to.  It’s realistic that we’re going to socialize and share what’s top of mind.  But we need to be totally cognizant of what’s going on, in order to not get discouraged about our own ideas.  We need to be the one in control.

If Julie is like most people, when her husband asks her about that business she wanted to start, she’ll now have excuses and blame to be placed…both of which have nothing to do with her own self.  She may even start complaining more about her co-workers, and the fact that she doesn’t have enough money, and that the government makes it too hard to start businesses where she lives, and that learning to be tech savvy, and to figure out social media branding takes way too long and isn’t worth it.  

Because of what someone else said, and how they seemed to feel about it, she now isn’t going to follow up on her idea.  So sad! Do you see how Julie isn’t truly in control of her own life? She’s now dying on John and Stacey’s sword!

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What Julie could have done, had she considered doing more than thinking, is create an Etsy and Pinterest account and start tinkering with the sites, realizing which would be best for her.  After a couple of hours, she’d be savvy enough to post simple pictures and text.

She could have brainstormed a simple and catchy business name, and created an interesting logo for her brand.

She might have researched prices and locations for strawberries and sugar, and jars and labels, in order to find the most affordable way of getting a jar totally ready for the market.  

She could have created a Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat account for her jelly, so that she’d be able to get the attention of others with her brand.  

She may have called 15 local food, garden, and furniture stores, asking if her jelly could be sold there.  

She even could have started her own podcast…recording episodes mostly focused on everything jelly!

By the way, with today’s technology and opportunity, she could have done all of this on her laptop or phone while lying in bed wearing pajamas!  

And I have a funny feeling that if she had done all of this, and then went and told her co-workers, it would be a totally different conversation and outcome.  And even if the conversation was similar, the confidence and self-esteem Julie built up through her work, would allow her to smirk at the otherwise discouraging words said by John and Stacey.  

This Julie isn’t complaining or blaming.  She’s using all of her time and energy to do more.  She’s putting it all into her jelly business.  And guess who’s sword she’s living and dying on now?  Her own sword.

As much as I don’t want her to die, let’s look at how that actually is a possibility:

If we have to guts to live a life on our own terms, we must consider the fact that we will die that way too.  I respect and believe in that meritocracy all the way. We can’t have it one way, and not the other.

Look, Julie’s jelly might actually suck.  Maybe her family is spitting it out, or passing it to the dog under the table, and they’re too nice to be honest with her about it.  Julie could do all of this doing on the back of a crap product…and after the first round of sales, she’d die.  

Or, maybe Julie isn’t kind.  She doesn’t bring any value to the store owners that are carrying her product, she’s very hard to communicate with, and she doesn’t engage with any of her audience on the social media platforms.  She’s going to die.

While the doing should be the baseline…the norm…other variables like quality, consistency, kindness, value, etc. will certainly play their part.   

But remember, it feels so much better to die on your own sword than someone else’s.  As you can see, all of the blaming and responsibility come back to you when you put this into practice.  If your product didn’t work out how you anticipated that it would, it’s because of your own actions, or lack thereof.  This shouldering of all of the responsibility is actually liberating, though it seems more like pressure. Again, along with the control or autonomy you desire to have your own business or live your own life…you must accept the meritocracy…and the fact that it all comes back to you, good or bad.  Ultimate responsibility…ultimate freedom.

Now, if Julie’s jelly really does suck…all of that doing, experimenting, executing that she did, provided her with a foundation of data to sit on. All of the confidence and self-esteem and pride she has built up through the work, allows her a framework to adjust from.  Look, businesses mostly don’t get it right the first time. Great businesses listen to the market, and adjust accordingly. Julie may need to change the recipe, the label, the jar. She may need to adjust her attitude, her kindness level, her methods of communication. This is where we either fail and we’re done (we die on our own sword)…or we fail, learn, adjust, try (wield our sword again), and then win!   

To Do more than you think, means that you’re the one in control of your own destiny. You’re wielding your own sword. Your life isn’t happening to you…YOU are making your own life happen!

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Now, sharpen up that sword…and get out there!

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1%

‘i want to be different.  If everyone is wearing black, I want to be wearing red’ –

Maria Sharapova

 

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A couple of months ago, I came to the realization that doing something you’ve never done…as consistently and often as possible…can be really healthy for you.  It’s similar to my thinking around living ‘on the edge of comfort’.  And it’s all about continually challenging ourselves, and putting ourselves in positions to earn grit, to try, to do…to learn.

As I was reading yesterday, I came to another realization.  Yes, you can call it an ‘epiphany’ if that’s how you roll.  The people that are getting the most out of life…that are the most fulfilled and content…are doing what most other people won’t do, or aren’t doing.  The folks who are trendy, or first to the party.  The ones that are different, but intriguing nonetheless (first time using ‘nonetheless’…nailed it!).  There seems to be success and fulfillment in practicing the actions that most other people simply don’t.  We should all be trying to be part of the 1% crowd!

e•piph•a•ny – a sudden, intuitive perception of, or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

Being a 1 percenter (financially) has it’s own inherent connotations.  Some of us believe that those folks make too much money, and that they owe more of their fair share.  Others of us think that they create opportunities for the 99 percenters, and that their trickle down effect is truly beneficial to us bottom dwellers.

But I’m not speaking on financial earnings.  I’m talking about our actions…our choices and our experiences.

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So many people I know have had the same haircut since high school!  Switch it up a bit.  Try a different you!  Be the 1%

There isn’t much interest for me in playing in the middle…in doing what everyone else is doing…in doing ‘what I’m supposed to be doing’.  It suffices to say that there is much more intrigue in living on the outer edges…the fringes. And I’d go as far to say that better health, contentment, ‘success’, fulfillment, and overall happiness are found in living in the 1%

Here is an image, full of generalities, that should help illustrate my feelings here:

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Considering all of that, a 1%’er is a person who chooses to live life on their own terms.  They will live and die on their own sword.  Instead of life happening to them…they are making their life happen.

I challenge you to create your own 99% and 1% column chart.  Right now…write down 5-10 things you do that most of the population does.  Then, write down the things you do that only 1% does.  Use it as your journal entry for the day.  What can you take from your chart?  What can you learn about yourself?  Are you playing in the middle too much…where everyone else is?  Or, are you hanging out within that extraordinary population enough of the time?  And…what do you feel about your actions, considering what side their on?  Do your 1% actions bring you joy, vibrancy, passion, and love?  Do they put you around people that are good for you?  I bet they do!

Please share your chart with me, or any feedback from this in the comments, or on my Facebook page.  I’d love to hear some results, and learn more about this!  Here are some of my own results:

Some of My 99% actions

  • watching too much tv – March Madness, Celtics basketball, and I’m currently binge watching Breaking Bad for the 3rd time…oops.
  • consuming way too much sugar
  • not hanging with my guy friends enough
  • procrastination

 

Some of my 1% actions

  • I keep bees (and harvest my own honey)
  • cycling (road biking)
  • have my own business
  • work when I want
  • sing, and play guitar
  • eat a vegetarian diet
  • Write in a Blog
  • Have my own podcast
  • follow an ‘advanced athlete’ training program

 

Some 1% actions I want to pursue

  • swim (for fitness/health)
  • write books
  • start a wine club
  • start a dad/daughter club

 

All love!

emailsig

 

always be closing

‘thoughts are great…but action leads to closing’         emailsig


A.B.C.


I must admit it…my house is a mess!  And…I just cleaned up that area.  How does it already look like a storm hit it?  


I have to confess…I’ve started a thousand projects around here, and about 999 of them still seem ‘under construction’.  


I should accept it.  I have a problem.  Actually many, but I’ll start with this one and see if I can find closure with it.

I peg myself as really good at coming up with ideas.  I have journals and sheets and post it notes collected with a bunch of random ideas.  These can be related to business, the house, relationships, professional development, investments, blah blah blah.  Most of my ideas are bad.  However, I believe that while coming up with many poor ideas…and documenting them…I’m bound to come up with a good one here and there.  It’s almost like I come up with 99 bad ideas for every one diamond in the rough.  It’s a low shooting percentage but hey, if you don’t shoot you can’t score.  

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Matilda comes up with the best ideas!


I do feel strongly about documenting by the way.  If you don’t put your thoughts and ideas and goals down on paper, or somewhere digitally, they’ll just float around in your head, and possible float out of your head for good.  Once you put them somewhere, you can make space in your head for developing that idea or adding interest to it…or coming up with another one.  Find yourself a cool journal, even a good expensive one.  It’s investing in your own brain/goals/ideas.  And it will encourage you to put good use to it, and hold value in your own beliefs.  

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Closing the deal


So I’m good with all that stuff.  My interests are many.  I’m quick to jump into things and just try something.  I love learning anything new.  However…I’m not good with following the practice of the phrase, ‘Always Be Closing’.  This phrase is from the 1992 drama film called Glengarry Glen Ross, in which the character played by Alec Baldwin encourages some of the other characters to close deals within their sales work.  Watch out for bad language, but here is a great clip from the movie.  Look…it’s a very shallow message in regards to simply making more money above all else, and disregarding things like being a good dad, or being kind. However, it struck a chord with me in how it can relate to the idea of completing something. And this is what I have trouble with.  As I said, I can start a bunch of projects.  But I never seem to finish many of them.  

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Finishing touches


This weekend, I had a task that I wanted to complete.  The ramps in my landscape trailer have to be lifted in and mounted to the inside walls for transportation.  Well, I’ve always had this crap system of a cheap eye-hook and bungee chords to hold them in place.  Boring I know…bear with me.  This system has bothered me for about 5 years.  I can’t believe that! I’ve spoken about it, wrote down ideas, sworn at it many times…but never really done anything about it.  Well on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, I came up with a plan, went to the hardware store for materials, and put in a new ramp mounting system.  It was actually pretty easy!  On Sunday, I found myself putting all of my tools back in their proper place, sweeping up the garage floor of all debris, and wiping down my workbench with a cleaner and paper towels.  I suddenly thought, ‘Oh my…I’ve actually completed something, and I’m in the very final stage of cleaning up the mess associated with it.  I never do this!’  I’m telling you…it felt so good.   I immediately thought about ‘Always Be Closing’, and the benefits related to that.  I thought about Casey Neistat, and how he has those words tattooed on his arm.  He actually dedicated an entire Vlog to this idea.  Watch it here! 

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harvesting is closing

Neistat says that if you start a bunch of things and don’t finish them, you’re a loser.  That’s me…how sad.  Someone who starts something and always finishes it is a closer.  That’s not me.  My new focus is to become more of a closer.  I must bring my ideas to fruition…see them through to their fullest potential.  I’m on it.  By closing, and completing something, we are able to reap the rewards related to our project.  After dealing with annoyance of the ramp system in my trailer for 5 years, and halfheartedly poking at it here and there with temporary repairs, no wonder I felt so good about putting smart and hard work to it and having it completed.  

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Finished a dance season…proud Dad!



Closing leads to you feeling much more productive.  

Closing frees up space in your head for other, more important ideas. 

Closing encourages intellect and hard work over complaining and hoping.

Closing leads to more appreciation instead of expectation.  

Don’t be a loser…be a closer!

 



Organization


A.B.C. totally relates to keeping our lives organized too.  This is an area that I struggle with, and one that I’ll be putting some more focus into.  When you come home…with a bunch of things in your hands…maybe a bag or two…and pockets full of receipts and change and hair clips (for some reason, I always find myself here)…do you put everything away in it’s designated spot?  What I usually do is pile it onto my dining room table.  It’s flat, easy to access, and I won’t need the table until about 5:30pm.  That’s not closing.  That’s losing!  The worst is when I’ve put together a nice dinner and I go to bring plates to the table for Matilda and I, to find my loser pile in the way.  Worst!


I do have all of the designated places for things.  I have a file cabinet with nicely labeled folders, a piggy bank in the living room, a cup in the bathroom for Matilda’s hair clips.  I just don’t follow that step of putting things directly into their proper place.  And this is key.  If you hired someone to come ‘organize your house’ or your life, a main thread would be to immediately place things into their position.  Put them in their home.  Look at your computer desk, your kitchen counters, the desktop on your computer…even your email inbox.  Are you organized?  I’ve started trying to get to a totally empty email inbox as often as possible.  This entails creating simple folders, unsubscribing from all of the crap, deleting as soon as possible, and once a day, taking care of pertinent messages.  It relieves so much stress for me to have a clean slate.  But I need to work on the more ‘physical’ areas of my life…and organize those.  I want to finish more projects on my to do list…not just start them.  I don’t want to be a loser anymore…I want to be a closer!  Please comment if you’ve found effective ways of ‘closing’ in your own life.   

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thoughts are great…but action leads to closing!


Music:  Blind Pilot is an Oregon based band.  They use interesting instruments like a mountain dulcimer, vibraphone, and a harmonium.  Here’s a great one called New York.




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grow up

originally published on 4/16/17

 

 

‘life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage’  – Anais Nin

 

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As the perennials start poking through the soil, and colorful birds return from a warmer place, we are re-introduced to the Spring season.  What a wonderful time of year to consider growth.  If there’s one thing that makes me feel alive…it’s growing.  And I’m thinking about two specific pieces of that:  learning and doing.  Much of how we grow is based on these two principals, and each are important in their own way.  


We are all constantly learning.  However, some of us are taking in much more than others. One can learn by simply sitting and thinking.  Actually, one can learn by simply sitting and breathing.  Sometimes the thinking can get in way of learning.  On top of that, we as individuals get to choose what we learn.  What have you chosen?  


Over this past winter, I think I learned more than in any chunk of time in my life.  By using the internet and my library card, I feel that I’ve taken a 4 month intensive course on a huge variety of topics.  Because my business is landscaping, I have a lot of time off in the winter.  I use much of this time to study some things I’m interested in.  It’s allowed me to spend a lot of time doing exactly what I want to do, and follow my passions by taking an extreme focus on my interests.  Although, I feel like a bit of a renaissance man in a sense, in that I have such a wide scope of things that intrigue me.  Years ago, it seemed like this was a hindrance in life…and that since I was interested in many different ideas, I’d lose focus on the few that I should follow.  Jack of all trades, master of none.  However, as time has gone on, a couple of threads have persisted and continue to be present in my life.  And on top of that, I feel really confident in casting webs in a bunch of other areas.  I don’t want to miss out on something incredible because I didn’t try it.  If I see something I like, I’m not afraid to dive right in.  I’m always motivated to learn about my passions and seek out information through any way possible. 


Actually, I prefer the most efficient way possible. Peter Theil (co-founder of PayPal) asks us to question our efficiency by saying, ‘How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?’  I love this idea!  It’s not that you can easily complete everything on your list that fast…but it forces you to question what the most efficient way is to your destination.  This can easily apply to things like travel, learning a musical instrument, starting a business, buying a house at the ocean, writing a book, etc.  You may have to reassess your current routines and structures in order to achieve these things.  But that can be a good thing!  In fact, I would say that 90% of us would benefit from some sort of radical change in our lives. Are you willing to be ‘radical’ and take on that risk?  Think about a part of your life that is so routine…or monotonous.  Get out of it now!


Part of what makes it difficult is that we are trained to do what everyone else is doing.  We are taught to melt ourselves down to a common denominator in order to neatly fit the mold that society has created for us.  Once we are molded, we’re put on a track.  Boys take a left, girls go right, black this way, white that way, gay over here, straight over there, religious down that ramp, agnostic up that ramp, college bound with that crew, others this way.  Last week I wrote about how we think (Click here for the post), and touched on how I’ve fallen into a ‘normal’ that just didn’t feel good, but it seemed that everyone else was mostly doing the same.  Life is waaaaaay too short for that type of thinking.  We get such a small amount of time here.  Spend it learning about the things you love!


Now, the other important piece of this is…doing.  I was discussing this with a friend the other day, and he advised to not just get caught up in the learning portion of things.  You can’t just keep watching and learning what others do.  You have to implement it into your own life!  If you’ve been meaning to start a blog but haven’t, stop reading so many others, and just get to creating your own.  Want to start your own business, and you’ve been reading and researching and watching others succeed?  Scale your idea down and start the process this week!  Been wanting to learn Spanish for the past 5 years?  Spend 10 minutes tomorrow beginning the process and creating an outline for yourself.  Don’t let anything seem daunting or intimidating.  Remember that once you decide on something…you’ll just put one foot in front of the other, and things will naturally start falling into place.  In the words of Emerson, ‘Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.’ 


Here is a list how I’ve grown in the past couple of years…things I’ve learned about, or done. Hopefully it will help inspire you to try something new!

  • quit job
  • started landscaping business
  • kept bees – harvested honey
  • learned guitar
  • learned singing/voice
  • learned how to keep chickens
  • learned organic vegetable gardening – created garden site
  • snowboarding – finally cleared a big jump in the terrain park (I’ve been scared to try)
  • won a bunch of men’s league basketball championships
  • took up road bicycling – competed in race
  • took down walls in house – reconfigured stairway
  • started a blog
  • started a basketball training business
  • began meditating daily – practicing mindfulness
  • learned a lot about parenting – still an amateur
  • started writing a daily journal entry
  • brought Matilda to Disney World
  • created a new website
  • started a podcast
  • began writing on Medium.com (a community of thinker, writers, readers)
  • started indoor rock climbing
  • began an ‘advanced athlete weight training’ program

Now, along with doing a lot of these things…I failed a bunch a long the way.  My bank accounts have been extremely low at times. I’ve fallen and hurt myself a bunch on snowboard jumps (only to have teenagers laugh at me).  I’ve lost some basketball games, and found injuries there too.  In my first bike race, I was destroyed by most of the other riders.  I’ve been stung by my bees!  

It’s not necessarily an easy road to follow the path that you’ve chosen, and that you’ve just learned.  In fact, it’s probably more difficult.  I’ve found that in life…the right decision is the one that’s more difficult.  The easy way is the regrettable way.  This is so true for everything from relationships to work.  So why choose the hard way?  Because it means you’re living a more passionate lifestyle, which will build your health and happiness…and that of those around you. Because it’s a life that you’ll want to tell your kids about. Because it’s different, and it’s what probably about 1% of people do. Because it’s fun!

If you need a couple ‘doers’ for inspiration…check out Tim Ferriss and/or Casey Neistat. These guys get cool stuff done, and are very inspiring to listen to or watch.

What is your potential in all of the areas of life?  Are you learning about and doing the things you want to do?

I’m not living to my full potential in many areas.  However, I try to be fully aware of that…and work hard to close the gaps.  

I have a long list of things I want to try, places I want to go, and ways I want to grow.  And as I check one off, I notice a few more have been added to my list.  

Good luck with your list, and I wish you the best!  Share your experience here if you’d like.

Music: In lieu of the brothers in the band Dawes, that I recommended on the last post…another pair of brothers that know how to play are The Avett Brothers.  Check them out here!   

   

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