Money can't buy happiness

We've all heard this age-old adage.

As someone who has never been motivated by money, I have always agreed with this - until now.

Sure, money and the material possessions you can buy with it won't ever make you truly happy, but it can help you buy something that will:

Time.

We can use this time to explore what really makes us happy.

For many people, money can buy peace of mind in the form of paying off medical bills, enjoying new experiences through travel, or simply staying out of survival mode.

If you ask me, time and peace of mind are the perfect ingredients for thriving.

After all, that's all any of us want - to live an intentional life in which we can thrive.

Money isn't the destination - it's simply a tool to help us find it.


Change your environment

I hate work-life balance.

In my ideal world, my work informs my life and vice versa.

In fact, I desperately seek work that fulfills me each day and I love the feeling that comes with getting lost in something you care about.

The thing is, I don't get the chance to talk about these things with most of my friends. The conversations are usually limited to food, sports, music, and other group interests.

Don't get me wrong - I love sharing experiences with others and, at my age, many of these experiences happen in bars and other hangouts.

Yesterday, I met up with one of my best friends over lunch and our conversation drifted into this territory.

My friend has known me since seventh grade, which means he has seen all of the ups and downs that I've encountered while stumbling down my unconventional path. He knows how much pressure I put on myself and he is usually able to keep me in check when my ambition gets the best of me.

I mentioned how I wish our friends could share more of their work lives with each other and, as always, he dropped a little nugget of truth:

"If you want those types of conversations, maybe you should consider creating those types of environments."

I'm stubborn, but I couldn't deny how right he was.

The conversation I want doesn't usually happen at bars or while playing beer pong - it happens in a more intimate setting like coffee shops or at home.

Our environments really do impact our lives and the time we spent with others.

If you're looking for a change, try changing your environment first.


When worlds collide

There is no better feeling than when old friends meet new friends.

I love it when these worlds collide, the feeling you experience when the world shrinks just a little bit.

In fact, I wish it happened more often.

Unfortunately, work and other responsibilities get in the way.

Despite this inconvenience, I want to make more of an effort to facilitate these types of experiences, both for myself and others.

I wonder what type of format would work best. Dinner? Drinks? Some sort of shared activity or interest? These all work, but there are already plenty of options like these out there.

Personally, I would like to connect people using shared ideas and/or creative projects. This would give others the chance to flex their creative muscles a little more while meeting others at the same time.

As someone who values shared experiences, I always look for ways to include others as much as possible, even if I don't know a group of people.

After all, strangers are just friends you haven't made yet.


Scrolling through our problems

I'm addicted to scrolling.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone with a smartphone.

Whether it's filtered photos on Instagram or quippy tweets on Twitter, I'm constantly scrolling.

Sometimes, I don't even know I'm doing it until someone else clears their throat or points out how rude I'm being.

I obviously don't mean any harm. It's not that I find the conversation boring - I'm just hooked to the variable reward of what I might find.

Here's some tough love: we won't ever find what we're looking for while scrolling.

For me, this doesn't sink in until a quick bathroom break turns into 20 minutes of wasted time and a numb butt.

When we mindlessly scroll through social feeds, we're ignoring our real problems. We're avoiding the uncertainty, self-doubt, and good 'ol fashioned hard work that comes with real life.

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer seeing as I still struggle with this.

I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem...


Insanity

After reviewing my old journal and reflecting on the past 30 years, I am much more aware of the things that have been holding me back.

Yesterday, I shared my takeaways and people seemed to think I was being a little too hard on myself.

The thing is, I already celebrate and share my small wins with others and in my mind, it's our failures that give us a chance to learn and grow.

This was the perfect time to pick mine apart and learn what I can in order to move forward.

The biggest red flag was the fact that I continuously wrote about the same problems but never did anything about them.

Isn't this the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

I would guess that many of us fall into this trap, repeating the same mistakes day in and day out without doing anything about them.

If I revisit my journal more frequently (at the end of every week), I should be able to nip this in the bud sooner.


Dirty thirty

It's hard to believe I'm actually 30 years old today.

For the most part, it doesn't feel any different.

However, after reading each and every entry from my old journal (that started in 2014), 30 has become a little more sobering than I thought.

Now that I have taken a high-level look at the past few years, here are a few takeaways:

• I have an apparent problem with self-control
• I don't review my thoughts nearly enough
• My actions don't always align with my words
• I tend to ignore what is right in front of me
• I haven't (successfully) identified and solidified my long-term goals
• Which is why I haven't reverse engineered them into short-term steps yet
• I make a lot of excuses
• I unfairly project onto others more than I realize
• I consistently repeat the same mistakes
• My ambition constantly gets the best of me
• I haven't fully grasped what it means to "live with intention"
• I fall in love with ideas too easily
• I shoot myself in the foot by not saying, "No" enough

Looking back, I'm nowhere near where I thought I would be mainly because I wasn't 100% sure where that was in the first.

Maybe that's the problem.

We can't really move forward without first looking back.

In the future, I will revisit my own definition of success much more often while putting in place some tangible markers along the way.


Quality time

I value quality time with others.

It's only Saturday, and I've already had quality time with several close friends.

From kitchen conversations to walks in the park, I've had the chance to check in with people I care about.

I realize I don't do this often enough. Unfortunately, it's far-too-easy to get stuck in our own little worlds and forget that our friends and family members have problems, too.

Whether you agree or not, there is a certain expectation you put in place when you call someone a "friend." It doesn't mean you're available 24/7 to talk whenever they need it, but it does mean that you care about their hopes, dreams, fears, goals, and ambitions.

These are things we all have but don't often get the chance to share.

Instead of waiting for your turn to talk, try giving someone you care about the chance to voice what matters to them.

Sometimes listening is the easiest way to turn regular time into quality time.


A weekend to myself

I have a rare opportunity: an entire weekend alone without any plans.

Usually, these weekends are few and far between, especially with one that just happens to fall on my birthday.

Me being me, I obviously want to celebrate, but I also don't want to let this time go to waste.

I have to remind myself that I won't figure out my entire life in the span of a few days, but I do want to stop and reflect on the past 30 years while also looking ahead to the next 30.

Up until this point, my life has been full of fumbling, experimentation, and learning things the hard way. As much as I want to continue exploring new things, I also would like to introduce another level of intentionality into the equation.

This doesn't happen by chance - it takes the foresight needed to block out the necessary time, which is what this weekend is for.

I will revisit and update long-term goals, review my habits (both bad and good), and put a plan in place so I can move forward with purpose.

I also plan on a having a drink (or two).


Being alone

I'm a huge extrovert.

Back in college, I would spend most of my time in my dorm's lounge, constantly chatting with anyone who would hang out.

As a young adult, I always lived with roommates. After all, they are mandatory friends who are forced to spend time with you, right?

Hell, I'm still haunted by FOMO when I hear about friends getting together.

However, at this point in my life, I've finally realized the value of being alone.

In the mornings, I actually prefer to be by myself as I go through my daily routine. Being alone with my thoughts makes it easier to hear and explore them through writing.

Since I started writing, I've noticed I tend to do my best work when I have uninterrupted periods of alone time (shocker!). Thanks to this focused time for deep work, I can really listen to my inner voice and pick apart any problems I have while sharing what I learn with others.

Whether you're extroverted or not, carving out time to be alone can help you practice introspection which, if you ask me, is something we could all use a little more of.


What's your story?

As much as I try, there is always more I could do to put myself out there.

For the last few months, I've wanted to start sharing my ideas via video. As many of you already know, this takes a little more preparation than writing and it requires a higher level of vulnerability.

After all, you're attaching your face to the delivery of your ideas, not just your words.

At the end of the day, all I want to do is connect people with ideas and help them pursue their own path. It doesn't matter if this is through writing, video, speaking, of all of the above.

These are just different formats for delivering the same message to others.

The thing is, you can't with others unless you have something to say in the first place. Focus on creating a story will resonate with your audience and the platform won't matter.

What's your story? 


Values

I think about values a lot.

In fact, one could say it's part of my job.

When I started my career in freelance design, I choose to focus on branding.

As many "creatives" can tell you, everyone's process is different. As a professional, it's part of what makes you who you are.

For as long as I can remember, I've always started my branding process by identifying the values of the client, whether they are a company or an individual.

In my mind, a brand isn't successful unless the individual pieces reflect its values and beliefs. 

Naturally, this fascination with values has made its way into my personal life.

Even though people tend to connect over shared interests, joining fantasy sports leagues or book clubs, I've noticed deeper connections when I share values with someone else.

This doesn't mean we completely align - I would argue that this is unrealistic.

Usually, this connection follows one of the following trends:

  1. We share one or two of our most important values
  2. We share many values that aren't as crucial

If I had to guess, first-time conversations don't usually reach this level of depth. Some people may even find it off-putting in the beginning.

If you ask me, life is too short to spend it with people who don't share your values.


New journal

Today, I bought a new journal.

I'm saying goodbye to 4+ years of fluid thoughts, lofty goals, and tangible steps.

I might be overreacting but, in my mind, a new journal is a blank slate that allows me to redefine myself while starting anew.

Sure, no one else will probably ever read my journal, but that doesn't matter. I will.

Writing on a new page makes me feel as if anything is possible.

My new journal could very well hold what might be my the beginnings of my masterpiece. Or, it might simply help in removing myself as an obstacle.

Either way, it will play an important role in who I eventually become.

It will help me experiment with new ideas, capture new insight, and try new things.

As much as I hate to admit, I'm not as daring as I would like to be.

Moving forward, I want to be uncomfortable, learn from others who are different, and start pursuing the life I want.

Eventually, I want this new journal to be filled with reflections of a life well-lived instead of aspirations of what could be.


Hard work

I'm not afraid of a little hard work...as long as it has a point.

If I don't see a clear cause-and-effect relationship, there's a good chance I won't follow through with a given task.

I am always ready to welcome hard work with open arms as long as it brings me closer to my goals.

The thing is, I need to be more ruthless with these goals and how I determine what is important and what isn't. When you solidify something and write it down, it becomes real.

After all, this is the only way to create a litmus test for future priorities.

Otherwise, I will continue to fumble along without intention.


A fear of mediocracy

My mind is foggy and I'm scrolling through Twitter for ideas.

Why? Do I expect inspiration to jump out at me or is simply the path of least resistance?

I don't think anyone has ever found what they are looking for while scrolling unless it's a distraction from real life.

Instead, I should be turning inward and listening to my inner voice.

At this point, I'm afraid no one will be interested in the stories I have to tell. I'm afraid no one will find me funny or thought-provoking. I'm afraid I'll be seen as mediocre or average.

Honestly, this last one might be my biggest fear. I'm tired of fumbling from one thing to the next without having anything extraordinary to show for it.

Come to think of it, I'm sure others feel exactly the same way. I'm sure they would like to know they're not alone.

Maybe this is a perfect reason to share my writing with others.


My legacy

I think about the future a lot, but almost never in the context of what I want to leave behind.

When I think about my future legacy, I can't help but revisit my personal mission:

To create a smaller world connected by ideas.

This mission grew out of one fleeting moment of serendipity that I have tried to duplicate it ever since. I want others to benefit from using their ideas to connect with other like-minded people.

With this in mind, I would want my legacy to reflect the fact that I accomplished my mission while helping others along the way.

In other words, I will have helped as many people as possible in creating their own paths.


Small steps

Things are always a little more complicated than we realize.

I was reminded of this while writing the first draft of my first book. I figured it would be as "simple" as writing a draft, shopping it around to potential agents, and then eventually finding a publisher.

For those of you who have already gone through the submission process, I'm sure you're scoffing at my audacity. After all, you know there is much more to it than this.

While writing the first draft, I quickly learned that for nonfiction, writers usually submit a proposal before finishing the entire manuscript.

OK, no sweat. I'll just put together a proposal. 

While starting that process, I then learned that before the proposal, it's standard procedure to first send prospective agents a query letter. 

Hm, fine. It's time to start drafting a query letter.

Even the query letter has a few steps in order for it to be presentable to agents.

As you can tell, I'm not the "plan everything out" kind of guy. Instead, I usually dive in head first and tackle each step as it pops up.

In my mind, things don't have to be that complicated. Any big goal (writing a book, starting a company, etc.) can be broken down into a series of smaller steps. Some of these steps are obvious and some aren't.

None of us can control the number of steps. All we can do is focus on doing each one to the best of our ability and then move on to the next one.

If we stick with it, eventually we'll get to where we want to go.


People will support you

A funny thing happens when you put you and your work out there for everyone to see.

People start supporting you.

I'm talking about people you've never met in real life. They will comment on your writing, like your posts, and even buy your products.

Find enough people like this, and you might be able to make a living.

The thing is, this doesn't magically happen overnight. It takes days, weeks, months, and even years to grow a community around your work.

After fumbling through this process over the past decade, I've learned that it really comes down to two "simple" steps:

  1. Do good work. If you're not there yet, practice until you are. And then keep practicing.
  2. Share that work with people. In the beginning, you'll probably have no idea who your audience is. Just put your work out there and people will naturally gravitate towards it.

Be patient while repeating these two steps and, eventually, you'll have a community to call your own.


Don't be an asshole

It's no secret that people like working with nice people.

At the end of the day, business isn't B2B or B2C - it's P2P, or person to person.

Ego has no place in the workplace, regardless of how good you might be.

Imagine working with that one guy we all know. You know, the one who always has to brag or show off all of the time? He might be good at what he does, but he will get old real quick. It's pretty apparent that he doesn't know how to be vulnerable or relate to others.

That's why I try to treat my professional relationships the same way I treat those in my personal life - with respect and honesty.

After all, life is too short to work with people who are assholes.


Exploring is hard

Being complacent is easy.

Letting past actions dictate future outcomes takes little to no effort.

Do you know what's hard?

Breaking this day-to-day monotony by exploring.

Instead of going to the same coffee shop or watching the same thing on Netflix, try walking around your neighborhood or driving to a new part of town.

Thanks to societal pressure, exploring can feel like a waste of time.

I beg to differ.

After a weekend of exploring, I feel more rejuvenated than I have in a while.

What's stopping you from doing the same?

We all have distractions and responsibilities that compete for our time. As important as creating a routine is, it's just as important to know when to break it.

Make it easier on yourself by blocking out time in your weekly schedule.

After all, Netflix will be waiting when you get back.


Life is short

Life is short.

We spend too much time worrying about trivial things when, in the grand scheme of things, most of it won't even matter.

It's easy to forget this day-to-day thanks to an endless stream of distractions.

Sure, we all have to do things we don't want to do, but my guess is these things start outnumbering the moments in life that really matter.

The tough part is slowing down long enough to figure out what these moments are.

A conversation. Stealing a few minutes alone with someone you love. Becoming lost in something so deeply that time goes by without even realizing it.

Once we're able to identify these moments, we can start living intentionally by structuring each day around them.