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The past dozen or so years of my life have been dedicated mostly to learning and growth. Not totally singlemindedly, of course; I've traveled around and done fun things and have also put out a respectable body of work, but most of my focus has been on improvement.
And I needed it. I learned social skills, productivity, programming, writing, and some parts of ten languages. I built strong social circles in several cities composed of people I love and respect, built home bases in Las Vegas and San Francisco, and immersed myself in many different cultures around the world.
Time well spent.
Last night I had the idle thought that I should learn Korean. I miss learning languages, and Korean is a pretty good one. Then I thought about how I plan on spending more time in Budapest and how I should learn Hungarian, even though it is, by all accounts, impossible.
I never published it, but I wrote a post a while back about how watching TV was my canary in the coalmine. If I wanted to watch TV, that was a surefire sign that I wasn't fully engaged in my work, and that I needed to take a look at what was causing that.
I've gone way overboard with my remodel of my bathroom in Las Vegas. The floor tiles were these horrible vinyl tiles that were peeling up and weren't even in a grid. If I have to redo the floor, I may as well get black marble tiles. And if I'm going to put tiles down, I may as well put in in-floor heating.
I haven't taken a shower in my own home in many months. The corner shower had a broken door and I wanted a tub, so I ripped it out and put in a tub. But then I had to redo the walls to make them waterproof. And wouldn't it be cool if one wall was teak wood instead of just tile?
And that's where my Tuesday went. I grouted the two tile walls, sawed boards, and began to attach them to the wall.
During a six hour layover in Honolulu, my friend Brian and I went to the Honolulu Museum of Art. The museum is really cool and worth a visit for just about anyone passing through the city. They have the standard sort of stuff, but I was most impressed with their Asian collection. In particular, the Japanese woodblock prints stood out.
Usually I skim over the woodblocks, but their collection was stunning. I went around the room looking at all of them several times before leaving. I took pictures so that I could figure out later who the artist was.
Later, just out of curiousity, I started researching what it would take to buy a Japanese woodblock by a good artist. It was strictly aspirational, not something I intended on buying in the near future.
But I was surprised. Legitimate Japanese woodblocks from the 1800s, when the Shogun was in charge, go for one or two hundred. The ones that captivated me in the museum were by a guy named Ogata Gekko and were printed in the early 1900s, and were even cheaper.
I can tell you one thing: I'm definitely not writing a blog post tomorrow.
Two years ago I agreed to be accountable to a friend for writing a blog post every single day for two years. If I failed to do it, I would have to pay $10,000. I could skip once per month and I could "buffer" one post by writing two on the first day.
I'm finally done. I never used a skip, but I used the buffer on two or three occasions. I was always terrified of using the skip because I thought that I might absolutely need it in the thirty days following its use. I'll use my first one tomorrow, as it's technically the last day of the challenge.
Overall the challenge was a very positive thing. The speed with which I can write a blog post has increased dramatically. A decent post can be written with few or no edits needed in about seven to ten minutes. My writing has certainly improved to some extent, although it's very hard to gauge that. I guess the best empirical evidence is that I've gotten very positive feedback on posts that I thought were a six or seven out of ten.
My friend Sebastian has a great way of asking simple questions that create good discussions. We were talking about someone getting offended at something and he asked the not-quite-rhetorical question: why do people get offended?
You and I, he said, never get offended.
Being offended seems to have become a national, if not international, pastime. Anything that happens is examined not for shreds of decency and positivity, but for something to be offended about. Statements are taken out of context, magnified, and imbued with extrinsic meaning.
And people love it. Sensationalist headlines allow them to hop onto the bandwagon and be offended, maybe even more offended than the writer of the headline was.
I've been really excited to work on Cruise Sheet recently. I've made some big strides and am now an actual cruise agency rather than a web site that creates affiliate links. It's still fairly similar, but now I can control the experience the whole way through and the increase in revenue makes it look more like a viable business.
So now I'm back in that "Love Work" mode where all I want to do is work. Last night two friends and I drove around picking up Uber passengers while I sang "Drop it Like It's Hot" on our Car-eoke system, but in the back of my head I was thinking about Cruise Sheet.
One of the things I've been doing is going through every single port and making sure I have the right name, region, GPS coordinates, abbreviated form, etc. Not the most exciting work, but I have a thing for neat and orderly data, so I enjoy it.
Except for the damn Galapagos Island stops. There are so many of them that every time another one popped up, I was annoyed that I had to enter it in. For a while I had a dozen or so of them sitting in the queue while I waited for normal ports to show up.
I remember waking up as a kid on Christmas, heavy with anticipation. Waking up early never came naturally to me, but usually I was up before seven in the morning. It wasn't just that good things were about to happen to me, it was that those good things were also surprises.
As I woke up this morning, I realized that now that I'm an adult, I feel the same way every day. Not necessarily because of physical goods, although I am pretty excited that my Japanese-style bidet is coming today, but because of opportunity.
Most people seem to hate email, and I can only assume that it's because of what working a real job does to one's email. I love email. Sometimes I don't get enough sleep because I wake up at eight, can't resist checking my email, and then can't go back to sleep.
I like email because it's the means by which opportunity often comes into my life. But it's really just a symbol. Maybe my favorite thing about life is that every day truly is a surprise, and through good decision making those suprises can be built upon.
I live a little bit in the ghetto. It doesn't feel dangerous, I like my neighbors, and the location is perfect, but in Las Vegas this is known as a terrible area. Even after being pleasantly surprised at how nice it was when I saw the place (I bought it sight unseen), I was worried that I'd find out horrible things about the area after living here. But I've been here for a year and it's been smooth sailing.
I'm in the middle of a big bathroom renovation. So far, other than some plumbing for the tub, I've done all of the work myself. But I have a lot of tiling ahead of me, so I called a tiling guy and asked him for a quote. Part of the conversation went like this:
"And where do you live?"
"[ cross streets]"
February and March I'm going to spend half in San Francisco and half in Vegas. So I'm buying a bunch of cheap tickets to ping-pong back and forth between the two cities. As I booked these flights I thought about how it became "a thing". Two months, two cities, back and forth.
Those two months are going to be about productivity, getting my Vegas house up to snuff, and spending time with friends.
The only reason it is those things is because I decided it would be, though. No concrete reason.
I do this all the time, I've realized. Now my traveling is always with friends. Traveling is about spending quality time with friends. Doesn't have to be that way, but I made up that rule so that's how it is now.
It's been a crazy few years. I was going to say few weeks, then few months, and then I thought about it and realized that there's no reasonable starting point more recent than a few years ago. Since then I've been traveling non-stop and have had very little stability.
If you rarely travel, you might dream of getting away from it all and going on vacation. But when you travel constantly you fantasize about being in one place for an extended period of time. And while my life has mostly been a collection of quality time with friends over the past couple years, I've been yearning for some time in one place.
The problem is that I've been relatively unproductive over these past couple years. Major progress has come from isolated concentrations of time, usually on a cruise ship, where I've worked hard to complete projects. My median day is shockingly unproductive, especially in the past year.
Now I have around two months in one place, then a cruise, then no plans. That is by far the most sparse my travel schedule has been in years, and I'm excited about it.