Monday, October 31, 2016

24 Days of Gratitude: Focusing on People Not Things

24 Days of Gratitude: I’ve done “24 Days of Gratitude” leading up to Thanksgiving before. But this year I’m doing it differently. One, I’m putting it on my blog. And two, rather than doing the vague, almost impersonal “things” I’m thankful for--“friendship,” “second chances,” “indoor plumbing”--I’m doing my list of 24 people I’m grateful for in my life. This is harder. This will require more tact. This will involve other people and is much more likely to expose my vulnerabilities and personal feelings. But Brené Brown says people love that stuff, so here it goes. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to try to post every day for a while. Hopefully this is turning over a new blogging leaf. And we'll see if anyone reads this stuff...

1: Day 24: I’m Grateful for John Lee Dumas
2: Day 23: I’m Grateful for Dan Wells
3: Day 22: I’m Grateful for Brandon Sanderson
4: Day 21: I’m Grateful for Ginny
5: Day 20: I’m Grateful for Charlotte
6: Day 19: I’m Grateful for Finn
7: Day 18: I’m Grateful for Graham
8: Day 17: I’m Grateful for Mom
9: Day 16: I’m Grateful for Dad
10: Day 15: I’m Grateful for Todd
11: Day 14: I’m Grateful for Robyn
12: Day 13: I’m Grateful for Scott
13: Day 12: I’m Grateful for Jeff
14: Day 11: I’m Grateful for Cameron
15: Day 10: I’m Grateful for Jared
16: Day 9: I’m Grateful for Nick
17: Day 8: I’m Grateful for Jeff
18: Day 7: I’m Grateful for Chase
19: Day 6: I’m Grateful for Larry
20: Day 5: I’m Grateful for Cathy
21: Day 4: I’m Grateful for Jared
22: Day 3: I’m Grateful for Adam  
23: Day 2: I’m Grateful for Grandma
24: Day 1: I’m Grateful for Jesus Christ

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Restarting My Computer

My laptop was running very slow last night and I thought, “It used to be so fast, I wonder what happened?” Then I thought, "It must be time to get a new computer..."

Now my laptop is only about two years old. It's really doing everything I could ask of it and more, and yet I was completely ready to throw it out and get a new one. Luckily, I was not that hasty.

Instead, I went to my settings and saw that I was running about 40 applications, including a Chrome browser that hadn’t been closed in two weeks (see image!). My computer wasn’t too old, it was just being overworked at the moment!

Like a computer’s hard drive, my mind carries a log of all the open files, programs, and tasks I have running. And every so often, I can feel that I start to get bogged down. Just like overloading the RAM on my computer, carrying too many unfinished tasks takes its toll and seems to slow my mind, burdening me with a general sense of anxiety, and increasing my stress level.

The way to fix a slow laptop is to close everything down and restart the machine. This principle works the same for the mental computers we all carry. In order to combat the drain on my mental and physical energy of too many open tasks, I need to close projects and unfinished to-do items that I’m stressing over so that I can feel the psychological release of being “done.”

Our bodies crave this feeling. In fact, we’re wired to NEED the endorphin release that comes from checking items off that list. And when I have closed projects, at least for now, I can feel the mental freedom to look at my to do list and see what I need to do next. That way, I keep my energy high, my work pace fast, and my mental and physical state from getting bogged down like my poor laptop does every couple of weeks.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Hustle and Grind

I stay pretty busy. Maybe too busy. I have a family, friends, several volunteer organizations, and a lot of projects that I love staying involved with. These things all take up time. And I also run two companies.

One of these companies is a digital marketing company where I'm a W-2 employee, expected (required!) to spend A LOT of time being in one place, the office, trading the traditional hours for dollars in order to do my work. Most entrepreneur-minded people refer to this as "the grind."

I also have "the hustle." My side company, which focuses on customized business development strategy, is built on a system that scales rapidly without my direct involvement. Although it does require time to build and run these systems, it does not require me to trade my time for dollars. In fact, if I compare these two primary income sources by dollars per hour, I make a lot more in the hustle, like 10-20 times more!

My third "job," which is funny to think about as a "job" because I haven't made a penny doing it yet, is writing. Writing for me, at this point where it produces NO MONEY, is a pretty specific trade of hours for word count. When I'm going--actually writing, not editing, planning, plotting, etc.--I can do between 500 to 1,000 words an hour. So, at best, a whole book takes me 5-6 months depending on how much time I can carve out each day.

So, knowing all of that, here's what the typical day has looked like for me for most of 2016:
5am - Run 5k or Workout at home
6am - Work on the Hustle or Write for an hour
7am - Shower, dress, etc. for the Grind
8-6 - Killing it at the Grind for myself and my team
7pm - Family time, dinner, bedtime with the kids
9pm - Work on the Hustle, Write or Read for an hour (or two)
10pm - Crash for 7-ish hours
As I wrote that I realized it is more of an "ideal day" than a "typical day" because, as anyone knows who's running this kind of schedule, no two days are really the same. That schedule's affected by myriad little changes like weather, work trips, increased client load (both from the Hustle and the Grind), my wife and children's plans, evening events, church and club activities... So, yeah, that's the schedule I'm shooting for, but I realize that most days actually vary to quite a degree from what I posted above.

An interesting thing I've learned from about 10 months of running on this schedule is that I sometimes manage just fine with a lot less sleep, say 4-5 hours, and other times I need a lot more, like 9+ hours. I'm curious if other people experience that and if it has something to do with biorhythms or falls into some sort of pattern. It's just strange to me that I feel like I go full speed every day but there are some days where I'm falling asleep at the dinner table and others where I lay in bed from 10 to midnight struggling to fall asleep at all.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Another Monday - Excuses to Sleep In

It's a brand new Monday. Which means a new chance to start a new week on the right foot. Many of you know that 5am comes earlier on the first day of the week, and that every day, especially every Monday, begins with a choice. No matter what else is happening in my life, I know I have to make the right choice--to do what needs to be done, when I need to do it, rather I want to or not. And I have just come off of a hard weekend.

Last week my grandmother, my last grandparent, passed away after several weeks in the hospital. She lived a good, full life and we were all expecting the announcement, but the death of a loved one is always a time of reflection, change, and a brief upheaval of the normal, everyday schedule we all call "life." She passed away late Tuesday night, the announcement was made Wednesday morning, and the viewing was scheduled for Friday night in a hard-to-reach part of Colorado.

Of course, that day, Wednesday, I had a final meeting scheduled to close a $4m account, so I didn't even start thinking about arrangements until Thursday morning. I called my three brothers and found out their plans to arrive from different parts of the country--Florida, Georgia, and Washington, DC--to determine where our plans overlapped and I booked a rental house and flight for that very night.

I left work about 7, ate dinner, packed a carry-on bag, and my wife dropped me at the airport about 9pm. Flight left SLC at 10:30, landed in ABQ at midnight, then I met my brother and his wife and we made the three-hour-plus drive to Alamosa, CO. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow about 4am and didn't budge until after 9, a mere 5 hours later. In the flurry of activities and reunions with family I hadn't seen in several years, I went to sleep after midnight again that night. Saturday was a similar schedule, funeral at 10, cemetery at noon--I was a pallbearer--and a long afternoon of potluck lunch, family photos, and some therapeutic storytelling of great family memories. At 1am Sunday morning, I said my goodbyes and with a different brother and his wife, made the 3+ hour drive back to Albuquerque to catch a 6am flight to Salt Lake City.

Needless to say after the three paragraph whirlwind-weekend spelled out above, I felt very...unprepared to face life when my alarm blared at 5am this morning. But, as I've done for nearly 10 months now, I reminded myself that I'm happier when I'm proactively choosing how I'll live my life, and made the herculean effort to haul myself out of bed and into my morning routine.

I don't know how it is for anyone else, but for me, every day is full of the same conversations with myself where I reaffirm my commitments to do more, to work harder, to be better. It gets exhausting. It feels so repetitive. It seems like I'm holding still, but I remind myself that all forward motion can be interpreted as progress and my only goal is to be better than I was yesterday. Which means that every time I'm asked to re-make a decision that I've already made correctly before, I need to make the right one. Every time. Even on Monday.

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