A while ago I was having trouble working. I had just begun a new workout regimen, which was taking up a lot of my focus and willpower, as well as leaving me more tired with the same amount of sleep. I felt as useless and helpless as I can remember, staring at a todo list with very simple items on it, and being all but unable to get myself to finish them.
Thoughts tend towards permanence. As I sat there staring at my list of things to do, I noticed a thought cross my brain: I used to be so productive and now I'm not.
In these situations, I find it helpful to remember that everything passes. My least productive days will yield to more productive days, and my most productive days will be followed with less productive days.
Knowing that I will be productive again when I'm unproductive helps me put things in perspective. Rather than wallow in the doom of "losing it" and being unable to work efficiently again, I see my failure as a temporary valley. This enables me to keep a good attitude about it and focus on crawling my way out of that valley.
On the other hand, when I'm operating at my peak, I try to remember that I won't always be like this. That helps me appreciate the work I'm doing, focus on keeping the ball rolling as long as possible, and deriving enjoyment from my performance, soaking in the view at the top of the mountain.
There are very few things that are permanent in life, and clinging to those things or even hoping for them is counterproductive. It's better to develop strategies that account for life's variance and capitalize on it.
Dating is another example. I think it's always better to assume that it won't be permanent rather than to assume it will be. Taking this attitude will allow you to fully experience relationships while they last, fully appreciating the other person. When single, it allows you to enjoy the benefits of being single, knowing that it won't last forever. Contrast this to someone who takes their partner for granted, assuming the marriage will last just because of a half-day ceremony, or someone who complains about being single, ignorant to the benefits of being so.
As a rule of thumb, it's usually helpful to understand how the world really is and to plan around that. Almost everything in life is transient, so enjoy it while it lasts, and plan for what may come next.
Photo is Shibuya, Tokyo at night. Some awesome videos from the recent Japan trip:
One of my favorite proverbs is "this too shall pass" - it's wisdom through both good times and bad is powerful and something I try my best to keep in mind. As Abraham Lincoln put it:
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!
The picture isn't showing for me. Anyone else having this problem?
I'm always amazed at just how much happens in a year. At the end of each year, grateful for a gimme topic to write about, I sit down to write this post. And each time my first thought is, "Yeah, but not that much happened this year." Then I go through my archive for the year and look at the titles of my posts, and I realize that the previous year's farewell post seems to have been forever ago, and that tons has happened since then.
Some quick highlights of the year:
1. I bought an island with nine great friends. I've already written about this ad naseum, but it's one of those ridiculous life goals that you hope might actually come true, worry that it might be too farfetched, and then is every bit as good as you had hoped when realized. I'm really grateful to all of the people bought in and trusted me to make it happen, and for the sellers who were great to work with. This upcoming year is going to be an exciting one for the island.
2. We made some huge progress on Sett. We opened it up to the public and now have over 4500 blogs hosted, growing at a steady 10% per week. We're still in our infancy, but I'm really proud of the platform we've built, and I'm humbled every day by the great blog posts people host with us. Even if your only interaction with Sett has been reading my blog, you've been a part of the process, and I'm grateful for that.
These catalogs are selling summer. They are selling beaches and cookouts and time spent outside. They are selling free spirit and relaxation.
But we know that none of these things are contained in the glossy pages, the website, or the box that brings the clothes. You can't buy summer or beaches or cookouts. You create them.
I've not purchased any new clothes this year in part because I've begun to recognize that purchasing clothes brings me nothing but the clothes. There is no way to get the things the clothes symbolize other than creating those things for yourself.
There are hundreds of productivity to-do apps available for the iPhone. I know because I've downloaded at least twenty. After each download I set up the system, import all my tasks and become incredibly productive for the next three days. After that the system slowly gets used less and less - except Evernote. Downloading these apps is selling me on the idea of being productive. I'm using a superficial temporarily effective system to jump start what I want to do.
Instead I just remember. If it's important to do I remember to do it. I try to prioritize three things - thanks to some inspiration from 27GoodThings.com - and focus on doing those things until they are finished.