50 Steps to Achieving All My Goals (Part 1)

I have a lot of goals:  Eat right, exercise regularly, have a clean organized home, be a good parent, work less, make more money, and be a better husband, among other things.  Here is the step-by-step process I have been using to accomplish those goals.

  1. Read several articles about self improvement
  2. Fantasize about actually following through with the plan outlined in those articles
  3. Read two more articles
  4. Forget what I read in the first few articles
  5. Start a blog without a clear direction, I just know I want to make money
  6. Have a cup of coffee
  7. Feel inadequate
  8. Eat junk food to make me feel better
  9. Check blog stats
  10. Wonder why I even try
  11. Yell at the wife and kids
  12. Read an article from Psychology Today to figure out why I act this way
  13. Pour over blog stats at work.  Instead of working.
  14. Try to find the article I read the first day, cause I know the answer is in there somewhere
  15. Start another blog
  16. Determine to do better
  17. Read more articles
  18. Finally find the answer to all my problems
  19. Have a few candy bars
  20. Check my blog stats while I am supposed to be playing with the kids
  21. Run around the house absentmindedly, leaving drawers and cabinets opened, and a trail of candy wrappers/dirty dishes
  22. Check blog stats
  23. Worry about how messy the house is, how I am failing at work, and failing as a husband and father
  24. Wallow in self pity
  25. Check blog stats (I got a new follower!  Hope is restored!)
  26. It was just a company trying to sell me something
  27. More Coffee
  28. Start a blog post, don’t have time to finish it, post it and call it “Part 1” and never make a part two

Update:  29.  Come back the next day and remove careless errors I was too lazy to look for.  There are probably more I missed.

 

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Lets Just Focus On Helping People

“The difference is slight, to the influence of an author, whether he is read by 500 readers, or by five hundred thousand; if he can select the 500, he reaches the five hundred thousand.” ~Brooks Adams

What a relief.  I was struggling to get 5 readers, never mind 500,000.  There are a lot of people out there artificially puffing up their numbers, using spamy ads that fill up the screen and distract from the content of the posts:  “Sign up Today” “Get Exclusive Content” “Rate This Article” “Read The Next Article.”  Take it easy killer, I haven’t even read the first line yet.

I won’t pretend that I know all about writing, or how to make money blogging, or how to build an audience, but I will pretend that I know something.  It seems to me that we have shifted our focus from helping people to getting followers, or likes, or shares, or pageviews, and many of us will stop at nothing to get them.  But I would rather help just one person to live a better life, than to have thousands of meaningless pageviews.

This Guy Has An Interesting Outlook on Life

I first saw this quote from Bill Hicks about a year ago, and it really caused me to reflect on my life.  I hadn’t heard of the late comedian prior to that, and I began to look into some of his work.  He was a bit rough around the edges, but he had some really thought provoking material.

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”
― Bill Hicks

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I’m Afraid to Do What’s Right

“Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.” ~Margaret Thatcher

Life can be a struggle.  We are constantly faced with regrets of the past, and the uncertainty of the future.  Worry, doubt, and fear can overwhelm us.  Every day we have to decide how to use our time, and what course of action to take.  The choices we make can have a huge impact on our loved ones, and ourselves.

I have spent an unhealthy amount of time scouring the internet, trying to find the “right” thing to do, the “right” way to act, the “right” path.  And what I have discovered Is that I already know what is right.  Deep within myself I know the path I should take.  But more often than not, I ignore the voice inside of me, and do what I know is wrong.  Why? because I am afraid.  Afraid of failure, afraid of what others might think of me, afraid of discomfort, and afraid of disappointment.

“Do you have the patience to wait
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
Till the right action arises by itself?” ~Lao Tzu

Be on the lookout for part 2 in this series, when I finally learn to do whats right.

 

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DIY Minimalist Wallet On A $100 Budget!

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What you’ll need:

  1. Library Card
  2. Photo ID (Optional)
  3. Hundred Dollar Bill
  4. Thick Rubber Band (Like the ones that hold the broccoli together in the produce section)

Making your wallet:

  1. Carefully fold your hundred dollar bill in fourths
  2. Place it on top of the card(s)
  3. Wrap the rubber band around the other items
  4. Make sure the rubber band is taught
  5. Bask in the joy of a job well done

My Minimalist Journey

We live in a society where we are constantly bombarded by advertisements.  They show up in every place imaginable:  social media, search engines, billboards, television, radio, newspaper, magazines, apps, clothing, virtually everywhere.

The design and purpose of this advertising (and it is very effective) is to create false needs.  They start by making us feel inadequate (If we don’t feel that way already).  Then they lure us in with promises of a better life.  If you just had that one item, you would be happier, healthier, better looking, and more organized.  Then, with a sense of fulfillment, completeness, and joy, we take the item home, and add it to our collection.  But these feelings fade all too soon, and we are left with that familiar feeling of emptiness.

“Perfection is achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Minimalism is a philosophy that takes a much different approach, finding joy in simplicity, and discarding all but the truly necessary.  But you don’t have to be living in the woods wearing a loin cloth and drinking dew off of the leaves to be a minimalist.  It’s a journey.  It’s about moving from more to less, busy to quiet, and complicated to simple.  I still have a long way to go on my journey, and I will probably never reach minimalist perfection, but I am now living without many things that I once thought were essential for life.

Why Minimalism?

  • Buying less stuff means saving money
  • Less time spent shopping, cleaning stuff, and organizing stuff, means more time for you and your family
  • Less clutter means more space for living
  • Lower demand makes for fewer items being manufactured and shipped, which means cleaner air for everyone!

What have you given up so far?

Well, this isn’t a comprehensive list, but here are a few things that I am now living without

  • Deodorant (I use baking soda)
  • Microwave (Less radiation!)
  • Many of my books
  • about 2/3 of my wardrobe (Also, I have recently started washing my clothes in the sink when I take them off, and then hanging them to dry.  They are usually ready by the next day!)
  • A Smart Phone (Okay, I didn’t give this one up, because I never had one)
  • Soap and Shampoo (Its been over a year, and I haven’t gotten any complaints yet.  I just let my microbiome do all the work)
  • Extra shoes

Its not that difficult.  And, if you are worried you might regret your decision, try packing up a few things for 3 moths, 6 months, or a year.  If you still haven’t used them, you probably don’t need them, and it is safe to part with them.

Where are you on your minimalist journey?

Top Ten Quotes From J.R.R. Tolkein

 “the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

The kids and I just finished reading “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien.  It is my absolute, all time favorite book, and I am happy to report that the kids quite enjoyed it as well.  So, with that in mind, here are my top ten quotes from Mr. Tolkien’s books, including a few from The Hobbit.

10.  “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”― J.R.R. Tolkien

9.  “Never laugh at live dragons.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

8.  “Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

7.  “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”  – J.R.R. Tolkien

6.  “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

5.  “It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

4.  “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

3.  “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep…that have taken hold.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

2.  “The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

1.  “There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Learning From Trees Part 1: Grow Like A Tree

“For a plant or stone to be natural is no problem, but for us there is some problem, indeed a big problem.  To be natural is something we must work on.”  ~Shunryu Suzuki

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”  ~Hermann Hesse

What better place is there to learn about naturalness, than nature?  Over the past year, I have spent much time contemplating nature.  Watching, listening, observing, and meditating.  I have learned a lot, but I have to admit, I am a bit jealous of the birds, moss, and trees.  What makes it so easy for them to be natural?  They don’t even have to think about it!  To say that a tree is behaving naturally is redundant.  Of course it is natural, its a tree!  But what does a tree actually do?  And how can we learn from it?

Continued Growth

The first thing, and most obvious I suppose, is that a tree grows.  And it never stops growing, even when it is old.  In the same way, we can continue to grow and develop spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, up to our dying day.  Not being content to stay where we are, but always deepening the roots of our understanding, and broadening the trunk of our wisdom.

Overcoming Obstacles

A tree never asks permission to grow, and as it tree grows, it can break through cement, or consume barbed wire.  Its strength lies in patience, slowness, and indifference.  A tree neither attacks obstacles, nor avoids them, but simply grows according to its nature, and if a sidewalk or a fence is destroyed in the process, so be it.

No Regrets

It is also interesting to note that while the most recent growth is nearest to the surface, and is the part of the tree that is alive, it is the growth from years past that becomes the heartwood, and holds the tree up.  It does not regret its past form, or failures from years ago, but builds on them, and uses them as a source of strength.

Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” ~Herman Hesse