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Jump off the Cliff

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The two white guys are not me.

The last couple of days have have been revelatory.

In recent weeks I’ve been discovering that the man I want to become, is going to need some help. I need to be surrounded by people who are better than me. I need to be pouring myself into things that are more meaningful than just earning enough money for myself.

I’m never usually the type to make rash decisions. I usually prefer to spend weeks planning and plotting the possible consequences of each move. This, of course, can lead to stagnation and a lot of missed opportunities. I am really feeling strongly that I need to expand/Adapt or die (internally). Growth has always been my leading principle and although my second job is pretty easy, I think it may be time to spread my wings and seek more challenges.

On July 4th, I ran the Peachtree road Race (PTRR). The PTRR is a 10k run (6.2 miles) that winds down one of Atlanta’s busiest streets. During this race, just by sheer coincidence, I got the opportunity to run with a friend who has been training for this race heavily. He slowed down for me of course, so we could chat, and I found myself able to do much more than I previously envisioned that I could. This made me realize that I must lean into relationships that challenge me. That the feeling I have of not being “the smartest person in the room” is probably one I need to seek more and more of.

I know that I need to seek and pour into these relationships to step my game up.

A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to volunteer with a local church to help at a vacation bible school. Seeing how easy it was to put smiles on the face of children and help give them positive role models was deeply rewarding. I want to pour more of my life into helping and shaping the future.

 

Neither of these things are going to be as easy to do if I’m working two jobs that eat up 2 weekends out of every month.

I am at a crossroads regarding my life and how I want to move forward. For most of my adult life, I’ve worked more than one job. This has usually not been a problem for me. I’ve been able to navigate around social commitments  and make the most of the time I do have free.

My second job requires me to work another weekend, on top of the weekend that I already work for my primary job. If I want the growth that I think is available to me its going to require me to have more time to pour into relationships. To build, strengthen, and create relationships that will also demand things from me. These muscles have to used in order for them to grow.

I’m realizing I’m going to have to have faith to make the moves I hope to make and see a difference in my life.

Fly or Fall.

OFO

 

 

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Doing it messy.

This is a short one.

One of the things I’ve been repeating to myself this year is that I want growth.

By any means necessary.

I’ve noticed this tendency to make minor changes then stop when things get REALLY difficult. I’ve noticed this with exercise, with writing, learning french, and even with my relationships.

So I’m trying to remember to bear down. To push through. To embrace the chaos and the feeling that I’m falling off a cliff into the unknown. To come to terms with the fact that with so many moving pieces I’m not able to control things. That I may feel lost, helpless, weak, or stupid.

That’s not a good enough reason to quit.

Carry on. Push harder. Imagine the microscopic changes that are happening that are preparing you to be better tomorrow. But you have to do what’s in front of you today.

FOF,

OFO

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Comparison Trap

By all objective measures, I had a great day today.

Woke up at 5 Am to work out with a friend. Grabbed a chai latte after the workout.

Had the day off of work. Talked to my girlfriend before she headed to work.

Went to an orthodontic appointment and got my retainer tightened.

And yet somehow I ended up at the end of the day a bit irritated and perhaps ungrateful.

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How did I get there?

I found myself in the company of a friend who has had one of those amazing lives. Someone who has followed their heart and dreams and had to create a life and meaning without the support of the pre-specified narratives that the world gives you.

She’s had to carve out a life even with Family calling her crazy & Friends being unsure of whether her path made any sense. As a result of these bets, she’s been able to create a life that is unheard of – a life that is rare.

She really highlights one of my only regrets/failings. I find that as someone who has followed the rules, and excelled at the “traditional” pathway for life and career – there is a part of me that wonders what lies on the path of higher risk. I’m wondering how I can take bigger risks and keep growing. I’m wondering what I need to do today to ensure that I have more options, more happiness, and bigger rewards.

I’m going to work on choosing happiness 1st and being grateful for the gifts I do enjoy. Then get clearer about what risks/options are available for me to take and get after them!

I know I’m easily frustrated by stagnation.

I gotta grow.

FOF

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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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