I Have to Be ‘That’ Guy

For as long as I can remember the fastest way for another human being to make me not like them was to demonstrate an unearned confidence. Ever met that guy? I use the word, ‘guy,’ because in my experience they have been overwhelmingly male. Maybe 90/10 in favor of men more than women if I were to guess.

That guy is always talking about his next big thing. ‘Bro, that business I invested in is about to blow up!’ ‘Dude, I’m gonna make this sick film. There’s gonna be vampires and aliens and elves and shit.’ ‘Oh yeah. I’m gonna hook up with that chick over that tonight.’ Etc. These guys talk about everything they’re going to do as if it were a forgone conclusion.

Bragging is generally something I don’t love to begin with. But to brag about something you have not yet done when you’ve displayed no previous pattern of ever doing anything big like it before – it feels so fake to me. Kind of like cheating.

The bragging is something you need to earn, damn it! You can’t just brag about running a marathon in the future. I’ll be the first to congratulate you after you cross the finish line, but until then I remain skeptical. And turned off from any desire to spend time with you in any social context.

However, it’s entirely possible that my severe reaction to this otherwise harmless behavior may have deeper roots than simple distaste. Why did I care so much about what other people did? I never quite knew. But lately, I’ve thought about it some and come to a potential realization:

I think I have to become like those guys in order to improve myself.

What do I mean? I mean, I think I’m going to have to talk about big future projects as if it’s a forgone conclusion – that they are absolutely going to happen. Talking about future projects much at all is something I try not to do very often anymore. I don’t talk about them much, because there is a fear in the back of my mind that constantly whispers, ‘What if you can’t do it?’

The fear of not accomplishing things makes me not want to tell too many people, because I don’t want to have the conversation later when they ask me about it and I am forced to report that I failed. Hard not to blame me on this one. Those conversations suck.

‘Hey Rich! How’s that crime novel coming you started in college?’

‘Uh…I…Never finished it actually.’

‘Oh.’

‘…Yeah.’

But I have been on a journey of self improvement for a few years now. And while I have seen gains, I’m by no means where I want to be yet. So, I need to keep changing things up. And one thing I am going to change starting now is that I will no longer keep projects secret because I’m afraid I’ll fail. Maybe I will fail. Maybe I’ll fail 10,000 more times. Fine. Then I’ll have those conversations, but they’ll go differently.

‘Hey Rich! How’s that book on improv you’ve been talking about for years?’

‘Not done yet. I wasn’t quite ready to finish it in my early thirties. Needed to learn some life lessons first. But now I’m back at it. Looking at a Summer release this year. Fingers crossed.’

It’s not about ‘not failing.’ It’s about not being afraid of failure and continuing to push past it.

I think I need to start talking about future projects more, because it helps me to feel like I’m being held accountable. Just because I’ll be able to handle those conversations better does not mean I look forward to them. Telling more people about the book I’m going to publish means I’ll avoid more and more of those talks if I finish the damn thing like I said I would.

In regards to being like ‘those guys’ there are a couple of caveats:

1. I would never intentionally ‘brag.’

My purpose and intention for needing to talk about future projects is entirely different. So, I will be attempting to speak of them more matter of factly than pridefully.

2. I would not attempt to bring it up in every conversation.

I always got the feeling that most of those guys sat perched in conversation sniper nests ready at any pause to bring up their big deal accomplishments-to-be. That won’t be me. My goal isn’t to bring it up as often as possible, but rather to not actively veer away from it whenever I’m asked what I’m up to.

So, in the spirit of this, I will publish my book on improv by my birthday (July). That’s my goal. I feel good about it. Also, scared. But I’m just gonna try to push through that.

Thanks, y’all!

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Twelve Lessons I Learned from writing 12 pilots in 12 Months

Saturday December 30th at 1:30AM I completed my 12th original pilot script for 2017. I started my first original pilot script January 2, 2017 with the intent to finish one for every month of the year.

I didn’t tell a whole lot of people, but among those I did tell many thought I was biting off more than I could chew. And they had very good reason to think that. Most of my life I have set ambitious hopes for myself and fallen short of accomplishing them.

But not this time. And this is the most ambitious goal I ever seriously pursued.

So, how is it that I was able to accomplish it when I’d never come close to doing something like it prior? Below are a number of techniques I used and lessons I learned. All of them helped me to different extents over the past twelve months. I hope they help you with whatever you’re trying to accomplish.

  1. Make sure your goals are realistic

On average each pilot took about 30 hours of my time from soup to nuts. That’s an hour a day. I knew I wasted plenty of time doing unimportant things like binge watching TV and mindlessly scrolling thru social media. There were definitely enough hours in the day to do what I needed to do as long as I made sure to devote the time to it. It’s unrealistic with my life to say I can set aside four to six hours a day for writing (like Stephen King suggests). The trick is to make sure the goal is monumental enough to matter to you while not being so big that it requires literally more time than you have to give.

  1. Burn the boats

This is a Tony Robbin lesson. If there are no boats, you can’t go back home. You must survive on the island. I couldn’t think of a concrete way to burn my metaphorical boats, so I had to convince myself that I did. I told myself if I could not accomplish this goal then I would have to move away from L.A. I didn’t tell anyone else about this, but I made a promise to myself that I would leave and because of how I convinced myself, it felt real enough to help motivate me.

  1. When you’re not feeling it, make a deal with yourself.

Many many many times I set down to work I did not feel like working. Would have much rather played a video game. But I’m so glad I chose work. I barely remember all the video games I’ve ever played. They’re fun in the moment, but have little to no lasting value for me. Accomplishing this goal has HUGE lasting value for me.

So, when I was lacking all inspiration/motivation I would have a conversation with myself and give myself a very tiny assignment (see #4). If that didn’t work I would then taunt myself. ‘What? You can’t sit down and do this one small thing that will take five minutes (or sometimes literally fifteen seconds)?’ And that would usually be enough to make me sit down and do something. Every time was like a mental battle. It’s easy to lose those battles, but the power/responsibility is yours to discover what you individually need to win them.

  1. Every little bit counts

Something as small as just creating a file folder and naming it ‘August Pilot – ???’ was a task. I know that sounds stupidly small, but at some point in my process a file folder needs to get created. So, if I only ‘worked’ for fifteen seconds to make that, I still got to cross a task off the list. And every tiny bit of progress gave me more and more of a sense of accomplishment.

Warning: Sometimes I feel the urge to do more than the one small assignment after completing it. It’s fine for me to keep going and do more work as long as I count it as bonus work. In other words, if I promise myself I can go play a video game after creating a blank word doc, but I decide once I’m at the computer that I can go ahead and do one or more other tasks, I am NOT allowed to feel bad if I change my mind and don’t do those things. I did what I promised I would do and I’m not allowed to feel bad about not doing more than that. If I feel bad about the bonus stuff then I can get more and more discouraged.

  1. The Pomodoro Technique

This insanely simple technique is nothing more than using a timer, but damn it’s powerful. The original technique was specifically about using an old egg timer, but any countdown clock works (cell phone, microwave, etc.). Rather than give myself a task to complete, sometimes I would just give myself a time. ‘Okay, you must do something that furthers this months pilot uninterrupted for the next six minutes.’ Even if I just stared at the screen and thought about stuff that was better than nothing.

  1. Eliminate Distractions

I am still trying to improve at this. I often let text messages, push notifications, my dog or my girlfriend or who knows what interrupt me when I’m working. It’s hard not to.

Here are some ways I eliminate distractions: Put the phone in airplane mode, turn off the wifi on my computer, try to write during times when my girlfriend wasn’t home, ask my girlfriend to plan an hour or two with the dog outside of the apartment so I could be alone, take my laptop somewhere isolated (I suck at writing in coffee shops, but I can sometimes write on a park bench or the library). The crux of this is to identify what is causing you to focus your attention on the wrong thing and create a way to work around that.

  1. ‘Finished’ Not ‘Perfect’ or Dare to Fail

A lot of creative types don’t create much, because they don’t want to make something that isn’t as good as they want it to be. I get that. I loved to think of myself as a better writer than others, but since I rarely ever actually wrote it didn’t matter how good my inner thoughts were. A terrible completed draft is infinitely better than the ideas that only exist in your head. So, just finish it. I don’t know that any of my twelve pilots are great. They may not even be good. But they’re done. And I’m on cloud nine about it. So, just dare yourself to fail. Write the worst scenes with the worst dialogue in the worst scenarios. Once you finish it, it will be so much easier to revise than it was to create. And you will have improved simply by doing it.

  1. The Details Don’t Matter

So many times I would be writing and I would need to know the name of a thing that I either didn’t know or couldn’t remember. For example, I was trying to write, ‘He removed his nightstick and held it up in the air.’ But for the life of me I couldn’t remember the word ‘night stick’ (apologies to my brother who served on the Dallas Police Force for 25 years). Now, I could have switched over to Google and searched for it. Would have taken 30 seconds at most. But I really didn’t want to toggle away from the screen I was working on.

I wanted to just barrel thru and write the rest of the scene since I knew where it was going. So, I wrote, ‘He removed his skinny bat and held it up in the air.’ I couldn’t remember ‘night stick,’ but I definitely knew it was not called a ‘skinny bat.’ But I also didn’t care. No one is going to read this first draft but me. And when I’m revising I’m welcome to look it up then.

  1. Put it On the Calendar

If you’re like me, you live and die by the Google Calendar. Wherever it is that you keep track of your future appointments, use that to make writing appointments. If you’re not a writer, but trying to accomplish something else still use this technique. For example, if you want to master the piano, put in your calendar which 30 minutes (or whatever time you devote daily) of your day tomorrow will be spent practicing? Don’t just say, ‘I need to practice tomorrow.’ Schedule it. And treat it like a real appointment that you would only cancel in an emergency.

  1. Sacrifice

I watched a lot fewer movies and TV shows in 2017 than I did in 2016. I skipped out on a number of fun activities with fun people in 2017 even though I could have gone. But I prioritized this project so high that it was worth it to me to say ‘No, I can’t come to karaoke that night even though it sounds amazing. I have a deadline to meet.’ Like Steven Pressfield said in The War of Art: “The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.”

  1. Make Your Goals About What You Can Do

I used to have a goal to get hired to perform on the Second City’s Mainstage in Chicago. I never accomplished that goal. And now I realize that wasn’t a good goal. Because it’s not about what I can do. I could theoretically have the best audition possible for me and still not get cast. That goal involved factors beyond what I could do. If I could go back in time I would modify that goal to this: “I want to get as good at sketch and improv as possible and try to bring my A game whenever I get an audition for Second City.” That goal is all about me and not about the auditors in the room or any other factor I cannot control.

When I set out to write 12 pilots in 12 months I did not say something like, ‘I will win a script contest this year’ or ‘I will sell a show idea before I’m 37.’ If me accomplishing this goal leads to something else, that’s amazing. I hope it does. But if it doesn’t, I still did what I set out to do.

  1. Deadlines Are As Important as I Make Them

When I was in school I pretty much always did my homework and got it in on time. I might have procrastinated on an assignment til the night before, but I almost always got it done in time. I was raised by a mother who loved me, but did not tolerate or accept lateness in my school work.

Cut to me in my 20s. I rarely ever had assignments handed down to me from an authority figure after college. So, I didn’t do much. I would come up with a project and more often than not let it die on the vine long before I got it done. I wanted someone to hire me to write or act not only for the money, but also for the motivation.

But the truth is I never needed someone else to give me a deadline like I thought I did. I just needed to give myself a deadline and treat it as if it was a school assignment. The difficult truth about being professionally creative is that most of us need to prove ourselves before we’re hired to do it. Rarely if ever does someone without a lot of credits to their name get hired to do something for money in entertainment.

So, we need to make our own credits and that usually means self imposed assignments. So, treat them like they’re incredibly important. If a gun was held to a loved one’s head and the gunman said the only way to avoid them being shot was for you to memorize and practice that audition piece or write that screenplay or go workout then you would make it happen. That means you have the ability. You just need to commit to summoning it and following it thru.

Those are the twelve points I could think of that might help. I hope they do. They’ve certainly helped me.

I have no idea what my journey is going to look like as a writer. Currently I don’t get paid to write. I hope that changes soon. But if it doesn’t, I’m still going to write like crazy.

I now confidently identify as a writer. And I’m not going to stop. I’m 100% committed to writing more and more and more for the rest of my life. With whatever it is that you want to do with your life, I hope you can have clarity of your goal and perseverance to accomplish it.

Thanks, y’all!

Make Your Own Psychological Tools

Three years ago I read a book called The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels. Essentially the book is about five psychological tools they came up with to overcome certain challenges.

One example is the tool they call ‘Reversal of Denial.’ When you are trying to get yourself to do something that’s hard (like working out) you imagine the pain and discomfort you’ll feel if you do this activity as a cloud in front of you. Then yell (out loud or in your mind) ‘Bring it on!’ Walk thru the cloud and say ‘I love pain’ until you see yourself pass thru it. Then say ‘pain sets me free.’

It takes less than thirty seconds and it’s designed to turn your fear of pain into a desire for it. Basically, it helps motivate you to do the thing you know you should do.

They outline scenarios where people fall victim to pain avoidance, explain the tool and then cite examples where it helped people. The book goes on for four more tools.

I recommend this book with a caveat.

Read the book. It’s fascinating. I recommend trying out the tools to see how they feel. But if you really want to improve yourself, don’t just read the book, try to use the tools and stop. These tools are actually helpful.

But they’re not easy to remember to do all the time. In fact, in the book they talk about how the people who found success with the tools all eventually stopped using them. I know I did. I read this book, got really into it and then at some point without realizing it I forgot all about it.

So, is this book just a waste of time? Nope. It’s a blueprint.

These tools are effective, but they’re not fun or particularly memorable.

That’s why I recommend you craft your own tools. What are the things that you are more likely to remember? What will marry fun with self improvement?

Here’s a silly example of one I created:

I slouch a lot. Walking, sitting or standing with my back straight is not my default position. This constant hunching affects me physically and psychologically. So, I created a tool of my own to help me remember to stand straight up.

When I was a kid in the early 90s there was a video game called Altered Beast. I always loved that game. In every level you began as an average sized man. But as you kicked and punched your way thru the levels four purple orbs would randomly pop out. If you touched them a deep voice from nowhere would say ‘Power Up.’ And you’d get bigger and buffer. Once you got all four you became an animal (were wolf, dragon, bear, etc.).

So, now I try to envision purple orbs pop up in my way. Then I walk into them and hear the voice say ‘power up.’ I immediately stand up a little straighter and feel a little stronger.

Again, I am not telling you to copy my tool (though feel free if you want), but rather to think about constructing your own tools. It’s perfectly okay to start with one in the book and modify it. Let it evolve.

The word ‘tool’ makes it sound like a thing that is essentially not going to change, but these tools are much more malleable than that. They don’t exist outside of your own mind and the inside of your mind is not at all constrained by the laws of physics. Grow the tool, change it, mold it to something that is best for you.

Thanks, y’all!

New Challenge, Old Solution: What’s Your Personal Lynch Pin?

I have been on a quest for just over a year now (really though, my whole life) to be more productive. The goal is to attain the descriptor ‘prolific’ because I crank out the work.

And I’m happy to say, I have seen clear markers indicating progress. Not only can I measure my bit of success by the body of work I have produced (super jazzed about), but also by the challenges I think about.

In 2015 one of the problems that took up my mental bandwidth was clutter. I don’t thrive well in clutter. Never have. But I couldn’t make myself keep thing organized. I could motivate myself every once in a while to cleaning up. I would file every loose paper, respond to every email, sort thru every drawer, etc. Life would be tidy…for a short amount of time. Once I kept things pretty neat for nearly nine days. I felt like a rockstar.

But inevitably the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics would prove itself true once again – over time organization breaks down. And I would live in clutter for months before the next spring cleaning.

I’m proud to say that while I definitely could be more organized, I’m way way better than I used to be. My clutter is relegated to specific buckets (shout out to David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’) and rarely gets to an unnerving point for very long. The difference of course is that I put more energy and effort into keeping it that way. I rarely just set something down somewhere willy nilly. Pretty much everything has a place and it goes there.

One thing I realized tonight is that in addition to the positives, becoming a more ‘prolific’ person comes with new hardships too. For example, now I’m addicted to productivity. When the numbers get low, I get anxiety and depression (old friends who’ve visited me for a myriad of reasons).

YOu know the ghosts in Pac-Man? Depression and anxiety are like my ghosts. When they happen is often a result of me doing something wrong.

I have been sick a lot lately. Nothing serious. I hurt my ankle and had to stay off it for a few days. Last week I had what seemed to be a 24 hour stomach bug. And I currently have no speaking voice and was essentially out of commission for two days. In and of themselves, they are annoying, but not severe.

However, they severely cut into my productivity. And I feel depressed about the time I lost and anxious about meeting deadlines with stuff I could have been working on during those times.

Not fun.

The good news is that the same tools that helped me to become more productive can help me with this problem as well.

I could write forever about the stuff I have learned that has helped me, but the number 1 thing – the lynch pin – was that I did not love myself. I scolded myself. I made myself feel bad about a lot of stuff. And while it’s not impossible to be productive when you live like that, it makes it a lot friggin’ harder. That I can say for certain.

Right now, I’m really not forgiving myself for losing this time. Even though it’s not really my fault, I still blame myself. And because of that, I fall into old habits and beat myself up. Loving oneself comes easy to some people, but to me it might as well be a foriegn language. I’m learning. But it’s easy to forget.

So, check in with yourself. How are you treating you? I hope it’s good. Life sure is easier when you’re feeling love from literally the closest source.

Maybe that’s not your lynchpin problem. Whatever yours is, check in with it regularly. Use the tools that have worked for you to fix it if it got off track.

Thanks, y’all!

I’m Losing Heroes and Quite Glad About It

Bill Cosby was my absolute number one hero for most of my life. When I watched ‘As Himself’ as a child I experienced an intensity of laughter I had not known possible. It was a huge source of inspiration for what would later turn into my comedy career.

One of the reasons Cosby was such a genius in my eyes is because he managed to be consistently hilarious for years while somehow keeping his content ‘wholesome.’ Like many other fans of his I saw him as clean and family oriented. He was like comedy’s Mr. Rogers. Everyone loved him.

Turns out that you don’t have to curse in your act to be evil.

Until only a few years ago he was still in my top 3 of comedic talent I looked up to. Then I found out that not only was he a deplorable sexual predator, but also that he’d been one since before I was even born.

Well, that crushed my soul.

 

Now, I’m hearing on a very regular basis how other heroes of mine (Kevin Spacey & Louis CK for example) are also sexual predators who have been getting away with it for years.

My knee jerk reaction is to want to excuse their behavior or somehow dismiss it. If that’s yours too, don’t feel bad about it. That’s just your brain not wanting to accept that something it has believed absolutely true for years (ie. ‘Kevin Spacey is someone to look up to’) is unequivically false.

The great news is that we are not our knee jerk reactions. We are human beings. Our brains are developed enough to change and adapt to new information. These men were heroes of mine. And now they’re not. And it doesn’t matter how long I’ve looked up to them.

I’m glad these men and more are being outed. It’s disgusting and abhorrent what they’ve done. And it’s equally awful if not worse that we as a society have let them get away with it, keep it secret and go on living successful lives. Ew.

I’m glad it’s ruining their careers. I am angered that there seems to be no judicial consequences for a number of these people as of yet – Cosby & Weinstein should absolutely be in jail.

Sure, it sucks when your hero falls from grace. But it’s actually a great thing. Because while ripping the bandaid of illusion off the truthful ugliness may hurt at first, it will ultimately make us stronger as a society.

I don’t want a sexual predator as a hero no matter how talented and/or prolific he is at comedy (or whatever he did). So, I applaud Hollywood for cleaning house. There are thousands of talented people who deserve the top spots in TV, movies & comedy who don’t sexually assault others. Let them be the heroes. And get this evil imposters out of there.

Thanks, y’all!

I Don’t Have to ‘Feel’ It to Do It

For most of my dating life, I dated people who made me feel a certain way. And then ultimately the feeling would diminish. When it diminished significantly (assuming the relationship was still going on) I would end things.

Now, I realize that while feelings are great, they’re not the foundation for a relationship. They might be the thing that initially gets me into liking someone, but feelings do not make a great base. Because feelings come and go. They diminish and increase.

And now I’m in a healthy relationship that usually brings me joy. Not all the time. No relationship produces joy constantly. That’s a wholly unreasonable expectation. There might be days or even weeks where I don’t ‘feel in love.’ But I know the relationship is solid and good.

So, I feel victorious in that I identified that I was obeying the whim of my feelings and then changed my behavior. And my relationship along with my overall life is much better for it.

Then today I realized there’s a parallel for this lesson elsewhere in my life: creativity.

I mostly create art when I feel like it. When inspiration hits me, I write down whatever it is and then I start to create.

If I have to go do something then I leave that idea there with full intent to get back to it and finish it. But what almost always happens is that when I am logistically able to get back to it, that feeling might not be there. So, I abandon it in hopes I’ll get back to it when I feel like it.

And that’s why I have literally thousands of ideas in different stages sitting on word documents incomplete.

In much the same way that I don’t end my relationship just because I don’t always ‘feel’ it, I am now trying to not abandon a creative project simply because I don’t ‘feel’ that same drive and inspiration I had when I first started it.

I don’t feel creative today. But today is the one day I have off to finish the rough draft of a pilot I’m writing. So, I’m going to stop writing this blog post, get over the fact that I don’t ‘feel’ inspired and get to work.

Anyone can be creative when they’re inspired. Professionals create whether the inspiration is there or not. Okay, back to work.

Thanks, y’all!

Sprint the Straights & Jog the Curves

In high school I acted in a role that was unequivocally the toughest acting assignment I’ve ever had to this day. Through my junior year I competed in at least one if not several sports. I acted the role of ‘athlete.’ What’s the opposite of ‘gifted?’

It would be an understatement to say I was ‘not good’ at sports. I was pretty terrible, actually. The funny thing is that I do have one athletic attribute going for me. I was a decent sprinter. As long as there were no hurdles in the way and the path was both short and straight, I could run relatively fast (fastest I was ever timed was 100 meters in 11 seconds flat).

However, three other guys on the team were superior sprinters to me. If I’d gone to a smaller school, maybe I could have competed, but not where I went. So they threw me in with the distance runners. Why? Because they’d rather have a warm body run the race than not fill all three spots for each event. And we didn’t have a lot of distance runners, so I got to run both the two mile and mile for the JV team.

Distance running was nice in that I got into a bit better shape because of all the practices. But I was the slowest on the team. I remember the one – literally only one – time I didn’t come in dead last. I came in 2nd to last and that was a very proud moment.

I hated track practice. It was just calisthenics, running, jumping and stretching. I didn’t care for any of that. But there was one exercise we did that I actually enjoyed. On our oval track there were 200 meters of curves and 200 meters of straights (like an Olympic track). So, we would have to do 1600 meters (4 laps) where we went all out hard sprints each time we hit the straights. And then we were to half speed (jog) the curves.

Some of the guys hated this, because they were just sprinters and had no endurance to go that hard that many times in a short period. And a lot of the distance guys didn’t like the varied paces. Distance runners go at a quick pace, but they don’t consistently shift from jogging to sprinting very much at all. But for me, this exercise perfectly fit my weird mix of some endurance and some ability to sprint.

After I graduated high school, I would go back to that track sometimes and make a workout of the same exercise. And I remember it felt great – well, as great as exercise can feel. When are they gonna invent a pill that does the work for us? Anyway…

Why am I telling you this story? Other than the fact that I’m in love with the sound of my own voice – two reasons.

1. Sometimes the thing we respond to is ‘weird’ to other people. Go for it anyway.

I wasn’t good at most of track. But there was one thing that fit me and I still use it as part of my workouts to this day. Don’t shy away from the ‘weird’ thing. It might work better for you than anything else.

2. I think all of my endurance (mental, emotional & physical) might respond the same way.

I am a very overcommitted/spread thin kinda guy. Always have been. I take on too much and I follow thru with a good percentage of it, so I’m regularly busy.

Last night I stayed up pretty late to finish a personal project. And today I had planned to be incredibly productive after sleeping in a bit.

I slept til 11AM and then it was off to the races. I worked in one form or another minute by minute on various projects/upkeep. By 3:45, I was so drained. The idea of mentally focusing on another thing and another overwhelmed me. And I had to stop.

When I fail to do what I set out to do, I get either mad at myself or bummed out. And it’s never pleasant.

Fortunately, I was able to be okay with it after a while, because I convinced myself that I needed it. Then, randomly, I remembered the story I began this post with. And it donned on me that my productivity might be at its best when I ‘sprint the straights and jog the curves.’

In other words, there are some days where I will try to buckle down and get stuff done. But peppered amongst those will be days that I intentionally plan to do a little work, but then force myself to relax and do something I want to do (hang with a friend, read a book, watch TV, blog, play guitar, video games, etc.).

So, I’m going to only put the bare essentials on my to do list for tomorrow, because I know that I’ll be more apt to get stuff done on Thursday and/or Friday if I give myself a light day tomorrow.

Hopefully, this experiment will work and I can increase my productivity by also increasing my personal enjoyment of life.

Thanks, y’all!

Trying to Be a Hero to Myself

It’s 10:11PM and I am determined to stay up as late as I need to in order to accomplish a few tasks that have been hanging over me for a long time.

Why? Because I am at my wits end with myself. Every time I look at certain action items I need to accomplish and move them to a future date rather than cross them off is killing me inside.

When I was a kid, I took piano lessons. I didn’t practice very much, but I wasn’t horrible. My teacher had me go thru these song books. Once she felt I mastered a song, we’d move onto the next one. There was this one song that took me six weeks to master. And the only reason I did was because on week six it donned on her that I’d been stuck on this same easy song in one of the books for way longer than the difficulty of the song merited.

So, she looked at me and said, “Play this song right and be done with it.”

Looking back, I don’t know if she was a great teacher or not, but that was a great moment. And I recently remembered it for whatever reason.

The task I’ve been prolonging is almost as ironic as it gets. I’m creating a new organization system that will theoretically help streamline my work flow so that I get things done sooner and maximize my time better.

But I’ve been in the changeover process for at least six weeks if not longer (probably longer). It’s a lot of work. The system I’m using is one I created based off some of David Allen’s method and some of the ideas I’ve heard from other names in the self help/organization movement.

It’s quite embarrassing to write this on the internet, but I’m doing so in the hopes that it will help me get it done.

I don’t have to be up tomorrow morning. So, I’m going to stay up as late as it takes and then sleep in as late as I need to. The most healthy plan in the world? Well, no. But it’s also unhealthy to self hate because you’ve let a project fall into limbo that you really want to be done with.

Rather, tomorrow I would love to remember tonight as a time I stepped up and got rid of a stressor. I’m trying to be a hero to myself. That’s what’s giving me the where with all to think that I can stay up all night like a college student. It’s time to slay the metaphorical dragon that is this task (don’t confuse the metaphor, because I love dragons and would never intentionally slay a real one if they existed).

Wish me luck. Or berate me for incompetence. Either way, tomorrow I will not have to look at ‘Get this document organized’ again.

Thanks, y’all!

Choose How You Walk Down the Hallway or Control What You Can As Best You Can

You ever notice you’re walking down a hallway that you walk down on a regular basis? Maybe a hallway at an office or one in your apt. building. Maybe instead of a hallway, it’s a street or a sidewalk. Whatever it is, it’s a place where you’re doing little more than simply commuting.

And what’s worse is that at the end of that walkway is some place and/or task that you’re not excited about. So, while you’re traversing this hallway you’re not doing anything particularly interesting or worthwhile with you’re time and when you’re finished commuting you’ll be doing something you like even less?

The ‘epiphany’ I had while walking down this hallway today is essentially the same lesson I’ve learned many many times before: Control what you can as best you can.

But something about this hallway made it click in a way I hadn’t realized before. Or if I had realized it, I forgot. I have to relearn life lessons just as often as I have to relearn the name of the actress who plays Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones (Lena Headey).

I need to walk down this hallway. Can’t control the fact that I can’t be playing video games, writing, spending time with loved ones, etc. (ie. stuff I want to do). But what I can control is how I walk down this hallway. And it’s way more fun to put a little spring in my step. Play a song in my mind. Move my shoulders differently for no reason.

When you’re creative and you realize you do have freedom to try things, then try stuff. How can this walk down this hallway be a better experience than it is?

So, the next time you find you’re commuting to a place you don’t want to go, do something to make your walk more fun. You deserve it.

Thanks, y’all!

What’s Your Silly Voice?

Ever since I can remember, I have mimicked other people’s voices. I remember trying to sound like Darth Vader and Kermit the frog when I was four.

As I got older I discovered that beyond impressions, I could just manifest an original silly voice at will. And it’s one of my favorite things to do.

If you didn’t know me well, but heard my side of a conversation with a close friend when I’m feeling very safe, you might think I have a mental disorder. I rarely jump in and out of voices around strangers or people I don’t know well, because I know it can be annoying.

But usually, it’s an indicator that I feel safe, content and joyous.

So, it donned on me today, what if that works in reverse?

In other words, if I’m not feeling super joyful, energetic, calm, safe, etc. what if I slip into random silly voices and see if it alters my mood toward those adjectives that I prefer so much?

Guess what? It kinda does.

I got home late. Hadn’t eaten all day. First thing I did was put away the groceries. Then I walked the dog. Then I filled his water and food. Hadn’t eaten in hours. Just wanted to put food in my mouth. But I had a number of emails I needed to return and I know myself well enough to know that I cannot enjoy even the finest of meals that late at night if I know I have impending crap to do before I go to bed.

So, I said, “Let’s answer some emails” in a very silly Tigger-esque voice just as I sat down at my computer. And I’ll be damned. My mood shifted. I was still hungry and tired, but my energy level spiked, I sat up, I read and typed with a small, but noticeable spring in my metaphorical step.

I turn 36 in eleven days and I just realized that something I’ve done literally my whole life could be a key to helping me crack out of a temporary haze of depression or anxiety.

How freakin’ cool is that?!?!?

So, my question to you is, ‘what’s your silly voice?’ Do you have something, maybe something you do or used to do all the time, that could possibly boost your happiness instantly? Ask yourself, is there something you do when you’re around your favorite people doing an activity you love? Could be something as simple as how you do your hair, how you dress, something you say, etc.

What do you have that can be your equivalent of a happy shot? It’s worth taking the time to look for it.

Thanks, y’all!