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“Pic’s or it didn’t happen”

 

 

After almost 8 months without posting, here I am posting twice in one week !?

Nuts, I know.

But I think I’m actually doing one of the things that they always recommend we do after completing tasks. So here I am trying to document my self-reflection on what worked and what didn’t.

I’m on the back side of almost 8 months of consistent time spent chasing a goal. I’m both proud of the consistency but deathly afraid that I’ll lose the lessons and habits that I rediscovered during this time period. I feel like if I can memorialize the habits that led to my best performance I should have an easier time getting to productive spaces and hopefully to my goals.

So, I’m taking some time to document the things that I think were most effective and also set some new ambitious goals that I can monitor via this blog. I’ve been reading this amazing personal finance blog and one of the things that I was most impressed by was the drastic changes that he experienced within just 3 years and how the blog served as a witness to his growth.

It reminded me that what gets measured – gets managed. I think one of the things that is often missing in my life is the daily consistency and a clear link between the setting of the goal and the day-to-day efforts to make progress on the goals.

The other concept that I had heard of previously but hadn’t quite taken as serious as I should have was the concept popularized in “The Slight Edge” . The book says that every day is an opportunity to move forward incrementally. The problem with incremental growth is that it can be very difficult to see how one day’s work leads to the big results that your looking for. The truth is that those tiny daily disciplines and consistent, small improvements over time can yield exponential results.

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Easy Choices. Hard Life. Hard Choices. Easy Life.

I think in order to really see the progress that I desire I’m going to have to implement a couple of mechanisms.

  1. Mechanism for self-accountability  = This Blog
  2. Commit to same deep work schedule for self-improvement that I implemented for pursuing exam preparation = committing to weekly non-insignificant periods of time in the private study rooms in the library
  3. Set SMART goals with clear timelines (Use blog to document progress and think out obstacles)

So first, some foundation goals:

  • Publish one blog post Q week
    • This is the cornerstone of the new goals. Having an accountability mechanism via either this blog or the blog at www.Escapingretail.com will serve as the mirror for me to see what I’m actually getting done.
  • Monthly updates on progress on goals (Net worth, Mortgage paydown)
  • Spend at least 2 days/week at Library on Deep Work

Right now the actual goals that I’ll be working on are fuzzy. However, I’m confident that with time and focused attention I can clarify and solidify my action plan.

I think right now the biggest goal will be focused around answering the question: “How can I work 1 day less and keep the same income?”

The first phase will include a lot of information gathering, opportunity cost measuring, blueprint building and then pursuit of action.

I think the most important habit will be committing to doing the deep work.

Here’s to growth.

Fly or Fall.

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One Down.

Hola! Long time no see.

I’m finally getting to sit down and reflect on the last 6 months and the completion of a goal that I’ve been putting off for probably 2.5 years.

I decided to finally sit for a board certification exam last year around my birthday. I’d been talking about doing it for a couple years but had pushed back against some of the things inherent in taking the exam that I wasn’t a fan of.

I looked at the exam as a means of professionally extracting money and not providing a high return on investment in terms of career advancement.

And while I think this still holds true, sometimes, in the pursuit of a goal there are redeeming qualities that make it intrinsically worth pursuing. I think that this is one of those situations.

My day-to-day responsibilities at my job require me to be familiar with a variety of different disease states and their treatment. The world of healthcare changes rapidly and much of the knowledge I gained during pharmacy school is quickly becoming obsolete. whole guidelines that used to govern treatment of basic disease states like hyperlipidemia and hypertension have been wholly revamped or scrapped and new structures erected. As a clinician its my duty to remain abreast of these developments in order to be able to provide the best care.

An unintended consequence of the preparations for the exam was the discovery of the study habits, environments, and techniques that allow for deep work.

I’ve read the work of Cal Newport and always wondered what and how I could incorporate his practice of deep work into my career.

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Previous to this exam I was trying to use a coffee shop that I loved as the base of my operations for thinking, studying, and planning. While studying for the exam I started to revisit a library at my old school. They have private rooms available for use + slow internet that drastically increased my ability to focus.

The new environment made ALL of the difference.

Being in a space where (as a professional people-watcher) I wasn’t distracted by beautiful passer-by’s and cool playlists helped me to find my thinking groove much faster.

One of the new habits that I think I will be instituting is making the trek to these private rooms to think, read, and plan at least once a week.

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I’m sitting on the back end of the completion of the goal of taking the exam, and while I’m still not certain what the result is, I’m pretty sure I liked myself more in the hot pursuit of a goal vs. enjoying whatever the day held while trying to make piecemeal advancements on goals I had written down somewhere.

I’m going to get more aggressive in both pursuing my goals and reflecting and working on goals that will move me forward.

 

 

 

 

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2018 – For Bravery

 

I woke up this morning and grabbed my journal and miscellaneous scratch pats (digital and analog) and tried to think about the things that I wanted to accomplish in 2018. While I was brainstorm a task came to my mind that I’d been procrastinating on because, frankly, it filled me with fear.

I took a moment, put my pen down and felt the fear inside.

I looked at it. I felt it viscerally. It seemed to reside just a bit above my stomach. Somewhere halfway between my heart and my belly button. I could feel the discomfort it was causing me to feel about doing something that I knew I needed to.

I suddenly knew that on this first day of the year, it was really important that I not brush fear under the rug but turn and face it. That I call B.S! on the feelings of fear, and so I did. I handled something that I’d been putting off and consequently watched fear melt into a memory.

I looked at the list of the things I want to do in 2018 and realized although I had titled them “adventures” they were all just me looking for opportunities to face my fear. I was trying to find the limit of my bravery and push up against it – growing more brave – day by day.

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I realized that I one of the things I’ve been discussing with family regarding 2018 was living a life of faith, and not of fear. While living a life of faith sounds whimsical and something that should be accomplished while traveling internationally wearing floaty scarfs and a hipster beard – I realized that real faith would require me to ignore feelings. To ignore programming that for whatever reason made being brave feel like it was going to lead to my death.

Emotions are liars.

Faith is going to require me to believe the promises God made even when my body is yelling at me. Telling me that being brave will alienate friends, make me poor, or lead to me not having enough. I have to believe in what I know to be true about myself even when everything else in the world is telling me I’m weird, broken, or incomplete.

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Faith requires a fight.

2018 is going to be a great year not because I listen to my emotions but because I’m going to listen to what I know to be true.

I may not have to bungee jump in 2018 to find an opportunity to exercise my bravery muscle.  I may be able to pick up a phone, walk over to someone I don’t know, share an unpopular opinion or befriend someone who I wouldn’t normally.

Opportunities for bravery are everywhere.

Happy New Year.

Fly or Fall.

-Okenna

 

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Forgive me..this is going to be a long post..

The other day I read this amazing article by Tynan at (http://tynan.com/lovework ) where he talked about his decision to become a hard worker.

The article as a whole is amazing, but there were several pieces that immediately connected  with me and made me realize there were some valuable lessons that I would immediately need to apply to my life in order to see the results that I’ve been frustrated about not seeing.

The first is his DECISION  to become a hard worker. This struck me. Oftentimes I’ve worked hard but these time periods seem to always be driven by either emotion, a perceived need, or a goal that I was striving toward. I’m not sure that there is anyone who would characterize me as not a hard worker but I’ve always felt that I am capable of much more than what I’ve produced.

The fact is that if instead of being driven by whims or temporary goals and instead focused 100% on making sure that I was always working hard and working intentionally on the things that are REALLY important to me, I would probably be much further along than I am.

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This realization, along with the fact that I am getting more and more clear on the role of money in my life, is combining to help me get very clear on my intentions for 2018. I’m realizing that for me – just buying more stuff doesn’t really hold much appeal. For me, the utility of money is found when it can be applied to one of two goals: 1. Becoming more [debt] free (financially) or 2. Becoming more me (via experiences, expression, or exploration).

Ok..so those things: Working Harder – and not letting emotions dictate the pace of my work. Being very clear about what I’m using my money for and using the filter’s of either improving myself or becoming more free (helping my future self) are already making me feel better about next year. Mostly because I’m realizing that those things are well within my locus of control. I CAN make 2018 better.

One of the things that I’ve already noticed that in order to be able to work harder I’ve had to re-frame my relationship with my work and really attach meaning to day-to-day activities. This has been HUGE. I’m noticing that by attaching meaning to even the menial activities – “by doing X, patient’s will be healthier, or have faster access to medications” – I leave work each day hoping to have done my best because it’s not just about me or my little goals, it becomes about something truly meaningful.

One of my favorite quotes from the Tynan article:

Work is your gift to the world. That sounds corny, but it’s true. And believe me, you owe the world a gift or two. Think of all of the various things that millions of people around the world have done for you to enjoy the life you have. They made up languages, invented stuff, procreated at the exact right times to create your ancestry, and managed to not kill each other in the process. We’re lucky to be here, and the high standard of living we all enjoy now is only because of those who came before us. Some, like Einstein, had huge impact, but even people you don’t notice, like the janitors, are making your life better.

One of the other things that I’ve been pondering is the language I’ve been using to think about 2017 has been very judgment based.

Mainly because there were goals that I wanted to hit but that did not happen..partly because of things outside of my control (like the local real estate market). I completed 6 out of 8 goals for the year. Which isn’t terrible, although obviously isn’t quite what I was hoping for.

This quote by Tynan struck me pretty hard:

Your mind must accept a very absolute truth: if you work extremely hard, you’ll probably get most of what you want, but if you work an average amount or less, you will not get what you want.

I know the level of focus that I put into goals when I’ve seen them be successful. I only put that level of focus and Hard work into 1 goal this year. That goal was a great success. I realize here at the end of the year that I have to just as focused and unyielding in my pursuit of my goals in every area.

Also as I’m getting older, I’m realizing I have less and less time for hoping that things will “just” happen ..if I want to be married I need to be focused and persistent in dating – not letting the emotions around the process distract me from pursuing the outcome that I want.

Hold on.

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…So before publishing this article, I took a moment to read through some of my posts. And I’m not going to lie, many of my past posts almost mirror the sentiments in this post. It’s almost funny if it wasn’t also frustrating.

Judging from posts that seem to be almost 2 years old, I’ve been stuck in a bit of a holding pattern. It seems like my number one strategy for escaping this holding pattern has been to work harder. Every year, just working harder and harder.

This year I’ve probably outworked myself in comparison with previous years and have made some impressive strides, but I am still right in the midst of some of the very same struggles I faced at 31.

I’m wondering how I beat this stage of Life’s video game?

If my current strategy of working harder isn’t working, how do I approach the problems differently?

sigh. Much thinking ahead.

Fly or Fall.

OFO

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My favorite thing today.

Subject: File No. 10-222
From: Danny Mulson
Affiliation: 8th Grade Student

December 15, 2015

Dear SEC,
I am a future stock investor, currently in the 8th grade at Aberdeen Middle School in Wetlawn Oregon. I whole heartily approve of the IEX plan to slow down trading.

Things move too fast in this world and we need to slow it down in every way we can. Take my school for instance. When we stand in line to pay for our lunch, we have two cashiers to pick from. There is Mr. Fields, who was recently fired from a data entry job. I heard he made some creepy comments to one of his female co-workers. But that isn’t important. Mr. Fields can work that cash register like nobodies business. Even when twice as long, most kids will get in Mr. Fields line. Me, on the other hand. I prefer to get in Josephine’s line. She used to work at the DMV before failing a drug test. I always get in her line. Sure, it takes me much longer, but she will always give me a compliment and ask me about my day.

In conclusion, IEX should be rewarded for slowing everything down and moving things backward. Cause backwards is awesome

Thank you for your time.

[source: https://www.sec.gov/comments/10-222/10222-274.htm]

And the response from a classmate:

Subject: File No. 10-222
From: Emma Hibernia
Affiliation: Aberdeen Middle School

December 23, 2015

Dear SEC:

I saw that letter Danny Mulson wrote to you. The Whole School Saw It. You need to know that Danny Mulson NEVER tells you everything he just tells you what HE wants you to know.

….

And Mr. Fields is creepy too just like Danny said but he didn’t tell you everything at all. Mr. Fields got the cafeteria manager to make the GIRLS go down one ramp to the registers and the BOYS go down another ramp and the girls ramp is LOWER so instead of looking at us at eye level he gets to look down at us. Do you get what I mean?? So we complained to the cafeteria managers and they said it makes everything BETTER? And even though I begged her NOT TO my mother complained to the school board and they said they would put it on the agenda for like some meeting a gillion years from now after they talked about parking and everybody is already DEAD.

Very truly yours,

Emma

https://www.sec.gov/comments/10-222/10222-275.htm

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Navel-Gazing..

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Oh 2017. What an interesting year. And I say “interesting” with the same tone of voice that your disapproving aunt mentions your drummer boyfriend.

I’m starting the process of doing a retrospective of the past year and to be honest I’m having a hard time putting a name to the theme of 2017. If I had to (at least right now) I’d probably say the theme of the year was “wandering”. Not quite so bewildered as to be considered lost but definitely not focused in the way that I would need to be to achieve the kind of precise and momentum building type of accomplishments that I would have liked to.

This year felt a bit like splashing a lot of paint on the wall. Some things that I thought I would love  – I grew bored of. The things that I’m most proud of are of course the things that required the most from me. The things that really made me happy had less to do with goals and success and more to do with long standing relationships and being able to spend down time relaxing. Either I’m getting old or more mature.

One of  the problems I think I’m running into is that for so long, I have defined my happiness according to the size or difficulty of the accomplishments I’ve been able to conquer. I can’t decide if my lassitude is caused by me not choosing big enough goals and being more aggressive about them this year or if I need to the opposite and find meaning in something other than goal pursuit.

One thing that has been on my mind has been finding a way to re-define myself and pursue goals in fields that are more artistic and require more faith.

I feel the hands of time turning faster and faster on me. I see my parents and co-workers getting older and know that means time must also be working its deadly magic on me. This makes me sometimes break into a cold sweat – the fact that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

What’s interesting is that even though I feel the hands of time bearing down upon me, I’m starting to understand that the only way I’ll find true success and forward movement is if I narrow my focus and choose one or two significant projects (at max) and pour myself into them.

I’m pondering what those goals will be. How does one narrow one’s focus enough to make an impact? What level of sacrifice am I willing to make to see my dreams come true? A deep relationship with my children? A marriage?

How does one decide what to focus on? Or is this constant reassessing an artifact of my personality type (INTJ)?

To be honest my feelings about 2017 vacillate between satisfaction and frustration. I’m happy with the turn toward self-care 2017 took. Sometime during the year I realized that money in and of itself is pretty useless for me. Having enough money to pursue the goals that stimulate me and move me towards my dreams and passions makes the money meaningful. Seth Godin mentions this often. About how money is a story. And that once we’ve reached the point of “enough” money from that point forward is a story that we are telling ourselves. Oft-mentioned research notes that $70,000 is number at which money stops affecting our happiness.  I’m often asking myself the question “are there any ways in which money can improve my present or future happiness”?  And not being afraid of releasing the money in order to improve my happiness.

I’m thinking that 2018 has to be focused on buckling down and focusing on creating the future that I imagine. I’m thinking that 2018 will be focused on stretching myself to the edge of my comfort zone in order to grow into the person I dream of. This may mean long hours, focusing on goals, and maybe allowing people to get closer than they have in the past.

I think that I’m going to end my rambling now. Here’s to figuring it out.

-OFO

 

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Audit Your Life.

The last month or so has been interesting for me.

I’ve been fighting this overwhelming feeling of ennui. There has been little no spark, no excitement and even less drive to move toward the things that traditionally would excite me.

This is very much out of the ordinary for me. I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. I vibrated/bouncing around trying different things to figure out what the blockage was. Was I depressed? Did I lose my lust for life somewhere? Had I reached the peak of my life and it was now all just downhill for me?

I was stumped.

The breakthrough came a couple days ago after a conversation with my little sister. She played the role of my spiritual advisor and was able to give me some practical suggestions which I jotted down in my google calendar as I talked to her in the car at a red light.

Rest. Yoga. Nature. Remove the pressure – stop judging yourself. Take the pressure off. Try to be still. Put [your] hands over [your] heart and breathe into [your] heart…then talk to my heart..with gratitude speak to your heart. Don’t rush. set your intention for the day – asking for whatever it is you need.

Just some background on me: I’m not the biggest fan of anything that can’t be tested empirically. Things that don’t make sense to me in an analytical frame of mind I often “poo-poo” and dismiss as unworthy of consideration.

However…I was desperate. I knew I was unhappy but wasn’t sure why. Financially things were going well. I was finally learning that money’s utility was limited when it came to creating happiness. I was letting go of my tight grip on my budget and focusing more on creating the experiences that I valued. Relationally I had (maybe too many) options.

But, I was willing to try just about anything. And I had read studies where the value of walking outdoors was demonstrated on things like depression.

So I got serious about taking my sister’s advice. I rested. I took walks in nature, allowing my mind to get lost in the sounds of the creek and the bounce of the suspension bridge.

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I breathed into my heart and asked for clarity. I stopped making judgements about where I was and tried to be more present.

And weirdly enough, I started to feel better.

I realized there were some areas of friction in my life that I had the power to address, but that they would just require courage.

I realized there some relationships that needed to end. Some just needed to be adjusted to fit where I was currently and that I needed to have faith in my vision for my life. Just realizing that I had the power to say no to things that were taking up space and persisting  because of a type of life situational inertia was super liberating.

We don’t have to acquiesce to the status quo. We don’t have to do things the way that we’ve done them for the last week, month, year, decade. We can change. It may not happen overnight but with time, focus, and attention we can prune out the things that don’t make us ecstatic and become more focused on enriching the areas that do.

Get active about creating the life you want to see yourself lead.

Fly or Fall

-OFO

 

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