Archive for the 'Living richly' Category

I mean, I do still like a nice drink.

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

[MAX VULNERABILITY ALERT]

As I reboot my life (context here), I’m reviewing my old hopes and dreams — too many of which have been set aside over time — and then checking my behavior for alignment with them.

(“Alignment” gets way overused as a business buzzword, but I riffed on its authentic use in this Twitter thread.)

Examples:

  1. I’ve recently declined to bid on some client jobs that I realized weren’t right for me, even though a one-man LLC like me is almost always looking for the next gig.
  2. I recently donated a huge pile of books to the local library, even though I’ve already culled hundreds of books from my shelves over the past few years.
  3. Yesterday I started Instagramming the discards from my old files of draftwork.

The client from #1 wasn’t a bad client — just the wrong client for me at this point in my life. Same with the books from #2 and the draft from #3. Actually, no, that draft wasn’t great at all, but the point remains that it was time to move on from it.

In every case, it’s about discarding what’s not helping you. Which brings me to booze.

I’m not what I would call a “problem drinker,” much less an alcoholic. I never, ever get wasted, and in fact I’m safe to drive 99.95% of the time — with that occasional 0.05% coming when I’m safe at home at the end of the day with nowhere to go.

And yet . . .

Over the past couple of years, three different people I trust have expressed concern that I’m a little too quick to go for another round, or to top up that Manhattan. It’s an easy thing to do: I buy good booze, and I make good drinks. I have many friends who like craft cocktails and craft beer like I do, and it’s great to connect with them over a drink.

But in the course of my working days, I’m often alone, and when you’re working from a home office it’s very easy to start happy hour at 4:00 p.m. instead of 5:00, and to pour that second round before dinnertime arrives. And then maybe a nightcap. And it’s even easier when you feel sad and tired.

I think that drinking has cost me a fair bit. I don’t lavish funds on any one bottle — $30 is typically my limit — but it does add up, week in and week out. And it costs me even more when it erodes my work productivity.

So earlier today I went downstairs, poured out all of my mixing booze and all of my beer, and took the picture you see above. There was no great plan for this in place, and it wasn’t some decision that had been plaguing me. It just felt like it was time, you know?

I have happy hour drinks scheduled with friends for each of the next three days, and I’ll happily have a pint of something good — but just the one — when I’m with them. You better believe that next time I’m in New York I’ll be hitting up Attaboy or The Dead Rabbit.

But for now: not at home. Not by myself. I have too much work to do to write this novel, reshape my body (those liquid calories weren’t helping), reorient my career, and reboot my life. I feel lighter already.

Is there something you’re ready to cast aside, something that’s been weighing you down?

What’s stopping you?

Starting Over

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

It’s a new year, sure, but it’s also a new chapter in my life. The most important relationship I’ve ever had has drawn to a close, so this is a season of transitions, learning, rebirth.

Rebirth is painful. You have to start all over, but without the infant’s naivete that carried you through the last time. You feel it all — or you should, if you want the experience to educate you. It’s horrifying, lonely, and wrenching, but also electrifying, vivid, and rejuvenating.

If you’ll let it be. If you’ll learn the lessons. If you’ll embody the experience without looking away from the worst parts.

You have to live the worst parts, go ahead and live through them, so that you can learn the lessons. That’s what makes it so hard.

This year, then, I’m cleaning the slate. New clients, new projects, new writing of my own; new fitness regime, new mindfulness; new friendships, new habits, new patterns. Questioning the old scripts and the old ways, keeping only the ones that bring me joy or still teach me something new.

In this process, I’m seeking to make amends — not that I was ever an addict, thank goodness, but that, in living through the emotional hardships of the past years, I’ve taken my eye off the ball with too many friends and clients, and with too many projects that would have been worthy had I carried them through.

That is partly — no small part — about making amends with myself. Forgiving myself for my shortcomings and mistakes, and making it right with myself by living through my talents to make the world around me better. Doing my real work, and being a real light to those around me.

When I’m doing it right, I feel grateful, even for the heartbreaks. They’ve brought me to this point, where I’m truly ready to grow into the person I’m supposed to be.

May we all have a fruitful journey.

[Image source]

Filling my dance card with writing work.

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

dance_card4

Greetings, esteemed blog visitor!

Life and work have been treating me well. That said, with some big projects recently wrapped up, I do have unclaimed space on my dance card for the coming months.

In other words: Need a writer? Know of someone who needs a writer?

For lo these 17 years gone by, my work has spanned traditional journalism (I love writing magazine features), content marketing, corporate copywriting, and B2B brand journalism for hardware and software companies. Clients and editors come back to me for my ability to help people understand not only the workings of technology, but how tech can have a profound impact on business and life challenges they care about.

Two things I’d love to do more of:

1. Big projects with corporate clients. For instance, last fall I spent a couple of months completely rewriting the site of a network security company that was launching new product lines while rebranding after a merger.

2. Absorbing byline stories built on research & interviews. Short- or longform, magazine or digital. Particularly welcome are stories that combine business and tech (see above), stories dealing with neuroscience, and profiles of interesting people solving problems in new ways.

Happy to supply samples and references, of course. Please just drop me a line in the comments or through the channel of your choice (itemized here).

Looking forward to working with some of you soon!

If you had known then what you know now…

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Remember that “It doesn’t matter.”

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016


Milton Glaser and his most famous design

Milton Glaser and his most famous design



Nine years ago I linked to Milton Glaser’s lovely essay, “Ten Things I Have Learned.” Tonight I was motivated to return to one passage of it:

Last year someone gave me a charming book by Roger Rosenblatt called ‘Ageing Gracefully’ I got it on my birthday. I did not appreciate the title at the time but it contains a series of rules for ageing gracefully. The first rule is the best. Rule number one is that ‘it doesn’t matter.’

‘It doesn’t matter what you think. Follow this rule and it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late or early, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stupid. If you were having a bad hair day or a no hair day or if your boss looks at you cockeyed or your boyfriend or girlfriend looks at you cockeyed, if you are cockeyed. If you don’t get that promotion or prize or house or if you do – it doesn’t matter.’ Wisdom at last.

I needed to read that tonight, and I thought maybe you might be able to use it, too.

Image source.

Algorithms for Work

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

formula

I’ve spent too much time over the years noodling about lifehacks, organizational systems, and so on. The more I work, and the more deeply I experience life, the more I believe that:

  • Yes, there are various little techniques and bits of footwork that help us organize ourselves, BUT . . .
  • For the most part, it comes down to a fairly short list of master algorithms that are sometimes hard to do, but not actually that difficult to understand.

I’m going to build this post slowly as I encounter algorithms that I think deserve to be on that short list. Your feedback will be eagerly received.

The Algorithms

Keep your decks clear. You can relate this to David Allen’s “open loops,” any number of decluttering systems, or simply the old wisdom to clean up after yourself. The core concept is to keep your mind clear to do good work.

Find the balance between tight and loose. My friend Geena frames this as “focus on your path but vigilantly scan the horizon for incoming.” I would generalize it to include a balance between (a) rigorous discipline and principles and (b) creative openness and fluidity. You must have both to succeed.

Keep moving. The essence of life is to move and change and grow. When you find yourself stuck, do what it takes to get un-stuck. This applies also to your body: you don’t need to be a pro athlete, but you DO need to move within your own physical capabilities.

Connect. So much of the value of life exists in relationships. Don’t worry about “networking” or the specific rules of relationships; just connect with the people who are important to you.

. . .

[image source]

Cast off your bogus obligations.

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

chicagojunkcart1941

I’ve been reviewing my life for fake obligations.

Of course we have genuine obligations — for example to our spouses and children, or contractual obligations that we’ve entered into intelligently and that it would be painful or unwise to break.

But feeling obligated, or guilty, about some old personal choice that doesn’t fit into one of those categories of genuine obligation? Bogus.

  • Feeling guilty about the “To Be Read” pile of books on your nightstand? Pointless
  • Needing to “catch up” on a TV show or your Twitter timeline? Inane.
  • . . . you can fill in your own examples.

I once worked with a guy who had a sort of fetish about reading ALL of the New York Times every day. But he was a busy man, so the newspapers piled up. He had weeks’ worth of a backlog, but he wouldn’t chuck even one section without at least leafing through it.

To the degree that that was enjoyable for him, and that the growing stack of newsprint in the corner of his living room didn’t weigh on his psyche, fine. But it was starting to weigh on him, from what he said.

A lot of us do something similar with our inboxes, magazines, Netflix queues, financial mail to be shredded, books we’re not thrilled about finishing, or whatever else. If you take ten seconds you can probably think of the leading culprits in your own life.

I say: chuck those bogus old not-really-obligations to the curb, and do it with a clear conscience. In fact, make a conscious point of developing your skill and your mental toughness in chucking them without remorse.

Travel light in your psyche, friends. Life is short.

[image source]

Commonplace: Lessing

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

fleuron

“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now.
The conditions are always impossible.”


–Doris Lessing

Enough with the overthinking.

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

For a certain kind of smart person (*points to self*), overthinking is a real problem. You could call it “analysis paralysis,” “getting lost in the weeds,” or simply “neurosis.” Whatever you call it, the effects are the same:

  • Too much time spent thinking things over.
  • Mulling that doesn’t lead to action.
  • Angst.
  • Stuck-ness.

So, here in 2013, what say we give the overthinking a miss?

I have some ideas on how to avoid it — or curtail it when it does arise — but what are your best methods for dealing with overthinking?

Image source.

My New Year’s Wish for You.

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

That you’ll embrace the magic of your life.

That you won’t shy away from whatever is deepest and best in you.

That this year, more so than any previous year, you will live.

What’s your wish for this new year?

(This post inspired by Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s wishes.)