Ok, but take it anyway

I missed a day, not worried about it, still gonna focus on hitting the 100.

I wasn’t really sure what to write about yesterday, nor am I too sure now. I’m just diving right in.

For some reason I thought about one of my favorite scenes from one of my wife’s and my favorite movies The Grand Budapest Hotel. The protagonist Zero is explaining to his girlfriend that he is in possession of a very expensive painting and he wants to give her the code to the safe just in case. She gets upset about it and he leave, but pops back in and throws the code at her on a piece of paper and tells her to take it anway.

It’s hilarious.

It’s making me reflect on a book I listened to on tape recently, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. The book isn’t solely based on not giving fucks about things, and definitely makes as many jokes using the word fuck as possible. One of the standout parts of the book for me was a section about responsibility. This past year or so I’ve really been focusing on taking full responsibility for myself and my actions. It’s not super easy to do, and it’s not something that you even consciously think about all the time. The book talks about the benefits of taking responsibility for yourself, but gets into some abstract ideas that really spoke to me.

Sometimes we don’t get to choose what we’re responsible for. They give solid examples in the book. If a person rear ends you, it’s not your fault but you’re responsible for handling the situation. If someone leaves a baby on your doorstep, you become responsible for that child’s wellbeing whether you like it or not.

I suppose it used to seem unfair that life throws certain challenges your way, but ultimately you’re responsible for your life.

It’s a complex idea that was explained in a nice way in the book, I think.

Sometimes your significant other throws you the code to the safe whether you want it or not.

6/100

I Forgot the Part

When I was a kid I past this arbitrary intelligence test which allowed me for 1 day a week to go to a special class at another school all day. It wasn’t particularly challenging or different, some days we played computer games (Apple 2E son!).

The overarching goal of these classes were these projects that we would work on every week until the end of the class. One year we had to invent an alien civilization. Another year we had to perform Macbeth.

I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan by any means. But having to build sets and memorize lines as an 11 year old is no easy feat.

There were 4 competing teams that performed Macbeth, so an auditorium full of amped up parents got to watch the entire play not 1, but 4 times. Our team did… ok. For whatever reason a few scenes stick around in my memory. I only had like 2 lines that weren’t memorable enough to hold a place in my brain. But partway through the play, my friend Nathan who played Macbeth stole the show when he stopped for a moment mid sentence and whispered into the microphone “…I forgot the part.” He went on to finish the play by reading his lines, God love ’em. It actually worked to our favor I think because it broke up a lot of tension that we were all feeling and got a huge laugh. I’m pretty sure it was on VHS and we watched it in our normal class later that week.

I think this story popped in my head for 2 reasons.

Reason 1 is that I don’t regret any of the experiences I’ve had in my life. I’ve had ups and downs like we all have. I wasn’t the coolest kid in school (I was the coolest kid in college, but that was kind of small potatoes). I’ve gotten to travel a bit. I’ve been bullied, embarrassed, and the victim of numerous fashion choices. I’ve also gotten to fall in love, buy a house, and start a family – which seems mundane to a 20 something year old, but quite appealing when it actually happens. I’m extremely grateful for everything I’ve gotten to experience, for all the people I’ve spent time with, and for all the hangovers, stubbed toes, and near death experiences that I didn’t really ruminate on until after they happened.

Reason 2 is that I’ve been struggling with productivity for my entire life as far back as I can remember. I have my awesome days and my abysmal ones. I’ve completed projects that didn’t receive worldwide acclaim necessarily, but that I’ve been personally proud of. Etc. I’m constantly in search of ways to be inspired and infinitely more productive. I am now trying to shift my perspective to focus on “What is productive enough?”

If you don’t have a standard definition of what productivity is, then you will never really be productive. You can tell yourself that measurement is for nerds, but not making the effort is only going to hurt you in the end. If you don’t make any effort to finish something, you’ll never finish and you’ll feel horrible about yourself. On the other end, if you make a little progress here and there then you’re eventually going to finish and you’ll feel great. It’s not enough to watch successful people and hear their stories about productivity, you need to define it for yourself. Define what a good productivity day looks like (within reason). Define what a bad productivity day looks like, and don’t forget to define methods for how you can salvage a bad productivity day.

I’ve been listening to a lot of books on tape this year – mostly about self help type stuff – but something in the book You Are a Badass resonated with me recently. We are all living in our own reality. We are all living in our own world with our own terms and definitions. No 2 are the same. It’s fine to have have dreams and hopes and ambitions, but define what accomplishing them might actually look like and give yourself reasonable timelines and expectations to accomplish them.

5/10

Periods of Focused Distraction

I had a weird day today. I don’t want to say it was bad – I can’t really remember a day in recent memory that I’d consider bad at all – but I’ve been struggling with trying to manage how I feel about what I accomplish in one day.

I feel like I’m always on this roller coaster of productivity. Some days I’m intensely focused and I get more things done in an hour than I would in a week. Some days I pace around the house knowing that I should be focusing on my job, freelance work, or personal projects.

For whatever reason I’ve been finding solace in old, short form Tim Ferriss videos. Here’s one I particularly like:

My approach to watching productivity videos is trying to find one small thing that I feel applies to my own life situation.

Tim Ferriss is also a person who I think is particularly relatable. He always talks about himself like a person who struggles with even slight productivity even though he seems to be prolific with everything he dives into.

This video in particular got to me because he drills down talking about how to make the best out of a pretty rough unproductive day.

It’s easy to get distracted – especially working from home. It seems so easy to turn your attention to something like housecleaning or getting to a repair project, thinking that if you’re not going to focus on what you need to at least you’re getting something done. But the awful truth is all of the little distractions you turn your attention to eat up your energy, and if you put in an intense couple of hours being productive focusing on your distractions, you’re basically draining your precious energy that you could have used the rest of the day.

It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re young, energetic, or have limitless energy, but I remember feeling this same exact way at all periods of my life, especially working from home.

The only thing I can recommend at this point in time is trying to focus on finishing something that you really need to accomplish first thing in the morning because it gives you the drive to finish other important things. As soon as you let yourself get distracted you focus on the downhill spiral of seemingly important but unproductive things.

Watch the video (it’s short) and try to get through some important things on your to do list today.

4/100

Easters

We were watching Nacho Libre the other day and one of the most quotable scenes to me is when Nacho is serving everyone old beans for lunch, and someone asks Nacho “What is this? Don’t you know I’ve had diarrhea since Easters?”

This year was odd – I didn’t really think about Easter at all until a few weeks ago. Someone mentioned Easter, and my brain clicked like “Oh yeah, that is a thing that we do.”

Holidays have all been shrouded under the cloud of COVID, but it’s been kind of a nice year for holidays as well. Gatherings are smaller and a bit less stressful. Now that we have a place of our own we even have to run the show from time to time.

Most holidays have a religious context that people either believe or don’t believe in – no real middle ground there. But whether or not you believe, it’s nice to reflect on spending time with family and enjoying it as much as possible regardless of whether there’s special food to be made or gift giving.

Every year my wife and I list out our goals, and one of them that struck me as interesting was my wife wanted to try to eat mindfully. Mindfulness for whatever reason strikes me as abstract for a time until my brain is able to digest it, although it’s a fairly simple concept. We both work from home for the most part, but even pre-COVID it was easy to just shove food down your gullet and consider it fuel whether you’re eating something enjoyable or not. I try to remember this as often as possible nowadays.

Especially days like today when I know my mom is going to make ham and my sister will be cooking up some vegan fare, I will try to remember to stop and think about what I’m eating rather than just shove it down. I’ll think about the animals, the people who picked the vegetables, and how my mom might’ve felt preparing the food. I’ll try to look around the table at my family and consciously enjoy them, and remind myself that this isn’t just an obligatory family meet-up that happens a handful of times a year, but time that we are spending together that we’ll never get back. Time that we’re choosing to spend together as a family. I’ll try to think about my parents growing up and spending Easter together, my grandparents and in-laws around the world.

Lately I’ve found that the most profound moments that I experience are when I stop to take in my surroundings. You don’t have to force yourself to think or feel a certain way. Sometimes just breathing in and feeling the experience in the moment is enough. Whether or not your brain triggers a response to form a lasting memory may or may not happen, and even so memories are only moments that have passed. All we truly have is the moment that we’re in, so today on this holiday – if you celebrate or not – try to pause for one of these moments and let the experience of the moment wash over you.

Happy Easters. Don’t eat too much candy.

3/100

Felt

My wife and I have a 2 year old daughter. It’s honestly great and I truly love being a father. My wife’s job shifts around sometimes – this time because of COVID – so instead of working normal office hours she is working Saturdays for the next month or so.

This means that today I’m spending the whole day with my kid.

It seems daunting. Kids (hopefully) take naps so that’s an hour or so covered, but the rest of the day they basically have endless energy, so when I know days like this are coming up I freak out a bit because I worry that I’ll have to plan an entire day worth of activities.

So far so good. It always turns out a lot easier than I think it will be, and as long as you’re in the moment it’s really enjoyable hanging out with a 2 year old. Almost everything is a new experience. They have something funny to say about almost everything. They are amazed by and take pleasure in the simplest of things.

My worry is always that I’ll get too tired to keep up, or that my kid will get bored. I also don’t want her to watch TV all day (which is impossible anyway cause the limit for a 2 year old sitting still is maybe 15 minutes).

Today my strategy was to plan blocks of time. I let her sleep in a little bit. We had breakfast. Then we ran errands.

I needed to buy a piece of felt so that I could glue it to the bottom of this fancy bowl my wife bought so it won’t scratch stuff up (it’s metal), so we went to Joann’s fabric to get some. My daughter had a blast walking down the aisles and looking at everything – especially the fake flowers. It was interesting for me to see all of the different craft and home decoration items they had to offer as well.

I guess if I could offer one piece of advice it would be to try and just be in the moment as much as possible and enjoy the time that you have with your kid. Make plans if you can, but nothing too strict. Try and take it easy as much as possible. Spend time with family and friends as much as you can too because they enjoy your kid almost as much as you do.

2/100

I’m Scared, Bruh

I’m trying it again. I’m going to try to write for 10 minutes a day for 100 days straight.

It’s scary. It’s embarrassing putting yourself out there – the typos and the misspoken words. Either way, it’s now or never. Insert 3rd cliche here.

It’s frustrating not being able to consistently do something. It feels great when you’re able to knuckle down and finish a project. I’m feeling anxiety right now and had to pause for a second wondering if I’m doing the right thing, or if I’m just embarrassing myself with this odd stream of consciousness.

I’ve scratched a few goals off of my list this year so far, and I really want to be able to accomplish them all. Some of them include intense hard work and focus. The thing that’s been screwing me up the most is direction.

One of my goals is to finish a coffee table book filled with art and words and whatnot. I’ve probably started and stopped it at least 10 times trying to come up with a focus. A topic. Any kind of thread that will weave through it.

I’m hoping that writing consistently will not only help me improve my writing skills, but help me figure out some sort of direction.

The 100 days method was inspired partially by Noah Kagan’s suggestion to do something 100 times before you quit, but more so by Tiantian Xu’s 100 Days of 3D Design project. Her job requires her to be creative, but she’s done a number of 100 day challenges with results that are stunning to say the least.

I don’t want to reach day 100 and find myself to be some kind of famous prolific writer, but I do want to be able to have the courage to get through it, the drive to do something for 100 days in a row, and more than anything to find some sort of direction for myself so that I can move on to the next phase.

1/100

Fiction, Data and Strategy

One of my goals for 2021 is to read 5 books. I’ve read 2 so far (reviews are forthcoming) and I am 20% through an audiobook (shout out to Bookplayer).

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One Hour Brand: 01 KNVS

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Day 12,777

Insanity is opening the refrigerator every 5 minutes expecting there to be something different to eatFat Albert Einstein

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