Don’t Be Greedy

One of the hardest things to resist in this modern culture is indulging the desire that we all have to attain that glamorous lifestyle we see on social media and television. There are so many examples of people who figured out how to make millions of dollars, and our natural reaction is to envy those people and start looking for ways to make that happen for ourselves. However unrealistic it truly is, we find a way to hope for this massive change in our lives.

Unfortunately, we tend to forget that these cases are extreme outliers. Many of these people were either incredibly lucky or extremely driven to find the success they have today. Most of us will never be that lucky, just as we will never have the kind of obsessive nature required to put in the work required to build something up to that level of value. You either have to be in the right place at the right time, or be willing to sacrifice your entire life to a single goal that prevents you from every really enjoying what you accomplished.

Despite what I see in the world every day, I have learned the value of not being greedy. My goals in life aren’t to make millions of dollars, or even a six figure salary, though that would certainly be nice. I would find happiness in any situation where I’m able to do something I love while still making enough to provide a comfortable life for myself and my family. Anything more than that is just wasted effort, and I can’t stand waste.

There are so many people in the world who struggle with this idea. Our biology drives us to push forward, moving onward to the next thing that needs to get done. The idea of finding a place of peace and staying there is unnatural to instinctive beings with a need to survive. We are always in fear of losing what we have, so we continue fighting even after we have what we need so we can store up extra for that disaster on the horizon. Does it still need to be this way? With the social safety nets we have today, I just don’t think so.

The funny thing about human beings is that our society tends to change much faster than our biology can keep up with. You look at things in our modern culture like social media and it’s easy to understand how this new way of interacting is just too different from the way we are wired for us to truly keep up with. Just like social media, finding that place where you are content with what you have is something that is just too new for our primal instincts to deal with. Everything in our DNA is screaming to continue pushing.

We can’t find peace in such a system. As long as we allow our biology to rule us, the push to continue acquiring more will constantly tread on the contentment that so many of us desire. We can certainly think about such things as status or money or material possessions and imagine that they would be nice things to have, but our society today pushes these things on us as absolutely necessary, and it works because it caters to what our biology is telling us. Learning to ignore these messages is key to living your best life, whatever that may be.

For myself, one of the reasons I started this blog is partly to share my thoughts with others, but also partly in the hopes that I can figure out a way to monetize it to the point that I can live that comfortable life. Not the social media life with big mansions and fancy cars, but the average person comfortable life of having just enough money to be content with what I have. I don’t need status or excess riches or the adulation of others. Give me the simple life. If I can provide a simple service to others in my writing and make it valuable enough for people to support me in continuing to do it, I will have found that place of peace in my life. Who really needs more than that?

How do you feel about greed? Is it a big part of your life, or do you see it as an impediment to your happiness? Are your goals reasonable, or do they require something that is unlikely to happen for you? Learning to adjust our expectations to remove greed from the equation is a huge step toward finding happiness in our lives. The more you can figure out how to do this, the faster you will reach that place of balance and find peace.

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There’s a Reason It’s Called “The Bare Minimum”

At some point in the progression of our evolution, we lost the ability to view survival as a goal in and of itself.  For most of our history, the desire for most human beings was to scrape out a living for oneself and find as much safety and security as possible while maintaining as close to the kind of life we wanted to live as possible.  In this modern era, however, the attitude of “just getting by” has been replaced by unbridled ambition, and this ideology of maximal effort has pervaded the viewpoints of all those who are in positions to make decisions.

When did it become not acceptable to simply do the bare minimum?  The very phrase itself has come to take a negative connotation, indicating that a person is lazy and unreliable and should be regarded with disdain.  It doesn’t matter whether the person does the job they were hired to do, or even if they do it well.  If the person isn’t “showing initiative” or “taking on more responsibilities”, we tend to see them as a drain rather than an asset.

The interesting thing about this is that the word “minimum” in the context of business means the lowest acceptable effort or quality for a given result.  It is ironic then that when an employee comes in to work every day, does what they are asked, and then goes home when the day is done that employers tend to look at them not as reliable employees who get the job done, but as lazy leeches who are doing just enough to get paid.  Rather than valuing the fact that they are getting what they asked for, they resent that the person isn’t putting forth any more effort than what was agreed to.

This is the problem with the business world today.  Just as we as consumers are trying to find the best deals on the products we want to buy, employers are trying to find the best deals on labor.  They aren’t interested in a truly fair deal; what they really want is to be able to pay an employee for a job with less responsibilities while at the same time expecting them to volunteer to do the tasks associated with a higher paying position.  The excuse is that they want the employee to prove they can handle the job, but in reality the deeper issue is a desire to get discounted labor while avoiding the risk of hiring them at the full pay rate.  We know this to be true because we understand that if the employee doesn’t ask for a promotion, we expect that most employers aren’t going to just offer up more money on their own.  They are happy to pay less for the same product.

For myself, I resigned myself to a bare minimum mindset when it came to my career many years ago.  I came to realize that those people who are in charge never truly have my best interests at heart, and I could put a great deal of effort into a job where I end up giving away my labor for the benefit of a company whose primary goal is making money for itself.  Why should I slave away for a company to enrich them while I languish at the bottom hoping they notice me enough to move me up the ladder?  You can slave away for years waiting for an opportunity that might never come.

In the end, many people who choose a bare minimum career mindset aren’t bad or lazy people.  We all have different priorities, and for some of us it is more important to have our free time than it is to spend our entire life working for something that just ends up making us more miserable.  My goal has always been to make just enough so that I have the things that I want and no more.  The more money you make, the more effort you must put into things you likely have no passion for.  Is the money really worth all that, or can you find better ways to spend your time?

The unfortunate truth, however, is that the business world works a certain way, and this attitude will never be something that becomes accepted by employers.  They want you to work hard for them so they can get their money’s worth out of you, regardless of whether or not you agree with where they set that bar.  Just like you, they want a fair deal, just one that is fair in their view rather than yours.  Never forget that earning money is a war between you and those whom you want to give it to you.  Great care is required to make sure you’re getting what you want out of the relationship and to avoid submitting to theirs.

How do you feel about minimal effort?  Does it make you feel bad, or are other things more important than making money?  Do you regard people who do just enough to get by as a negative or positive?  If we can understand that not everyone has a desire to be what society calls successful, we can stop treating people who don’t live up to our own personal metric of acceptable effort with disdain and understand that some people just want to do their job and go home.  Is there really anything wrong with that?

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You Can Be Smart and Stupid at the Same Time

I consider myself a fairly intelligent fellow. There are many things that I’ve learned in my life that other people find very confusing. Cosmology is one of my favorite subjects, and while I am certainly nowhere close to being an expert on the subject, I can understand most of what scientists are talking about when they are describing the physics behind how the universe works. The average person would struggle just to grasp the basic concepts of many of the subjects that simply come to me with little effort.

At the same time, there are other subjects that shouldn’t be very hard to grasp that simply do not come to me very easily, if at all. I’m not very good at math, for example, not having retained any knowledge of the subject past very basic algebra despite having a college degree with courses in more advanced mathematics. I’ve taken geometry and some calculus and even accounting, but none of it stuck with me for any length of time. I just never really understood any of it.

This is the thing about we human beings: we can be smart and stupid at the same time. Certain things just click with us while others will simply never be a part of our makeup. We can look like a genius one day and the next we can feel like a complete fool. Regardless of your raw intelligence level, there are simply some things that you will struggle with because each of our brains works differently and is good at different things. We are highly specialized.

It was because of my desire to figure out how to get this blog off the ground that this subject has been floating around in my head. One of the big things that any website owner has to figure out is getting their content in front of people. Perhaps the biggest thing we can do to accomplish this is practice the best possible Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that we can. When you can figure out how to take advantage of how the algorithms work, you stand a much better chance of reaching a much wider audience.

The problem for me is that I’ve never really been able to figure out how to make this work. I can understand the basic concepts, like making sure you have keywords that the search engines are likely to put first, but more advanced concepts simply escape me. For example, many of the tutorials tell you that your content has to be optimized to be searchable. How do I do this and still make content that is me rather than a template for search engines? I want my content to be formatted in my style, not something that panders to computers.

This is where my stupidity comes in. Part of it is stubborn pride, I suppose. I want my content to stand on its own and I don’t feel I should have to modify it to accommodate an algorithm. The other part, however, is simply that despite my ability to comprehend many other things, I just don’t get the algorithm. I know there are things I should be doing to my content to make it optimized for searching, but for whatever reason I just can’t figure out what that should be.

The other side of it is the actual website design. If you regularly read my content, you may have noticed I updated the layout a few days ago to separate the blog into the different categories I discuss here. That was mostly for your convenience so you can scan back through my content and more easily find a topic you might be looking for, or so you can skip the subjects you’re not interested in. It was also following the idea that more organized content tends to be better for internet searches. We’ll see how that works out.

I previous posted an article entitled “It Takes Money to Make Money“, in which I said that you have the best chance of finding success when you make investments in yourself. This can be personal education, and that will certainly help to some degree, but sometimes there things that you just can’t do on your own and you need expert assistance. You can’t know everything and sometimes the best investment you can make is hiring someone else to do the things you struggle with.

I believe SEO will eventually fall into this category for me, as I’m fairly sure I won’t be able to build a strong following all by myself regardless of the quality of the content. There are great creators out there with awesome blogs and podcasts and videos, but because they haven’t learned to game the system, they will never find any real level of exposure. There are simply too many of us on the internet and we get drowned out by those people who have figured out the tricks of the trade. In the end, it is only through working with others that we can build something amazing.

What do you think about the variability of human intelligence? Are there things that you excel at which make you wonder why you struggle with something else? How do you overcome the things you’re not good at? When we can identify our weaknesses, we start to realize that we can’t do it on our own and, though it may hurt our pride, we learn to reach out to others to find a way forward.

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It Takes Money to Make Money

It’s one of the most heard and hated clichés to newcomers in the business world. In this modern era of free video streaming and nearly unlimited access to mountains of content, we don’t want to be told that we have to spend any more money than we already do to get into something that we hope to turn into a career. Just like most of the other things in our life, we want it to just come to us with little or no effort.

Unfortunately, no matter how much we wish it were different, that just isn’t the way the world works, especially if we’re talking about doing something as competitive as making money in the online space. There are literally millions of people out there uploading content and competing with you, an individual, for the money that’s out there for the taking. You’ll read articles from people who tell you it’s hard but doable, but the reality is that only a small percentage of people make it in any industry because there’s only so much to go around. How do you compete against people who have already been doing this for years?

The reality is that if you want a leg up on the competition, you’ll likely have to spend some amount of money up front to have any real chance of success. Whether it’s paying for access to a premium service, hiring a marketing company to help you get your message out, or simply purchasing better equipment to increase the quality of your content, it is a near certainty that you will need to spend an uncomfortable amount of your own personal earnings to get started.

I have always struggled with this, but not because I’m too cheap to spend money. I tend to spend way more than I should, if I’m honest. My issue stems from the fact that I tend to be very skittish about risking money on an unknown. This is the reason I’ve never been comfortable with gambling, and at the most basic level an investment of any kind is a gamble. You can’t really know how it’s going to turn out.

Knowing this, I have typically stuck to regular day jobs because they felt like the safest option. A job where you go into work and get a regular paycheck sounds eminently stable, but like many things in life it’s just an illusion. You can walk into your job any day and be laid off without notice. There is no true income security in any sector of the business world, so being afraid to invest your money in yourself is pointless if there is something you want to do that might be more fulfilling than laboring for someone else.

It is because of this that I’ve started taking some small risks by investing in certain things, such as a paid subscription to this blogging service. As I continue to write and attract followers, I will be looking at more opportunities to invest money into the various outlets I’m using to try to get my content to readers and listeners, trying to find the best balance between doing things myself and hiring out work to others who can do things far better than I can. Of course, this requires that I build a following, and who knows how that will actually turn out.

I’m in a part of my life where I’m trying to cast off the old pessimistic view I had of my life and start moving toward something more meaningful, and preferably lucrative. My dreams don’t require a lot of money, but I won’t pretend that one of the motivations for starting this blog is to turn it into a career. Honesty is the best policy, and I prefer to be as real as possible with my writing so that no one ever feels like they were tricked. If they support my content, I want them to know they’re contributing to exactly what they think they are. My hope is that this attitude will be attractive to people and they will find it valuable enough to support it.

How do you feel about spending money on an unknown outcome? Do you jump right in and hope for the best, or do you hold back because you’re afraid to lose? Where do you draw the line between risk and reward? Sometimes we have to do things that are uncomfortable to get where we want to go, and the sooner we learn this, the more rich and fulfilling out lives can become.

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How Do You Shift Your Perspective?

Much like most of us, I have been through many changes in my life. After a fairly normal childhood, I joined military service as a musician, a decidedly paradoxical role in which both extreme discipline and expressive art were jarringly crammed together into a strange but interesting caricature of creativity. Since then I’ve spent most of my time in offices doing computer work, rarely stopping to think about some of the things I realize I’ve lost since not only my time as a musician, but also my childhood.

When I was young, I was far more imaginative than I am today. This can be said for most people, but I think I can say I was above average in the creativity department. Childhood games of fantasy pretending to be crazy characters from books, hours and hours spent reading adventure novels and imagining myself alongside the characters, creating and leading fantasy adventure games with family and friends; I used to have a far more interesting way of looking at the world than I do now.

Somewhere along the way I lost that spark of creativity. I feel that part of it was the discipline I was required to maintain as a Marine for what is now about half of my adult life. It is difficult to find the motivation for creative thought when your daily routine is so highly regimented by others. In order to satisfy that creative spark, I retreated more fully into things like video games than I already had by that point, and it feels like the creative side of me has atrophied due to relying on other forms of entertainment than my own imagination.

Since leaving the military, I haven’t really been able to pull myself out of that. I’ve gotten used to the routine of day by day life, looking ahead to the future but never really knowing how to get there. I’ve accepted boring office jobs because they seem to be the only kind of work I am qualified to do. Setting aside the fact that I’ve convinced myself I can’t afford it financially to start over, the truth is I don’t believe in myself enough to branch out into something else.

In order to jump into something new, you have to have a part of you that can visualize success. Sometimes, that success depends very highly on your ability to think outside of the box, because the thing you jump into might require very different solutions and actions than you’re used to. More than a decade in the military planted me firmly inside the box, and I struggle to this day to break out of it. As part of this struggle, I keep searching for different ways to use one of my interests to break free.

Writing is something that I’ve always had an interest in. I even wrote the first book of a fantasy trilogy, though it hasn’t found success. I have made several attempts to break away from the traditional labor space into more creative endeavors, but it feels like there is just something missing from my makeup that I can’t seem to get past. The hard part is that I can’t figure out if it’s something I lost to adulthood that I can maybe get back, or if it’s something I just never really had in the first place.

Like many things in life, that question can only be answered by continuing to try and seeing what happens. Sometimes looking at the world a different way requires that you change the way you look at it. I have traditionally felt that I don’t have what it takes to move out from under the shadows of others to stand in the light on my own. The only way to get past that doubt is to simply ignore it and keep trying. It may never happen, but if I don’t even try it certainly won’t.

What do you think about your perspective on life? Are you satisfied with where you are headed? If not, have you thought about trying to break into something new? Sometimes all we can do is simply take the first step down the path and hope for the best. None of us knows the future, and many times it is a small change that ends up making the biggest difference in our lives. If we support each other in taking those steps, perhaps many more of us can live the kinds of lives we dream of.

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Working for Employers Who Don’t Value You

One of the hardest things for a working adult to figure out is learning to live under a boss who views you as an asset rather than a person. It is natural for someone managing so many things all at once to lose sight of the fact that the people he employs aren’t just pieces to be moved, but at the same time it is very difficult to use that understanding to avoid becoming resentful. The boss may be a good person, and he may have a true desire to treat his employees with respect, but at the end of the day his job is to get the job done and your desires are secondary.

It is one thing to be able to look at this objectively and understand how things are and why they are that way, but it is quite another to reconcile that in your own heart. We can understand why the boss needs to have that sort of attitude to some extent, but eventually we begin to become disenfranchised with our work environment when we realize that we don’t really matter past what our employer can get out of us. The longer this goes on, the harder it becomes to withstand our own angst and continue maintaining a positive attitude.

Of course, this post is being written in response to my own current employment experience. I have to be upfront and honest and say that I have a pretty good boss. He treats me with respect and has allowed me a lot of leeway with time off for childcare and other things of that nature. I can’t fault him for his character in the slightest. Most people would be very satisfied with their experience here. I certainly was for several years.

On the other hand, there is an expectation that as you continue to work for an employer, you move out of the tasks and responsibilities that you started and begin advancing further into your career. The problem with this employer is that I have nothing to offer them outside of what I already do, and to advance I would have to shift my focus from my current skillset to an entirely new one…a skillset that I’m definitely not interested in. So instead of moving forward with my career, I get stuck with all the random tasks that no one else wants to do. It is difficult to find satisfaction in that sort of position, and it makes it quite clear that I am seen as a convenience rather than a meaningful and contributing member of the team.

This is the problem with being an employee. No matter how good or nice or positive your boss might be, at the end of the day you are working for the enrichment of someone else. You are compensated for the effort you put in, but you are not adding any lasting value to yourself, aside from more job experience added to your resume. That’s nice, I suppose, but it doesn’t have the same staying power that it had in the past. The current gig economy makes it very difficult to find quality positions regardless of your experience because everyone is always looking for work.

This is the second post in which I’ve come to unload some of my issues in written form. I try to focus on the positive, but like you, reader, I have my ups and downs. For me to paint myself as a beacon of hope in a world of darkness would be hypocritical. All of the issues I’ve written about on the blog thus far are things I struggle with, not things that I’ve learned to master. I do my best to implement my own advice, but there are days like today where the circumstances of life press down on me and I want to just walk away. It’s all harder than it sounds.

Where I find a difference between myself and many other people is that I am able to objectively look at these things once I get past my initial frustration. Will I just walk away from my job because I hate it? No. I can’t afford to just walk away without somewhere to go. Will I allow my frustration to poison my life? No. It’s not worth dwelling on it. I have to keep my focus on getting to the next step in my life and not shooting myself in the foot before I get there. We all go through this at one level or another, but bringing this thought to the forefront can make all the difference in our ability to find peace and happiness.

So what do you think about working for employers? Do you have a good one or a bad one? Do they make you feel valued, or despite their kindness do you feel like a chess piece? Sharing your own experiences is one of the best things we can do to assuage our own angst and frustration, because the sharing of our experiences in a constructive way has a strong, positive effect on our psychological condition. I encourage you to share your story and get the weight off your chest.

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Living in Transitions

I don’t want to make this a rant post, but there is something that has been on my mind the last few months that I can’t shake. It feels as if we are in a transition period in our country when it comes to the way that people look at work and how it gets done. What makes it difficult for me is something that seems to be present in my life all the time. We’re pushing into this brave new world of remote work where people can work from their home office, but not enough that employers are fully embracing the idea to make it workable for people like me.

For a long time now I’ve wanted to cast off the traditional life of dwelling in a house or apartment to roam the country in my travel trailer. The issue I’ve had is that it is very difficult to find a job that fits this kind of lifestyle. I already live in my trailer, but it’s parked in a permanent lot waiting for me to figure out how to set up an income stream that follows me wherever I go. All I need logistically to get where I want to be is to find an appropriate truck to tow my trailer, as well as some final equipment to make me self sufficient for things like electricity and internet on the road. I’m so close I can taste it, but the one huge and immovable barrier seems to be finding a job or other income stream that I can do from the road that pays enough to sustain me.

The part the frustrates me is that we are now living in a world where business appears to be shifting to the kind of remote work I want to do, but I just don’t seem to have the job skills that these kinds of businesses want. Even though my skillset is primarily focused on computer work, my career thus far has been shoehorned into the construction industry, which is full of very traditional employers who want people to be there in person ready to take up any random task they need to get done. This is not conducive to remote work and I have yet to meet a project manager who approves of employees working full time from their home office. They want you there and available.

The natural solution to this would be to switch career fields, but unfortunately I just don’t have the ability to take a huge pay cut to start over in another field. It is rare to find an employer who will hire someone to a mid-career position simply because they were successful in another field. They want a plug and play solution; someone who can simply step into the role with little to no training and start making them money.

I can certainly understand this attitude, but it is disheartening from this side of the fence. Being unable to shift gears railroads you into being stuck in a lifestyle you don’t really want. This is amplified by the current gig economy that we now live in that forces us to be stuck with the same type of job over and over, but still having to live with the uncertainty that comes with constantly moving from job to job. It’s all of the downsides with almost none of the good.

This isn’t to say that I’m not grateful for what I have. I could never complain that I don’t have enough or that I’m being treated unfairly. The job I have pays me well to do what I was hired to do, and that’s a reasonable arrangement. Still, the part of me that wants something more out of my life yearns to find a new opportunity that will allow me to use my skillset to find a way to make income on the road so I can find the freedom to escape the rut I find myself in. Like many things in life, it’s like a huge black wall that I can’t see past and I don’t know how to punch through it or get around it.

So here we stand, in the middle of another revolution in the business world, not quite out of the old way but not fully into the new. It’s very difficult to watch the world moving so very slowly into the kind of job market I would prefer to be in, but I understand that you can’t just force everything to move the way you want it to. Change has to happen slowly over time to get the best result. Adjustments are made gradually to ensure that we aren’t shocking things out of balance. Too many of us forget this and try to force things to happen much faster than they should.

This doesn’t change the fact that I’m yearning for an opportunity to jump into the new way of doing things. Finding a method of income that allows me to not be tethered to a specific location is one of the biggest goals I have in my life right now, and if I can figure it out I think a lot of things in my life will finally change. Sometimes you just need to press the reset button to get past some of the things that have been holding you back. So I’ll do my best to patiently wait for the opportunity to move forward with the life I’ve been hoping for.

What do you think about living in transitions? How did you handle it when it happened to you? Are you in the middle of one right now? Our life is full of transitions, and learning to handle them well can mean the difference between moving closer to our dreams and being pushed further away from them. Still, sometimes venting your frustrations can reset your perspective and help you to refocus on your goals. Don’t be afraid to embrace your issues and use them to put yourself back on the path to success.

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The Stifled Soul

We all go through awakenings.  It doesn’t matter what kind it is, but each of us many times in our lives go through periods of time where we start to realize that something is changing within us.  The old way has become unbearable, and we need to lash out at the world to break free from the oppressive weight we’ve been carrying for so long.  In our desire for safety and security, we hold on tightly to the horror we know in hopes that we won’t be subjected to anything worse.  There is nothing more evil in the world than a soul that has been stifled by its own expectations.

We live in a world today where things like creativity and art and all the things that make life worth living have become sidenotes to practicality.  The world has become so efficient at spitting out product and forcing us into mass produced molds that we struggle to know the slightest bit about who we really are.  Millions of people spend lifetimes grinding away at a goal set by others that they never really wanted, all because we have been ingrained from birth with the values of industriousness, conscientiousness and a worshipful nature toward the almighty dollar.  It is a hollow existence.

You can’t teach this fact to anyone.  It isn’t something you can lay out on a chart or graph, nor is it something you can measure with a ruler or microscope or beaker.  No one can walk up to you and point to the sky and tell you about it.  It can’t be seen, it can’t be heard, and it can’t be given.  It is something that must be experienced.  Whether through your own life experiences, or by becoming inspired by the life experiences of others, you must live it to truly understand it.

I am just beginning to emerge from the long sleep of the stifled soul.  My life has been routine and rules and following the crowd, always afraid to be singled out and embarrassed.  I am an introvert, always looking inward and afraid of what others might see.  But there is a part of me that longs for the freedom to be whatever it is that I am without any reservation whatsoever.  After nearly forty years of life, I find myself yearning to start living.

We were all taught the phrase “carpe diem”, but most of us never really know what that means.  “Seize the day” sounds amazing when you just say it like that, but when we actually consider what we have to do in the real world to live that philosophy out, most of us shrink back in terror at the awful risk and responsibility and horrible freedom implicit in that simple phrase.  It is the essence of working without a net, a single mistake thrashing you against the rocky shore to be crushed to bits that you ever dared to dream in the first place.

How many years do we waste waiting for opportunity to come knocking at the door?  How many opportunities are just out of sight, waiting for us to take that single step forward to find it?  If we could look back on our lives and see all the times we passed right by them, how much regret would weigh down our hearts?  Even the most conservative guess scares me down to the bottom of my soul.

Some figure this out early in their lives and go on to do amazing things for both themselves and the world around them.  They find a way to become unfettered by the expectations of others and strike out on their own, blazing a trail for others to follow.  Many burn bright and fast, flaring out in a blinding flash, but the shortness of their time is balanced by the brightness of their light.  The truly lucky ones get a lifetime as a shining beacon in the darkness the world tries to impose on us.

For others, such as myself, it takes a lifetime just to get to where we even want to find a spark, but finally something changes within and we can’t simply sit in the darkness any longer.  Our souls yearn to see, to be uncluttered by shade and twilight and to view the clear, beautiful vista that the dawn brings.  And we imagine it to be all the sweeter after living in the dark for so long.

Will this spark last, or will it be drowned out by the darkness of doubt?  The peril of predictability?  The yearning for a safe harbor?  Or will it flare up into a raging fire to be viewed with awe in its full glory?  Can it be a guiding light that not only saves my own soul, but that of others around me?  I cannot say, but I view the world through this new dawn choosing to believe it isn’t the last one.

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Performing When You Don’t Feel Like It

I’m starting to hit that wall where enthusiasm runs out and you have a choice to either continue on the path or decide it’s just not worth it. It happens so often in my life, and my usual choice is to set aside what I’m doing and look for something else to do. As a person who grew up in an instant gratification world, it’s so hard to stick with anything when you aren’t getting what you want, let alone something that by definition isn’t likely to turn into something big enough to be sustaining as a career. Where do you draw the line between patience and delusion?

Of course, my rational side knows I haven’t been doing this nearly long enough to assume it won’t go anywhere. I know it’s my impatient side trying to get the better of me. I want amazing results right now, and unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. You have to put in the time and effort and only after you do both of those things can you find out if something is going to succeed or fail. There are no shortcuts in life. Well, except maybe winning the lottery or something like that.

So what do I do with this knowledge? This is where the perseverance part comes in. I have to decide to get on this blog and write another post. Do I have other things I could talk about? Absolutely. There are a million different things going on in the world I could write about. But the biggest thing on my mind today is the fact that I knew I needed to write something and a part of me thought “why bother? You only have a few followers and your voice isn’t really heard. You’re wasting your time with this.” That hopelessness from the previous article is rearing its ugly head yet again.

The problem with that attitude is that several of you have chosen to follow this blog because it apparently has some kind of meaning to you. We tend to get focused on what we don’t have without valuing what we do. I think it’s probably the content creators who truly value the people who follow them that find success in this kind of business. They aren’t really focused on making lots of money, but creating a relationship with the people they are creating content for. I know I’m not like that yet, but I also know that I need to move myself to that place if I want to have even a chance of turning this blog into a writing career.

I appreciate those of you who have chosen to follow this blog and read these articles. I know that as this blog slowly continues to grow, it will start to become easier to motivate myself to keep writing, especially when it gets to the point where I start getting consistently positive interactions from the community. I have to keep in mind that it doesn’t all come at once; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I have to exercise these things I’ve been posting, all of which I wrote mostly as a reminder to myself that I shared with all of you.

The title of this post says it all. I don’t feel like writing, and that’s exactly the time when I need to force myself to sit here and write the best article I possibly can. I need to sit here and put down honest words with careful thought and continue imparting whatever meaningful information I have to share. I don’t have to be an inspiration that sets the internet on fire; I just have to show up and practice what I preach. Most of us want to follow someone who is dynamic and powerful and charismatic, but what we really need is someone who tells us what we need to hear and is consistent about it. The best leadership is by example. We respect it more.

One of the encouraging things for me is that I sit down with no particular layout for an article in mind, just a vague idea, yet I’m able to put together several paragraphs that clearly lay out what the idea is and how I think you should approach it. This is not to brag about my writing skills, because I certainly don’t think I’m a great writer, but to remind myself that it is a type of validation that maybe this is something I’m good enough at to turn into the meaningful career I’ve been searching for my entire life. The lesson I hope we all take from it is that if we can find that silver lining that everyone talks about, it can really make a difference in sticking to the things we choose to pursue. The fact that these words are here at all show that this is the truth.

So today’s post is partly about me, but also about you, reader. What do you have in your life that you’ve started, or would like to start, that you want to give up on because it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen? What parts of that have caused you to become apathetic about your goal? Have you found the strength to force yourself into performing, even when you don’t want to? I think today’s post is an example of how just forcing yourself to get started can have much more of an impact than we think. I started with “why bother” and ended with eight paragraphs of self-motivational text. If we can find the ability to do this consistently, I think this is where we have a real chance to pass from part time hobby to full time success.

Like many things in life, it’s all in the attitude.

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Wisdom Trumps Ambition

When I was younger, I used to think that I wanted to make sure I did what I needed to do to become as successful as possible as early in life as possible. I thought about wanting to acquire certain things that most people don’t get until much later in their lives in my twenties. The thought process was that I wanted to have those things early enough to still be young enough to enjoy them. Being too old to truly do things at the best level seemed a waste to me. How naive.

One of the things that young people universally need to overcome is the impatience of youth. I’m not talking about our previous discussion about having a goal and being unable to stick to the long game. I’m talking about the kind of impatience that leads to angst later in life because you set unrealistic expectations for yourself and then fail to meet them. We all have ideas for what we think our future should be, but almost all of us have a completely unrealistic time frame for how long that should take. If it could truly come so fast, we would retire at thirty. It simply isn’t the case.

One of the most important lessons I want my children to learn is the concept of setting realistic expectations for their life. Unfortunately, truly understanding this idea can only come with age, because it is only when we gain the wisdom of our years that we are able to truly understand anything. I hope my children will listen and make decisions for the long term rather than a short gain, but if they are anything like me they will jump into adulthood expecting their desires to be delivered to them in the first few years of work. They might take my advice and slow things down, but they won’t be able to truly get it until they’ve experienced enough life for it to truly make sense.

That’s the thing about wisdom. A person can make wise decisions, but it is only through making decisions that we can test things and figure out what works and what doesn’t. We can certainly absorb knowledge through education or reading the words of others, and this can help accelerate the process, but there is vast difference between knowledge and wisdom; theory and application. We can theoretically know that something is wise, but we don’t truly understand why it is wise until we find ourselves in the situation and take a course of action. It is when we see how it either works or doesn’t that the knowledge becomes wisdom.

If our education is any good, our entire childhood is spent learning the theory of how the world works. Up until the point we become adults, we are immersed in learning about all manner of things from science to social studies to physical activity, storing up knowledge that we expect to prepare us for the world. At the end of our formal education, we are proud of the accomplishments we’ve made and jump out into the world assuming we are ready for anything.

Our twenties are our first lesson in the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Our early ambition is thwarted by the world around us and we start to realize that maybe we don’t know quite as much as we thought we did. The career we chose might not be as glamorous as we hoped, or perhaps bad decisions were made that set us back. An inability to exercise discipline in our spending might have placed us in a sticky situation with our credit. Whatever the details, it is in our twenties that most of us truly start gaining real world wisdom.

When we look at it like this, we start to realize that, aside from the rare exceptional person, it is only in our thirties that we really start to push toward our life goals. This is the time that we have built up enough experiences to know what works for us and what doesn’t. It is the time of our lives in which we have demonstrated who we will be for the rest of our lives and everyone around us can know who we are and what we stand for. It is the time in which we become confident in our decisions because we’ve made enough of them to have a pretty fair idea of how those decisions will turn out.

As the title of this article states, wisdom simply trumps ambition at every level. Ambition without wisdom invariably leads to failure. You may make some short term gains making blindly aggressive decisions, but eventually your luck will run out and all your efforts will come crashing down around you. Ambition tempered with wisdom can be a very powerful force, and approaching life with the goal of slowly incorporating wisdom into your makeup will get you to your goals far faster than impatience can.

What do you think about wisdom? In what part of life do you find yourself? Are you just getting started and want to learn how to be wise? Or have you already experienced enough to know what you want and where you’re going? Self reflection is an important part of learning to be successful, because if you don’t even know who you are, you can’t make decisions that make sense for you.

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