The Rest of the Story

Yesterday, I posted a spontaneous update to Facebook and Instagram. I realized that this week was the one year anniversary of when my partner and I decided to stop our 2-year bike adventure and I wanted to share/celebrate some of my accomplishments. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and I consider the last year of my life to be the best one I’ve ever had. I don’t think there is anything wrong with publicly sharing our successes… people do it all the time in large ways and small, we share graduating college or mastering a new skill or writing a book or how our kids are doing.

One of the beautiful things about the world we currently live in is technology allows us to celebrate with each other and be inspired by each other. Those magic moments allow us to live and experience a taste of thousands of lives, but lives aren’t always happy and successful and it is important to be realistic about our struggles.

So, this blog post is complete the story of my last year a bit by sharing some of my struggles and failures.

  • I expected to have converted my book into an Audiobook and consider myself a professional writer. Neither of those things has happened. The audio recording has stalled out because I keep procrastinating and letting the perfect defeat the good. Instead of making the time to create I look at that microphone and come up with excuses. I don’t view myself as an author and there is an internal dialogue that tells me my book isn’t good, that it doesn’t count because it is a memoir, that all my ideas are unoriginal, that self-publishing is cheating. I often blog to put off my creative writing.
  • While I’m happy with my current fitness level I have had a lot of struggles staying motivated and consistent. This is particularly true for a four-month period when I basically didn’t exercise, ate too much, and drank too much. Looking back, I think this was a period of mild depression for me.
  • Financially, I haven’t been as wise as I should have been. I’ve blown money on stupid video games, I have purchased books that I didn’t need and probably will never read, I bought pizza and beer in moments of weakness, etc. I wanted to be approaching debt free at this point but each month I still seem to rely on my credit card for that final week or so and have only been making minimum student loan payments. Part of this is that I’m torn, it seems wiser to invest in Bitcoin and Ethereum than pay off my student loans because the growth is larger than the interest rates but that sword is still dangling over my head. On a positive note, I seem to have replaced frivolous spending with more spending on investments, which is probably a good thing.
  • I have been unable to get a yoga, meditation, or new language practice going. On a good week I meditate and practice a language 7 days and go to yoga once, but I rarely have a good week. Most weeks are 2-3 times for the meditation or language and no yoga. I see the value in these practices, I read the articles and understand the logic, but when the time comes for me to do them I make excuses or distract myself with stupid stuff.
  • I still spend WAY too much time on Facebook. I haven’t found a great way to deal with that yet. My life is so short and valuable and it hurts my soul to know that I waste it scrolling and liking and sharing articles unnecessarily. I could get so much more accomplished if I could trim this deadtime.
  • My self-control fails when I’m offered free, non-vegan pizza. I’ve identified as a vegan for several years now but recently I have had a very difficult time saying no to temptation (forgive me father, for I have sinned). I am working on coming up with a strategy to address this, but I’m disappointed in myself. I don’t have a lot of ethical standards but “minimize harm” is one of them and consuming animal products increases the market for harm.

So… those are my big failures in the last year. I know that no year will be perfect. I’m excited to see where I am in June 2018, I know it’ll be a hell of an adventure. I don’t have any real particular goals but maybe I can get this debt down, climb Mount Adams, have saved enough for eye surgery, and finish another book or three. Blargh. I keep thinking about actually writing down some actual goals. I just finished reading “The ONE Thing” and I’m currently reading “The 10X Rule” and one of the threads that runs through both books is setting awesome, specific goals and shooting for the stars or else you will be wandering without direction or fall below your potential. Maybe I will do that… I think Tim Ferris recommends it too in his book (but I might be mistaken).

Anway, I’m still in search of the system that really works well for me long-term. I’ve found one for my body, but not yet for my productivity. I feel like I’m on the verge of one though that melds the valuable insight from The 10X Rule, The ONE Thing, The 4-Hour Workweek, On Writing, and The War of Art. The journey continues…

Want to hear my thoughts on something? Wanna help me out by providing me inspiration for a post or story? Think I’m wrong and want to yell at me about it anonymously? Send me a message!  www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH 

Everything Has Value For Artists and Entrepreneurs

I consume a lot of information from a variety of sources, that is one of the perks of living in this amazing age. At my fingertips I have more music, books, podcasts, and magazines than I could consume in ten lifetimes, and more is being created every day. It is overwhelming and awesome and terrifying. At times, I am painfully aware of my own mortality when I finish a book and am trying to decide what to read next.

Do I pick up Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman or The Sandman Volume 5 by Neil Gaiman? Should I dive deeper into my interest in yoga or should I read about the history of anarchist theory? How about trying to improve my life by reading a self-help book, or maybe my time would be better spent finally finishing Crime and Punishment. Or maybe, I should take a break from reading and watch Star Trek: EnterpriseThe X-Files, or Jersey Shore, or play World of Warcraft. I could also sign up for MMA classes, listen to The Beatles with the lyrics pulled up on my computer, listen to a D&D podcast, join the local board game club, or start learning German (again).

As awe-inspiring as my options are I find comfort in knowing that there is no wrong decision. However, I choose to spend my leisure time I know there will be value in it because value is created by me. Value isn’t something tangible that you can pick up, hold, or store away in a sock drawer where it will sit waiting and unchanging. There is no objective measure of value where A Tale of Two Cities has 374 value points and is, therefore, a better use of my time than watching Top Chef: Seattle which only has 196 value points.

No, there is value in all things. If I watch or read or experience something and can’t find value in it, that is my weakness as a student and not necessarily a reflection on the creator. As an artist, I should be on the lookout for inspiration everywhere. Each “trashy” tv show is a collection of characters for a dystopian novel. Every game of Settlers of Catan is an opportunity to hone my strategic thinking and to understand how other people behave when under stress. Every experience I have, from reading Anal Pleasure and Health: A Guide for Men, Women, and Couples to listening to The Dungeon Master’s Block podcast provides nearly infinite inspiration and value for my life, if I just know how to see it.

I create my own value. I find my own inspiration. I just need to keep my eyes open and consume, consume, consume. And the more diverse the sources, the more tools I’ll have at my disposal when I sit down to create.