Comparison.

One thing I’m great at that I wish I wasn’t is comparing myself to others around me. I tend to look at the variety of things they are accomplishing then reflect on the things I am accomplishing myself. This is an extremely strange loop of life to be in as I know that it is good to a certain extent to evaluate where you are at so that you can decide where you want to go, but it is extremely dangerous to dwell on what others are doing insomuch that you fail to recognize what you can be doing yourself. 

I know that I am not alone in spending a little too much time comparing myself, my job, and my life overall with the lives of others I know. I know this because there is a term that is used to describe people who use others as a benchmark of success; this term is known as “Keeping up with the Joneses”. Who are the Joneses you might be asking yourself? They are someone you hope to emulate and become like almost with a feeling of resentment. 

The resentment comes when you fail to match what others have been able to do with their time, skillset, and money. As I stated before it is not bad to compare yourself to others so long as it is done in a healthy way that enables you to grow and progress. I know that for me I do best when I see what others are doing, aspire to do great things too and set off on my own journey to greatness. Is it an easy journey? Not at all, you are usually alone in your desire and pursuit as others have their own quests they are on. If you are smart you can utilize others along the way and collaborate and build partnerships that can benefit you both along the way. 

So remember it’s not bad to compare yourself to others, just do it in a healthy way then set your goals and move forward.

mediocre.

Mediocre is defined as, of only moderate quality; not very good.

This is something I feel about myself more often than I’d like to admit when it comes to my ability to follow through with some projects. This project in particular is something I have felt the most mediocre about in a very long time. I kind of just put the project in park in my garage and haven’t taken it for a spin all summer. 

Is that something that I had intended to do? Not exactly, I started two podcasts this summer, interviewed a few dozen people, attended the eBay open, and read a few cookbooks all while spending time with my wife and dog. I thought I was keeping busy enough the thought of this project would fade away until life slowed down and I was ready to start writing a little bit more again. I was completely mistaken about the possibility to let this project slide. 

I had created an instagram page as a way to promote my project and each time I signed onto my personal instagram account I was met with a reminder of a personal promise I was failing to keep to myself. To put it simply just the social media account on it’s own could have driven me to feel guilty, but that wasn’t all I had created as a commitment to myself that I would write three hundred words a day. I had set reminders on my calendar to go off weekly as a reminder to see if my grammar was improving and to check the weekly analytics to see if people were reading my thoughts. It has been a constant reminder that I have been letting myself slip away from my goal, to become a better writer this year. 

I’ve said this before on this project and blog that I want to do better. For the rest of the year I want to be a little less mediocre in completing a simple task that should take me fifteen minutes or less to complete. 

So here’s to starting this project back up, and to being a little mess mediocre at following through on my promises to myself.

Realization.

What I was having a hard time admitting was that I was burned out. Nothing was making sense because I couldn’t grasp what was happening around me, I had fallen into a autopilot mode and was just doing the bare minimum to get by each day. Once I was able to come to the realization of what was happening to me it broke me down a little more than I already was and then allowed me to begin to pick myself up and retake control of myself and my surroundings.

Yesterday I talked about walking the dog and just listening to nature around me and taking a little time to read something every day. Those are two big parts of what has helped me regain some sense of control of my life. The following are two more things that helped me stand a little more confidently and are still helping me today; Eating less sugar, and exercising more gratitude.

I’m not here to tell you how to eat, I here to tell you about what I was eating too much of and too little of. I am the type of person who can pick up a group sized bag of chocolates and eat the whole thing by myself in one sitting. I have a sweet tooth that loves to be fed and all too often I just feed it without thought or care of how I will feel afterward. I have known this for a long time and it hasn’t bothered me because I feel that I live a fairly active life and don’t carry too much excess weight on my bones.

This past month I started using sweets and treats as they ought to be used as a way to treat one’s self once in a while. It was a struggle for me as I mentioned before because I am a sweet eater and indulge a little too often historically. I started taking better snacks with me to work like cheese, fruits and various nuts to snack on instead of sugary treats. I also limited my soda intake to one can a day and that can be after work when I made it home to relax. It made a huge difference in my daily attitude and helped me be a little less cloudy than I was before.

I believe I mentioned this before in a few different posts but this is one that really rings with me and has helped me see life in a better light, expressing gratitude more often. Yes, I have always tried to express gratitude each day but I wasn’t expressing gratitude to the right people nor seeing gratitude in the little things around me. I was grateful for having a place to work, owning a house, a car, and a family but I wasn’t able to express that gratitude directly to the little things that really mattered.

I started saying thank you to my spouse more often for the little things she did, I started looking more at the good things that I had worked toward in my life such as my car and home ownership. I started admitting that I was avoiding seeing the good things in my life and swelling on the holes and how much more I needed to be happy. I personally don’t think that I need material possessions to be happy, but I was starting to think those were the only things I needed to be so. You can be happy with very little should you choose to be grateful for the life you have and the opportunities that have come and are coming your way.

As I stated before I’m not saying the things I’ve mentioned above are guaranteed to make you happier than you already are or will pull you out of a funk or burned out stage of life. What I have mentioned above has helped me live with fewer clouds in my head each day. They were part of the tools I personally used to be a little happier than I was yesterday.

Escape.

Have you ever needed a little time to escape? To have peace and quiet, just to disconnect from the world around you and just hear nature? As I mentioned last night I needed that time and space just to reset and breathe. It’s never easy to admit that we might be experiencing a little burnout, that has led to us being a little down for a period of time. I took the past month to escape a little and these are a few things I used to escape.

Reading has always been something I have tried to enjoy and use as an escape. I used a little time each day last month to read a few books, my favorite being “How to Bullsh*t Your Way to Number 1: An Unorthodox Guide To 21st Century Success from the World’s #1 Fake Restaurateur and Paris Fashion Week’s #1 Fake Designer” by Oobah Butler. I have watched his videos online and felt I related to his style and sense of humor. His book was an easy read that helped me better understand how to stop bullsh*tting myself and to start being better at committing to ideas and finding success.

There are indeed times when I have thought that I have great ideas that are destined for success that have fallen flat on their faces because I let the doubts of others around me hold me back. That was something that had been grinding me down over the past months was the voices of others who didn’t see the whole vision I had and believed in. I let their doubts drown out my belief that things would go well on stormy seas.

Walking my dog without headphones in my ears sounds like a silly thing. I don’t really want to get to know my neighbors after all (wink, wink), nor do I want to hear the sounds of birds, horses, cows, and sheep. Just kidding, I love hearing all of those things along with the simple interactions with my neighbors. It’s just easy to plug in and be distant. This past month I just took my headphones out while e walked the dog and that changed things up, I was more connected to real life and all the goodness that is always surrounding me.

It really helped me out with feeling better about my day to day life, disconnect from the digital and live more in the physical. Living here and now can often be a great escape for some and indeed it has been a great escape for me. So take some time and read a book, any book will do. Take the chance on walking without your headphones in your ears and just listen to the present around you and soak up the big moments of today.

Enthusiasm vs Endurance

I saw a quote posted by a friend today quoting Angela Duckworth that stated the following:  

“ Enthusiasm is common.
 Endurance is rare.  “

That hit me pretty well after my confession yesterday about making excuses, falling short of my intended goal for this project,  and falling short in many different aspects of life. I say this not to post a sign that says “pity this guy” but more as an acknowledgment that we are the biggest reason why we don’t see a goal from concept to completion. It’s something more of us could benefit from doing, admitting our own faults and weaknesses as we review our list of in-completed wishes and aspirations.

Getting back to the quote I felt I am extremely enthusiastic about so many things that I begin. I really dive into the motions of becoming fully engrossed in the activity until some sort of unexpected twist joins my journey, then derails my forward motion and enthusiasm for the new project. Something that could cause me to derail might be a change at work, increased homework from my university studies, or a challenge I’d rather not face up to at the present time.

When the forward motion is slowed or stopped it is a challenge to start again and regain the momentum you previously had; for me at least. I think this is where pacing yourself might come in handy. I know that I have written about how we should look at things with a sprint vs marathon mindset in the past and I try to live that practice daily but it can be hard to do all the time. Many around the world might share this sentiment, “It would be nice if there was a faster way to…”. For some things yes, there are shortcuts, for others, there are only steps to take in a specific process to attain the desired outcome.

This is where learning endurance comes to play, one step at a time with a mindset that somethings can take a long time to see to completion. We need to teach ourselves how to endure better through the challenges we experience for the long run. Learning endurance is not an easy process at all but it’s one that will help us the most if we are to learn. Learn a little more each day, read a little longer, study a little better, run a little farther, be a little more confident each day, and eventually, you’ve become a marathon runner and learned to endure more than you thought you could.

Act.

As a young sixth grade student in rural America, I wanted to be a part of the yearly school musical. In fact, little did I know I wanted to be a part of my middle schools first play / musical. I auditioned for and got the role of a cabinet member in the Annie musical. I had exactly one line and I performed that line near perfectly as I can remember. My acting career was off to a good start and a great finish as I have never acted again since that play.

I look back fondly on my time as a cast member in my school play. It was a simple goal to become an actor in a play and I took the steps to join the play and act. That’s the main message of tonight’s writing, think it and start to act. I have always enjoyed being a person who is known to act, to set their mind to something and get it done. These days one of the most important things that we can do is set a goal and get after it.

I was recently listening to a podcast that touched on the best thing we can do is take opportunities to learn a skill and act on that newly learned skill. That is the best way that we can learn mastery of the skill, just by doing it and seeing the outcome we can better learn the subject matter and improve the ability we have to reach the desired outcome we seek. Just by doing we can become masters of the skillsets we desire to have.

Once we feel competent in these skills we can then teach others how to do them and improve our skills as we go. The best way to learn and retain information is to teach others what you know and how to gain results, Whether that is creating a podcast, woodworking, or sewing a skill learned and shared is a benefit that comes around full circle.

Starting today, take the opportunity to act on your vision and get things done.

Detours.

Tonight on the drive home we took a different route than we normally do. We took a detour that was a little slower than the normal route up the interstate but it was something new that yielded the same outcome meaning we made it home. Life is filled with detours and alternate routes that can lead to the same destination you originally set out on. Many of us have been taught that there is only one ladder to success, there is only one path to follow and this is incorrect as there are many ways to reach the same destination.

I love going on road trips and finding the most unique way to reach the desired destination I had planned. These routes often have a random assortment of stops that can be educational, entertaining, and satisfying. Whenever we take a detour we take every opportunity that sounds entertaining without any debate we just say let’s give it a try and pull over. We’ve had some good, great, strange, and not repeatable experiences that have helped us tell better stories after our adventures are over.

Day to day life is very similar in the fact that we are always able to choose to take the opportunities that are presented to us potentially seeing a different route to success. What holds us back? Our fears of stepping outside the status quo, failing, or embarrassing ourselves. Being able to look at an alternate way of doing things isn’t something to be afraid of, sometimes the detour is the best door. People are remembered for the things they’ve done that stand out and the risks they take.

Looking back on the detour we took on our return home we were presented with less traffic, more wildlife, better views of the mountains, and a new way of getting home. We are grateful for taking the chance on new route home and look forward to taking chances in our day to day lives as we look forward to successful detours.