Collective Mail

Plan Your Next: Responses from the community

I’ve gotten some great responses over the past few weeks. There are some great book recommendations, and a reminder what a force David Foster Wallace was—and is— even today.

Speaking of individual forces, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is available to rent on iTunes. It’s such a beautiful contrast into what’s happening in the world, that it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. It’s great on a technical level too, with fantastic stories from the archives weaved with contemporary interviews. Excuse my french, Fred, but you didn’t fuck around.

RE: What’s your routine?

1. My morning routine usually consists of helping my wife get the kids fed and ready for the day before I rush out the door. 

2. I have begun to appreciate a good nights sleep this year and am trying to be more diligent about getting to bed, makes such a huge difference in mental sharpness.

3. Recently have started to drink water right away in the morning too, feels great!

Love that you are approaching topics with your personal journey as the baseline and building off that, makes it something worth reading.

— D

"The Power of Habit"!  Reading this one now and, even though I'm only half way through, I've already recognized areas in which, in the past, I've unconsciously used the tips in this book to improve my routines and habits.  Working out for example, I love the protein smoothies I make, but I only allow myself to have one if I work out first.  Want a smoothie?  Go to the gym.  Wan't a smoothie?  Knock out sets of push ups, sit ups, etc.  I've found this to be an incredibly successful way to keep a solid 3-6 workouts per week.

As for my morning routines, this is something I've strived to get better at.  Since I work from home, my morning usually started with putting on a pot of coffee and diving directly into email.  What I found though is that this start didn't provide any structure to the day.  

The coffee is really the reward, so I needed to figure out a new habit I could throw in there to get more structure inserted into the day.  I purchased "Lightspeed" daily planner.  The way it is setup is for each day you list tasks that you must get done, should get done and could get done.  It's setup to enter just one for each, but I end up entering 3-4 in each category.  So now when my coffee is brewing, I take 5-10 minutes entering the day's tasks, goals and aspirations and I don't get my coffee until I'm done.  It's really helped my plan my days better and I also feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when I cross things off.   There's also a section where you rate your productivity each day from 0%-100%.  I'm probably my toughest critic and have only given myself one 100%, but it keeps me striving.

— C

RE: The math doesn’t match reality

It’s scary getting older and at the same time, also blissful, because you stop giving a fuck about things that don’t matter.  — H

RE: Chaos and doubt

Thanks so much for sharing about your struggles. I think this is something that we don’t do enough of in our professional circles. It feels like we are wired to accept that these are “personal” problems that don’t belong in the professional realm. The problem with that is twofold: 1) we are all human and have to manage this “condition”, and 2) meaningful relationships are based on trust, which is earned in large part by being genuine and vulnerable. To operate in a professional world where this is no room to air and share in these challenges can suck the soul out of the most balanced and competent person out there.   

I have been doing a lot of soul searching and personal growth over the past year. I am known for wearing my feelings on my sleeve, but have also been very cautious of what I share with my colleagues. Why is it that I don’t want colleagues to know that I struggle?  Do I really need to portray the image that this thing called life is any kind of easy?  Interestingly, keeping these worlds separate seems to be a catalyst for the imposter syndrome that you introduced me to. I didn’t even know that was a thing, but I identify with it. Even more so when I feel like I am working with people that don’t understand where I am coming from.

I really appreciated your yin and yang metaphor as a symbol for the balance between order and chaos. I enjoy the lessons taught by Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, who represents the belief that destruction is the basis for re-creation. Faith is important for me to help identify the value of each experience. I am comforted when I feel overwhelmed by knowing that there is always a lesson in the chaos. It can be hard to tease out, which is why I need the underlying faith and belief that there is something to be learned from even the most terrible experience. Chaos is simply a part of the balance of the universe. There is a zone on the spectrum between comfort and chaos that is growth. How can I stay in the growth zone?      

Aside from some of the wisdom I have picked up from the books below, I notice a distinct shift towards pessimism and self-defeating thinking when I don’t meditate daily. I understand that I have to spend some time every day to ground myself just outside of the comfortable place I know as my mind or my perspective. Other-directedness is a skill I am constantly trying to cultivate. My default mode is to be selfish (and comfortable). The reality I have faith in is outside of me and my thoughts. I have to work to get out of my comfort zone and have to have faith that I won’t land beyond the growth zone into pure chaos.

I am curious if you have read any of these. I’d love to catch up with you sometime. I have always admired your style, and I really enjoy this blog.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Chemistry of Calm by Henry Emmons
Unconditional Life by Deepak Chopra
Why Quitters Win by Nick Tasler (or any of his books, for that matter! Ricochet, Domino, and the Impulse Factor)

Life on a String by Mandolin Orange
“I’m shedding my skin instead of these tears”

And last, but not least – possibly the best way on earth to spend 22 minutes, listen to David Foster Wallace put us in our place:

— N

“I think it’s very important — no matter what you may do professionally — to keep alive some of the healthy interests of your youth.

Children’s play is not just kids’ stuff. Children’s play is rather the stuff of most future inventions.” —Mr. Rogers

Enjoy the rest of your week!