Tag Archives: Goals

Less Pain, More Gain

As of today I’m 4,421 words into a book I’m writing. One of two books I’m working on right now actually. Honestly since I’ve started this blog and committed to developing as a writer I think I’ve written about as much as I had in the previous 4 months combined. I should note that I go to art school, we don’t do a lot of writing here. I think most of my writing since coming to this school has been facebook and emails.

Still, while I’m happy about this I’ve had this gnawing annoyance in the back of my mind over the fact that I’m being so productive in this area while stagnating or slowing down in others. My plan for the books I’m working on was always to pluck away here and there over the case of a few years, between three and ten, I have more time sensitive goals.

Part of the reason for this motivation is probably novelty, for me it’s always easier to work in the beginning when everything’s fresh and new, but my interest drifts quickly.

Then I realized what I was doing, I was being productive by procrastinating. I was actually putting off other work that I had set in my mind as high priority to “goof off” writing. This isn’t to say it’s a great thing, I really should have been more focused on my homework today, but it reminded me of something Khatzumoto at All Japanese All the Time talks about, the more practicing a skill feels like playing, goofing off or procrastinating the more likely we are to do it. The more we put it up on a pedestal and start putting this crazy pressure on ourselves the more likely we are to avoid it, if simply to avoid the mental anguish of dealing with the stress we’ve burdened ourselves with.

This isn’t to say that everything in life can or should be like just like play, firefighters, surgeons and front-line soldiers certainly can’t enjoy this luxury. But the more we can approach our life with this attitude the more we’ll want to work toward our goals, while conversely the more we make our goals super serious and super important the more our natural laziness can push back.

The goal isn’t to pretend reverse our natural stream, to swim against the current of our nature, but to go with it while consciously channeling it where we want to go. Of course there will always be times when we absolutely have to get serious, but if you’re like me you can only be serious and focused so long, the trick is minimizing the time we have to spend in this mode while still constantly growing.

If you want to exercise try signing up for a sports league rather than just going through the motions on the machine, or do what I’ve seen online and place a treadmill in front of your TV and play video games while running so you can have your digital cake while burning real calories. If you’re studying a language start watching TV, listening to music and playing video games in that language. Or you can just watch stupid youtube videos in that language. If you’re a writer think of your story like you’re watching a movie and the only way to see what happens next is to finish the next page. Or imagine you’re doing a TED talk and your words are being eagerly devoured by the crowd.

These are just suggestions off the top of my head, every person is different and works slightly differently so your milage may vary. Once again, sometimes pain is unavoidable and should be faced, but I reject the idea that just because something is painful it isn’t magically the right way to do things. If that were the case we should all still be hunter/gatherers.

It’s the people who had lazy minds who still put the work in who made life what it is today. You just need to find a way to use your laziness rather than letting it use you.


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What do you want your memoir to say?

Usually you hear the question in the title posed something like,”how do you want your eulogy to read?” Or, “What do you want to be remembered for after your gone?” If this line of thinking  inspires you, then by all means think that way.

I personally find this line of thinking kind of morbid, and I’m a naturally morbid person. I honestly don’t think I’ll care that much about my eulogy or how historians will talk about me centuries from now, I imagine I’ll be too dead to pay attention to the world of the living. Instead I’m interested in what people will say about me when I’m living. I chose memoir rather than biography because frankly, I’m the person who I most need to impress.

Think about the celebrities you know of, about all those behind the music documentaries you might have seen. You probably noticed, like me, that the people we as a society heap praise upon the most actually have the hardest time living with themselves. Even if they somehow are able to thrive off the approval of strangers there inevitably comes a day when things begin to change. Old fans move on, critics sour, the sales go down, the list goes on and on. Think of the groups that used to play stadiums that now tour state fairs. 

This isn’t to say you should straight up ignore what other people think, we’re social beings and we need each other to make it through this life. By all means care about other people and try to do your best to help them, but don’t rely on them for your self worth. I’m not a parent, but I know from experience as a child that the job can be thankless. You can sacrifice everything for your kid and they might still resent you. The trick, as I understand, is to believe in yourself and what you’re doing.

I have to admit, I need to work a lot on this. I barely know the meaning of the term “self esteem.” A dear friend of mine had me repeat positive affirmations with her and it physically hurt to say them. The simple words “I am not a bad person” felt hollow and painful. Lately I’m moving forward bit by bit, it’s hard but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

One step I’m taking is working on a memoir. I’m still young, no matter how I feel, and I’ve seen so little that the thought of writing it kind of makes me laugh. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, I like writing and searching through the past for the story I have to tell is helpful, and I think it’s bringing some things into clarity that will help me further on.

I want to write more about this later, but for now I’ll leave you with these thoughts: What do you want your memoir to say? Why aren’t you writing yours now? If you said it’s because your life is too boring, what are you going to do to make your life a story worth hearing?

If you trust this site the average human life is 28,000 days long, and I’d wager every life that long has a book worth of stories in it if someone would just take the time to dig in and pull them out. And until your dying day you’re shaping that next chapter, make it a good one.

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Filed under Inspiration, Memoir

Devising a Game Plan

Looking into successful people over the years I’ve noticed a number of common traits. The one I want to look at today may be one of the most important, and that’s planning. 

In the immoratl words of Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Almost every successful person had a plan, very few just lucked into where they are and I wouldn’t put much faith in that sort of thing happening to me. The important thing is focusing on what we can change, and luck is not one of those things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a very complicated plan, I’m sure you could cite some artists who think they never planned but just made their art, but I’d say that their dedication to art amounts to a certain plan. What we focus our thoughts and energy on is in essence our plan, the question is whether or not your plan has been consciously shaped or simply arose out of chance and habit. The problem with the second variety is that we tend to take the path of least resistance  you’ll probably get by this way but end up with a lot of regrets if your a person with ambitions.

I know this from experience, I’m a guy with lots of ambition but I have a problem with follow through. Right now I’m pretty darn proud that this blog has lasted a whole week, I usually drop projects faster than that. This isn’t chance, this blog is a conscious choice on my part to try and point myself towards the life I want, forcing myself to take the little steps that will hopefully add up. 

The first step in making a plan is deciding what you want. The trick is deciding where you want to end up and then figuring out step by step how to get there. People usually just do one or the other and just end up frustrated.

With that in mind I’m going to list the things I want to make priorities in 2013:

  1. Graduate from School
  2. Move to Japan
  3. Learn 10,000 Japanese sentences
  4. Finish my Animated short film
  5. Finish making a mixtape with my rap group
  6. Lose 20 pounds through diet and exercise

I kind of want to include something about this blog, but I’m honestly not sure quite yet what I want this to be. In the back of my head I want to add something like, “write 500 words a day,” but that doesn’t really fit because of how I’m approaching this.

You see I think good goals are tangible. They actually have an end point. When I originally wrote this list point 3 was simply “learn Japanese.” The problem is that goal is incredibly poorly defined, it could mean any number of things. Instead I went with a system that I can break down into steps, that I can measure and that I can really appraise myself based on. The 10,000 sentence plan comes from a website called All Japanese All the Time, I’ve been stuck around 2000 for far too long, but so far this past month I’ve come back in a big way.

Looking at the list and thinking of everything I want to accomplish seems daunting, until I do the next step, which is to break down my plans into doable chunks. For example, with my Japanese studies I’ve committed to studying 35 new sentences a day, which is doable and will get my to 10,000 by the end of the year. The thing is, if I had kept up my studies I would have been there by now even doing 15 a day, which goes to show that slow and study beats uneven bursts of studying.

Well, it’s time for me to go get myself something to eat and then do some more studying. My parting question is, what sort of things would you like to do this year? What would you like to create? What skills would you like to develop on your way along the Renaissance path?

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Filed under Practical