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Out of the corner of my eye, just past the cars lined up in the turning lane, I could see that something was coming towards me quickly. Way too quickly. I tried to swerve, but knew that the inevitable was coming.
I heard crunching metal, the screeching of tires sliding sideways against the pavement, and smashed glass. A driver ran a red light at full speed and t-boned me.
Once the car stopped, I hesitated for a fraction of a second before looking over at my fiancée. The car had driven straight into her door, which she was leaning on. She was okay. Good.
I got out of the car, now facing traffic in the oncoming traffic lane and walked towards the other guy's car. His airbags had deployed and the front of his car totally smashed. He looked at me with a blank stare. I opened my palms towards him as if to say, "what was that all about?"
He didn't respond so I opened his door. Are you okay, I asked? I think so, he said.
In that small slice of time I realized that the Bentley had just bought was smashed very badly.
I write a lot about positivity, but I feel like it's normally pretty easy for me to write about, since not all that many bad things happen to me. Finally something bad happened to me, so I can write about how I maintained positivity throughout that event.
The following is exactly how I thought about the situation, in chronological order.
"My girlfriend could have died! That would have been terrible. I would pay way more than the cost of this car for her to not die, so already this is a good value."
"Wait, he probably has insurance. I might get a lot of money out of this and then I can decide whether to buy another Bentley or a minivan. Maybe I will get the minivan of my dreams AND some money."
"It is very interesting to be in a big car wreck. I'm lucky to experience that without any injuries."
"I was very calm during that whole thing. That's great to know that I can remain calm in situations like that."
People started taking pictures and videos and were loving the drama of the situation.
"This probably won't cost me anything, and this is providing a lot of entertainment for a lot of people. I would be interested if I saw a Bentley get smashed too."
I went home and called the insurance company. They confirmed that he had plenty of coverage.
"Cool! They'll fix it up to be brand new. I got to have that crazy experience and it won't cost me anything in the end."
"It's really not bothering me at all that my car got destroyed. That's just proof of how good my life is, because something bad can happen to me and there are enough great things to totally negate it."
I brought my car to a body shop. The guy was extremely nice, really liked the car, and made it very obvious that he was going to take a lot of pride in the repair.
"This guy seems great. I'm really glad he's going to be the one fixing my car."
The next day the insurance company calls me and tells me, very curtly, that his coverage expired thirteen hours before he hit me.
"Wow, that's too bad. Maybe there's some other way I can get it covered."
I then called my insurance company, his insurance company, and a lawyer. It became crystal clear that if it was going to get fixed, I'd be the one paying for it.
"Well, that event already happened so there's now no point in thinking about it. Cost of repair is around $16k. That's a lot of money, but it's actually a pretty cheap price for a Bentley. So even though I have to buy it again, I can buy it at a good price and it already has the stereo that I put in."
"Wait, maybe I can scrap the car and use the money to buy a minivan. Then for one price of one car I got to experience owning and driving a Bentley AND I'll have the most practical vehicle ever. Not the best deal in the world, but not terrible either."
"If I get rid of the Bentley I will actually save money on maintenance, gas, and insurance. This will save me money in a weird way."
"It hurts to pay so much for a repair at once, but I've saved way more than this by always getting minimum insurance coverage. So actually I should be happy because overall my strategy has saved me money."
I call some scrap places and the most anyone will pay is $6500. Not really worth it.
"Okay, well now I don't have to worry about the decision. The only correct move is to repair the Bentley. I love that car, so now I get to be excited about getting my car back. Because I won't have it for a while, I will probably like it even more when I get it back."
"Sometimes when I travel I worry that the car is going to get keyed or something. Since it will be in the repair shop, I don't have to worry about that for a long time."
Reading back on this list, I imagine that people will think it's hyperbole or a joke or that I'm only sharing the positive thoughts. When I found out abruptly that I was definitely going to have to pay for the repair myself there were certainly a few minutes of coming to terms with that and being frustrated. But then I just got back on the positive train and those feelings washed away. Now, a few weeks later, it's hard for me to even think of the event as a negative event. I obviously know logically that it was a negative event, but it doesn't feel like one.
I have this level of positivity primarily because I've made it a practice for the past 20+ years to always think of the positive of anything that happens. Doing that for long enough will train your brain to immediately find and latch on to all the positives of a situation. While I know that it colors my perception in a slightly inaccurate way, I can't think of a single time where I made a suboptimal decision because I was overly positive.
Photo is the Bentley right after the crash. Poor guy! Cool that it took a direct impact and didn't even shatter windows or hurt my wife, who was leaning against the door it hit.
To see if anyone had any tips for smuggling huge amounts of Chipotle into a hotel (which I only discovered at the last minute wasn't allowed), I searched Google for "Chipotle wedding".
I wasn't the only person who had the idea to have Chipotle catering for my wedding, but that part didn't surprise me. What surprised me was that most of the questions about the idea online were, "My fiancée and I both love Chipotle, but we're nervous people will judge us if we serve it at our wedding. Should we do it?"
The answer was a resounding no. Chipotle is totally inappropriate for a wedding, said the internet.
And, for a moment, even I felt the social pressure. What would people think, eating their DIY Chipotle out of cardboard bowls with plastic spoons? And then the moment passed and I realized first that it was my friends and family so they'd probably like it, and second that since this was the one party per lifetime I was going to plan, I/we could be a little selfish and have the food and drink (water) that we like.
I'm not sure how to even begin talking about 2017, except to say that it was a really exceptional year for me.
As I've said in previous years, every year of my life has so far been better than the previous. The primary driver is that I work for permanent, not fleeting, progress.
The net improvement year over year varies. Sometimes it's a small incremental improvement, and other times it's a huge one. I feel confident saying that 2017 delivered the biggest improvement ever.
The strange part of it all is that two areas that had been constant areas that demanded a lot of focus and time, dating and finances, both went to a 10/10 this year. I realized that part of my identity had become based around working on those things, so it's been weird to have both totally taken care of.
I'm going to do something a little bit different with the gear post this year. Usually I go over every single item in a small amount of detail. This year has only a few changes but they are really exciting changes, so I'm going to highlight only the differences.
Once you finish reading this post, you can go back to the 2017 Gear Post to see the things that didn't change. Next year I'll do a full writeup again, as it would be annoying to have to keep going through back posts.
Wool Wool Wool
I have to start the gear post off by talking about wool, even though I'm sort of sick of writing an ode to wool every year. The bottom line is that it is essentially impossible to travel light without wool clothing. Everything I wear is wool, and that's the secret to being able to wear the same clothes every day, and thus not have a huge backpack full of stuff.
Eleven years ago I switched to a Dvorak keyboard. I was worried that I would get carpal tunnel syndrome if I stuck to Qwerty, so I made the switch. The first few days were pure agony, but then after a week or two it felt as natural as anything else. And, of course, it's still the keyboard I use and I don't have carpal tunnel syndrome. Not yet, anyway.
When I visited my friend Derek in New Zealand last year we geeked out and he showed me his linux setup. He used a window manager called ratpoison, which is a tiling window manager. The basic non-nerdy explanation is that instead of windows all piling up on top of each other, they are automatically tiled to be next to each other.
I tried it, hated it, and deleted it.
This summer, because I saw a desktop that used it and looked cool, I decided to try a tiling window manager again (i3-gaps). Again, I hated it. But this time it reminded me of when I switched to Dvorak. I had felt the same way, but that unease went away quickly. So I decided that I would stick with it for a least two weeks. I wanted to quit again on day three, when I had a lot of work to do, but I didn't allow myself to.
I wanted to write a post about making the Biggest Decisions. Before doing so, I thought I'd jot down some of mine and look for commonalities. What surprised me most was how few decisions of this magnitude there were. Depending on where I set the bar, I've probably only made 10 huge decisions in my entire life. I made the first about 20 years ago, so I make one every two years.
Here are some of what I consider to be the biggest decisions:
1. Dropping out of school2. Deciding to travel around the world for an extended period of time3. Moving to Las Vegas (as well as other moves)4. Living in an RV5. Focusing entirely on pickup for 1-2 years6. Getting married
It was interesting to realize how few there were, especially while keeping in mind the enormous changes they've made in my life. In other words, they are even higher leverage than I had subconsciously considered them to be.
Have you ever noticed that amongst people who seem to be doing "the right thing", results vary wildly? Throughout my life I've met a ton of hard workers with great habits. You'd expect that they would all do similarly well, but they don't. Some are very happy, fulfilled, and successful, while others seem to always be struggling.
Some of this, of course, is luck. One one hand it would be sort of neat if your results always matched your input exactly, but at the same time that would probably make life less exciting. No one would play a slot machine that just took three cents every single time they pulled the handle.
It's not all luck, though. And while we will all be subject to luck, those who count on it tend to not do well.
One thing I've noticed is that people who have everything aligned in their lives tend to do better. I know that personally when I've had stuff aligned, my results have been a lot better.
I've mentioned a few times wanting to do a live event, but what keeps me from setting a date and doing it is how many different ideas I have on formats and sizes. So, I'm going to just pick a date, see who signs up, and tailor the event to the number of people and type of person that sign up.
The date is March 3rd, 2018 and it will take place in Las Vegas. The event will be 1pm - 9pm that Saturday, and there will be an optional free follow-up the next day, probably from 11am - 2pm or something like that.
The overarching goal of the event, regardless of other factors, is to help you figure out where you want your life to go over the next few years, to work backwards to find leverage points in your life, to figure out the best habits/practices to get that leverage, and then to figure out a specific actionable plan with which to implement those changes.
Every single person who comes in ready to work will leave with concrete action steps.
I like writing my annual gratitude post, mostly because it's an easy one. I have a ton of things to be grateful for, and I like talking about those things.
Fairly frequently, often at night before I go to sleep, I make a mental account of the things for which I'm grateful. I never make it to the end, though, because there are so many things that I inevitably become distracted or fall asleep.
At the top of my list, always, are my friends and my family. Of all of the things in my life, my family is the one I feel most lucky about, since I had no hand in the selection process at all. I almost feel guilty, sometimes, knowing that I have such a great force in my life that I did nothing to earn. To make up for that I try to put a lot of effort into my family and make sure I strengthen those relationships.
And even with my friendships and my relationship, though I've obviously put in a lot of work to foster those connections, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having met those people in the first place and having had the chance to become friends with them.
I think a lot about work life balance on cruises because all of the noise is stripped away from life when you're on the ship. There are no errands, few interruptions, and no chores. You're left with the resources to do whatever you want, from work to sitting at the pool all day.
When work life balance is typically talked about, it's talked about as if there is only one correct answer, which is somewhere right in the middle. Enough work to do a good job, and enough of everything else to fill the rest of the time.
I'm pretty deliberate with my work life balance and I've adjusted it everywhere from working almost none to doing nothing but work. I don't really think any particular point on that scale is right for everyone, and I further don't think that any particular point on the scale is right for any one person all of the time.
Before thinking about your own balance, think about what you need more of in your life. We all want more money, but money is obviously not always the most important goal for every single person. And we all want fulfillment, often achieved through good work, but it comes from other places as well.