Inspiration, Philosophies, Productivity

Live

It’s a challenging thing, the drudgery of work; not simply the hours of tedium or the necessary evil of doing what we must so that we may do what we wish. It’s a cognitive tap-dance masquerading as a normal life: go to work, do something I don’t want for someone I don’t like, come home, do what I want for 4 hours, then jump to the weekend and eek out what substance I can, drained, demoralized, and frustrated from a week of choices made for us. So how do we reconcile it? How do we make it work for us? A recent personal revelation has lead me to a solution: balance.

115% of all teenagers, young adults, adults, young old-people, medium old-people, and old-old-people will end up working a job they hate at one point or another in their lives. It’s an unfortunate if not ubiquitous fact that to a great degree, our career path chooses us and not the other way around. And I don’t mean that in the good “oh, you were always destined to be a hot doctor” kind of way, I mean it in the “good luck getting a job as a Lego master builder without about eight grand, a personal connection with Alfred Lego’s nephew, or an acute lack of gag reflex” way.

The common response to this way of thinking is, of course, the “you have to pay your dues” speech. Simply work the job you hate and someday you’ll land the job you love (and let me be clear, when I say “love” I mean, you get up in the morning fucking pumped up because of what you do and who you came to be). But that’s simply not true 100% of the time either. Most of us will end up in jobs we tolerate or that we enjoy simply because the pay justifies that new waffle iron we’ve had our eye on. The corporate world is unforgiving and frankly, doesn’t give a shit about our dreams and aspirations.

So the picture we’ve got in front of ourselves is a bleak one. We’re not children anymore, we’ve all done things we didn’t enjoy and we’re all going to have to do some things we won’t like. But being a fighter, my natural question at this crossroads is “what can I do about it?” After 25 full years of contemplation I believe I have the answer:

Tolerate what you can, change what you must.

You see, we can all tolerate a stint at Chik-Fil-A (“Thank you”, “My pleasure”) because at the end of the day, we need food. We can accept that not everything we do is going to be the most dignifying because, on a very basic level, we need to survive.

But regarding the rest, that other 50% o’ our lives that we 1) can’t stand and 2) have other plans for, we can fucking do something about that! If we don’t like our job, we can browse listings, volunteer at activities that stimulate our passions, and get tips from people in the scene. We can research how to become better at a foreign language and travel to another country. We can spend $50 bucks on a midi keyboard and start making music. These are all changes that we can make that, with a little follow-through, can make this one-off go at life worth living.

Ask yourself, “if I don’t like what I’m doing, then why am I doing it?” If you’ve never asked yourself that question, then the world probably looks a lot like what was described earlier in this post. But if you have and you can’t come up with a good answer (need and survival are good answers) then change, what you, are doing. Make a difference in YOUR life. Don’t make excuses, don’t pander to anyone else. Care enough about yourself to make yourself a priority and for God/Allah/FSM’s sake, live.

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Habits, Philosophies, Productivity

Baby Steps

“Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.”

You know who said that? It was Rober Collier, world famous fuckin’… potato farmer or something. It’s good advice, advice that’s easy to ignore. When we consider the degree to which we allow our little actions to be swallowed up by our bigger ambitions, is it any wonder that things like New Years’ Resolutions fall short so consistently? 

No, it isn’t any wonder. Next subject.

Okay, so we’re all a bunch of screw ups, destined to live crappy lives with no success? I mean, yeah, if we don’t do something about it. So the question is what? I’ve been a self-improvement junkie almost to a fault (okay, entirely to a fault) since I could figure out that there was something wrong with me, and I think I’ve found an answer.

The first thing we need to do is focus on the moment. If “success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out”, then it goes without saying that little things, done when the moment calls for them, must be repeated every day in order to aggregate into success.

Look at your priorities right this second, and think “what small thing can I do right now?” Then do it. Tomorrow, just for one moment, repeat the process, just for one moment. Keep the habit going by rewarding yourself every time you do this. Eventually, it will become a way of life and you’ll be shocked at the results.

Second, practice what’s called self-compassion. If you forget to take a moment one day, forgive yourself. Understand that, whether your New Years’ Resolution craps out prematurely or you forget to take out the trash, understand that you are human, forgive yourself, and learn from your mistakes. The measure of success comes not from your defeats, but from your ability to bounce back from them and grow stronger as a result.

Now go get ‘em Tiger.

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