Stalling and moving forward

Seth Godin recently posted about his own efforts against stalling. His plaque which asks him, “Are you stalling?” constantly reminds him that – yes, he probably is.

My own form of this comes from a suggestion from author Neil Gaiman. In his now famous Make Good Art commencement address, he mentions working towards “his mountain.” My own sign asks me, “Will this get me closer to my mountain?”

It’s a question of focusing on what’s most important. What projects not only yield the most return, but also which are you most excited about. You may not always get to choose, but if you do, excitement and ROI should most certainly overlap.

Starting anew

It’s hard to believe that there’s just about a month left in what, to many, may seem the longest year. Ever.

So where does that leave us come January 1? What does a year ahead, resolutions and all, look like when we’re leaving behind 2020, and hopefully all the frustration, heartache, and concern that came with it.

January One is no different, though, than any other day. When we wake in the morning, we have the option to make that day something special, even if only to us. So each day is a chance to start again, New Year or not.

For this, we give thanks

With Thanksgiving now past, it’s important to keep a sense of gratitude going into the future. Even past the coming holidays, recalling that we are fortunate to be alive now, even given the current crises we face, is something that we should aspire to.

There is nothing that we cannot handle if we come at it together.

The right words

There’s a moment when something clicks; when whatever is said, or that you’re reading, suddenly makes you stop and think, “That’s it. That’s what I’ve been waiting for.”

It’s impossible to know from where such inspiration will derive. In a recent conversation, someone was telling me the story of his moment of spiritual awakening. The messenger was as unconventional as could be – a constant joker, sarcastic and someone this speaker would generally say was not someone he would listen to.

But, in the course of their discussion, the sarcastic one, in a rare moment of seriousness, said, “That’s the Universe talking to you.”

Had it come from anyone else, this gentleman I was speaking with would likely have shrugged it off. But the messenger, and the oddly serious tone of the message, made him stop and think, “That’s it. That’s what I’ve been waiting for.”

So you can pull a book off the shelf, open to a random page, and see if you find the answer you’ve been looking for. Or call up someone that you haven’t spoken with in a while. Because, you never know what message you may receive in doing so.

Apartment Therapy

I used to live in a small place, barely six-hundred interior square feet. One of the biggest selling points for the house was the quarter acre lot it sat on. That, and its proximity to family and friends.

A lot of inspiration for how to organize and utilize the house came from the website Apartment Therapy. Small space living, decorating ideas, kitchen clean-up. I actually spent a lot of time on that website over the course of three years.

I hadn’t thought much about it once I’d moved, but after two or so years I resisted the site. It’s still a bastion of unique and interesting small space ideas, as well as topics such as cleaning, personal finance, and cooking/entertaining (though perhaps entertaining isn’t as important right now).

Current affairs disconnected

It’s hard to separate news from headlines from civics from just plain understanding. Everything remains overlapped, bound together, and relevant, while at the same time somehow seeming disconnected.

Headlines are those items that pull our attention. In the internet realm, ‘click-bait’ is nefarious for eliciting responses from viewers. Ad revenue, personal data, even hacking potential. But headlines are just that – a phrase meant to elicit the response. Usually, the preference is to read the article. Though, now it’s likely enough simply to share it without having read it. (The Daily Beast compiled some examples of outrage over satirical writing thought to be true.)

We want fact, and we want truth. And, we wait. We try our best. We browse each new story, trying to make sense of what’s happening in our world. Connected to each other, and yet so far away.

Successful people do this

I’m slowly going through old notes, getting posts together to publish. There was a list of 21 habits of successful entrepreneurs which I had pulled from some place. In finding the original article, I identified this one published this month on Life Hack; several books (including this one) of the same title; and, finally, the original post I had saved.

I guess it makes sense that there are plenty of suggestions for how to become successful. After all, a lot of people have achieved some form of success or other, while there are plenty of others who never have.

Many of the lists give broad stroke suggestions for how to become successful in just about any field. They can fall into categories such as personal (keep a journal, meditate, set intentions), professional (prioritize deep work, make time for your team), and physical (exercise, eat breakfast), or they can break out in other ways.

There are trends in how high functioning people behave, but, at the same time, it’s possible for others to maintain similar habits and never break through the barrier they are pushing up against.

For me, I believe successful people keep going. It’s as simple as that. Tenacity.

This year, it’s hard to believe that next year will ever get here – that all of this will, at one point, be behind us. But, it most assuredly will. And when that happens, it’ll be the ones who haven’t given up that will have pushed further ahead.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass

FYC 11-20-20

Another week, another batch.

  • The Chicago Public Library’s move to eliminate late fees had the result of increasing the return of overdue books.
  • How to spend your evening hours to build a better life. There’s one particular point here which resonated with me, under the heading of Learn more about a topic you are curious about. I’ve been waffling over an interest I had, thinking that it doesn’t necessarily seem applicable to anything I do. I nearly got SCUBA certified a little over a decade ago. While I did not complete certification, the desire to try again recently arose. If I think about it, it’s really merely enjoyment – yet, according to Thomas Oppong, “Steve Job’s calligraphy course in college helped build the first Mac. In his famous 2005 Commencement speech for Stanford University, Jobs said: “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”
  • Neil Gaiman on books, and what individual stories and authors have meant to him, in Books that made me.
  • The future classics of horological collecting. Now I like watches. In the days since receiving my Apple Watch (nearly three years and counting), I can likely add up with toes and fingers the number of occasions I’ve worn one of my other time pieces. That said, this computer on my wrist will eventually breathe its last, but some of those time pieces take a licking… Well, you know the rest.
  • Then, if you’re looking to upgrade your alarm clock as well as your watch, there’s this gem from Hatch. I saw it on a program and was pretty taken with it. Ambient sounds, wind-down before bed time, and gentle increase in light to awaken you in the morning. With the impending darkness from the winter creeping in, it’s not a terrible idea. If you have to wake up on time in the morning.

That was probably about it this week. I haven’t been watching the tv much or listening to the news. After election week, my current affairs quotient was pretty well-filled. But, I’ll be back to normal in a couple of weeks, I’m sure. Anyway, I’ll leave you with this:

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi