Tomorrow Starts Tonight

Saw that quote from Olympic runner Alexi Pappas, and it’s so true.

Want to run tomorrow morning? Set your running gear out.

Want to record some music first thing in the morning (ahem, Seth)? Put your bass on your desk, so you actually have to pick it up, and if you pick it up, well, may as well write something.

It’s not about goals (“I want to write a whole song!”), it’s about systems (as James Clear writes in Atomic Habits).

So instead of banging away at one song, I just write something everyday: a riff, than another riff on top of that, oh wait, I hear something else let me write a second part.

Perfect? No way. But listen to some of your favorite musicians and you’ll hear how some of their songs on recent albums were taped together from ideas a decade earlier.

Song titles, lyrics, melodies, business ideas, work outs, whatever…

Day after day, for years, and then you end up somewhere.

Life Hacks in 2018

Jocelyn Aucoin asked a great question on Twitter today, and I’m writing a blog post about so it doesn’t get lost in the river of social media posts by tomorrow (here’s the link).

For me it was realizing that opposing vibes can’t exist at the same time.

If I listen to good music, and dance, and fist pump, it’s impossible to stress and worry, so now I just dance all the time.

Sure, I can’t do that 24/7, but I find the more momentum I build throughout the day, the less likely I’m going to fall into any evening funk, which reminds me of some other wise words:

I have a very simple rule that serves me well: Don’t think too much about your life after dinnertime. Thinking too much at the end of the day is a recipe for despair. Everything looks better in the light of the morning. 

Austin Kleon

Work When You Work

There isn’t a magical formula for success that relates directly to when you do your best work.

Every roommate I’ve ever had goes to bed around 11, so for me, the night is really nice because everything gets really quiet. I’m a big believer in not going to bed before something’s done, so I usually get around two hours of work in somewhere between 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. 

Photographer Aundre Larrow at Megenta

I started waking up real early, and started creating at 7 a.m, like real full-on sessions, not just like I’m poking around. I’m in. What I started doing before that was the last move of the night I clean the whole studio. Fill up the water pitcher, when I wake up I have the teapot ready, there’s nothing to do except get started. And I realized there sun’s shining down, you’ve got that pure energy, you’re just up, and all of a sudden it was turning 11 a.m and I hadn’t even looked at my phone and I was like, oh I just learned how to do it. 

Producer Nick Hook at Abelton

If you’re not a morning person, it’s okay. If you’re a night owl, great.

Personally I get up early and get cracking at some work, then I have the rest of the morning and afternoon to tackle my biggest work. And honestly, I’ll let some tasks slide into the early evening, because by then I am motoring, and can buzz through whatever else is on my to-do list.

Define Your Own Success in 2019

“Lately I’m feeling more successful than I have in a long time, just because you change the parameters for yourself about what that means.”

Jill Sobule at The Creative Independent

If success is only this one thing, then anyone else who doesn’t hit that mark is then… not successful? Like so many things in life, it’s not so black and white, and we need to find so much of that for ourselves.

Perhaps my current situation isn’t on par with other 40-somethings, but that’s okay, because I’m happy, the bills are paid, and well… yeah, that’s success for me. Sure, there’s countless other bullet points I could list, but why? They aren’t for you, or your life, you need to figure that out, too.

Eight years ago I was on a bike with no job and some money in the bank, and I look back, and I was having fun. That was fine for that moment, and informed who I am today, and that’s okay.

Would I have liked to “arrived” a little bit quicker than 2018? Sure, but as they say it’s the journey, not the destination. I know I wouldn’t be able to appreciate all of what I have now if it just sprang out of nowhere.

100 plus

I finally passed 100 posts, and… here we are. I’ve been keeping up with this blog a bit more, and I’ve had a handful of great conversations as a result.

These posts take a bit longer to publish than a Tweet. Email replies come a bit slower. Scheduling calls takes some effort.

But anything worth doing requires some effort. That’s why it’s called effort, and not “sitting on the couch eating Cheetos.”

Work goes into something – practicing guitar, learning how to program, how to be a better partner – and someday (probably not tomorrow) you get better.

Running a few miles a day back in 2016 led to a half-marathon just two years later. If that’s not a metaphor, I don’t know what is.

Not Knowing is Okay

Maybe we all need to leave social media and start blogging again. Then we just need to follow everyone’s blogs in an RSS feeder, and then that will fix everything.

Just replace all these apps and social media outlets with an RSS feeder loaded with 100s (or 1000s) of sites that will display a notification of all the un-read blog posts we need to get through.

If the goal is to keep investing time in knowing what everyone else is doing, then I guess that’s a solution. But maybe we can save those 7+ hours and get back to reading, making music, taking photographs, or going on walks.

Headspace has a 40% off sale for all of 2019 (as of Dec 11, 2018). They have some free meditations you can check out, and I got hooked on their sleep courses, which you give you nice little wind-downs with fun ambient settings to fall asleep to (hopefully).

My First 30 Days of Push Ups

I credit the book “Atomic Habits” for getting me going in the right direction. “You do not rise to the level of your goals—you fall to the level of your systems.”

It’s nice to have a goal – “I WANT A STRONG UPPER BODY!” Sure. But as author James Clear lays out, you need a system.

My new system starts the night before.

I plug in my phone, and it stays on the other side of the room. This way I’m not tempted to wake up and start scrolling.

Next, I cover my phone with a note written from the previous night. At night I got goals, strength, power! In the morning, ahhh, I just want to crawl back under the covers. But with a note on my phone that says, “HEY! DO YOUR PUSHUPS,” it’s snaps me back to the system.

Oh, another part of my system is I can’t do my push ups until I stretch for 15 minutes. That’s another goal – stretching for 30 minutes a day. That, and launching right into push ups probably isn’t too good on the muscles anyways, so yeah, I get down on my mat and go through a stretch routine.

After my timer goes off at 15 minutes, then I can finally do my push ups. I started at five (don’t start your habit off by making it too difficult), but now I’m up to 10. They’re still not easy, but I’m building a habit, not training for a competition.

Once I’ve stretched and done my push ups, I really have no desire to crawl back into bed now with my phone. The blood is flowing, heart is pumping – let’s go! Make that bed! Make breakfast! Drink coffee!

Then, all without too much effort, my day is off to a great start. That’s my system.

 

Making Space

A timely arrival in my inbox, wise words from Derek Sivers,

“Life can be improved by adding, or by subtracting. The world pushes us to add, because that benefits them. But the secret is to focus on subtracting.”

Subtracting opens space.

Space, like wide open areas. Breathe the air and enjoy the views.

Space, like fewer notes to allow a song to breathe.

Space, surfaces cleared, tidy, with purpose and reason.

Space, as giving your brain a break.

Subtracting as a strategy in 2018 seems crazy pants, but I think we’re onto something here.