Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Response to Mike

Mike, I've got my ass-kicking boots on, and when I read your comments, all I hear is the wah wah wah of Charlie Brown's parents.

You know better than I what thing you wish you were doing. Write it out, break it down into bite-sized chunks, take a knife and carve out at LEAST 3 hours a day to make it happen.

Focus on the goal. Print out a picture of it, and put it on the ceiling above your bed. Getting up is the hardest part. Once you're vertical, it's all down hill from there. Leave your house to accomplish your goal, too many distractions there. Chip away at it every day, until you've made a good dent in it, then reevaluate. Has this been fun for you? Are you still interested in it? Do you look back on what you've accomplished and think, "Fuck yeah." Are you making enough progress each day to get there in time? Or did you realize you hate it, and can't stand wasting time on it? Time for something new.

It doesn't matter what you do. All that matters is that there's a goal, and you're making progress toward it.

It could be as specific as "get this accreditation," or as nebulous as "figure out how to run a business." Try to pick a path that will be versatile if you decide you hate the destination half way through. That way you can salvage some of that spent time.

Because time is your most valuable, and most finite resource.

A note on finding that "thing" that you want/are good at. I was talking to a personal trainer a while ago, he told me about how he never thought he could make enough money to become a private trainer, and how he would go to his office job, and squeeze in time to run up and down the stairs to get some exercise. This struck me because there is no way the thought to run up and down stairs simply for fun would have occurred to me. But this was his "thing," and to him, doing anything else was just crazy. He wound up striking out on his own, with a promise to his wife that if he couldn't make it work in 6 months, he'd drop it. He made it. Literally on the last day of 6 months, through a minor contact he made in passing several months prior. The universe deus ex machina'ed his dream.

The point of that story is, we all have obligations, and there are things we can, and can't do. But if you can carve time for your dreams out of _your_ life, without disrupting the lives of those around you, the only person stopping you is you. I don't have a lot of obligations. I want to be a good husband, brother, son, friend, entrepreneur, and employee. Roughly in that order. My nights are for my wife. My weekends for my friends, family, and wife. My afternoons and evenings for my occupation. My mornings were unclaimed because I was too busy enjoying my lethargy, so they were up on the chopping block.

This last weekend was my first since I decided to pound the pavement till it bleeds, and I spent it with friends and family, and playing Minecraft. I played because I figured I had earned the chance to play a bit. But Sunday night? Regrets. I'm trying to get 4 hours of work in every morning, and I spent about 12 hours (or more, they melt together) playing Minecraft (yes, it's that good), but when I was done, all I had to show for it was a series of logic gates which equated to a combination lock using the in-game equivalent of transistors. I was proud I had accomplished this with no assistance or guide, but after that was done, I realized that I had wasted the equivalent of three (or more) mornings on this. Building things like this for no reason other than to see if you can, is a truly obscene waste of a human being's most valuable resource. I may not be ashamed of my accomplishment, but I'm definitely ashamed of my wasted time.

Of course there is room for leisure, all work and no play makes Jack go on a killing spree, but keep it to a minimum. Save the life of leisure for retirement. Sit on the porch of your mansion, and think back on how you picked yourself up by your bootstraps, and made a better life for yourself, your family, and your generations to come. Think about how your success allowed you to focus on the things that really matter in life. It beats the hell out of rotting in a retirement home, or worse, becoming burden on your family.

If you happen to experience a feeling of loss at the end of your day, don't worry, that's just your drive to succeed sucker punching your contentment. Not everyone has that drive. Consider yourself lucky. Now that you know it's there, and you know it's pissed off at you, you can choose to do one of two things. You can either kill it with sleep, beer, and cheap entertainment, or you can nurse it back to to full strength, put it at your back, and let it push you off the couch, and onto the path to your goal. Confront all the missed opportunities in your life, and instead of letting them hurt you, let them motivate you. They're not failures. They're fuel. Burn them.

And if you think it sucks waking up early for 5 years to become everything you dared dream, then try waking up late 20 years from now with nothing to show for it.

It's all starts in the mirror, man. What do you see when you look?

If you're fine with what you see, then rock on with your mediocre self. Relish your tiny victories over life, and bask in your supremacy over esoterica. Honked at some idiot? Amazing. Told your off your boss? Historic. New high score? Monumental. Level 65 Paladin? Prodigious. Built a combination lock using an in-game equivalent of transistors? You're like a god among men.

But if, in that mirror, you see a world of potential crammed inside a locked safe? Then there's only one thing you can do. Crack it, tame it, and ride it to victory over life.

The best and worst thing about this path is that you're the only one who can get you there, and you're the only one who can keep you going. It's all you. Other people may help, but you can't expect them to do it forever. You have to change yourself.

All of it, from beginning to end and everything in between, depends only on you.


Mike said...

Pretty sure you're talking to me, but not sure which comments you mean in particular.

Carving out time would be easy in my case, besides my employer, not a soul has a claim on my time.

Mike said...

Also, I'm not sure if I mentioned it (it's been a long time, and I'm sipping beer over here, getting drowsy...), but I did try the whole "pound the pavement thing". The pavement kicked my ass, and I can't run no more.

Ah, well. Hated running anyway.