It’s been 3 years since my wife and I got divorced. Funny how that much time has passed. Funny to think what we could’ve changed to make it work.
A lot of things for sure.
But, then again, it was probably the right decision. We were both unhappy.
Why stay in something that you are “lukewarm” about, at best?
But that’s what we do as humans. We sort of just settle in for what feels comfortable. We do whatever we can to hold the walls up around us in order to eliminate the abrupt pain of it all caving in at once.
We fail to recognize that having the walls cave in can allow us to rebuild a stronger foundation from the ground up. We can create a more solid structure that is long-lasting.
It doesn’t mean we have to run from every bad situation but it could mean that we have to take a hard look inward on why this is happening in the first place.
What have we done to get here? What have we done to cause this situation? What has been out of our control? How can we change for the better?
Change is really hard. I remember the time between getting “separated” and then actually leaving the house we built together. Those 5 weeks transitioning to leave the house and officially, by legal standards, become separated were brutal.
I cried a lot.
I was heartbroken.
I was depressed.
I was sad.
But then, I wasn’t.
Sure, I can be sad that we weren’t madly in love like many years prior. I can be sad that our son has to be a part of a co-parenting situation. I can be sad that the happy moments we had together would be clouded by this decision we made.
But that’s all a matter of perspective. I had the choice to be happy or sad.
So I chose to be happy.
Everything ends at some point. That’s the rub of life. It all eventually ends. Our situation ended just a bit more abruptly than originally planned. Our story just took a different direction down the wandering path.
But, I’m happy I had those moments with her. I was madly in love, and I know she was, too.
I’m happy my son gets to spend time with each of us individually and grow a stronger bond. He gets to grow up going through some shit. That’s only going to make him more resilient.
I’m happy with all those moments of happiness, laughter, and fun we had together. We had some great times. But I’m also happy for the less-than-desirable moments, too. Because, as I reflect, it’s made me grow as a person and be a better version of myself. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to go through hard times to figure that stuff out.
Life is never easy but if I’ve learned anything it’s that negativity and pessimism almost get you nowhere. I’m sure someone can tell me there is some utility to it but not much that I’ve seen.
If we can take every situation, no matter how dire, and work our way to see the sunshine and rainbows then we have a much better chance of finding the happiness inside ourselves and using that as fuel to power us forward.
It’s hard to get there when we think the world is always giving us a bad hand to play.
Once we accept that we may not have played the hand correctly then it can make it much easier to respect the outcome and move on.
It doesn’t mean we forget about the past as those moments and experiences helped define who we are, good or bad. But it gives us the opportunity to use those moments and learn from them.
We have the opportunity to start anew. Not from square one but from much farther ahead because of the wealth of knowledge we’ve gained through all of it.
Be open to change. Be receptive to it. Embrace it.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words but it’s also worth a time stamp. It’s an imprinted memory with a date circled.
It gives us a wormhole, of sorts, to the past.
How were we feeling at that moment?
Where was our life at?
What was happening to us?
Who were we becoming?
A single picture, a snapshot, can open up a wave of thoughts and emotions about life already lived.
How does that make us feel?
Are we sad that the moment is gone or grateful we had the opportunity in the first place?
Pictures capture moments. Moments become memories. Memories give us a view, although distorted, of our past.
It provides the perspective to live in the moment and not waste any of it because eventually, the present moments will become memories that we either capture with a picture or, more importantly, keep close by in our hearts.
Serendipity is all around us and when we embrace it great things can start to form. I’ve met many influential people in my life by chance. But it doesn’t happen magically by sitting around, we have to create some spark through action.
Go to that new coffee shop
Attend that event
Message that person
Join that new fitness challenge
Go do that open mic
Go run in the park
Ask someone out
Sometimes it’s nothing. But sometimes it’s everything.
Life is serendipitous.
One day you’re going along just fine and then, boom, you meet someone you weren’t sure how you lived a life without for this long.
Going into this past year the main storyline had been that Jimmy Garoppolo was probably in his last season as the 49ers starting quarterback. They drafted his replacement. Trey Lance was eager. They were just waiting things out.
Despite all of that distraction, his perseverance to stay focused has been something to admire. Even as they were going into must-win games over the past three weeks of the regular season, one to make the playoffs and the last two to stay alive, the main storyline that remained was “could this be Jimmy Gs final time suiting up in a 49er uniform”.
It had to be on his mind. It had to have been asked in every interview. The pressure to perform was at an all-time high.
And he rose to the occasion.
Did he play his best game against the Packers in the divisional round? Absolutely not. He struggled at times. He made errant throws. But he never lost focus.
When the pressure was at its highest he made several elite-level throws to help the team to victory.
He could’ve been thinking about the off-season and his next team, his shoulder injury, his thumb injury, or a myriad of other things. He could’ve been distracted.
But he wasn’t.
He was focused solely on the game and even more sharply on each play.
That’s what can happen when you focus and live in the present. You aren’t worried about the next play, the next drive, the next game. You are solely focused on the task at hand. Playing this play like it’s the only one that exists.
Because it is.
We don’t know what the next hours or weeks or months have in store so why worry or why let others’ loss of focus and dreaming of the future get in our way?
We can’t. We must stay tuned to our process. To our own cadence.
Life is random and unexpected. Things happen that can be extremely magical at times and can make us more fulfilled than we ever expected.
But we can’t take those moments for granted.
We have to be grateful for the entire path of uncertainty that led us to this point. We have to drop the ego.
If we believe we are the sole contributor to this “success” then we become shortsighted with how much luck was involved. We, therefore, miss out on the golden opportunity to gain perspective that we are incredibly lucky to even be in this position in the first place.
Being in the right place at the right time. Other decisions in the past led us down this path (a breakup, getting laid off, etc). Swiping in the right direction.
Most of it is luck.
The timing is lucky.
Serendipity plays a big part in our journey.
By using gratitude as a tool to open up opportunities, we start building a great foundation to base decisions on knowing that inevitably a “roll of the dice” will come into play.
If it’s in our favor, we can be thankful for the opportunity. If it’s not, we can recognize that not everything will go our way and there will be many times we can’t control the outcome.
We must stay positive for the future and await the next spin of the wheel.
We can have all of the tools in the world but they are only good if we choose to use them.
Constantly, we make excuses or reasons why we can’t get certain things done. “I don’t have the time”, we tend to say.
Here’s a suggestion. Go to your Settings on your phone and check your screen time and usage for apps. (On iPhone go to >> Settings > Screen Time). Let’s bundle the social media apps…How long did you spend the last week?
If you’re struggling to “find time” then help yourself by making time.
Did you know you can set time limits on apps to help you manage overconsumption (I have a 30-minute daily timer on my social media apps)? This is one example of dozens of reminders, notifications, alarms, timers, etc that can help you manage your time, avoid distractions, commit to a project, etc.
If you are looking to become more efficient with your time, start looking at what you can take away versus looking at what you can add.
The tools are out there to help us. The question then becomes, “Are we willing to choose to use them?”
We must be thoughtful about where we want to go as that will help plot the next few steps down the path. The direction is much more important than the speed at which we arrive.
If we don’t know where we are going, it’ll be hard to pack our bags and be prepared properly for the journey ahead. Although drifting slightly of course can be corrected, the further we go down the wrong path the harder it’ll be to turn back.
Stay focused on our desired outcome and where we truly want our life to go.
If we’re not getting the results we want we could consider a few things:
It’s too early, we haven’t given ourselves enough time
We’re wrong – what we thought would work wasn’t correct and it’s time to pivot
We’re asking the wrong people – Audit your group that is sharing advice
We’re not talking to the right audience – We might have something magical but it’s not the right group of people who would benefit from it.
We overthink why things aren’t happening to us at the rate we feel they should be happening and start to think the world is out to get us. In the back of our minds, we know this isn’t really true.
If we focus from within and leverage deep self-awareness we might uncover that we are the stubborn ones who are getting in the way.
Growth happens when we are willing to admit we were wrong in the first place, put the ego aside, and move forward in a positive direction.
That positive mindset can allow us to progress with an optimistic view of the world; something that is vital to visualizing success and then staying hyper-focused to get there, no matter how long it might take.
Precious metals and jewels are generally not found on the surface. There is a lot of digging and excavation that has to happen to get to them. Then, there is additional shaving and cleaning and sifting that happens to finally get to a clear piece of material. It can be exhausting and excruciating but rewarding in the end.
When we become angry or lose hope or feel like we’re never going to be happy, we have to remember that we, too, have precious things on the inside. Somewhere, deep down in our soul, there are things we know are the most important to us, things we want to do, and the types of people we want to be around.
Maybe we’ve just settled over the years into what has become comfortable and those feelings have been buried.
We have to have the courage to dig down deep and unearth these feelings and expose who we really are.
They might end up becoming the jewels that bring us the rich life of happiness we’ve always been searching for.
Why does a Monarch butterfly do the things it does?
Here is a caterpillar, crawling around the earth and living just fine. Then, for reasons we can’t possibly fully know, it decides to create a cocoon and after a short isolation period, boom, it now has wings.
It now can fly somehow. Not only does it fly but it flies over 3000 miles to migrate in Central Mexico each year.
How does it know to do that?
What magic just happened in that cocoon?
I can’t be for certain but it’s a great metaphor for life.
We are always changing. We are always evolving our thinking. We are always moving forward.
Each day. Each minute. Each second.
Our thoughts and actions determine the person we will be tomorrow, and the next week, and the next year.
Unlike the caterpillar, we can choose our path forward.
We can create the life that we want even if today, reading this, we might not feel we can.
Those can be hard things; change, but we are capable.
We have to have the courage to take the risk of changing from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
We have to know we are capable of the hard work to create action and progress.
Seeing the mile marker in the distance as we crest over the hill can be just the motivation we need to give us the extra pep in our step to keep moving.
That’s why we should consider shorter-term goals to drive us forward instead of these large arduous massive ones years in the distance.
Goals become much more achievable when they are right there in front of us. Instead of “I am going to write a book”, maybe focus on “I’m going to put the outline together this week” or “I’m going to write 200 words tonight”. Those types of goals are much more manageable because they are realistic and time-sensitive.
It’s much easier starting out the race by focusing on getting to mile marker one versus thinking all the way through to mile marker twenty-six. There are a lot of things that will happen between the start and finish of a project so think about setting smaller “micro-goals” and giving yourself the chance to stay motivated throughout versus getting discouraged and stopping.
As we pass each checkpoint, the finish line will become closer and closer and we’ll remain committed to the ultimate goal when we started out; finishing the race.
When we are running up a hill into headwinds the initial thought might be to zig-zag back and forth to avoid hitting the wind head-on and to help level out the steepness of the hill as much as possible.
But the focus on the climb straight upward, even through the toughest conditions, will create the energy you need to get through it. “Avoiding it” may seem like a more ideal strategy but we can expel just as much energy and not nearly get as far. The headwinds can still push us back off course. Life is going to be hard either way.
The best path is always forward. Through the suck. The discomfort will last much shorter and we’ll stay on course toward our intended path. We’ll come out stronger when we reach the pinnacle.
In the metaphor for life, if we’re going to accomplish something, full steam ahead into the storm is always the way to go.
Eyewitness accounts and memory recognition can be some of the foggiest and most unreliable pieces of information when time elapses.
When in doubt, get everything on “paper” and have it confirmed.
Business contracts, project timelines, payment agreements, etc.
We become too nice and don’t want to ask for these things because we feel it’ll add friction to the relationship or slow the process down.
What we fail to recognize, and this is true for other things as well, is that delayed gratification is more valuable in the long run than the initial warm and fuzzy feeling of a “handshake” agreement.
Inevitably, there will be a time when that contract, email chain, or otherwise needs to be brought back into focus. It becomes much less stressful to utilize those agreed-upon terms than the perceived frustrations or difficult conversations we’d have to have upfront.
Write everything down and get everyone to agree with upfront on the terms so that there are no question marks when a disagreement ensues. That is the worst time to try to agree on a course of action or confirm what we remembered we discussed before.
Often, everyone’s memory starts to get a little fuzzy.
Regret might be one of the least desirable emotions to have because when it surfaces we have almost no answer to it.
It’s in the past. It’s over.
We can’t fix it or go back and that’s why it hurts so much.
However, what we have to remember is that we had the chance to make the “correct” choice at that specific time. It’s easy to use hindsight to think we got it wrong but we have to remember the person we were when the decision was made.
Were they ready to make the choice that we now regret?
Were they prepared?
Did they have the courage to think differently?
It’s useless to regret decisions from the past because the person looking back is much wiser, lived, and weathered than the one that made the decision back then. They have more information now which gives them a skewed perspective on it all. Of course, we would change it if it didn’t appear to work out in our favor.
What’s more important is that the person we are today uses our past experiences to recognize new opportunities when they surface and then makes the best decision possible for their life with the information they have available to them at the time.
This way, as the years pass, there can’t be any regret because we acted in the best way we could’ve when we were called to make the tough decision.
Growing up, when we’d have limited numbers of players for baseball, we’d put a “ghostie” on base to act as a runner.
That same mentality can be used when we are trying to push ourselves harder and farther than we ever have before. We are competing against ourselves. Against a person who we know really well. We know their weaknesses, their shortcomings, their fears.
We can visualize that “ghostie” just ahead of us. Pacing us in the race. Giving us the added motivation to kick it into another gear.
Sometimes the only motivation we need is the competition we conjure up in our heads.
When we are focusing on our projects needing to be completed and procrastination and distractions ensue, there might not be a better competitor on the planet to kick us into another gear than ourselves.
That motivation might be the difference between lagging behind our insecurities, fears, and self-doubts or pushing ourselves forward further than we ever thought possible.
We become disappointed when others are not as excited about our accomplishments as we are. We didn’t get enough likes or shares or engagement. We can let it get to our heads and change our mood, even in the midst of the accomplishment that might have been really important for us.
But, we have to remember, when others accomplish something, how often are we to compliment them, hit the simple “like” button as we are scrolling, leave a comment, etc? If we aren’t doing this often then why should we expect others to?
Getting really good at not needing the outside praise can do wonders for our psyche and it starts from a place of perspective.
The perspective we should have is that most of us are worrying about ourselves and the small bubble we live in. Other people are not intentionally avoiding us or our achievement. They just don’t necessarily care because it doesn’t benefit them directly or they are head down working on the things that are leading them toward a better life.
That’s okay. We have to be okay with this.
As long as we are living our ethos, our purpose, and putting good energy out into the world then that is all that should matter.
Because, remember, as we are focusing on that, we may be missing the opportunity to acknowledge someone else’s accomplishment. And that’s okay. We can’t be everywhere. Nor should we expect that from anyone else.
Sales are not simply “selling”. It’s much more than that.
The best sales conversations are rooted in teachable moments and come from a place of empathy.
They come from a realization that our potential buyers are busy with many other priorities but understand the importance of solving problems. However, they may not have the time to research all of the options or feel there might be too much information to make a decision.
By teaching new ideas or ways of thinking, not trying to sell a product, can open up the conversation and allow the potential buyer the freedom to consider an alternative path.
An alternative path that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered if we were just trying to sell them something right out of the gate.
In the National Football League, most teams run many of the same plays and they have adapted those plays over the years to work for their specific scheme and personnel.
That’s a great way to look at where we should spend our time when working on projects.
There is so much content online that other creators have put out freely to be helpful and we can utilize those pieces to eliminate the need to create everything from scratch ourselves.
We first need to determine what is the most important for us to shape and mold ourselves and what isn’t as important and can be adapted slightly using templates and content available.
Too often, we waste hours on something that has already been created, and borrowing it, as the creator intended, is a perfectly viable option. We should be looking to spend the majority of our time on creating the work that makes us come alive and leaving the less important and mundane aspects to adopting things already out in the world.
Spending a little time researching opportunities to not reinvent the wheel upfront can save us a ton of time and energy on the back-end.
Advice can be helpful if we understand the background of the person giving it, how much they know about us, and their intent.
Those are some of the lines we should draw on how much impact that advice has on our decisions. We can use the advice to help form our decisions or ask more questions but don’t necessarily have to take it verbatim especially if we aren’t sure of the credibility of the source.
Having agency in seeking out our own answers to unfamiliar questions by doing our own research can give us confidence in the decisions that we make. We don’t always need to take advice from others and, in fact, it can be used to slow down our decision-making process altogether.
Sometimes using our ability to problem solve ends up being the best route we can take when we are making decisions.
They may be consistently inconsistent but that’s still being consistent.
Mostly, the word consistency gets spoken about in a positive light. “Someone is consistent with doing X.”
However, we can be consistent at being rude, consistent at never returning messages, consistent at showing up late for every meeting, etc.
I created a simple formula to articulate it more and how to determine if we can change it or not.
Consistency = patterns / priority
What patterns have we established that are tried and true and won’t change without a ton of work? Think about what our friends or colleagues are “known” for. What labels can we put on them? Those are their patterns.
What are we known for?
Now, people can change. It’s true. And that is where priority comes in. The patterns never change until the priority level rises.
Once we can reprioritize what is important then we have the opportunity to alter our patterns and build consistency with new habits or routines.
That’s the only way it works.
It starts from the inside. From the belief that we can change and we want to change. Whatever the motivator it generally won’t matter until we make the tough decision to prioritize first.
When it has more priority it gets done. It gets focused on. There is a chance it can change.
But, let’s not forget. Consistency isn’t always good if it’s for the wrong things. If we prioritize things that are unhealthy or detrimental to our life then it can work in the other direction as well.
We have to continually focus on managing our priority list and making the most important things higher. We have to build better routines and habits off of those priorities. We have to be consistently good at sticking to those newly formed habits to create change.
That change can build a new foundation for us. One we can build consistent patterns off of going forward.
By creating this avenue for change, we have a better chance to become the person we want to become and it can help us change the “labels” that society puts on us, especially if we don’t agree with them.
I wasn’t able to attend our 20-year high school reunion this past weekend but as I sat and reflected on the last 20 years I was inclined to write some things down. Things I wish I wrote a long time ago.
Here are a few observations, and hopefully, we can use these ourselves, pass them down to our kids, or maybe the class of 2021/22 can gain insight into areas that were unknown to us at the time.
Taking action is the key ingredient to achieving anything. Worrying is useless. Nothing good happens when you worry. Creating action and doing things is what moves the needle. You don’t know until you know. Don’t conjure up reasons why you can’t do something. Go out and try and see what happens. You don’t fail, you learn. And then you move forward. Progress can only happen through action.
Grades don’t matter. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to get “good grades” but you shouldn’t hinge your entire adult life on how many A’s you received. Grades are generally about memorization for tests, life is about your experiences, adventures, character, community, and courage. Those things matter more than any grade could ever give you.
High school doesn’t have to be your best time. It’s a short season in the grand scheme of your life. It can be awkward and lonely. It can be hard. But, it’s your choice on how you want to spend it. Will you educate yourself with new ideas, learn a new skill, or practice something you enjoy or will you binge every Netflix series, watch TikTok videos for hours, or sit around making excuses for why you can’t do it? When you realize it’s your choice, the game changes.
Create lasting friendships. Understand why you are friends with certain people and why they are friends with you. Find your “tribe” that has similar values and is willing to challenge you to be the best version of yourself. It’s not about popularity or getting invited to the best parties. It’s about having deep, meaningful relationships with people who support you. You’ll need those friendships when life gets hard.
You can create anything you want. Despite what we were taught, you don’t have to go to college, get an entry-level job, and work your way up. You don’t have to live for retirement before you can enjoy your life. You don’t have to do any of it. Carve your own path, find what makes you happy and gives you purpose, and then explore how you live a life around that. That’s where a great life begins.
Reflecting back, 20 years appeared as it evaporated like that. Where did the time go, we are asking ourselves? It seemed like just yesterday we were walking through the halls, going to football games, and messing around, thinking we had it all in front of us. A lifetime ahead of us that we could do whatever we wanted with.
And in a flash, 20 years have passed.
There’s been tragedy and triumph, highs and lows, and many more lucky breaks than we can count.
But we’re here. Wherever we are. We are here.
Whatever has happened is in the past. Those are decisions we’ve made, good or bad. Those are opportunities we’ve pursued or missed. Those are tragedies averted or endured.
But we are still here.
So now we have a choice. We have a choice, today, to decide if we are happy or not. We have a choice to make changes in our lives to pursue happiness each and every day.
We have to believe we have a choice.
That’s the first step. There’s no more complaining. There are no more pointing fingers. There are no more excuses. Now is the time to act.
What if we knew that high school, although 20 years ago, was just the end of the first quarter. Well, then that means we are just at halftime.
It means we can change. If the playbook didn’t work, then throw it out. Start fresh and create something new and different than you ever thought possible. You can create the life you’ve always wanted, even if the first half didn’t go as planned.
Get in the locker room. Regroup. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Why can’t it be you?” Why can’t you become happier than you ever imagined?
The only way this time is different is if you put in the work. The grind. Make the tough choices. The knowledge that you’ve gained over the years is that it’s not going to be easier. In fact, it might be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, to commit to the change.
But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.
You’re worth it.
So let’s start the 2nd half off strong. When you get tired, feel defeated, or start to panic, go back and read #1 above. Progress is only created through action. Sometimes taking action is hard because it is against the grain of what others around you are doing.
But this isn’t about them.
It’s about you.
It’s about what makes you happy.
Are you ready to take the field and fight for every inch of your happiness?
The clock is starting on the 2nd half and the ball is now in your hands.
What’s the first play you are calling?
A Message To The Class of 2001, 20-Years In The MakingBrian Ondrako2021-11-28T21:58:18-04:00
If we got away from the noise and pressure of pleasing others we might find clarity in our thoughts.
As much as we might have a hard time trusting them, our thoughts paint a colorful picture of the world we’d like to live in and the person we’d like to be.
Our thoughts are truthseekers. Our thoughts are vivid and exploratory. Our thoughts hold a key that could unlock our dreams.
Which is why we often avoid them. We’re scared of what our thoughts might tell us. We fear the truth. We fear it telling us something far different than what the world wants us to be.
So we seek chaos and noise and warm bodies. We seek distractions. We thrive on being busy.
But when we get those moments of calm where our thoughts can become vibrant, those moments can wake us up and make us whole again, even if only for a few precious minutes.
Instead of running away, we should be seeking, chasing, and trying to plan more of those moments as they might end up giving us the fuel we need to power us to the next level of our growth.
We just have to bridge the gap between what the world wants us to be and what we truly want to be. That bridge is built on acceptance. We must accept the truth within and respect it for what it is. That is the only way we can start to become comfortable with our path forward.
Walking toward the truth ends up being the most honest thing we can do for ourselves and for our lives.
A hard truth in life is that we can’t be the one to someone else until we can be the one to ourselves.
Most relationships don’t end later on down the line like it appears they do. Generally, when a relationship ends it was going sideways for a long time before.
Really, they end well before they even start.
It will inevitably happen if we don’t learn to practice “self-love” and seek to understand our own inner workings on how to best communicate, trust, support and respect the other person we are with.
It can be easy to blame a significant other when things start to go bad but the hardest part, the most needed part, is figuring out what we are doing wrong and how we could fix it. The finger should only be pointing in one direction until we can figure ourselves out.
If we show up for ourselves first then we’ll be able to show up for anyone else later.
It’s harder to debate with people that have no backing for their arguments
It’s impossible to debate with people who have no domain experience in the topic that is being discussed.
We have to be careful who we are debating with before we get caught up in something that might be unnecessary in the first place.
When faced with this situation, we must ask qualifying questions to see if they actually understand the topic at hand. One question I like to lead off with is “Other than the news, name two other sources that helped you form your opinion”?
If they struggle to name them, it might be a good idea to avoid the discussion at all.
This is a great exercise for us to internalize, as well, before we enter a conversation. Should we be a bystander and ask questions or should we interject our thoughts to help inform the conversation?
Our answers to the qualifying questions might tip us off on the route we should go.
Inevitably, the holidays will come here soon and distractions upon distractions will once again give us the excuse to “just relax” until the new year.
But, we’ve fallen into that trap far too often. We know that once the new year hits we’ll face more challenges that continue to push us away from what we really want to be doing.
So Start now. Start to put a plan together today and start acting on it.
Use November to be Morevember (corny, yes) but if it helps then let’s use it.
What have you wanted to start in 2021 that you haven’t yet?
Reading a certain book
A home project
A business idea
Use this time before the holidays get ramped up to start. Block just 30 minutes this week to plan out how you are going to work on this through the holidays or tackle this project when it gets “busy”. What do the next few weeks look like until the New Year?
Every Weds morning you wake up 30 minutes earlier to put time toward it.
Each day you block 10 minutes off at lunch to focus on the project
Get a friend to join and have an accountability partner to go get coffee once a week to focus on it.
Figure out something. It doesn’t matter.
Thanksgiving will be here in a matter of days (or has already passed depending on when you read this) and then once December hits we can forget about it. We kick the can down the road another month. January is here before we know it.
New Years’ resolution time! We make these resolutions that never stick.
They don’t stick because we haven’t built the habit and routine into our day.
Start that process now and when January rolls around we’ll already have momentum because we’ve put a plan in place.
I’m almost certain this year’s New Years’ resolution will stick.
This year will be different because you are different.
You’ve made a commitment to change.
Not because of some arbitrary date change on a calendar but you’ve changed your mindset to start putting time into what you want and what you think is important.
I was dropping in on a CrossFit class in Austin recently and noticed that while we were working out as a group, one of the members of the CrossFit gym arrived and walked by all of us. She was greeted with several hellos and high fives and the mood in the room lightened even though we were engaged in an intense workout.
I don’t know anything about her but I could tell she was respected.
Respect can be earned in many different ways but at its core, it’s based on our character and how the world perceives us. It’s a reflection of many things.
None of us are great in all of these areas but it’s the recognition of those weaknesses and the willingness to improve that might be the most important part of all of this.
Because when we respect ourselves and make a commitment to improving that becomes glaring to the people around us that know us best.
How many times do we look at others and think these sorts of questions…
What’s their life like?
Why are they here?
What led them to this spot?
Are they really happy?
How often do we wonder what others are doing? How often does the curiosity peak?
It’s easy to imagine what others are going through and create stories to make our assumptions seem real.
But how often do we turn those questions back on ourselves?
How often do we pause and question where we are at?
It’s always easier to look away from our situation and judge, critique, and imagine how others’ lives are going.
The harder thing to do is let others live how they live and use that energy to focus on where we are hurting or where we are feeling anxiety and frustration in our current state. It’s hard to look in the mirror and judge the person looking back at us.
But, turning those questions back on ourselves can open up a new dimension of clarity and lead us on a clearer path toward better decisions and better answers to these questions.
Answers that, if we work to change for the better, ultimately make us happier day after day.
If you sit on a beach long enough you notice the water levels rise and fall, waves crash into the land, and the wind swirls around. It’s never the same but it’s always in unison.
It’s like motivation.
When you are motivated everything flows together; your attitude, your words, even the spring in your step.
When you are unmotivated it feels sluggish and stagnant. We feel stuck.
But unlike the unpredictability of the ocean, we can be more predictable when we get into these ruts and get out of them quicker.
We just have to recognize the patterns.
This is where journaling or other forms of documentation might be helpful. We need to understand the patterns and how we can create that spark again, and keep it going longer.
As an example, I learned that I get a ton of motivation from feeding off critiques and feedback from trusted friends. When I start to feel unmotivated, I trigger myself to have a conversation with one of them. They give me that spark. It resets my brain and I can get unstuck much quicker.
Your spark could be anything so the first step is to recognize when you begin to feel motivated and analyze how you got there. What got you there? That’s a great place to start.
You want to recreate that feeling whenever you start to get into a low spot.
It’ll help you return there more often and get you out of a rut much sooner.
We either want to be in the driver’s seat or kick back and relax as a passenger.
We can make it that binary.
Are we taking action or stalling?
Are we carving out our path forward or following what others tell us to do?
Are we in control of our emotions or react to every situation?
Do we tell ourselves when it’s time to stop or are we influenced by the judgment of others?
If we happen to be in the passenger seat at this moment then there’s no better time to try and take the wheel. We may not be able to control the outcome of what happens but we can control our effort and action toward completing the objective we believe in.
We get to become the main character in our own story if we just take the wheel and have the courage to lead.
It won’t be easy, it never is, but it’ll be worth it once we get a little further ahead.
We have to have the courage to try.
We never know if it’ll be the right path until we connect the dots looking backward. So we have to just put our foot on the gas and trust it’ll work out.
As the great Bobby Frost famously wrote, “I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”
One of the most difficult parts of starting anything is if it feels like it’s going to be a long and arduous process with no end in sight. We get discouraged right out of the gate.
This happens a lot when we set a barrier for entry to new habits and routines too high.
Something we may consider to overcome some of these challenges is what I call “Script the First 15”. Similar to how a head football coach may script the first set of plays during the game, we can do the same for our life.
Think of all the actions that are being taken in those first 15-minutes and write them down so we have a clear vision of exactly what needs to be accomplished.
Having this checklist can allow us to be more hyper-focused on completing what we’ve said we want to complete and can create momentum for the minutes or hours following this where we might continue on with this particular project or task.
When we write it down it allows us to stay on track. 15-minutes is a short enough amount of time where we don’t lose focus but feel free to switch this to 10 minutes or even 5 minutes. Whatever works for you.
The more days we can stay on track the better chance we have to develop a great routine.
“Script the First 15” and we can set ourselves up for success right out of the gate and keep the momentum flowing for the rest of the day.
Many times we struggle through life believing this is how it has to be.
No one says that what we are doing or how we are feeling has to stay this way. That is entirely up to us.
It’s not an overnight change and certainly not easy but we should be happy it is that way. We should be grateful that the hard work we put in and the endurance we’ve managed to muster up to get to a new place, a better place, don’t just evaporate overnight as well.
Those newfound habits have shaped us in a different way where we can leverage that momentum and progress on future endeavors.
We’ve got ourselves into the position we are in today. We’re at the Basecamp site. We see the mountain in front of us.
We have a choice.
Are we happy with where we are at today? If not, then we have the ability to climb to new heights to discover happiness. it won’t come without some pain and difficult moments ahead but when we decide to put our hands on that rock and start climbing we’ve already made a big change. We’ve committed to the change instead of just talking about it.
We’ve taken action.
We’ve transformed our mind, in an instant, from someone who sits and blames the world or gets up and does something about it.
We are on our way. We are ready to tackle a new phase of our life.
Even the most accomplished athletes in the world stumble, drop passes, hit an errant tee shot, and look foolish from time to time.
We can’t expect to always “be on”.
It’s normally when our ego gets the best of us that the humble train rolls into the station.
Sure, we have moments of greatness but they shouldn’t be thought of as a given. We have to work and practice to keep our skills sharp and not get too cocky that we reached some pinnacle and are up there for good.
That’s never the case.
We have to be focused on continuing to do the little things. The blocking and tackling. The accessory work. The fundamentals. That keeps us fresh and in the “maintenance mode” to pull it out whenever we need it.
We can’t take a play off. We have to be on call and give each opportunity our best effort otherwise we’ll strike out badly. And not because we just failed with a great attempt but because we took our eye off the ball thinking we are already going to score.
Documenting the journey can be extremely powerful because it allows us to capture the full breadth of what actually happened and underscores the value of trying and failing serendipitous moments, and creating something from nothing.
We can’t just cherrypick the best moments and call it a great life. What we miss when we only highlight the wins or post picture number 27 when we finally got the perfect angle are all those in-between awkward times when we didn’t feel great or didn’t think we were good enough. We need the bad moments, the silly moments, the random moments. We need all of it to know where we’ve been and who we are.
We can be proud we believed in our purpose and knew that it had to be shared. That’s when we are at our happiest. When our authentic selves get to shine through and we are naked to the world. Those are the moments that count. Those are the moments that actually help us grow.
Progress was shared. Not a glimpse of a “perfect” life.
That’s what we should all strive for. Letting the world know where we are different, how we think about things, and how others can use our lessons to help navigate their own journey.
Without it, the story has a lot of holes and is incomplete.
When we tie our self-worth to what we see others doing online we put our minds in a place of false reality. We trick ourselves into thinking this is real.
Those people in the videos with the crowd cheering their name, or in the picture with the caption of them professing their love and unwavering happiness to a significant other, or tagging themselves with another humblebrag about another award they recently won all have the same things in common as us.
They feel pain.
They feel left out.
They feel alone.
They question their purpose.
They question their work.
They question if they deserve to be in the position they are in.
We shouldn’t think that somehow we are behind. We shouldn’t think that somehow we didn’t get sprinkled with the magic pixie dust of “success” and are now less of a person.
We have to get out of our heads about it and create the great work that we know we love to do. Be around the people that fill us up. Do the things that make us feel energized and alive.
The rest of the stuff works itself out if we are making decisions that lean into those areas that make us happy or at least have the potential to make us happy.
We still may be figuring it all out but so is everyone else. Just because someone is able to commit more time to gloss up a photo or putting out more content it doesn’t mean they are better than any of us.
We all matter and we all have a gift we can give to the world. If we know ours then that’s great but if we’re still figuring it out just know that’s okay as the journey to discovery can be painful and lonely at times.
But know that it’s worth it.
And when we discover it, we won’t have to question our purpose any longer and we’ll be ready to give it generously.
Changing the way our brain processes and learns things can be impactful on our growth and one of the best ways to get in this state is by being a beginner learner. It’s by getting well outside our comfort zone and having to rely on parts of the brain that we might not utilize as much. As we all know, most days we turn on “autopilot” and coast with our normal routines.
If we want to try and be a beginner learner again but don’t know where to start, try to do some things tomorrow with our least dominant hand.
Brush our teeth, eat our food, tie our shoes. There is a myriad of things we do all day every day and don’t even consider the alternatives.
By trying this, we have to slow down and think about the process and steps to completion by using our opposite hand. It activates a different part of our brain and it shakes us a bit because it’s so foreign.
But, it allows us to see a different perspective and start to map out new ways to perform common tasks.
Making what is normally easy for us hard can help trigger that part of the brain that we might have to use in situations down the road and it allows us to practice recognizing new patterns and getting more comfortable with situations that we don’t recognize.
That’s a good thing. That’s how we grow to think differently than we do today.
That’s how we become a better version of ourselves tomorrow.
We all want to be doing something we are not currently doing. From big to small, it doesn’t matter what it is, all of us have things sitting on the “to do” list that for whatever reason are not taking priority.
The first question is why? Should it really be this far down the list and neglected or does it belong there because it’s not an important endeavor?
If it belongs down the list then stop worrying about it. Stop saying we “should” be doing it. It doesn’t matter. It’s not a priority and shouldn’t be bothered with. It’s one less thing we need to be worrying about and causing us additional stress.
But, If we are honest with ourselves and decide it should be given a higher ranking then we have to figure out how we manage to add it to our calendar. Whatever it might be. If it’s important to us to some degree we have to figure out how we start.
Here’s an idea. There’s a good chance whatever we are trying to accomplish won’t take a full day, week, or even months but it will take some amount of time greater than what we might have allotted tomorrow.
But that shouldn’t mean we don’t start.
Start the action of completing it tomorrow. For 10 minutes even. Set a timer for 10 minutes and think and act on that thing. Commit more if you’d like but at worst just 10 minutes. If it’s a larger-scale project it might just be the first ideation phase and for a shorter home project, it might just be searching online and actually buying the tools we need.
Every situation will be different. But we all need to start one way or another.
Forget about the next day and the one after that. Focus on tomorrow. Let’s check that box off first before we get ahead of ourselves.
From there, we can have small wins and mount a path forward.
For now, start with tomorrow. We’ll figure out the rest when we get there.
Nothing Changes If Nothing ChangesBrian Ondrako2022-08-01T19:56:08-04:00
The frustrating thing when you are selling anything is that sometimes the person buying doesn’t always work on the same timeline or priority level you want it to be at.
Although you may think highly of your product it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s high on their list right now.
Empathy and respect for others’ situations go a long way in establishing trust which in turn provides more transparency in our interactions with others.
More transparency means we may not always like the decision or length of time it takes to bring the partnership together but we can at least be confident we’ll get the full story and not be left hanging.
Sales are hard but if we also remember that sales are human it can make it a lot easier to step across the aisle and put ourselves in their shoes for a minute. If we can understand what they might be dealing with we now can take the role of an advisor or friend versus a salesperson.
Their birth. Their first crawl. Their first walk. Their first day of school. Their first tooth that they lost.
The moments become memories in a blink of an eye. It happens so fast we don’t really understand what is going on when it’s happening. We take it for granted thinking it’ll always be this way.
In the back of our minds, we know it doesn’t last.
But that isn’t just for our kids growing up.
That’s for the trip we want to take but are “waiting until retirement” to go on it.
That’s for the girl we want to ask out but are too embarrassed because her friends are around.
That’s for the business we want to start but are scared of what our friends might think.
We don’t know when we are going to get this moment again, if ever. We think that life is so long and that we have it so planned out. If we are being real with ourselves, we know we don’t have the slightest idea what tomorrow will bring.
Why isn’t today good enough to try something? Why can’t today be that day we take a chance on ourselves and see what we have inside? Why can’t today be the day we decide to live just for today and forget about tomorrow?
Because eventually today will be gone, and so will tomorrow, and then the next day.
And if we don’t stop and think about what’s happening, we might just miss it going by.
There are definitely times we need to be alone. Sometimes we need a breather from everyone else. Disconnecting from the world can be healthy for our mental state.
But, we shouldn’t hang out there too long. There are tremendous benefits from being around people who are on our side and support us. We all strive for belonging and we benefit from being able to converse with people that can listen and help us when we need it.
But, ultimately, we have to take the leap and ask for that help because most people may not know that we need it. That can be the hardest thing to do. Asking, reaching out a hand, being vulnerable. We think it makes us look weak but it can be one of the most courageous things we can do.
Next time we are scared, helpless, or feeling off a bit we have to try and take a leap of faith and be courageous. Phone a friend. Ask for help. It’s amazing how quickly they’ll jump to be there for us.
In these circumstances, the opportunities that can come from working as a team far outweigh anything we can do alone.
Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances
Stress, in the general sense, is caused by our unwillingness to accept the situation we are currently presented with.
If everything was going as planned we wouldn’t be stressed. We’d feel good and we’d probably be in control.
The next time we feel the onset of stress we have to look at the situation that is transpiring and recognize that we may not be in control of something or someone.
Life is always going to be a struggle and it’s when we can control our emotions when we can’t control the situation that we have the best opportunity to let the stress subside more quickly and deflate a highly intense situation.
By being accepting of these adverse circumstances, we give ourselves a better chance to let the stress pass by without causing undue harm. The harm that can end up being worse off than what got us stressed out in the first place.
We hear slogans like “Taste the feeling”, “That’s what I like”, “They’re Gr-r-reat” and hundreds of other slogans in marketing ads across the world.
But, we can all agree, none of these products as well as a host of others are very healthy. So while their slogans may be clever and get us thinking and feeling a certain way, the results paint a vastly different picture. What we get by consuming these products is far different than the message we receive.
We have to keep this in mind as we build new relationships. In early encounters, people may talk a certain way and present a picture of themselves that differs from what our intuition is telling us. Dig deeper and look at the actions versus the words coming out of their mouth.
How are they treating us and others? Does their story add up or are there holes? Are they playing games?
We all try to make a memorable first impression but some people can be deceptive in their approach. Be sure to look behind the curtain and not always take the words someone is saying as fact. They may be hiding something.
They may be selling us a brand that is quite different than the product we end up receiving.
Actions Speak Louder Than WordsBrian Ondrako2021-09-21T11:36:50-04:00
Similar to yesterday, the earth made a full rotation. We didn’t feel it but we know it happened. We are back to the same spot where we started.
But are we?
The sun may be hanging in the sky but it’s in a slightly different position. Incremental but different. The weather is too. And so is that tree you might be looking up at.
It’s all changed. But it’s so small we don’t even see it.
Warren Buffet once said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a seed a long time ago”.
That’s how growth looks. It’s small, almost microscopic, that we don’t realize it’s happening at the moment. But it’s happening to us and around us.
The book we’re reading might inspire us to start something new and magical which leads us to become happier.
The garden we wanted to start might soon become a banquet of nourishment for a local shelter.
The person we mentored might go on to create something important that impacts the world positively.
Our actions today can create a better world tomorrow for ourselves and the others around us.
We must be willing to plant the seed and keep watering it every day. We may not be able to see it grow quickly but we know the work we are doing is generous and necessary and will produce fruitful results, one way or another.
We don’t always know what those results will be but we’ll never have the chance to find out if we don’t start today.
Some people see a wall color as green. Others see it as blue. The exact same wall on the exact same day standing in the exact same place.
We have only two choices.
We can argue that we are right and the other person is obviously wrong, flawed, and shouldn’t be trusted.
Or, we can agree that our perspectives are different. We may not be sure exactly how they came to that conclusion but either way we respect where they are coming from. Their vantage point may be different than ours because we come from different backgrounds, different experiences, and different belief systems.
It’s not that it’s wrong. It’s just an alternative viewpoint.
It’d be an interesting and curious world if we took the latter option more often.
We can often get discouraged if we compare ourselves to what others are doing. It’s easy with the access we have to social networks. We get a glimpse of how everyone else appears to be prospering while we are paddling like hell in a circle.
We read their books, see their bodies, and admire their art. We convince ourselves that in some way they are better than us and it causes us to question ourselves and our mission.
What we fail to recognize is they once started from a blank canvas, they had a shitty first draft, and they couldn’t do a pull-up. At some point, they were a beginner. They struggled. They had to tear down their castle many times in disappointment and rebuild it better and stronger than before. They have the calluses to prove it.
Progress isn’t perfect and there is no stopwatch on when you might be done.
Progress can be slow but slower movement in the direction we want to head is better than being stationary with no plans to get started at all.
It doesn’t have to be big or bold, it just has to be something you care about that can strike that first flame to start the fire.
So maybe down the line when someone is admiring our work we can pause and reflect and raise a small grin and remember the time we stared at a “blank canvas” and weren’t sure where to begin.
But we did.
We have the calluses to prove it.
October 5, 2022
We can often get discouraged if we compare ourselves to what others are doing. It’s easy with the access we have to social networks. We get a glimpse of how everyone else appears to be prospering while we are paddling like hell in a circle.
We read their books, see their bodies, admire their art. We convince ourselves that in some way they are better than us and it causes us to question ourselves and our mission.
What we fail to recognize is they once started from a blank canvas, they had a shitty first draft, they couldn’t do a pull-up. At some point, they were a beginner. They struggled. They had to tear down their castle many times in disappointment and rebuild it better and stronger than before. They have the calluses to prove it.
Progress isn’t perfect and there is no stopwatch on when you might be done.
Progress can be slow but slower movement in the direction we want to head is better than being stationary with no plans to get started at all.
It doesn’t have to be big or bold, it just has to be something you care about that can strike that first flame to start the fire.
So maybe down the line when someone is admiring our work we can pause and reflect and raise a small grin and remember the time we stared at a “blank canvas” and weren’t sure where to begin.
My focus over recent years has been to improve my overall bedtime routine as I’ve found that if I get to bed properly it allows me to form better sleep habits and wake up feeling energized and ready to tackle the day.
However, in recent months I decided to get intentional about my mornings and evaluate how those were structured and what was working or not. I realized through the pandemic with not having to waste time driving into an office or dropping my son off at school allowed me to sleep in more. Definitely not a bad thing but it wasn’t working for what I needed in this next phase of my life.
***If you wanted to listen to an audio version of this and some more depth feel free to check out my One Mic Session on the Just Get Started Podcast here – Listen Now ***
What I found was that each day was very inconsistent as I’d wake up at varying times and I never had a set routine. I felt that I was getting through the morning with little accomplished especially important personal time for myself.
So, I decided to make a change. It wasn’t easy. Waking up earlier for me is always a chore but when I put it into the context of improving my overall health and wellness, it helped make it stick.
After some trial and error with various morning activities here’s what I’ve settled on that has worked well for me for the last 2 months.
Wake up at 7 am – Hopefully without an alarm but the alarm is set if necessary.
Make coffee – The smell of the coffee always wakes me up and this also helps have the coffee ready as I finish step 3.
10-20 minutes of Yoga – This is not to get in a strenuous workout but just enough to move the body and loosen these old bones up a bit. I feel relaxed but energized after completing this.
I pour myself a cup of coffee and sit for 30-45 minutes and think. I don’t put pressure on myself at this time. Sometimes I just sit and ponder, sometimes I write a blog that pops in my head, sometimes I want to post a thought on social media. I don’t judge myself for how I am feeling that morning. Research suggests your most creative moments are the first couple hours after waking so I’ve tried to prioritize myself and my well-being over giving it to others that early.
I generally have been doing this Monday-Friday and occasionally on the weekends depending on planned activities. By 8:15-8:30 am I am ready to start tackling the day and already feel like I’ve gotten some things accomplished which motivates me even more.
There are 4 main learnings from doing this Morning Routine: Intention, Accomplishment, Movement, Creativity
Intention: I am making a point to commit to something every day, to start the day with this intention allows me to get out of bed and work toward something.
Accomplishment: Little wins add up. Whether it is the act of getting out of bed, completing yoga, or other things I might do, that accomplishment gives me the momentum to excel the rest of the day.
Movement: I’m getting older and flexibility and pliability are important to me. When I move I feel energized. although I don’t like doing big workouts this early, yoga and stretching are great ways to get my body moving and waking up my brain. Plus, it’s short enough to be able to commit to it every day.
Creativity: When I can get moving and let my brain wake up a bit I find I am super creative. The momentum I’ve built in the time prior to sitting and thinking and the energy flowing through my body gives me good vibes and the “juices start flowing” much more easily.
There is no silver bullet to this stuff. We have to try and test what works for us and be happy with how we want to structure our day. If we feel we are missing something or could be doing things that make us feel better it’d be advantageous to explore that and try it for a week. See how your body responds. Don’t feel like you have to make some long-term goals for yourself. Try it out for a bit, tweak it, and make it work for you. Certainly, there may be some uncomfortable moments as you try to reach outside of the status quo and be open to these new feelings and what they can do for you.
I’ve discovered that routines are one of the building blocks to happiness because it wipes away a lot of uncertainty in our lives. Whether it is morning, bedtime routine, or something else, prioritize yourself and your well-being and you’ll be able to tackle the world and bring your most positive and energized self to it each and every day.
Benefits of a Morning RoutineBrian Ondrako2022-04-22T20:07:38-04:00
Imagine a world where we have less than what we have today.
What could be taken away to still make us feel like we have enough to have a happy life?
What can we do without?
Even more important to ask is if we had less than we have today would we be grateful for everything we have today? Would we complain about that little thing that didn’t go exactly perfect? Would we overthink things that are out of our control? Would we respect the people around us that have differing opinions and leave them be?
In a world where we’re always thinking more more more, have we ever stopped and considered what if we had less?
When it comes to productivity, there isn’t much better than time blocking in order to keep yourself on track and completing the work you know you’d like to get done.
Resistance to these types of activities can help us become distracted or worse yet drop the task altogether for a less meaningful but more urgent one.
We have to be prepared that these things will happen regularly and combat them with specific documentation of when we will get our project done. Whatever it might be chances are it is important to an idea or plan you’ve developed to help at an unforeseen time in the future.
Help that future self out by recognizing the important work we must get done today and schedule it out on the calendar and then hold yourself accountable. Block an hour out and go hard for that hour. Block 25 minutes, take a break, and then go for another 25-minutes. Test out some different things for a week to see how you work best. Break it up another way depending on the tasks you have to complete. The strategy you use is not as important as the consistency of using it.
If we don’t stay consistent, we’ll get down the road and be filled with regret that we put off that thing we really wanted to do and feel like we are further behind. By building a great habit of time blocking you’ll be much more prepared to achieve your goals and feel a sense of accomplishment that you had the foresight to chip away at these projects because you knew what the grander strategy was all along.
Life ebbs and flows. Some days we are on the highest of highs and on others it’s the lowest of the lows.
Rarely, on the best days, are we ever thinking about despair or loneliness or how we are ever going to get out of this feeling. It’s only on the bad days
Rarely, on the best days, are we ever consumed by the passing watch hands and can’t wait for something to change and get us out of this nightmare. It’s only on the bad days.
Rarely, on the best days, are we ever comparing ourselves to others wishing we were smiling and laughing and being loved by everyone around us. It’s only on the bad days.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” as the great quote goes.
It’s always in comparison to others or to what we don’t have or to what is absent in our lives, that sucks the joy out of it. We all go through this and we know it’s not easy.
But, this too shall pass.
How quickly it passes can be directly related to our efforts in recognizing our triggers and our emotional state when those triggers come to fruition.
We can’t blame others. We have to take ownership and look in the mirror. We can fix this.
Is our worth tied up in others? Are we doing things that make us come alive? Have our decisions put us in stressful situations? How can we learn at this moment to make future moments more manageable?
These questions and others around it can help us focus on the problem areas of our life and address the parts that we need to improve. Generally, there is a “self” before them. We need to have more self-love, self-awareness, self-observation, self-control, etc.
Life can be hard a lot of the time but once we choose to make the effort to approach it in a way where we are in control instead of situations and people controlling us, we have a wonderful chance to lean into happiness more often.
We can’t expect to get most things right the first time. That’s the whole essence of learning. By putting ourselves in situations that make us beginner learners, we get the opportunity to experience all-new types of emotions and feelings that we haven’t felt this exact way before.
That is a form of freedom.
We don’t pressure ourselves by thinking we know it all and therefore have to perform at the highest peak of our talent. Instead, we get the chance to mess up, look silly, and learn from all of our mistakes
Our ego may get tested by having us shed this cloak of confidence but in the end, we’ll be more prepared for the journey ahead because most of the time we don’t know it all and we don’t know what will happen.
Having the freedom to be okay with that is one of the more liberating things we can do for ourselves.
In any planned first encounter, it can be highly important to spend some amount of time preparing. This can be true on a first date, an interview for a job, a podcast interview, etc.
First impressions are everything as they say. In our world, as it exists today, not preparing is lazy.
Years ago it was perfectly acceptable to take this approach because it might have been uber-difficult to search for any information. The people who went above and beyond and did some reconnaissance work prior often had the upper hand.
There is so much information available that starting at “square one” makes the person receiving our message or question feel like we don’t care as much. Like we didn’t put any work into this relationship. Like we are just treating them like another number.
That doesn’t fly anymore. We know less is more. High-quality conversations with high-quality people are what we are striving for.
Next time, remember that the more we are prepared with knowledge on the person, company, or otherwise, we are getting a head start to help build confidence, connection, and respect on a much deeper level with the person on the other side.
And who knows, maybe they prepared for the conversation with you, too.
There are a few definitions of the word but I’d lean toward what the masses would articulate as weird and that is by using another word; Different.
That’s what kids mean when they say something is weird. They mean they don’t understand it, it’s new, it’s unlike anything they’ve seen before. It’s different.
Kids generally tell it like it is. They speak their mind as the stream of consciousness flows. And that should inform us of something.
Weird isn’t bad, it’s just different.
We should consider our “weirdness” a gift we can share with the world and look upon it as a benefit.
Have you ever watched a Sci-Fi Movie or Show where everyone dresses the exact same and basically looks the same? Can we even imagine how boring and limiting that must be? We can’t express ourselves, we can’t find people who share our values or our interests, we can’t find our tribe to belong to. To me, that seems like a sad way to go about living.
When we truly discover ourselves, find self-love, and detach away from the outside noise we can start to find where we belong. We can do the things that make us feel good, bring us joy, and allow us to express ourselves. We can find belonging with people who accept us for who we are and what we bring to the table. It doesn’t mean someone has to always agree with us or won’t challenge us but it’s someone who is there to be supportive and generous with their time and effort in the relationship.
We should consider changing our perspective on what weird is and why it’s important. The problem we see with the world is that we want everyone to have our weirdness and think like us and if they don’t it must mean there is something wrong with them.
Deep down we really know that’s not true.
Deep down we know it’s an “us” issue and not a “them”.
Deep down we still have work to do.
They may not be the people you connect with or form a strong bond with but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have their own voice. Acceptance of others and gaining perspective on how others may think, feel, and act as the first big step to growth and being comfortable with who you are and knowing it’s okay if others aren’t exactly the same way.
I’m weird and I think being your own kind of weird is really cool.
We might convince ourselves that the next “life hack” or shortcut will get us to the next level quicker or that speeding up and working harder will be the key to our success.
I’m not sure that is entirely true.
Have you ever been driving and seen someone fly by you, weave in and out of cars, and get in what appears to be the fastest lane only to end up right next to you at the next stoplight? Or, even worse, those actions to maneuver cost themselves much more by getting into an accident.
We have to understand ourselves and where our “north star” is pointing us to help set the tone for our daily work and future plans. Just because others appear to be going faster or are more accomplished doesn’t mean we have to be doing the same thing they are.
The quicker that we accept that consistent work over an extended period of time is what ultimately drives us to a happier and more fulfilling life, the sooner we can avoid the pitfalls of cutting corners and trying to make ourselves feel like we are accomplishing things. In reality, it may be holding us back from the generous work we really want to be focusing on and putting out into the world.
Anyone that strives for any sort of happiness or a life of fulfillment, whatever that means for you, has to go through the hard struggle that never comes easy and it also never comes fast.
We are trained to set goals for ourselves and visions of the future, which can be good in a way. But, if we are not careful, they can also become a detriment to our daily practice and consistency.
We can get so focused on the big picture and feel like we are so far away from it that it can actually discourage us from making progress. We might feel that a small project we are doing today isn’t as important so we put it off. Hours turn into days, days into weeks, weeks into months. We never actually get around to doing that thing.
Trying to achieve a big dream is like cutting the grass on a football field with a pair of kids’ scissors. You can grind through a day and not make any headway at all. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t working.
Each obstacle we run into, each moment of despair, and each roadblock are all opportunities to get creative and look at the problem in a new way, maybe a different way than we’ve ever considered. This enlightenment could be the very catalyst that creates a new path of learning and propels us forward more quickly than before.
It’s rarely the accomplishments that advance us the most. We need to get comfortable with riding on the struggle bus and relish all of the opportunities of learning that come with that process.
Remember, it’s not the destination but the path that got us there that ends up being the most rewarding.
Blocking out the noise and going to do what we feel compelled to do sounds easier said than done at times. We often hear the opinions of others and let that in some way give us a false start and second guess the endeavors or ideas we want to go tackle.
Think about all the times people told us “You can’t do that” and then we proved them right. In those moments, trusting what we believe is best for us might have been the better decision.
How come we took their thoughts as gospel and neglected our own?
You rarely see this with kids and I think we should all strive to be like nine-year-olds again where we listen to what other people are telling us we should do and then we go do the thing we want to do instead.
We are going to gain some valuable lessons and experiences anyways, they might as well be on our own terms.
What is the most important thing on your to-do list that you want to complete today?
Shut everything else down and put some focused effort to get it off your list as soon as you can. The longer you wait into the day the more distractions appear that prevent you from finishing this critical work. Urgent items that tend to not even be important will creep up. Time will be robbed from your day.
Once that critical task is complete you’ll feel energized and that a huge weight was taken off your shoulders. This will improve your attitude and motivate you to tackle other important tasks.
Don’t let “Tomorrow” become your crutch as to why something never got completed today.
When it comes to productivity, there isn’t much better than time blocking. This technique can help keep us on track to complete the work we know we’d like to get done.
Resistance to these types of activities can help us become distracted, or worse yet, drop the task altogether for a less meaningful but more urgent one.
We have to be prepared that these things will happen regularly and combat them with specific documentation of when we will get our project done. If it’s not scheduled it almost certainly won’t get done on time. Whatever it might be, chances are it is important to an idea or plan we’ve developed to help us at an unforeseen time in the future.
Help that future self out by recognizing the important work we must get done today and schedule it on the calendar in advance.
Then, we must hold ourselves accountable. Turn off the phones, limit the noise, and get focused on the task at hand.
If we don’t, we’ll get down the road and be filled with regret for not finishing and low confidence in our ability to get things done that are important to us.
By building a great habit of time blocking, we’ll be much more prepared for the road ahead. We’ll be grateful that we stuck through the resistance to complete the project, no matter how small, because we had the foresight that this small step was going to lead us to a grander outcome in the long run.
If It’s Not Scheduled It Won’t Get DoneBrian Ondrako2022-04-11T19:17:19-04:00
Lonely and Alone. These are two completely different things yet they often get confused with one another.
Lonely can be a state of depression and can come about when we need others to make us feel complete and validate our worth. We can get depressed if we feel we are not being included and often will conjure up unjustified ideas of why or how we are being mistreated by being left out.
Being alone can be serene. It can be a time we use to break away from the noise and look inward. Where we reflect on the present moment and level set. Where we practice self-love and put ourselves top of minds over others.
The bridge getting us from being lonely to loving being alone is paved with a lot of heartaches. There are a lot of self-limiting beliefs and childhood ideals that we often have to acknowledge and overcome. If we are willing to do the work of self-reflection we’ll find we get to a place where we are comfortable being alone and start to seek these moments out more frequently.
They become happy places for us where they used to cause pain.
They become our getaway from a noisy and frantic world.
They become an island we want to visit more often.
Kids learn repeatable patterns through practice and experiences. Their characteristics, habits, skill development, and values are shaped by these experiences.
It’s done through reading and imagining, through play, through creating, and through testing.
One of the neat things as you observe this is there are minimal to no instructions. Kids correct course most of the time and in some cases learn the hard way when they don’t. Those life lessons stick with us forever and sometimes we even have the scars to remind us.
But rarely, if ever, do they learn by being told something. When it comes to deep learning, we need to let them experience it themselves, think openly, and be challenged.
The best teachers in the world do this not by giving the answers but by asking the right questions.
The next time your child asks a question you know the answer to don’t be in such a hurry to answer it. Instead, return serve with a simple question like “What do you think?” or “Why do you think it’s like that?” or anything around this questioning.
Although it may be simple to you, watch their brain rev up as they try to come up with an answer.
You’ll be amazed by the imagination they have through the answers they come up with and they might shock you with their perspective.
Who knows, It might open up additional questions and dialogue that might fuel their passion and spark their curiosity to explore more.
In the end, that’s the fun part of learning anyways.
Starting anything can be intense and overwhelming. We’ve been great at other things and are comfortable in those environments now. It’d make sense to keep doing those things.
It’s sort of weird being the novice and having no clue what most of anything means. But that’s where the growing happens!
In times like these, it often helps to pull from your past experiences and remember how you started before. To be great at anything there had to be moments when you weren’t.
When we learned to ride a bike, it was the act of getting the helmet on that was the first big feeling, not riding down a hill at top speed with no hands.
When we learned to swim, it was just getting into a new body of water that felt different, it wasn’t doing cannonballs off the deep-end diving board.
We psych ourselves out from starting because of the fear of the unknown but generally the unknowns we truly fear are way down the road. If we started small, incremental, and took baby steps we’d develop knowledge as we moved along and the fear would subside as we built confidence.
We shouldn’t try to bite off more than we can chew at the beginning. A little movement in the right direction can go a long way to finding something that challenges us, inspires us, and fills us with happiness. That’s the whole point of starting in the first place.
There are a variety of things we need in order to get to a place of true happiness on a constant basis. Although a lot of the work comes from shedding our labels including self-limiting beliefs, the other side of the coin is about our purpose.
Purpose can be a lot of things but it is not a job, or a career, or a thing we have to do.
It’s a thing we are called to do. Something we feel a desire to pursue because of how it will help us discover deeper happiness and bring hope and a positive impact to others.
Purpose can only happen when you let your mind break free of the shackles of common thinking. Go to college, get a job, work in a said environment for said hours per week, collect the paycheck. It’s hard to develop and fulfill a purpose this way.
We need to be willing to expose ourselves to situations that make us shine and come alive. This can happen when we are willing to do the work of discovering who we are and what we truly want to spend our time doing.
This is only possible by trying new things, opening our minds to new thinking, or letting go of how we thought it was supposed to be.
We lead towards our purpose by changing the very thing that has always gotten us in the way of finding it; Ourselves.
Entitlement: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment
It’s hard to argue that we have it worse than generations before us. That’d be a stretch.
We have access to great medicine, food, instant connection, world travel, etc. The list is endless.
Just because we might have these opportunities doesn’t mean we should forget the simple things that matter; Kindness, Compassion, Gratitude, Humility, Empathy, Patience, etc.
Entitlement should not be on that list. We’ve seen a spike in this more recently and it stems from us forgetting where we came from and the people, opportunities, and luck that has entered our lives and made them better than generations past.
With access to knowledge almost instantly also comes the power to ignore it and have a bias that our way of doing things is not only right but justified. That we are somehow more special than the people around us. This thinking can lead us to judge others negatively and put ourselves on a pedestal. Our ego can get the best of us.
As much as we all come from different backgrounds and upbringings, we are the same at our core. We are all trying to make sense of this vast world and figure out how we are going to make our dent in it one way or another.
Change is inevitable and most of the time we can’t control what changes take place. But, when it comes to us personally, the way we can make sure the changes are more positive is to create repeatable processes or habits.
Habits are either going to be good or bad. It’s that simple.
We choose which ones we let into our lives and which ones we don’t. The more positively beneficial habits we can implant into our daily routines the better chance we have of succeeding toward our goals.
But, if it were easy, everyone would do it.
Choosing the “good” habits requires discipline and focus with a sprinkle of willpower mixed in. That’s why having the proper game plan is necessary.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, it starts with today.
Most people are told to write down their 1,3, and 5-year goals. I’m not a big believer in those. That’s way too far out to have much impact in my opinion.
But what about your goals for today? Do you know them? Have you written them down?
Research suggests you are 42% more likely to reach your goals if you write them down every day. They don’t have to be big and audacious to be impactful. Write down 2-4 goals you’d like to get accomplished today. I’d encourage you to write down ones that will move the needle but not overwhelm you to the point that it takes all day just to complete one of them.
Then, cross them out throughout the day as you accomplish them. You’ll feel amazing and you’ll boost your confidence because you are moving forward in the right direction.
If you can start to do this every day you’ll notice how much progress you’ve made in such a short period of time and then the momentum will build rapidly.
Habits are hard to change but if you can add new ones that will help hold you accountable you’ll have done yourself a big service and set in motion a positive wave of energy that’ll carry you to become a changed person, for the better.
Is a 3-day work week possible? We have no idea until we try it. Of course, the 4-day work week has been discussed recently and has shown promise in several other countries but who to say 4 is better than 3. We don’t know what we don’t know yet.
Like anything else, we can talk in circles about the pros and cons of anything but until we actually try it and see what works we’ll never know if it would benefit us or not. We need to remove our biases from the past and be open to new ideas that could propel us forward.
Why shouldn’t we push past that conventional wisdom and see what productive results can happen? I am not saying 3-days or 4-days is the answer. Maybe there is a better option. Asking the question can start us on a path down a winding road of discussion that may lead us to a better alternative than is currently happening.
Quarantine in 2020 showcased the resilience of individuals as many had to battle personal challenges and adjust to changing work conditions, especially for those that were used to being in the office 5 days a week.
The current 5-day work week would appear outdated and stale and with new technology, global business, and an “online all the time” culture, I think it’s fair to say that we might be able to adapt to a new way of working that is mutually beneficial for the organization and the people that make it go.
In any walk of life, there are instances where we cant perform for one reason or another. Every venture is not a success and every encounter with opportunity doesn’t always come out smelling like roses for us.
Writers Block is a state of being that we can be in whether we are writing or not. It’s gotten attention over the years in the world of creative or artistic expression but it could be used for anything.
When we are in a headspace that is not conducive from performing at our highest level, that is when some of the “brain fog” sets in and we can’t see the path clearly.
It is important for us to recognize what our bodies need to be optimal and when they are not in that state we need to recalibrate and ask questions.
What has our sleep looked like?
Have we been eating properly?
Did we get exercise recently?
Have we taken some brain breaks?
And then start to take small actions to adjust. These do not have to be grandiose.
Get a workout in
Take a break from the technology
Listen to some music
No matter what you personally need to do, we need to tune our bodies so they are primed for the best output. If we understand our baselines, recognize when we’ve shifted away from them, and admit that we need to recalibrate then we will be able to get back to a better state of being and our “writer’s block” will miraculously go away.
We bring people into our lives for various reasons. As time passes and growth happens there may be people that end up not being appropriate to share our time with anymore.
Sometimes it is easy to discover the destructive ones but often times we are incapable or unwilling to see when the writing is on the wall.
As relationships progress it’s often important to ask questions about them.
Questions such as:
Do they reach out to me consistently or only when they are lonely or need something?
Can they share advice and insight in a constructive manner or are they always talking down to me?
Do they talk about themselves or their problems constantly and rarely ask how I am doing?
Are they present in my time of need or only when convenient for them?
There is only so much time to go around and spending more time with fewer people might not be a bad philosophy as support systems become more important to get us through the hard times.
Deep not wide is an approach to consider in these situations.
As the saying goes, “We are the average of the five people we spend our most time with”.
Choose people that fill up your cup and you theirs. Life is too short for the alternative.
The hardest time to start something is tomorrow. It appears easier to plan for it and then go full steam ahead but it doesn’t always work out that way. Something foils the well-laid plan and usually, it is ourselves.
Build momentum today in a very small dose and you’ll be better prepared for tomorrow. If you’ve already accomplished something small then doing something small again tomorrow will seem easy.
As an example, if you want to start working out there is no need to run a marathon. Do 10 pushups, walk around the block, go for a short jog, or pick your kid up and down a dozen times. You’ll feel a little energized and that will fuel the excitement for the next time.
The longer we wait to do something the harder it becomes. We build up more fear, anxiety, and worry in our heads. We sike ourselves out of it.
Start small today and you’ll thank yourself big tomorrow for getting the momentum moving, even if just an incremental amount.
Specificity – the quality of belonging or relating uniquely to a particular subject
A dog collar, a hammer, a tennis racket, and a swimsuit.
These products have literally nothing in common with one another.
But any of these objects are valuable to the right audience.
It’s when we pick the wrong audience and try to sell them something they don’t need that everything can go sideways. We get discouraged and try to change the marketing materials, product appearance, add new features, or scrap it altogether.
We think the market doesn’t want what we are offering but maybe we were shouting in the wrong room of people.
Tailor your message to a very specific market in a way that attracts the most viable buyers because you solve a real need for them. Get as hyper-specific as possible.
If you can pinpoint the right audience and focus intently on them then you won’t have to guess for long if your product or service is valuable as your ideal clients will do that for you.
Some days zip by in a jiffy. Others tend to meander through a long winding space and feel slow and calm.
Most of the time we don’t know which day is going to creep up on us but it might be valuable to embrace both.
If we are a person that is full-go from the jump then the slower days feel lazy and dragging on too much. We are already looking forward to the next day.
If we are the more relaxed and slow-flowing day type of person then when stuff flies at us from all over we get flustered and chaos sets in rather quickly.
Whichever type we might lean toward we should embrace the other when it comes. Slow days can allow us to think and ponder and let things settle. Fast days can make us feel productive and active and that we are progressing our purpose.
Both days last the same amount of time. And when both days are completed it is one less day we have to enjoy in our lives.
When we focus on the present moments and become grateful for whatever the day holds for us, we start to cherish the little things and hold on to each moment as a blessing, however relaxed or chaotic they become.
Change might be the only thing consistent and when we can accept this thinking it opens up a new door of possibilities because we’ve taken the optimistic viewpoint.
Tomorrow will get here if it’s going to get here but we shouldn’t miss out on the tremendous opportunities and experiences we can have today all because it turned out to be a different day than we hoped for.
What can be said, but said with less? We sit in meetings, read newsletters, listen to podcasts, etc and the ones that do it best eliminate the filler. They get to the point quickly and articulate the real message that is needed to get across.
How many of us have sat through that hour long scheduled meeting when it really could’ve been completed in 12 minutes? How many times could that meeting have been an email?
We are all aware of the filler around us and complain and scoff when it is wasting our time.
Have we considered how much of that “filler time” we are imposing on ourselves throughout the day without even knowing it?
Staying organized, prioritizing, and eliminating unnecessary tasks can be extremely beneficial to helping us structure a happier and stress free life and remain productive to the things that matter to us most.
When we cut out the filler noise (and tasks) we have all of this extra time to add in so much better stuff to our lives that give us more peace, a sound mind, and a chance to focus on our purpose.
What are you going to cut out of your day today that is filling up your time?
Depreciation – a reduction in the value of an asset with the passage of time, due in particular to wear and tear.
We think about depreciation as assets like our cars losing value over time but we might consider this with our relationships as well so they don’t do the same.
Our best relationships continue to grow and evolve as long as we are putting the right time into fostering that relationship. They become more valuable and lead us to be happier in them.
If we neglect them then it’s almost certain it will lose its luster and the flame will go out.
Times change and people change. We change. If we are not continuing to communicate with our partner, family, friend, colleague, etc on some sort of regular cadence and make an effort to make sure the relationship is intact then there is a good chance it will slowly deteriorate without us even knowing it.
Then, we get to a spot where we all have probably been, there is no value left in the relationship to make it worthwhile to continue.
Before we ever get to that point we should consider asking ourselves this question occasionally, “How am I committing to this relationship and making it valuable to the other person”?
Although we can’t control the effort the other person puts into the relationship, at least we can be confident that we’ve given it our all and made it clear that we wanted to be in it for the long haul.