Posted by: draknor | October 13, 2011

Eat the Stew

I was going to title this post Do The Work. For those not familiar, Seth Godin started The Domino Project (a new publishing company backed by Amazon) and published his own manifesto called Poke The Box.  It’s essentially a call to action — to get off your complacency & comfortability and “start stuff”.  The second book published by TDP is called Do The Work — and although I haven’t read that one yet, the title just has this forceful quality about it.  So forceful & memorable its in my head all the time, especially right now.

But as I started brainstorming this post, I realized it’s more than that — more than just doing the work.  You see, I’ve been a consumer of information for a long, long time.  I love to learn; I love to absorb knowledge.  My obsessions have ranged from building & upgrading your own computers to dividend investing to lifestyle design, and general life-hacking.  In fact, for a good amount of my last year at my corporate job I really dug into all of the productivity & time management material I could get my hands on.  Two things became evident… (1) There was no magic bullet — no amount of reading was going to automatically make me more productive. (2) No amount of productivity could change my underlying truth — that I was not passionate about my job anymore.  In corporate consulting parlance, my “critical path” had a failure:  To become more productive requires behavior changes; behavior changes require energy & passion; I was lacking passion in what I was doing.

But point number (1) above — that’s been on my mind a lot recently.  No matter how many books & blogs I read about lifestyle design, life-hacking, simplifying life, or being manly, none of them will do anything for me.  Every blog article I read, every book I come across, every little bit of information I absorb, these are all ingredients I’m dumping into this giant stockpot of my life.  And it doesn’t matter how good each one may be going in — the finest garlic, or choicest meat, the most enlightened of tips & tricks —  the only thing that ultimately matters is what comes back out of the stockpot:  I have to “eat the stew” I’ve been simmering for months or years.  To make something awesome out of each of these individual ingredients,  I have to do something.

The marathon I ran almost two weeks ago represents a transition point for me; the end of my “mini-retirement”, the end of summer, and the start of “what’s next”.  I decided that being back home this past week was going to be the start of me taking conscious, directed action. Not that I’ve been idle all summer, but I haven’t really been organized & focused about it.  And that was exactly what I needed for awhile, but now I want to pick a direction & move again.

So here’s what I started this week:

  • Starting a new morning routine.  Routines are critically important — they are the habits we have & the actions we do that we don’t have to consciously think about.  Art Of Manliness had a great blog article recently on morning & evening routines that inspired me to take a more conscious approach to crafting my own routines.  One of my favorite books, The Power of Full Engagement, talks a lot about the importance of routines for high-performers in recharging between periods of high intensity work (such as between points during a tennis match). For me, the important aspects of my morning routine are (as of right now, subject to change!):
    • Cold rinse shower (better than a cup of coffee for waking up!)
    • Self-programming in the mirror: Reminding myself that I am awesome, extraordinary, and unstoppable!
    • Make a protein shake on workout days / coffee on non-workout days
    • (While drinking my shake / coffee) Planning my day: What are my top priorities for this day? How do I organize my day’s schedule to accommodate those?
  • Meeting people who are doing what I [might] want to do (or at least find interesting).  I may be living my own life, but there are plenty of people out there who have walked similar paths in the past, and many of them LOVE to talk about their experiences!  I had lunch last week with a photography that I met on a random connection through some former colleagues, and spent 90 minutes listening to him spill his passion for photography and the successful side business he’s built around it over the last 10 years. Talk about exciting!  It opened my eyes to some of the challenges, but also the thrills & excitement about it.  I’ve got another former colleague who does stock day-trading that I’m hoping to interview next week to hear about his experiences. I emailed him asking how’s he doing and the first thing he writes back is “I could talk for hours about this stuff!”  People who love what they do and are good at it are like that — and those are the people I’m seeking out to learn from.
  • Reconnecting socially. The first thing I did when I got back (actually, I started organizing it before I was even home) was to plan a dinner party for my friends.  I had a couple of motivations — practice cooking, clean the apartment, and reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in weeks / months.  Despite being in a long-term relationship (rocky though it may seem at times!), I’ve been back on the free dating site OkCupid to find new & interesting people to meet as new friends (and I’m up-front about what I’m looking for, so as to not mislead anyone), setting up lunch & coffee “dates” to talk about travel, people following their passions in life, etc.  I’ve been socially stagnant for too long and challenging myself to get out & meet new people is my first step to expanding my network.
And of course, I have a plan for what actions I’m going to focus on next…
  • Hustle to setup a martial arts pilot class before the holidays (and set up the foundation for a bigger class after the New Year)
  • Review some of the materials I’ve run across for finding your passion / finding business ideas (such as Ramit’s Earn1k course and free I Will Teach You To Be Rich content, Scott’s Live Your Legend blog, weekly missions from 52 Weeks to Awesome, etc) — and start acting on them.
  • Find more awesome people to interview.
  • Pick something to start with.
The reality is — I’m going to fail.  I mean, the first thing I try to do may make money, or maybe won’t, but it’s not going to be the thing I end up doing forever. It’s not going to make me rich.  I’m going to make mistakes, or at the very least, not do things optimally & efficiently.  And that’s ok — this is going to be a learning process for me.  The important thing is, I have to start somewhere, and I don’t think it ultimately matters where.  There’s a Chinese proverb I love that says, “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”  The part that’s missing from that is — even if that first step is in the wrong direction, I can still complete the journey (it just may take a little longer until I figure out what direction I need to go).  But if I never start, I will never finish.
Time to start.