Priorities

The #100DayProject started today and I did none of the ideas that I talked about and none of the ideas that I toyed with since then.

As the 2nd of April drew nearer, I realised that if I wanted my project to be sustainable, it would have to be something that I could do within 5-10 minutes.

While there are many things that I want to learn, and ways that I want to grow, I also wanted to pick something that would be achievable within the 100-day period.

I decided to write flash fiction and publish it on Twitter. Why?

I’ve been wanting to write more fiction but have putting it aside in favour of other pursuits and sometime during the last week, I realised that this was an opportunity to get round to doing it.

I’ve also been wanting to experiment more with Twitter as a social media channel. Although I’ve had an account for years, I used it mostly to keep track of relevant hashtags for work purposes.

Reading about the 5/25 strategy over the weekend was a strong reminder to me. To pursue the things I love most even more… and to put the things I am merely fascinated by on the back burner.

And someday perhaps find an efficient way to combine them.

If you’d like to follow (and give feedback on) my #100DayProject, it’s on Twitter and IG Stories.

Strange

Sometimes magic doesn’t lie in casting spells or force of will. Sometimes the magic happens when you take action, reach out, speak up.

Just like luck, sometimes you have to make the magic happen.

In the 2016 movie Dr Strange, the titular character asks the Ancient One how he can get from a place of zero knowledge to where she is.

The Ancient One replies with a question, “How did you get to reattach severed nerves and put a human spine back together bone by bone?”

“Study and practice. Years of it,” Strange says.

Magic doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it’s a slow and steady climb. Sometimes it requires years of making mistakes, trying again, failing, trying again, maybe losing your way but still trying again.

If you want to do great things, you have to be courageous enough to try. You have to be willing to bend rules, even rules of the Universe.

Like Dr Strange, who did things before he was ready, who experimented with the little that he knew and thus, learned even more. Who was willing to do what he was “not supposed to” in order to save humanity.

Not everyone is capable of big magic. The ones who are have to be brave enough to wield it.

Positive

Although outwardly I look happy, even enthusiastic at times, on the inside I’ve been battling demons. There are days when my heart clenches so hard it feels like it’s about to stop. 

Some days, the pressure lets up and on those days, it feels like the world is a glorious place. Other days, it’s a lot harder to get my mind back into a positive frame of thought.

But I remind myself that “this too shall pass”. I think about the important things in my life, the people I care about, the island I want to buy. 

“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is coloured by such impressions.”

— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 5:16

It’s not always enough to tell yourself to “stay positive”. But it’s possible to hold your goals in mind, whatever they may be. 

I’ve learned to do my goal-setting and dream-making in the spaces between the Bad Place, before the monster in my mind takes ahold of me. 

That way, even in the depths of despair, there’s still a vision to hold on to. Something to take step by painful step towards. 

Something that — even on days when it feels like getting out of bed is an achievement — pushes me to do more than just get out of bed. 

Capitalist

I organised a meet-up / event recently as an experiment. (I’ve been trying out ways to stimulate creativity in non-professional settings — through writing prompts, boardgames etc.)

The ice breaking activity at the latest event was to “write your life story in three sentences”. I wrote: 

“My ambition when I was young was to be a starving artist. It’s turned out to be harder than expected. I like money too much.”

And it’s true. I don’t know how to be a starving artist. 

But while I love making money and even more than that, having my money work for me, I think what’s equally important is how that money is made. 

“A capitalist with principles,” a friend teased when we spoke about this.

Yes, I’ve recently come to accept the capitalistic side of me. 

But it’s not so much about the money per se. I see money as validation — that the work or products that I’m putting out into the world are providing value. 

And on the flip side, being a business owner has made me a better consumer as well. I’ve learned it’s important to be kind. To be grateful. To be gracious. 

We are all part of an ecosystem. 

Ruthless

In The Third Door by Alex Banayan, he used (said to be) Warren Buffett’s 5/25 strategy to help him decide which path to take when he was a crossroads that both went down (what seemed like) equally desirable paths.

The 5/25 strategy is simple in theory. Write down 25 things that you would want to accomplish in your lifetime. Circle the five most important. 

The five become what you pursue. The remaining 20 are things you must avoid at all costs. 

In theory, it’s simple. But in practice, it’s one of the hardest things to do. 

It’s basically saying no to 20 other things that you love, that are important enough to have made the list. 

Perhaps this is what it really means when people say that if you want to achieve your big goals in life, you have to be ruthless. Not ruthless with other people, but with yourself. 

In writing, there’s a common saying: Kill your darlings. 

It means you have to be brutal with the piece of work that you’ve just bled out. That no matter how hard you’ve worked on it, you have to be savage and cut out the parts that don’t elevate your piece of work enough. 

That’s how you produce a masterpiece.

Villains

At least a couple of times now, I have spoken to people who have told me about the “villain” in their lives. This is normal. In our own stories where we are (obviously) the hero, there will be villains. 

What was surprising was that the villain in their lives, were “friends and sidekicks” or “helpers” in mine. 

This made me realise that the villains in my life may be less villainous in someone else’s story. And although I’d already realised this, it solidified the thought that I’m probably the villain in someone else’s story as well. 

It’s terribly hard to be human. To find that balance between wanting to be the good guy and at the same time stay true to yourself. It’s impossible to be the good guy in everyone’s story. It’s impossible to please everyone. 

Perhaps it’s about learning to respect boundaries. To understand that everyone is their own person and to not expect them to do this or say that. To realise that the truth has many faces and that everyone has their own point of view. 

Who knows why people do the things they do? At times we do things that we ourselves aren’t able to make sense of. How can someone else figure us out?

People are complex. In the words of Walt Whitman, we “contain multitudes”. 

Long

Seth Godin wrote on his blog today that “the long run is made up of a bunch of short runs”. 

We all know this. We know it so well that we take it for granted. 

“We live our short runs as if that isn’t true,” Godin writes. 

It’s hard to remember that what seems like such a big deal in the short term will be nothing in the long term. That is, if we choose not to let things get to us. If we take actions to ensure that we are still on track for the long run. 

It gets difficult some days to remember that although it seems like I am going nowhere, if I keep going, and keep going in the right direction, in the long run, I’ll get to where I want to be.

What you do in your minutes, adds up to your hours and days and years, I try to remind myself. 

Making money might seem like the most important thing right now, but I refuse to look back on my life in the long run, and wish that I had spent more time on my health and my family. 

I want to make those things important now

Plan in decades. Think in years. Work in months. Live in days.

— Mel Robbins