The World According to Walter White
Well, we’ve reached that time of the year when, (at least for most of us), our New Year’s resolutions are but a distant memory. Whether we stuck to the goal of getting up at some ungodly hour to fumble for our sneakers before the “cock crowed” just once, or for the entire month of January, the likelihood that we’re still Gung Ho! about waving to street sweepers and hurdling homeless people at 5 a.m. is remote. Blame it on the blizzard, or the waning novelty of the Fitbit we found in our Christmas stocking; we’re pretty much back to our usual routines.
But, it turns out, as Entrepreneur.com contributor Travis Bradberry tells us in his pippy piece 10 Habits That Will Dramatically Improve Your Life, we have to be very careful choosing our pursuits, because apparently our habits make us. Now, I have to share the acute sense of irony about this week’s post and Mr. Bradberry’s article that inspired it, as I happened to be doing the one thing I scold myself about more than any other when I stumbled upon his advice. I was surfing instead of writing, which is my ultimate goof-off/terrible habit, and something I routinely justify as research. It is also something I promised to resolve at 11:59 on December 31st, 2016.
I’m not usually one for all the self-help hyperbole. I never got the whole cheerleading thing. Don’t get me wrong; I respect those with the commitment it takes to plaster on way too much makeup and tie their hair back so tightly their orthodontically-straightened teeth are displayed whether they like it or not, although I do for some bizarre reason find myself mildly attracted to Tony Robbins. I know, kinda weird.
My, aren’t I tangentializing (fab new word) this week? I really need to get back to what I’m all about, which are the trials and tribulations of being a writer and the sheer joy of reading good prose. I will therefore get back to Mr. Bradberry’s rah-rah article, much of which I skipped because – well, see above. I did get somethings from it though. Good snippets for all, but especially writers, so here we go:
Get Started, even if you might fail – I’m actually going to cite Bradberry citing author Jodi Picoult here, who apparently said “You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.” This is true for just about every type of writing. In my other life I write policy. Yes, it’s as boring as it sounds. And, yes, I’ve discovered even bosses suffer from paralysis by analysis, so I’ve learned to write something, knowing they’re going to change it another dozen or so times. It’s always easier to Monday-morning-quarterback than it is to play the game, so get something on the page. It works, trust me!
The one resource that is really scarce is spare time - Obvious, I know. We all pack so much stuff into our day, but how much of it is r-e-a-l-l-y necessary? Prioritization is key. Showing up for work so you get a paycheck? Check. Getting to the gym so you can have a piece of Heather from accounting’s birthday cake? Check. Watching latest episode of Game of Thrones? Hello? But picking up your phone to text a client and twenty minutes of Facebook or Snapchat later wondering what the hell it was you wanted to say and to whom? NG. Then doing it five or ten times a day? That’s potentially three hours of writing you’ve just lost for nothing more than liking the cute puppy sliding across the parquet floor and getting pissed that our President just dissed (fill-in-the-blank). In the words of the great philosopher Mel Brooks, “Put the Cell Phone Back!”
Make time for activities that make you feel most authentically yourself – It took me SO many years to figure this one out. Some people are lucky and/or brave enough to follow their passion at an early age. Others (like me) really struggle to discover what makes them whole. I found out that I have a passion for writing at an age where I wonder every day whether I’ll live long enough to be able to get down on the page everything I really want to say. I’m not geriatric by any means, but I’m certainly middle-aged. If I satisfy the bell curve I maybe have twenty years left to write, and twenty years seems like the blink of an eye. I find myself panicking that it will be gone before I know it, and I feel I have so many stories left to write! So, this is my smidge of information to impart in this week’s post. If you have a passion for something that reinforces your authenticity, don’t hold back. Embrace it with every ounce of your being. Get out there and do it, or write it, or paint it, or say it or dance it, or mime it, or teach it, or bake it, or at least work toward it, the list goes on…. Do it and be proud, and never, ever be ashamed of the little bit of you that you intend to leave behind for future generations to discover. Your hand print is important even if you don't leave it on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
What do you do to make yourself feel authentic? When did you discover your happy place? Did you always know it, or did it take time for you to figure out who you really were?