At the health club I attend, folks are constantly taking turns using the 20lb and 25lb weights. There are many sets of these, and they look worn out and sometimes broken. And yet, people keep fighting for them.
At the other end of the rack, you can find the heavy dumbbells. Those weigh between 80 to 150lb. There’s just one set of each weight. Yet nobody fights for those. They just sit there, waiting.
They are there waiting for the folks who train the hardest. Those people just walk in and grab the shiny weights, while the rest of us fight for the beat up ones.
I have found that life tends to be like that as well. The scarcest, shinier things tend to be available for the taking, only if you have worked hard enough to be in position to make use of them.
Keep working hard, keep getting better, keep working at excellence. Then stroll in and grab your shiny weights.
Earlier this year we invested in a used piano. I knew nothing about buying pianos (I’m not even a piano player) so I had to do some research on how to look for the right piano and ensure I wasn’t spending too much and buying a lemon.
What I gathered may be helpful to you, so I am creating this checklist on what to look for when sourcing a used piano:
6AM: I go to my “cloffice” and start my day by connecting with WordPress.com users via live chat. This is always exciting, as I never know the questions I’ll get, or what issues our users are facing.
8AM: Coffee and breakfast with my family.
8:30AM: Back to live chat, catching up on e-mail, and multitasking a bit, now that I’ve had some coffee!
11:30AM: Break to go to the gym, eat some lunch, and shower 🙂
1:30PM: At this point, sometimes I choose to go to a coffee shop to continue my workday. I then reply to some more messages, and work on different projects.
2:30PM: A 30-minute chat with a co-worker. We are encouraged to do this and have work “buddies” who can help us and be helped as we navigate the excitement and challenges of remote work. I always enjoy these calls.
3PM: If I’m home, I take a short coffee break and enjoy a few moments with my wife.
3:30PM: Back to the computer! I now check on our team goals, projects, and commitments and see whether we are moving at a healthy pace to reach our weekly goals.
4PM: Answer some more customer emails, follow-up on anything that needs attention before the end of the day.
5PM: Close the computer and end my work day.
This is a pretty typical day for me.
One of the neatest parts of my day is life’s little “interruptions.” Let me explain: Because we homeschool, my awesome wife Amy and our kids are home all day. I have an open-door policy, so they can always come in and give me a hug or tell me something they want to share – even if I’m working. Apart from the few times when I’m on an important call, these little interruptions do not distract me from what I’m doing. In fact, they remind me of why I work in the first place.
Automattic is a great company to work for, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work on something meaningful, while at the same time witnessing my family life from a front-row seat.
I’m sure you’ve seen a friend or two talk about 2016 as a terrible year. So many celebrities dead, so many wars, so many undesirable people elected to office, etc.
Well, I disagree.
While I respect people’s feelings, the world has always been a difficult place, and things don’t go the way we would like to all the time. Celebrities and non-celebrities die every day. Wars have always happened. Idiots are elected to office every year.
We all lived the same 2016. Yet for me (and for a few reluctant friends who dared to share their thoughts in social media) this was one of the best years of my life.
I think the secret to always having a good year is to
Understand what is and what isn’t under your control, and
For what is under your control, have a deliberate plan so things turn out the way you want them to.
If you think 2016 was a terrible year, I’ll risk a guess that you either are
Letting things that are not under your control affect too much of your life, or
Not being deliberate and planning how to tackle the things that are under your control.
The folks I quoted above are the people behind becomeablogger.com and Social Media Examiner. Leslie Samuel and Michael Stelzner are incredibly successful guys who really understand what I’m trying to explain in this post.
But in the end, bad things happen. They always do. If we can’t find a way to cope and have a strategy to deal with them, we are going to have a hard time in life.
We shouldn’t let our happiness be a direct result of these out-of-our-control events. Happiness needs to be more proactive, and less reactive.
What we can control
I’m a huge believer of setting goals for oneself. I’ve written in the past about having SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) as a way to turn their achievement more realistic. That is a great way to come up with a few items for the short/long term which you can have some control over.
This past year of 2016, instead of specific goals, I decided to focus on three areas of my life, and chose three key words to define what I would work on: service, simplicity, and strength. I opened the year by writing this post which delineated how I planned on attacking these areas.
Now, 365 days behind me, I see that I made good progress in all these three areas. Here’s what happened:
2016 was a year that I made a decision to be more available to help others. Though I still have a long way to go in this area, I think I did better than previous years. I helped friends move furniture, volunteered to teach the marriage preparation course at our local church, helped my dad with his business quite a few times, created a new website for our parish on WordPress.com, cooked a couple of dinners for my family (!), volunteered to teach an introduction to WordPress course at our homeschooling co-op group, and a few other things.
There’s much more to do here. But a year ago I decided to make some gains in this area, and I did.
As a result of working from home and needing only my laptop to do my job, I decided to get rid of things this year.
At first I started weighing all the items that I would donate or sell, with the intent of tallying it all up at the end of the year. That didn’t quite happen, because we were donating and selling so much that it became a nuisance to weigh everything as it left the house.
I’ve also decided to wear simpler clothes on work days, which meant I wore a whole lot of WordPress swag, making my choice on what to put on every morning a lot simpler.
2016 was a simpler year for me. I carried less weight with me, spent more quality time with my family, and did more with less. Just like I had planned it would be. Win 🙂