I’m Writing 365 Posts in 2016… One Post Every Day

Here we go… new year, new challenges.

One of my areas of improvement for 2016 is to improve my focus. But I haven’t improved it yet so I decided take on a whole bunch of challenges this year. They are:

  1. Write (and publish) every day
  2. No alcohol for all of January, which is part of my treatment care after rehab. By the way, check this site addictedminds.com if you need an excellent rehab center.
  3. Wake up at 6:30 on weekdays (and stick to my daily plan)
  4. Meditate every day. Vaping can help you concerning meditation and relaxation. If you have time, visit devine distribution for a wide variety of vaping products and accessories.
  5. Cook 2+ times per week
  6. Read every day for at least 15 minutes

Easy right?

Well the writing challenge might be the one I’m most excited about. I love writing and when I’m writing consistently, life seems to move in the right direction. It brings me clarity, it holds me accountable and it allows me to share my mistakes and lessons with others which has always been extremely rewarding for me. I once wrote about why you should build a habit of writing every day. Time for me to recommit to my own advice.

The last time I did a writing challenge it was for 100 days. Lets see if we can make it a 365 thing.

I’ll be mostly publishing here, but will also be writing on Medium and CMX. Maybe some occasional guest posts for others too.

I’ll be writing about:

  • Community building
  • Leadership
  • Productivity
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Whatever else inspires me at the time

It may not always be long. It may not be pretty. There may be some cussing and typos. I may even write some of these drunk (after January). But the most important thing is that I’m consistent. Every day, I will write, and hit publish. I promise you that much.

If you want to follow along, subscribe right over there in the sidebar —>

Want to join me in the writing challenge? Join the fb group where we can hold each other accountable (brought from the dead from the 2013 challenge).

You can see a full list of all the posts I write during this challenge here.

Stop Asking “Am I Happy?”, That’s Not How it Works

siberian

I’ve always had this vague idea in my head that happiness is this point in life that I can reach.

If I work hard enough, make lots of friends, make money, travel, check off all the boxes…then I’ll be a “happy person”.

Other people seem to think the same way because I’ve been asked many times “Are you happy?”. I always struggle to answer them. Happiness just doesn’t seem to work that way. I start thinking…

  1. It’s not that black and white. There’s a spectrum of happiness
  2. What is happiness? Is it excitement? Is it being motivated? Is it laughing? Is it finding meaning?
  3. In this moment, I can be happy about some things and unhappy about others. I can be happy with my life in general, but unhappy about the gum I stepped on that day.

What I realized is that I don’t think happiness, however you define it, is a point in life that you can reach. There’s no one in life who’s achieved level 5 happiness and now they’re just happy all the time. Even the ones who seem to have it all, or always seem positive…they aren’t always happy.

Actually, if I was happy all the time that might not be so great. The moments of sadness in life are tough, but they make the moments of happiness that much better. There’s a spectrum of human emotion and happiness isn’t the only one that’s okay to have. You’re not broken if you’re not happy.

Whenever I feel stressed, angry or sad I try to accept it. They’re normal human emotions. Life is a crazy adventure and your emotions will ebb and flow with it.

So instead of thinking about how much I hate being stressed, I think about why I’m stressed and realize that given the situation this is a perfectly normal reaction.

And instead of asking myself, “Am I happy?” I try to ask myself things like…

  • Why am I doing what I’m doing?
  • Am I proud of what I’m doing?
  • Who do I want to be and am I working toward that goal?

Happiness isn’t a phase in life you can reach. Happiness is in the moment. And when it’s not there, that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It just means you’re human.

Thanks to Mike Hrostoski for inspiring the post.

Photo cred: Angelo González

Experimenting with Radical Honesty

abraham lincolnAre you honest?

Probably not all the time. It’s okay.

We all lie and hide our real feelings on occasion.

Sometimes it’s because we’re embarrassed. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Sometimes it’s to save our ass after we mess up.

There are a lot of perfectly logical reasons to lie.

I’m starting to come to the realization that there are more logical reasons to be truly honest.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen the value when people have recently been brutally honest with me. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become a bit disenchanted with a lot of the hollow conversations and circle jerks that go on in the startup world.

The two areas I’ve started being really honest is in my writing and when I give people feedback.

It took me two weeks to post my get shit done article because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I almost didn’t post it at all.

I took me a week to post my article about being broke, because I was embarrassed.

I consider myself to be a good, moral person. In general, I’m an extremely honest person when I can do so while still being kind and cool. But I also get self conscious when writing personal things about myself and I hate hurting people’s feelings. I get worried that they won’t like me.

Talking with a friend about this topic recently, they told me about a concept that’s been somewhat of a movement over several years called Radical Honesty. This article does a really good job of explaining what it is.

The belief is simple to be completely, unequivocally honest all the time.

I’ll say right up front, I don’t think I have it in me to embrace radical honesty to its full extent.

That said, it seems to be a method with some merit and I think if you can improve the percentage of the time that you’re honest, you’ll make vast improvements in your life and the life of others.

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to
succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.
― Abraham Lincoln

Why be honest?

  • Deepen your relationships with people by being honest, which develops trust and understanding
  • Actually help people by giving them feedback they can apply to their situation instead of lying just to avoid hurting their feelings
  • Reduce your own stress of having to keep things to yourself
  • Help people by sharing your actual experiences instead of dressing them up, losing an opportunity to give people something to relate to and learn from.
  • By being honest with others, they’ll feel more comfortable being honest with you

So far it’s been a powerful experience to say the least.

The blog posts I write where I’m open and honest beyond my comfort zone end up killing it. That get shit done article I almost didn’t post has around 70,000 views which is roughly at least 7x higher than my average post. No biggie.

Since starting to purposefully pursue honesty, I’ve had opportunity to sit down and help a few entrepreneurs who asked for my advice. I asked hard questions and told them what I actually thought of their ideas and strategies, no filter.

I’d notice the moments where I’d usually lie, smile through my teeth as the orthodontist at https://www.sierravistaazdentist.com/orthodontics would have done one of his greatest jobs on me and tell them how great they are. I’d feel that tension rising. That fear of offending grabbing hold. On the other hand, if you want to keep your smile healthy, do regular visit to the dentist or have a Sedation Dentistry Options — a comfortable, safe, and effective dentistry..

CHOOSING HOLISTIC DENTISTRY

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Evolve Dental Healing sees patients from all walks of life who come in and just expect more. They ask better questions and they’re much more informed about heading along a holistic path in their health care, to find a Alternative Health Care. It’s this that has created a demand for holistic dentistry but if you’ve never heard of it before you’re likely to be wondering what, exactly, is a holistic approach to dentistry? Where as dentistry traditionally focuses on the teeth and gums, the focus of holistic dentistry is primarily on the person attached to the teeth and gums. That basic philosophical difference has quite an impact on the way we see dental disease in regard to health and wellbeing.

Holistic dentists usually spend a lot of time getting to know as much about their patients as possible where they examine the patient and discuss their health to get a really good picture of their general health, oral health, what their priorities are in terms of what needs to be doing for them and what they need to be doing for themselves to give them a full understanding of their issues.

But then I was honest. Brutally honest. I told them when I thought they were full of shit. I told them when I thought their idea sucked. I told them when I believed they were lying to themselves.

Looking back, the impact it had on these conversations is invigorating.

Each of these people left the conversations with a genuine sense of gratitude. They left with new perspectives that they hadn’t considered. They left with a brutally honest opinion. They all hugged me and sincerely thanked me. It felt amazing. It felt like I truly helped them.

Give it a shot.

The 30 Minute Experiment

Next time you’re out with a friend tell them “For the next 30 minutes I promise to be brutally honest. Ask me for feedback on anything you’re working on and I’ll tell you exactly what I think, no filter”.

This way, there’s a clear understanding up front that you’re being purposely honest for the sake of providing honest feedback. It’s hard for them to get mad at you since they agreed to it.

Just try it and see what happens. I bet you both come away from that conversation with new perspectives and without the weight of white lies. You’ll have greater trust in each other and feel comfortable communicating openly again in the future.

 

Imagine a world where everyone said what they think

Being honest isn’t just about being critical or negative. We often avoid being honest about telling people good things we think about them.

Imagine a world where when you respected someone you said “I respect you and here’s why”.

When was the last time you told a friend or significant other that you truly respect them? Why not? Because you’re embarrassed?

I realized the other day that I’ve never actually told me dad that I respect him. He’s the person I respect more than anyone else in this world and I’ve never actually said the words to him. Even if he already knows it, to hear it is what counts.

That’s the thing, when you’re honest, you’re often telling people something they already know or they at least have a good idea. But we’re so good at hiding the truth from ourselves and convincing ourselves otherwise that it can really help to have someone come in and give it to you straight.

Positive or negative, will it create some awkwardness or tension? Of course. But the tension is usually short-lived and opens the gates for real communication. The only way to really work out a problem and relieve tension is to communicate.

Now should you start running through the streets telling people that they’re fat? Probably not. Don’t be a dick.

My plan is to be honest and tactful whenever possible. When it’s clear you don’t have an intention to hurt, but rather to help, honesty is often welcomed.

I’ll also try to choose to be honest only when I believe it will truly help someone or myself. Running through the streets telling people they’re fat probably won’t help anyone. But say you have a friend who’s overweight and you’re concerned about them? It’s super tough to be honest and tell them they need to make a change, but that’s also an opportunity to change their life for the better.

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

 

Can you be radically honest?

 


Photo Credit: Traveling Seth via Compfight cc

 

7 Creative Ways to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

dubrovnikI’ve been in a long distance relationship with my girlfriend Alison for 1.5 years.

I moved out to SF when I was working at Zaarly and decided to stay. It was clear that this was where I needed to be if I was going to start my company.

Alison and I have been dating for 5 years. She’s a teacher in NYC, which is a career built to keep you in the same place. She can’t move until she gets her tenure and finishes grad school.

So we’ve had to make it work.

It sucks. There’s no doubt about that. But we’ve made it work really well.

Here are some things we’ve done to make it work:

1. Get on facetime while you’re working, cooking, reading, etc.

halloween

Or Facetime on Halloween.

The tough part about communicating in a long distance relationship is you only really talk on the phone, so you always feel like you have to have something to say.

Once in a while, we’ll get on Facetime while we work, cook, read or something else that occupies us. We don’t talk other than random comments, we just do what we’re doing but with the other person there (on a screen). It’s amazing how refreshing it is to just be able to connect, live, with no real purpose other than to just be there.

2. Keep your watch on the time zone of the other person

My watch is always on New York time. Every time I check the time, I’m reminded of her.

And every time I call, I know what time it is by her and can take that into account (it matters).

3. Utilize asynchronous communication

Apps like couple are cool because they allow for asynchronous communication, meaning you can talk to each other and FEEL like the other person is there talking to you, even when they’re not currently there.

Think about the app draw something (remember that?). When someone send you their drawing, you didn’t just see the final picture. You saw the picture being drawn, allowing you to see their thought process and feel connected to that person.

We use Unda to send each other video messages which are much more engaging than text messages. Again, you don’t even need to say something, so you can send a message “just because”.

4. Surprise them

One day Alison was sick.

I called a restaurant on her street and had them deliver chicken noodle soup to her apartment.

Little surprises like that go a long way.

5. Get in the habit of talking every day

You can’t just call whenever you have something to say.

We talk every night before she goes to bed.

Every night.

Without that, we’d never make it. They key is to never let the other person get used to being without you. As soon as that happens, it becomes really difficult.  Which is also why I fly to NY every couple months.

6. Work on something together

Alison and I have a little side business that we work on together.

It creates more opportunities to talk to each other and is another thing that connects us.

Figure out something that you can both do together. Maybe it’s a business. Maybe you just follow the same TV show.

7. Go on trips together

When you’re just visiting every time you see each other, it can be tough to spend quality time together. One of you will still be home and probably have your usual schedule, try getting a mobile home from http://www.weinerestates.com/, this way you are able to have much more adventures together.

So go away, together. Then you’re both away from your home and usual schedule, and can give each other your full attention.

Alison and I took a trip to Europe that made the relationship feel refreshed. You don’t have to go far, but at least get out of your immediate city for a weekend.

If you’ve made a long distance relationship work, I’d LOVE to hear what kinds of things you did.

Running for your Mind – How Exploring New Rewards Can Make your Habit Stick

running2Recently, I started running every day.

Every morning, I wake up at 7:30am, I roll out of bed and a put my running shoes on, which are conveniently located right next to my bed and I go for a 3-5 mile run. I’ve been experimenting with new habits and this is one of them.

What’s interesting about this particular habit is that for a large part of my life, since around middle school, I have unsuccessfully made attempts to build a habit of running.

What did I do to make the habit stick this time?

Change the Motivation, Change the Rewards

I’ve played sports my entire life, and my least favorite part has always been the running drills. Lacrosse was my main sport growing up and I played midfield, so running was a big part of my job.

When I was playing, I didn’t mind running. I could usually push through the pain in my chest and get the job done. But when we had to run for drills, or as punishment I would become visibly, emotionally upset. I hated running for the sake of running.

Knowing that it was good for me, and that it would help my sports career, I constantly tried to run. I would try to choose inspiring environments like running on the beach in my hometown. Didn’t work, I’d give up after a couple weeks. I even tried joining track, made it on the starting sprint team and then quit. I blamed it on an ankle injury but really, it was because I hated being told to run.

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As I got older, the excuses got easier. My knees started hurting and pretty soon, it became all too easy to just say “I can’t run”.

I think part of the problem was that I was always being told to run.  Either by someone else or even by myself. I wasn’t running because it brought me value, I ran because I was supposed to.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor for management in there somewhere.

Anyway, fast forward to today, and I’ve run every morning (with planned days off), for the past 2 months or so.  My knees are fine and I feel great.

What I realized happened is I changed my rewards.

As I mentioned, running is one of several habits I’m experimenting with now as part of my morning routine with the simple goal of putting myself in the right state mentally and physically for the rest of the day.

Running helps me do that.

I run because it makes me focus on my body instead of my thoughts. I run because it clears my mind. I run because I feel mentally accomplished afterward.

I run because it’s part of something larger. It’s part of my routine. My alarm goes off at 7:30. I get myself out of bed by putting my running shoes on (instead of snoozing). I grab a glass of water from the kitchen and I go outside to run. I run to clear my mind. I clear my mind to give myself perspective so I can reflect and prioritize my focus for the rest of the day.

It’s all one flow and running is just one piece.

Instead of running because I’m told to, to impress other people or even to get in shape, for the first time I’m running to achieve my own simple goal. My goal is to clear my mind.

So…

If you find yourself trying to create a new habit and it just isn’t working, take a hard look at your motivations. Are you doing it because you truly see the value in it? Or is it just something you’re expected to do?

Also realize that there could be unexpected value in a new habit that can truly motivate you. Sure running makes me feel good and it keeps me in shape, but the real value that makes me get up every morning is that I’m running for my mind and it’s part of a larger routine. The rest is an added bonus.

Photo cred: gato-gato-gato via Compfight cc