Archives For Motivation

Thinking is hard. It requires attention, focus and… oh look, a new car. Wow, it’s a pretty pearl colored mid-size SUV. Speaking of mid-size SUV, have you noticed all mid-sized SUVs look the same now, whether it’s an Audi, Toyota, BMW or Hyundai?

Oh wait, I was thinking about something else… our lives are complex. There are literally thousands of decisions we make every few hours, with most of them so programmed that we don’t even think about it anymore. I wake up to my alarm clock, get out of bed, hop in the shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and head to work*. Within those steps, there are hundreds of little decisions to make. Should I put my socks on my hands or my feet? Should I wear underwear or go commando? Should I drink straight from the milk carton or use a glass?

Luckily for us, there are entire companies to help us do our thinking. They’re called advertisers. They tell us what we need to make us happy, how we should dress to stay trendy, how we need to look to be considered beautiful and much more. Thanks to advertisers, many of our hardest decisions are made for us! Continue Reading…

“Let me know if I can help” – I’m guilty of saying it, as most of us probably are. It gives us a sense of relief as we feel we’re there for somebody, even if we have no intentions of helping. We feel like we’re doing the right thing and surely, if they need help, they’ll reach out to us. But rarely would it ever go like that.

When someone is going through something challenging, the last thing they want to do is bug other people. It may be the hardest thing of their life, they may have lost someone close to them or had a major life-changing event that’s left them in the pit of despair. They won’t look up the list of people who told them to “let me know if I can help” and start calling up for favors.

It’s the easy way out, and I’m definitely guilty of it, so I hope you don’t feel like I’m standing on the podium talking down; instead, I’m reprimanding myself for all the times I’ve offered this self-soothing form of assistance.

If you really want to help someone, don’t tell them to let you know if you can help, but instead, just help. Think of the thing that would help them, and do it. I recently heard an incredibly powerful example of this from a reader of the blog, let’s call him John, and it truly touched me.

John told me they had a friend who had a sick family member who they’d have to provide assistance. It would cause them to miss work for quite sometime, and they would also have to pitch in for medical bills. John got the usual offers of assistance to help, if of course he’d reach out to the person offering and let them know what he needed.

Then, John had a family friend show up at his house. The visitor didn’t know how to approach the situation, but he knew the amount of pain the family was going through and he felt compelled to help. Instead of coming with empty offers of assistance, he came with an envelope full of cash because he knew they’d need it to help get them through, and he came with a heart overflowing with empathy and support.

It was more money than John would’ve expected or wanted from anyone, but in the back of his mind, he knew he would need it. In fact, John knew the kind donor had been saving the money for a new house and this would set them back substantially, but that didn’t stop them from giving.

It was an incredible act of selflessness and sacrifice that showed the beauty in humanity. We’re human when we show compassion and empathy for those in need; we’re human when we set the example for others of how things should be done.

I wanted to share this story with you so we can help pay it forward to someone else. This has definitely changed the way I’ll help those in need, and I’ll always think before I say “Let me know if I can help”.

First Lifestyle, Then Work?

February 18, 2017 — 4 Comments

Lifestyles are a major contributor to our happiness, but most often they’re designed around the remaining time we can squeeze from the rest of our life. It’s hard to live a lifestyle of pursuing the things you love if you’re working 80 hours a week.

What would happen if we redesigned our lives around a lifestyle we loved? For the first ten years of my post-college graduate life, my job determined my lifestyle. For the first seven years, I worked for Accenture and traveled Monday through Thursday for 90% of the year. I spent weekends back home in Dallas, but much of the time was used to catch up on the things I missed during the week – appointments, shopping, errands and any other time I could squeeze out to catch up with friends or my then girlfriend.

My weeks were filled with a lifestyle designed around my job. Even though I usually flew out on Monday morning, I’d dedicate time on Sunday evening to packing, ironing and finishing up whatever other errands popped up before heading out. Besides giving me the chance to work face to face with my client, the travel was also advantageous to my employer because it meant I was pretty much there to focus on work. There were no “outside” distractions we face at home like family, friends, clubs and organizations, volunteer activities, personal hobbies or errands. We were there to focus on work.

If I wanted to hang out with friends, it was only the people I was working with at the time. Sometimes that was good, but on other projects like when I traveled to Philadelphia for 1.5 years, I was the only consultant, so most evenings were spent alone. I didn’t mind too much because I was reading and writing a lot and the travel perks were pretty amazing, between hotel points, flight upgrades and extra cash from my per diem.

The job was still a really great opportunity where I learned a ton, met a lot of great people and made good money, but I was so over the travel. I left Accenture in 2011 and went to HP so I wouldn’t have to travel as much and could actually spend time with my wife. It worked out for a while and life was pretty balanced because I was working from home (which presents its own challenges), and I even got to take an unpaid leave in 2013 to travel the world for ten months!

After we came back to work in 2014, things really picked up. I was fortunate to get a promotion to Manager and the new project I joined back on was incredibly challenging and my wife also got a new job. Over the course of the next two years, HP separated, acquired multiple companies and went through a bevy of changes which required some intense work. In the end, I was managing a team of 60+ people globally and a website with hundreds of thousands of users. My day usually started with 100+ emails overnight from Asia and Europe, continued with 10 hours of conference calls during the day, and ended with conference calls with Asia sometimes until 10 or 11 at night. We also worked at least one weekend a month to deliver code to the new website and if the site ever went down at night or over the weekend, I also got to work! Needless to say, I was out of balance again.

I felt privileged to have such a good opportunity to deliver challenging work, make friends with so many people around the world and make some really good money, but it was taking a toll on my mental and physical health. My life was incredibly out of balance, and I wasn’t living the lifestyle I wanted, so we made the difficult decision to quit.

My wife and I have thought a lot about the lifestyle we love and are mostly in agreement (I doubt we’ll ever be in full agreement, but that’s fine). We landed somewhere around here:

  1. Ability to take long vacations domestically and internationally to explore the world
  2. Work similar schedules so we can enjoy each other’s company
  3. Include enough time to catch up with friends and family
  4. Pursue work we enjoy and can make money
  5. Pursue work that provides meaningful interactions and allow us to create or be a part of a community
  6. Earn enough money to do the things we want to do!

Anytime I think of a new career or job opportunity, I try to run it through that filter first. Previously when I thought about entrepreneurship opportunities, I only thought about how much money I could make off of it. Could it get me rich? I never pursued any of those opportunities because the idea would get old pretty fast, indicating I wouldn’t have been successful anyway.

I know many people will think I’m a total asshole for writing this because it’s such a “first world problem”. Most people will never get the opportunity to think about a “lifestyle first” approach due to just getting by paycheck to paycheck or sacrificing your life for the kids. However, there’s always something you can do to move that direction. For us, pursuing this lifestyle first approach motivated us to work really hard and save lots of money, so we can entertain it. I may end up going back to a corporate job that once again eliminates my lifestyle list above, but I’m sure as hell going to try hard not to!

Ayn Rand Inspiration for 2016

December 27, 2015 — 1 Comment

If you’re not familiar with Ayn Rand, I’m writing a post that will come out in a few weeks with my full biased review and explanation of her philosophies. I’ve had quite a cycle starting with an obsession with her philosophies and going “all in” on her objectivism, to then disagreeing with most of her stances, to now being a bit more neutral and pulling some things I like and discarding the rest.

Regardless of my own cyclical thoughts and tendencies, the fact remains there’s a lot of merit in her writing and philosophies and she has some really great quotes. With quotes from Rand’s powerful book Atlas Shrugged, I wish you a prosperous 2016!

I’ll start with my favorite quote of Rand’s that continues to drive my quest for a BREAK FREE lifestyle

“What greater wealth is there than to own your own life and to spend it on growing?”

This really drives my interaction with work and money along with my desire to create a lifestyle where I get to focus on my wife and my visions – and not spend it all working in a job I may not want. However, to get to this point, you have to realize the system we live in and avoid things like this

“A viler evil than to murder a man is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue”

I equate “suicide” in this quote with giving up your life for the profit of someone else. Work is necessary to get to where you want to go:

“there’s no such thing as a lousy job – only lousy men who don’t care to do it”

However, dedicating your entire life to a job you hate because you need to pay the bills on a bunch of crap you don’t need is the suicide. But you can take control of your money and think about how you can pursue the things you want to pursue.

“Thought is a weapon one uses in order to act.  Thought is the tool by which one makes a choice.  Thought sets one’s purpose and the way to reach it”

Think. Act. Make the decision to live the life you want to live. Don’t be another cog in the wheel, unless of course you want to.

“this is what they want of me, this is where they want me – neither living nor dead, neither thinking nor insane, but just a chunk of pulp that screams with fear, to be shaped by them as they please, they who have no shape of their own.”

No matter where you have to start, just start.

“Do not say that you’re afraid to trust your mind because you know so little.  Are you safer in surrendering to mystics and discarding the little that you know?  Live and act within the limit of your knowledge an keep expanding it to the limit of your life.  Accept the fact that your mind is fallible, but becoming mindless will not make you infallible – that an error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error.”

Know your life is incredibly valuable

“to live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life:  reason – purpose – self-esteem.  Reason, as his only tool of knowledge – purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve – Self-esteem, as his inviolated certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means:  is worthy of living.”

You have the potential

“Every man is free to rise as far as he’s able or willing, but it’s only the degree to which he thinks that determines the degree to which he’ll rise.”

And if you haven’t already, find the why

“the desire not to be anything, is the desire not to be”

Because in the end,

“What greater wealth is there than to own your own life and to spend it on growing?”

I found this gem of a post while doing some research for a current post I’m working on. I actually never posted it, but by the references in the post I must have written it in 2011. Just to honor my work, I’m going to post it largely unchanged, and then I’ll write an update and continuation next week. Enjoy 🙂

By 2010 I’d be six years out of college, and I was sure to reside in a downtown high rise overlooking Central Park in New York City.  It would have been a result of my taking the business world by storm, and relentlessly chasing my dreams until I beat them into submission.  Actually, the exact plan was to move to Dallas after college, transfer to New York City, and then off to London.

The plan for success didn’t include what I would actually do, but I think ‘business’ was the common answer.  The answer wasn’t important at that point, but I knew I would be successful and that sounded like an ideal succession of cities to conquer!  This dream of my was formulated well in High School in 1999.  My parents recently reminded me of this and I had to laugh. Continue Reading…