The Next Chapter

Since posting about my annual “failures” last week I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I want to move forward. By next July do I want to have accomplished the things I didn’t last year? Or are they things that are no longer important to me and I should quit? Are there other things I want to commit to accomplishing? Last year’s failures fell into six basic genres that each require a different response.

  • Author – My book isn’t an audiobook yet, but I can change that. Starting today, I am going to make this my priority. I’m going to record every single day until I have a recorded draft of the book. It may not be a perfect recording, but good now is better than perfect never. Once complete, I’ll listen to it (shudder), make any major changes or re-recordings, and then submit it to Audible. During this process, I will also be able to give my book another look for any potential edits. I will also start working towards “going pro”, which is going to require a shift in mindset as well as some practical changes in my life.
  • Fitness – I’m going to keep running daily and working out regularly. I think implementing a monthly “glutton weekend” can help prevent me from entering major periods of sloth. I’ve got an 8-week workout plan I’m using and this October I’m going to start seeing a personal trainer. I also have some running goals that will get me to the 100-mile run level. Oh, and I’m committed to a mountain climb next year which is motivating me to stay in shape so that I don’t die.
  • Finances – I’m getting into a pretty good groove when it comes to saving money and earning money. For the next year, I’m going to keep working on cutting out waste and increasing passive income to get to the point where I could stop working (I won’t because I love my job and the people I work with) and still maintain my lifestyle.
  • New Practices – I am not sure how to integrate new practices in my life that I know are valuable but I also find difficult. I never regret yoga or meditation or language practice after I accomplish them, but it is difficult to motivate myself to do them. I think part of the problem is that I’ve committed to too much and maybe I need to focus on just one thing to get into and prioritize it above all else. I need to jump into it first thing in the morning when my mental fuel tank is full and I’m less likely to justify skipping it. I don’t need a lot of mental energy for work, the gym, or running because I know I’m going to do those regardless of what other circumstances are going on, but by the end of the day it is difficult to get the mental energy together to do something like meditate, so I need to do it first thing in the morning (well… maybe after a cup of coffee)
  • Facebook – The biggest time and energy suck of them all. I’ve come to accept that I have a bit of an addiction and my use of it is generally unhealthy. I’m going to schedule reasonable time for Facebook (probably 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening) except when I am posting a blog post. I’m also going to only check Facebook Messenger once a day. I need to constantly ask myself “is what you are doing at this moment helping you accomplish your dreams?” and when it comes to Facebook the answer is almost always “No”. Sharing articles of interest and talking with people is great, but scrolling mindlessly or getting in stupid debates with people I’ve never met is a waste. I would be better off reading, writing, cooking, gardening, exercising, working, masturbating, yoga, cleaning, meditating, etc.
  • Vegan – I think I’ve found a workable solution to my temptation problem, at least for the situations in which I can prepare for. I’m going to start eating my largest meal of the day directly before going to places where temptation is going to be and I’m going to carry a bag of almonds with me. Hopefully, this will keep both my physical hunger and my psychological oral fixation at bay to provide support for my ethical strength.

So I guess that is where I stand for the next year. I’m not sure the exact path I’m going down for each of these goals, I imagine it will vary with each one and many of them will have a bunch of sub-goals and reward systems to help move me up the mountain. I wonder if it would be beneficial to break down a proposed system for each of these six sections, maybe I’ll do that tomorrow in another blog post. I find writing things out to be helpful but I don’t want “being busy” to replace “being productive”. Oh well, I guess I’ll burn that bridge when I get there.

I haven’t answered any questions or comments lately and would love to hear from you. So, if you’ve got a thought or question submit it to me anonymously at  www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH and I’ll respond. 

Weekend Off

This is part of my weekly project at self-improvement by following the battle plan found in “Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth.” This book is incredibly valuable and only $0.99 on Kindle.

For the first time in a very long time, I took a weekend off from life. I don’t normally work for money on the weekends, but I do tend to schedule and structure my days. In the past, that structure has been necessary for me to complete projects, but I’ve felt so burnt out lately that I needed a break. So, between 5pm on Friday and 6am on Monday I had nothing planned that I wasn’t enthusiastic about, and it was exactly what I needed.

I didn’t write or blog or exercise or check my email (I actually didn’t turn my computer on all weekend) or complete any of the daily rituals that I feel like I must to complete, and now I feel energized and my brain is overflowing with inspiration and ideas and motivation. My weekend was mostly beer, naps, weed, and junk food, and my body feels a bit sluggish paying for those sins but my mind is sharp. A little time off can put things in perspective.

So, how did I do on last week’s Forward Tilt action item? Terribly. I think I really missed the entire point of the exercise. Instead of slowing down, I sped up. I tried to schedule big projects that I wasn’t necessarily passionate about each day and they ended up (mostly) ignored. Oh well, I can’t do anything about last week so I shouldn’t let it impact me.

This week’s Forward Tilt chapter is titled “Stop Thinking About It” and is a battlecry to stop thinking and planning and instead, just take action. The perfect time to apply for a job (or quit a job), take up a new hobby, start yoga or MMA, break up with a terrible partner, etc. will never happen. All you have is today to take action and make changes. As Morehouse says in this chapter:

“‘I’m going to’ and ‘I’m thinking about’ are dangerous phrases. Keep saying them and you’ll miss opportunities, delay action for weeks, and perhaps never do anything at all.”

This week’s action item is to pick one thing that I’ve been thinking or talking about doing and actually do it. Start to finish, this week. I’m not sure right now what that project is going to be, but I’ll update here when I figure it out.

Week 2: Slow Down

This is part of my weekly project at self-improvement by following the battle plan found in “Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth.” This book is incredibly valuable and only $0.99 on Kindle.

It seems like we are always racing each other to get to some random objective. First up the career ladder. First to have ten children. First to make $1,000,000. First to retire. First to start your own business. We get stuck on a certain path because that is what “successful” people before us did.

But man, what is the use of racing around your whole life?

Instead of focusing on the end goal, we should be focusing on our daily lives and enjoying what we have around us. Yes, working hard is important, but that work should make sense. “Work for work’s sake” is waste, but if you are working towards bettering yourself or working to remove the pain points or working to find your passion, then that will get you far in life even if it means passing up a high paying job.

My favorite line out of this week’s lesson is, “I don’t care if you’re sixteen or thirty-three, because you’re not on any conveyor belt or timeline. The path you’re following is your own.”

The action item this week is to write down one thing that I want to do each day of the week to add value to myself. That value can come in many forms and will change with my mood, but my rough plan is this:

  • Monday: Begin recording Audiobook
  • Tuesday: Run 10 miles
  • Wednesday: Bike ride to the beach and relax
  • Thursday: Start a Coursera course on a subject that I’m interested in
  • Friday: Nude sunbathing in my back yard
  • Saturday: Register for a triathlon and begin training
  • Sunday: Attend a Unitarian Church Service

Week 1 of “Forward Tilt” – Update

Last week I started working my way through the phenomenal weekly guide, Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth by Isaac Morehouse and Hannah Frankman (it is only $0.99 on Kindle and the paperback will be launching soon). I wasn’t perfect but I think I did okay. The primary challenge this week was twofold: create value and signal to others that you created value.

So, I tried to write every day, as well as work on my professional brand. I only missed one day of writing (which is pretty good for me). As for my brand, I have finished my website, created a Facebook page, went through the WordPress guide for SEO, and I created two ad campaigns, one with Amazon for my book and one with Google for my website.

Overall, it was a really good experience and I learned a lot this week. I’m going to keep writing daily to finish my current short story and then begin the editing process. I am also going to make sure I continue the steps towards getting my brand out there, but that probably won’t be a daily task. Maybe along the way I will find that my writing isn’t creating value, but at least I will have market-tested my creations and received feedback.

Tomorrow starts Week 2, “Slow Down”.

Week 1: The Two Biggest Secrets to Success

This is part of my weekly project at self-improvement by following the battle plan found in “Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth.” This book is incredibly valuable and only $0.99 on Kindle.

This week’s lesson (practice? guideline? challenge?) focuses on the two most important factors in creating possibility in your life: creating value and signaling the value you created. This lesson comes at an important time for me. I just completed my first book and have been struggling with advertising it. I feel like I’m bragging if I talk about it more than just the original post, but maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should put more effort into advertising what I created and am proud of.

So, in answer to this week’s challenge, I am going to work on cultivating a professional outlet for my creations. I will also be writing daily fiction and putting it on my blog (my first creative love is fiction writing). Like Steven Pressfield discusses in “The War of Art”, in order to overcome Resistance we need to be a professional. I am a professional writer and I should act like it.

My rough plan looks like this:

Monday – Research advertising options Facebook and such
Tuesday – Create a professional page on Facebook, set up a Twitter account, update LinkdIn
Wednesday – Website Complete
Thursday – Set up Podcast
Friday – Wrap up loose ends or work on other stuff that came to mind this week

Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth

Isaac Morehouse and Hannah Franklin have completed a new book that I desperately needed, something I didn’t realize that until I purchased it. “Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth” is a battle plan for every artist, entrepreneur, life student, or individual who needs a kick in the butt occasionally to create and grow.

The book is broken down into 52 posts and each post has a brief explanation and an action item. The action item is my favorite part, it provides an actual outline for how to get more out of each day or week. I’m notoriously terrible at sticking to long-term plans (as all humans are) and having weekly benchmarks is perfect for me. You can just read one a week but the sections are so short that I’m going to read it straight through this week.

As part of my dive into this book, I will be posting weekly updates about each chapter and my own action plan. I have a Google Calendar alert set up for 1400hrs every Sunday for “Tilt”. When that alarm goes off I am going to look back on my accomplishments over the previous week, print out the new week’s section and pin it next to my, and then blog about it all.

For anyone who follows Isaac’s blog (and everyone should) you will recognize some of the advice in this book. His casual and inspiring tone comes through clearly and this book is easily worth the $0.99 for the Kindle edition (yes, that’s ninety-nine cents). Hell, the fact the book inspired this blog posts means I’ve already gotten my money’s worth.

This book is a mixture of Steven Pressfield, Tim Ferriss, and Ryan Holiday, and provides a blueprint and inspiration for success. So, go out and grab this book. Even if you don’t follow the plan to the letter, there are bound to be some pearls of wisdom in this short book that will make the path towards your goals a little bit clearer.