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Real Education

I often feel that I have learned so much more in the “real world” than I did at university.  While I value the education that I did get there, I will always regret getting student loans and how I went because that is what you do and erroneously thinking that I would automatically make a larger income because of going.  Don’t get me wrong, some have gotten loans, get a great job and were able to pay them back.  But that has not been mine or many others experience.

“One brought up exclusively by books carries through life a certain remoteness from reality: he stands, as it were, out of the pale, and feels that he stands so; and often suffers a kind of melancholy from which he might have been rescued by a more real education.”

William James

I love reading books, the Kindle has to be one of the greatest things that has come from our technological age.  And the things that I read stick in my brain and persuade me to think of solutions or actions that I would not otherwise.  But this quote has some merit in that we cannot just read and then call it a day and expect our desires to just flow to us.

Currently I am reading a book about how to become a high performer.  Being as I like to read I am just cruising through it.  But it asks that I write down questions and ponder and answer, also to devise a plan or some rituals to help bring my energy up.  I have not done any of them.  I feel remote from it all, like the quote implies it is almost like I am from the outside looking in and feel sad for being such a putz…

But not all is lost, the book I am reading spoke of doing things to re-energize one’s self, and doing these things just for the enjoyment of doing them.  Luckily writing a blog, pointless or not, is one of those things, so here it is! Enjoy!

What are some things that you know of intellectually, but don’t or won’t do with your actions?

Lazy Haze

It is the New Year and everyone seems excited about new goals and plans.  As for me, the last week or so I have just felt lazy and unproductive.  There is not really anything at the moment that gets me excited and fearless to the point where it does not matter whether I get 8 hours of sleep or not or if I have to stay late at work to get everything to a point that makes the next day easier and less stressful.

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Above: The debt payoff charts.

In the last quarter of 2013 my wife and I have paid off most of our remaining debt and only have $7,000 on my student loan left to pay off.  It’s been a really exciting process, but December was an odd month with a forced vacation, so the income was irregular, and I think that must have knocked me off the exciting “appetite for life” feeling that I had at the time.

We all know that many make grandiose plans for the New Year and if you listen to Dan Miller or a number of other motivational podcasts, these plans rarely last past February.  A thought I had was that I was not going to get caught up in the goal frenzy that happens this time of year.  I would just wait until March so that I could make and act on the goals in a sober manner.

But still this “lazy haze” is really annoying me.  I still need to be proactive and get things done at work and around the house and with the kids.  So I am trying a few things just to be less annoyed with myself.

One thing is working on my daily checklist again.  Despite that I think my system could still use some tinkering, the best thing about it is to just track what I do in a day and have the list for suggestions of things to do when my mind is blank and hazy.  The other thing is that I signed up for Jon Acuffs “30 days of hustle”…then forget that I signed up for, then got an email giving me today’s task. 

After getting onto the 30 days of hustle Facebook group I saw that so many were talking about ramping up their blogs that have died, and while no one likes a copycat, I thought that was the perfect thing for me to try out.  So that is why you will be getting all the delicious content that my mind has to offer!

My hope with my blog has always been getting some discussion, advice and feedback from anyone who happens to read it.

What do you do to combat the “lazy haze”?

Trying to have patience

After reading a few blog posts about patience and how we are the microwave society etc etc… I decided I will try to practice a little more patience.

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This picture of my daughter Chloe expresses exactly how I feel when I finally accept that I must be patient…

I was transferring ownership of two of my Android apps for $1200, and I was very excited to apply this toward the credit card that is almost paid off.

Of course there were hiccups, Google had to manually transfer so that took a day, then they transferred them to the wrong account…that took another two days to get one in the right account and another day on top of that to get the second app in the right account. And then waiting for the buyer to notice and get the money sent to my Paypal.

And even while writing this I am waiting 3-4 business days for the money to be transferred from Paypal to my bank…then…when my wife send the money from the bank to pay the credit card, that will basically take a week (I think visa set it up to try and trick people into late fees but that is neither here nor there).

For the part of this process that is done I had many internal impatient fits. I wanted to email Google a hundred times until they did their end right away, I wanted to take all my savings and throw it at the credit card, I wanted what I wanted right now! 

But patience paid off, I still have savings and I was able to put the extra income towards the credit card.  I am still wildly impatient but I keep it in check knowing that acting hastily only makes things worse.

How do you deal with times where you know you must exercise patience? 

I Have 3 Choices

One Sunday as my wife was playing the piano at church, I was taking care of our two daughters.  Mercedes, the older of the two, was having an absolute fit and just wanted to play outside.  After I got my dad to take my younger daughter I took Mercedes out to the car since she was being so loud anyway. 

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After she calmed down I tried talking with her and gave her two choices, “Mercedes, you have two choices, you can stay in the car OR you can go back inside.”

This actually helped her calm down even more as she immediately stuttered, “I have 3…I have 3…I have 3 choices.” she said as she put up 3 fingers to herself and counted them with the index finger of her other hand, “Stay in the car…” she touched one finger, “go back inside,” she carefully touched the second finger, then she excitedly touched the third finger “OR go play on the grass!”  When her mom came out to the car Mercedes still had three fingers up and seemed to walk back into the church carefully guarding her hand that held her three choices.

While it is difficult to get my daughter to do almost anything when her mind is set, this is something I absolutely love about her!  Her mind simply does not care about choices or constraints that she does not desire, while she did concede that the other choices existed, without effort she came up with a possible third choice.

Mercedes has replied to this choice situation many times, each reply has been brilliant, “Make it a different choice daddy!”, “That is not a choice!” or “How about a different question?”

There is so much I take from this every time it happens.  How many choices do I have?  What do I really want?  What am I missing by being so focused on the few choices that others impose on me?

The $50 Deal

Every month in my family budget my wife and I get so much blow money.  This month (and many other months I am sure) I will be trying something different.  I want to pay $50 dollars to someone out there who is willing to help me find side work.

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I have a credit card that I am absolutely sick of and want to pay off and then destroy the card.  In order to do that I need to make some extra money.

The deal is that if you find me a gig or a temp job that I can make at least $500 in week from, then I will pay you $50 for the finder’s fee.

Certain criteria are needed for the gig:

*  Something that I can do locally in or around the Drumheller area…
OR
*  Over the internet such as building a website or computer consulting.

*  My day job can be sporadic, if I get a call or have to work late I cannot get around that.

*  I would have to make at least $500 in a week for you to get the finder’s fee.

*  No MLM (Multi Level Marketing), Pyramid schemes, or other such things.

*  Payment for the finders fee comes after I have obtained the work and earned $500 or know that I will earn at least $500,

*  If you, yourself, are providing a gig I will gladly give 10% off off whatever we agree upon.

*  I will gladly accept smaller paying gigs but the finder fee will be reduced, such as $10 for a $100 gig $20 for a $200 gig etc.

*  I can turn down any gig for any reason.

To get a feeling for what I can provide you may check out my resume here.

Better Than Not

So many times I have thought that I just cannot do something.  I waited too long, I’m too old or too young, there is no point and so on.  One day I was giving the missionaries from my church a ride to a town that was an hour away.  I was busy with oil pumps and had to work late, and even later since I gave the missionaries the ride.

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When I told my wife about it later I remember saying, “It’s good to be around the missionaries, or at least it is better than not being around them.”

For whatever reason that really stuck out to me.  How many things that we decide to do or not do are better for us if we do them?  Many times things are binary, it is simply better that we did them.  Of course there are those things that we have done that it would have been better that we didn’t, but I find that there are many more things that we should have done that we didn’t.

Safeguarding time by not using it?

One of my faults is that I won’t do many things cause it takes up time…time that I could be doing something more important…as soon as I find out what that is.  Or time that I could be sleeping…since I always need to catch up on sleep.  It seems that I always hoard my time thinking that it will help me, when really, the time passes whether I do something with it or not.  So, simply put, it is better to do something with the time you have, rather than nothing.

Are you hoarding your time?

Can’t Blame Wife and Kids

Near the end of April my wife and kids went to the States to help my wife’s sister with her first baby.  I was excited for the time to get a lot done on my own projects that I thought the wife and kids were keeping me from getting done. I was even gonna have a little blog series on all the things that I did while they were away…sadly I didn’t really do much…

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Sure I did a lot of good work at my day job, but when I got home I spaced out.  And yeah I did clean the house, but really when it stays clean after you clean it, it is not as big of an accomplishment.  Probably the best thing that I did do was go exercise about three times in the week that my wife and kids were gone.

This was a fantastic eye opener.  Namely that it is not my wife and kids that are keeping me from getting things done…it is not that I don’t have enough time or that the conditions are not right.  The problem is with me and the habit that I have formed and concealed by blaming all other aspects of my life for the laziness that I excel at.

They have been back for a few days now and for whatever reason I am finally kicking myself into gear again to get some things (outside of maintaining my existence) done!

What habits or consequences are you suffering and blaming on others?

The thought that is most pre-dominantly on my mind is breaking away from mediocrity.  I can feel the slimly effects of being mundane, un-disciplined, and generally lazy.  Can’t you feel it?  Can you see it all around you?  Does it consume you and pain you as much as it does I?  That is the reason for my checklist.  To do the many little things that I believe if I can master then I could master more with my own life.

 

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Like most good ideas that I have, this has stewed in my mind for quite some time.  When I finally made myself do it, it was a simple list of things that I should do everyday.  If I did them I got one point for each item.  This was great for all those days that I sit and veg and think that there are things that I should do…but wasted to much time trying to decide on what to do.  With this list I simply scanned it and did whatever was easiest and then carried on through the list if I was at all capable of doing and of the items.  However I did feel that it was lacking so I tried making another version.

 

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This list is pretty much the same, a few changes to some items, added some checkboxes, and some notes at the bottom to help me figure out how to get the most from my day.  When I finally started to crunch through this list on a daily basis I found that there were some days that I did really well but I did not do the items on the list.  So I decided that I would use “The Wheel of Life” as describe by Dan Miller.  Then I would make a buffet that I could pick and choose items and try to reach 45 points a day to make myself active and productive.

 

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This is the final version that I am currently working with.  So far it has served me well.  I have not vastly improved though and I wonder if I put too many things that I never allow myself to sit down and get something done that takes more time.  I also really need to have a better point system where writing a blog post is worth 5 points since they take a little more time and effort.

If nothing else this checklist gets me in to do something with my day if I am becoming stagnate.  Another problem is that most of my side work is done at night after the kids are i bed and the wife is doing one of her projects…and getting to bed on time almost never happens.

So I would say that it is worth it to have a checklist like this.  At least it has proven better than not having one at all… I have tried deciding to scrap it and just keep myself active, but that has simply not worked.  Also having a point based system like this makes it a game where I try to score higher all the time.

What are some techniques that you have used to keep yourself active and improving each day?

I’m Always Thinking…

Do you have a million good ideas?  I mean literally a million, or if not that many then at least a whole lot of ideas that just fill your brain with ecstasy?  I know that I do, and I absolutely love it.  It is probably one of the things that I will always un-shamefully love about about myself.  But there is a dark side to it as well…

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Have you ever felt disgusted with yourself?  Yes, you and I have all these amazing ideas, and what do we have to show for it?  I have tried many times to get in the habit of always writing my ideas down, because I know that they have a very short shelf life.  And if you have lost an idea and trying to think it back up, I can almost guarantee you will not retrieve it in its full splendour.

I had written the idea of a YouTube series that I would start about just the journey of attempting to be successful.  It would be really cool.  I wrote it down in some detail… Then forgot about it…well not really it was always in my mind, more and more ideas about it came to my mind.  But I decided it was alright I will start on it in a month or two.  Then one day as I was cleaning up my mess of a would be office in the basement I found the notes.  IT WAS MORE THAN A YEAR that I had these awesome ideas and I had not done a single thing for it! 

I felt gross about myself, and for good reason.  No matter how great of an idea that I have, it means nothing because it was not acted upon.  Enter the Matthew Effect, I have been in ruts for ideas since I have not used the great ones I have had.

There are some fantastic articles on Lifehacker that helped me really get the sting and the importance of this concept.

http://lifehacker.com/stop-waiting-on-your-ideas-and-get-them-out-the-door-no-476459071

http://paidtoexist.com/why-you-need-to-start-now-infographic/

http://lifehacker.com/seeking-inspiration-stop-looking-and-start-doing-476417146

Another side of the coin is that I do not want to become one of those people that I loathe… The idea guy (or gal).  The person who will walk through an idea and get all excited and when you ask them how they will do it… they shrug and say, “Someone else will do it for me…I am the idea guy…”  I almost want to slap them right then and there.

As of this post I am re-committing to acting on ideas and ceasing the trap of procrastinating and day dreaming that something good might come of just having an idea and not acting on it.  Will you do the same?

P.S. Here are some of the YouTube videos I have attempted to make.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=HlalLOGm6yU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gNogs4_2Nn0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=85otWbzOb-Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=IbhhwwE0cpo

I have never enjoyed learning and experimenting with technology than I did when I was in a Linux User Group in Utah.  When we actually meet up and discussed why Open Source and Free Software were important.  What programs we each liked to use.  The history that we had as little hackers breaking our parents computers and so on.

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I have never reached the same level of satisfaction from online social interaction, despite the topics or the memories or what have you.  I will endeavor not to beat this dead horse, cause everyone laments that Social Media is not social and it makes us closed off to the world and so on.  But I will just express my experiences and thoughts as I have waded through all of this.

When I was a younger teenager I would chat on ICQ…I can still hear all the little sound bites that alert you of messages.  That may have been the beginning of the downward spiral of negative affects of Social Media…because I could not communicate as openly with a girlfriend face to face as I could chatting through ICQ.

In my experience if you want something done, Social Media is the last place to go.  If you want to go out to dinner or a movie with a friend…I guess you could make a post…but all those kind of posts seem to not get the wanted response…just frivolous questions and then saying they sadly cannot make it.

Social Media has not turned the internet into the romanticized version of the internet we thought it would be in 1995.  I love the movie Hackers….where hackers unite and change street lights and what not.  But when you have a question or a project it gets very little attention for the most part.  If you are a programmer and need help, I think the best thing is to use Stack Overflow: http://stackoverflow.com/

Sometimes you can sell stuff…

My desire is that we keep using Social Media and get a lot of enjoyment out of it, but let’s hang out and see each others faces…a lot of search that I am sure you can Google says that you will feel better if you do!

Just think of what Social Media offers you, a quick little interaction to feel that you still exist to acquaintances…do you want to spend your whole day on that?

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