Tag Archives: Plans

Regrets

I was reading the comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal recently and came upon his comic about changing past accidents

The thing is, I actually believe “my mistakes brought me here.” This is similar to what the man in the comic says, but subtly different. The author of the comic seems to imply that people who wouldn’t change their mistakes think that mistakes are by definition good things. I would put it more like “mistakes are inevitable.” The punchline of the comic is that the man wants to change a time when he “asked out a girl through the Taco Bell drive-thru.” It’s a funny joke, but I have to say that it seems to me that if he was the type of person who thought that was a good idea, just because he didn’t do it that time he very well might do it another time. Theoretically it would be better if we learned some other way than through mistakes, but sometimes we’re just kind of dumb and have to learn that way. Sure, if we had a genie things would be better, but in the real world that’s not an option.

Besides, I think he’s making an error saying that any changes made to the past would have a trivial impact on the future. Consider the butterfly effect, small changes have the potential to build up over a long enough period. Changing an event one week ago might not have a big impact, but changing an event 10 years ago could have a huge cumulative impact.
Besides, changing the past might have a positive impact on who we are, but it would definitely change who we are around. I might wish I was a different, better person, and I’m working towards that, but if my dumb mistakes in the past brought me into contact with the people I know and love now I wouldn’t change them. Some of my deepest bonds have been built around stupid decisions I made that my friends helped me recover from.
Still, thinking back I wonder what I regret the most. I honestly would say that it isn’t the big dumb mistakes I made, it’s the little compromises I made. If I had spent more time living instead of watching from the side lines, a little more time creating than consuming, or a little more time exercising instead of sitting around I really wonder how much better my life might be right now. It’s with that in mind that I write this blog, knowing that I can’t change the past and not regretting it because I still have a life I enjoy. 
Mistakes don’t necessarily make life better, but they’re a part of life and in the interest of positivity we should look for the goods that have come out of our falls. Sure we could theoretically be living a “perfect life,” but most of the time we spend thinking about such things is completely wasted when we could be living the life that we do have. Spending a moment to think about our regrets in the interest of learning from them isn’t a bad idea, but we should move on as soon as possible in the interest of actually living in the present rather than in the past.

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Small Steps

I’m writing this in Microsoft word. I can tell because it just automatically capitalized the word Microsoft. Let’s try apple, looks like it doesn’t, but that’s not exactly fair. How about linux? Well, it doesn’t automatically capitalize it, but it does mark it as misspelled and suggest “Linux.”

Sorry, I’m easily distracted. You see, this is really switching it up for me. I don’t have word on my personal computers and so I’ve gotten in a habit of writing everything up in Google Docs. Even when I’m at school, like I am now, I usually use Google because that ensures that my files will pretty much always be available to me. That is until Google decides to rise up and enslave us and holds our files, email and personal information ransom until we bow down to them. But at that point I don’t think files like this will be my main problem.

So you’re probably asking yourself why I’m using word right now, well you probably aren’t but just play along. You see I have this habit of sitting down at a computer to get stuff done and saying to myself “well I’ve got to log onto Google if I want to write anything. And while I’m on Google I might as well check Gmail, and while that’s loading let’s just pop into Facebook and just see if I have any updates.” You can see how the little things like this can start snowballing out of control. The really nefarious thing is that my line of thinking isn’t exactly incorrect, if I did everything I listed it really shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. I usually only have one or 2 emails that are really interesting and it only takes me around 30 seconds to delete the emails from group on I allow myself to keep getting “just in case,” and it would take me a similar amount of time to check my usual Facebook updates. I start off with a bit of truth, that what I’m proposing should only take a few minutes, and using it to justify something I know isn’t true, that ultimately I’ll only end up surfing the web for 5 minutes rather than 25 or 50.

I’m constantly reminded of the story of the witches in Macbeth. Now, I don’t have Wikipedia and it’s been a while so I’m going off my head here, but I remember the gist being that the witches tempt Macbeth with dreams of taking the crown by telling him two true things and one untruth. This is similar to how “psychics” work, throwing out vague statements that you’re bound to see in yourself until they have your trust and then weaving fantasy based off the rather trivial truths they’ve established. The human mind is a messy thing and has a tendency of ending up with the wrong conclusion, and it takes a truly conscious effort to correct ourselves to keep from falling prey to the many appealing fallacies out there.

Right now I honestly feel a little like a drug addict going through withdrawal. Opening up a computer and not going straight to email and Facebook just feels wrong. This is a clear sign that something has gone pretty wrong with the way I’ve allowed my mind to be wired, constantly strengthening poor habits and allowing them to subtly take control.

They say acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to solving it, and while I definitely agree with that I’d say the biggest step is actually making a real effort to change your problem. There’s a lot of people who know they have problems, I think we all know some kind of addict who keeps talking about changing but never makes any little to no effort to actually change their ways.

I just put my hand on the mouse to correct a spelling error and without even thinking my hand moved the cursor to open up the internet. It really is strange to realize how much we allow our unconscious to drive our actions, pushing us through the same pathways we’ve always been down until we become entrenched in them.

But I’m still a firm believer that until you die it’s never too late to change. I could definitely just get depressed and start sulking about talking about how much I’ve wasted or how things will never change, focusing on my failures. But I know that won’t get me anywhere, you have to look ahead if you want to get where you go. If you keep looking to the past you’re not in control, your past is in control.

Today I say that I am in control. The old me may still come back to haunt my thoughts from time to time, but I will not allow him to control my destiny.

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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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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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