Grind

One of the best things about no longer being a news journalist is that I don’t have to keep up with current events. 

In a Twitter thread about what she’s learned after taking a break from journalism, Sally Kuchar said, “You get to unplug.” 

And to a certain extent, this has been true for me. 

Every single time I leave a “job” behind, I get to unplug even more. 

I no longer feel pressured to follow politicians I don’t give a shit about. I don’t have to be a participant in FB groups that talk about things I’m not interested in. I no longer get Google Alerts filled with articles that make my eyes roll. 

As I’m typing all of that now, I wonder why I even let myself work on things that I didn’t care about. Or was I, at some point, excited about those things? Or am I just being a complainer? 

Or perhaps in everything there are bits that are less than desirable. Like having a pet. I love my dog, but picking up his shit is meh

But maybe it’s not about eliminating the undesirable. Maybe what we’re supposed to do is reduce the need for them. Figure out alternatives. Automate. Outsource. 

And if that’s not possible (yet), grind. And remember why we need to do those things. 

Choices

There are always more than two choices. Sink or swim? Why can’t I just float? Live to fight another day.

Fight or flee? Why not hide? Or play dead? Or do hundreds of other things besides those two choices? Maybe surrender for now, even.

In one of the first few episodes of Suits, Harvey Spector asks Mike Ross what his choices would be if someone put a gun to his head.

“What are you talking about? You do what they say or they shoot you,” Mike replies. 

Wrong, said Harvey.

“You take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or, you call their bluff. Or, you do any one of a hundred and forty six other things.”

Harvey Specter, Suits

There are always more than two choices. And at times, you may be presented with two equally delectable choices. There are ways to get both. 

You just need imagination, creativity and the will to follow through on whatever action you end up deciding on.

In Secrets of a Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker writes that we should think “both”. It doesn’t have to be either/or. 

Sometimes I screw up that saying and tell myself, “Think all.”

What’s the point of having your cake, if you can’t eat it too?

Stories

Since the beginning of civilisation, humans have been telling stories. Long before the first piece of recorded writing, there were paintings on the walls of caves. 

And that’s just what we have in terms of physical evidence. How many stories were told around community fires? What about things that aren’t storytelling on the surface? 

For example, imagine the prehistoric man bringing back meat to a woman’s cave. That action tells her a story of his hunting prowess and by extension, how good a mate he would make, how fit their progeny would be. 

While stories have power on an individual level — the story you “tell” can be a determining factor in whether you get that job, that girl or that gig — stories also have power on a much larger scale.

The Rosa Parks story was engineered to aid the civil rights movement in the US. Alexander the Great was said to be the child of Zeus. Hitler’s ideology started a world war. Religions are built around stories. 

Stories in the modern age come in all shapes and forms. We all tell stories, whether we realise it or not. 

And if we want to take control of our lives, we have to understand how we can tell better stories

Money

The jury is out. I love audiobooks. 

Although it may be slower for me to listen than read, I can now increase my reading by being able to listen while I’m driving, when I’m in the shower, just before I fall asleep. 

The book I’ve been listening to is How to be a Capitalist Without Any Money by Nathan Latka (think The Four-Hour Work Week but updated).

In it, he talks about how to increase cash flow (and overall bank balance), while reducing time spent working. 

I’ve been slowly doing this over the last year or so, not because I want to work less. But because I want to spend more time working on the things I want to — more creative projects. 

One of my ambitions when I was younger was to be a “starving artist” but I’ve grown up more capitalist than I thought I would. I like money. A lot. 

Growing up in a Christian environment meant that I heard a lot of talk about how the love of money was the root of all evil. But there’s a second part to that passage. 

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

— 1 Timothy 6:10, KJV

The thing about money is that it shouldn’t be something you lust after. You can love it, but you mustn’t let your love for it sway you. 

You have to make money your bitch. 

Engagement

Fake news, do they have a place in the media landscape? Why are we so appalled that it even exists? 

Even people who work in academia, in public policy, people who are part of the media industry love fake news. And I don’t mean obvious fakes and satire like on The Onion. I mean fake news that’s masquerading as journalism.

Some people don’t know if it’s fake. Many don’t even care. It’s entertaining. It’s mind-blowing. It’s so sensational! And so these pieces are shared, and reshared.

Does it really matter that it’s fake? 

When I think about the state of journalism, I think a lot about the movie Anchorman 2. 

“Why do we have to tell the people what they need to hear?” Ron Burgundy says, as he’s thinking of a way to increase viewership on his segment. 

“Why can’t we just tell them what they want to hear?” And that’s exactly what he starts doing. 

It’s so mind-boggling to me that the same people who complain about “bad journalism” when it doesn’t suit them also use “news articles” to prove their point about something. 

How journalists afraid of not being able to find work comment positively on news pieces that are so glaringly fake. 

I think it’s hilarious when people complaining about a certain article, share the link to that piece on social media. And then have a whole conversation with multiple people in the comment section of the post. 

Engagement, is engagement. 

GaryVee

It’s always a surprise to people when I tell them that I’m into Gary Vaynerchuk. 

He’s confident, always pumped, and with his fast-talking can seem somewhat aggressive. I, on the other hand, am quiet, rodent-like and can seem like I’m on Xanax. 

Watch one or two of his videos and it can seem like GaryVee is all about hustling and selling. But the main takeaway I get from his content is his call for self-awareness.

I realise that every time I get caught up in some hype, when I do things that are trending but not necessarily what I believe in, there’s a lack of authenticity that’s obvious. 

Just because every other business out there is calling for scale and hockey-stick growth doesn’t mean that’s what every business should be chasing.

The point is to know yourself (or your business) enough to know what you want or don’t want to do, to know what you’re amazing at and what you’re just so-so in. 

“Crushing it” is only meaningful if you want that “it”.

Be yourself, is the loudest message I hear from Gary Vee’s content. And take responsibility for who you are or become. 

My choice, my mistakes, my fault. No regrets.

We have more power than we think we do.

Joy

When I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I couldn’t fully understand the idea of things that “spark joy”. 

As someone who’s generally quite unsentimental, I don’t have a lot of things, and I can be quite ruthless when culling my personal possessions. 

Things were functional or they weren’t. Either I used them regularly or they belonged with someone else. 

The idea of things being happy when used, that I can understand. I always feel sad for possessions that lie dormant in my space and prefer that they find a proper home elsewhere. 

But things that spark joy were a mystery. I couldn’t understand how things could spark joy. 

Until I bought my current laptop bag, which I feel this inexplicable love for. 

And suddenly, I remembered that as a child I had a t-shirt I wanted to wear every day. I had a pen I always carried around, a stuffed toy I couldn’t sleep without (I still have it).

As a child, it’s so much easier to experience joy, to really feel it in all its splendour, to let it wash over you with no baggage attached.

There are days when I miss being a child. And this nostalgia reminds me to savour every moment.