Life Of A Drifter

Doctor or lawyer, I’ll never be.
Life of a drifter – only life for me.
You can have your riches, all the gold you saved.
Cause’ ain’t room for one thing in everybody’s grave.

Clutch – “Electric Worry

Ever since seeing Clutch at RiotFest in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, I haven’t been able to get these lyrics out of my head.

I fit no particular mold. I can’t come up with an appropriate job title. I have no specific niche. Most marketing gurus will tell you that’s not going to get me anywhere.

When people asked me what I did when we were introduced at Circles Conference this past week, the only answer I had was, “a lot of things.” And I’m okay with that. I help people, businesses and non-profits in many ways, but no one specific way. The jack-of-all-trades role suits me well because I can mix it up. As I wrote back in April, I strive for variety.

I quit my job two years ago to pursue no particular goal other than independence and freedom with a passion for helping people. So maybe that’s my niche – drifting around helping people with whatever they need in that moment.


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Time To Think

If you’re not already aware of Dave Pell’s Next Draft, check it out and get the app. He provides an excellent blend of news and interesting reading. This gem from yesterday’s issue came at the perfect time.

From the New York Times: “No Time to Think”:

But you can’t solve or let go of problems if you don’t allow yourself time to think about them. It’s an imperative ignored by our culture, which values doing more than thinking and believes answers are in the palm of your hand rather than in your own head.

We have given up too much of ourselves

We don’t have time to ourselves anymore. Must we always be doing? Going? Writing? Building? Designing? Networking? Working? No. We can break the cycle. We can make time to reflect on our most recent conversation. We can make time to read and make time to think about what we just read.

We make or break the rules

There’s this widespread belief that thinking and feeling will only slow you down and get in your way, but it’s the opposite.

If you only do what they tell you, you’ll never grow. You’ll never experience life to its fullest. I’m proof that you can make your own rules, or at least break a few of those imposed on you that make no sense. Who wants to only do what’s socially acceptable anyway? Society is completely messed up, and you want to comply with that? Determine what’s essential to you and make or break rules as necessary.

To think for yourself, you must make time

I’ve learned a hard lesson in the two years since I quit my “safe and secure” job. Sure, I’ve made plenty of time for things that truly matter, like road trips, exploration and game time. But I didn’t do that at the sacrifice of work, I did it at the sacrifice of “me” time: time to think and reflect, time to exercise, time to read and write. That led me into a bad cycle. I would learn, but I would not have time to think, reflect and apply what I learned.

Make a commitment

Do it right now. You can stop reading this. You’re more important. Commit an hour this week to nothing but thinking. Figure out a nice quiet place you can hole up and just think. Bring a notebook, because you’ll have ideas. Write them down. Then leave them alone and think some more. Next week, commit two hours. Then, start to work it into your daily schedule. If you have a one-hour meeting, add thirty minutes afterward to reflect on what happened. Empathize with those involved and figure out what you’re going to do next.

Process your thoughts and feelings

Finally, we need time for processing. We have wonderful days and happy thoughts. We have miserable days and sad thoughts. These are important to us as human beings. We can and should learn from all these experiences. But we can’t learn and grow if we don’t give ourselves time to reflect and think through things.

Make the time. It will pay off in your work, your relationships and your overall being.

Before long, you’ll realize it’s your favorite time of the week.


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Start With the Closet

I’m reading the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. It’s excellent. As most of you know I’ve been on a bit of a minimalism kick for the past few years. Hell, the first word in the Duce Enterprises tag line is “simplify”.

Why?

Because we’ve all gone a little crazy with everything. Technology, stuff, work, houses, cars, etc. Too much of EVERYTHING.

Starting with the closet

The title of this post comes both from the book and from personal experience. Early in “Essentialism”, McKeown writes about the process of cleaning out your closet.

Every so often it gets so out of control you try and purge the closet. But unless you have a disciplined system you’ll either end up with as many clothes as you started with because you can’t decide which to give away; end up with regrets because you accidentally gave away clothes you do wear and did want to keep; or end up with a pile of clothes you don’t want to keep but never actually get rid of because you’re not quite sure where to take them or what to do with them.
(p. 17)

I laughed out loud when I read this because this was exactly my situation a year ago. I would attempt to clean out my closet – to whittle down my t-shirt collection mostly – and end up with two piles. One was for donation, and the other was the “I’m not sure” pile. It was ridiculous. I’d spend an hour sorting through clothes only to end up with more work to do.

Finally, I reduced the number of decisions I had to make by immediately eliminating anything that I hadn’t worn in the last month or so. I also gave myself permission to give up the old shirts that had some kind of story, and took a photo and saved it in Evernote in case I ever wanted to reminisce. This helped, but I was still not satisfied. Today, I committed to reducing my closet to the absolute essentials so I can focus on other, more important decisions. Extra watches: gone; sock drawer: simplified; belts: one reversible. This is fun!

And now back to this post. If you’re hesitant to go full on minimalist, start with something simple in your life. This may not be your closet – maybe it’s your cubicle or your garage or even your car. Give yourself permission to be a hard core essentialist on this one thing. Keep only that which is actually valuable to you. Clean out the rest for donation or trash. Learn from this experience and then move on to the next thing.

Priority vs. priorities

By focusing on the essential, we enable ourselves to prioritize effectively. We can’t make everything a priority. This goes for your work life and your personal life. Everything is a trade-off. But if we have a single clear priority, the process of making decisions becomes easier.

My priority is time. One of my goals earlier this year was to write every day. It became one of my many priorities. The problem is with that word “many”. I now know “many priorities” is impossible. I have eliminated the false priorities and cleared the path for more space and time that I can dedicate to reading and writing. I could not have done that without focusing on the essential.

For me, that started with my closet.


Links from this post

“Essentialism: The Dedicated Pursuit of Less”
Fast Company: “Always Wear the Same Suit”