Posts Tagged ‘motivational mondays’

motivational mondays – running barefoot

06/25/2012

When was the last time you felt free? I mean really free. Also known as:

  • Unshackled
  • Careless
  • Unlimited
  • Unrestrained
  • Full of love
  • Happy
  • Ain’t nobody gonna get you down

The more people I meet, I discover that most have a difficult time truly feeling freedom. Whether it’s financial, mental, spiritual or geographical. We struggle with this concept because it feels like there is always something to attend to. Always something that needs our eyes, our words or our hands.

So how can we feel free when our realistic mind tells us we are anything but?

While I could quote The Eagles and their wonderful analogy of chains and keys, I prefer to give a more actionable agenda for starters. So if it’s been a while since you felt that invigorating pseudo-emotion I’ve dubbed freedom, try my Miracle Formula: Run Barefoot.

run barefootrunning barefoot, forefoot strike, running technique, barefoot

Yes, I said it: Run. Barefoot.

Not sure how? Fear not!

Here’s my patented Step-by-Step Guide to Awesomeness™ to walk you through it:

Step 1: Find the nearest open field, free of prickers, devoid of goose poop and chock-full of judgment.*

Step 2: Kick off those Nike Frees, those Saucony Kinvaras or those Converse (for you garage band heroes and hipsters).

Step 3:  Run as fast as you fucking can!

*Step 4 (recommended): Ignore judgment.

Sound crazy? It’s not. I promise you, you’ll feel like a kid again, wild and free.

That feeling may last only a while, but that’s OK. It’s not a form of escapism, as its effects are prolonged in ways you may  not even realize. I guarantee that so long as you don’t step on any fecal matter or prickly weeds, you will feel more free. And if you do step on either of those things, or something else even more ghastly, I think you’ll find a way to laugh it off (but bring a towel, cell phone and first aid kit just in case).

top 10 benefits of running barefoot

Here’s a list for you lazy headline scanners.

The Top 10 Benefits of Running Barefoot:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved happiness
  • Better proprioception
  • Increased kinesthetic intellegence
  • Tougher feet
  • A well-turned calf, as they say
  • Decreased asshole-ness
  • Increased open-mindedness
  • Clearer thinking via that translucent cloud of endorphins
  • Less care about judgment, for you’ve just done something totally ridiculous and awesome

But lo, beware! Those nearest to you may be in danger! For when you finish your barefoot run, you may feel an unrestrainable urge to do any one of the following:

  • Pat the nearest dog on the head
  • Bear-hug the nearest stranger
  • Give a cash amount to the nearest homeless person
  • Punch the nearest KKK member in the face
  • Start doing work you love, for you will now realize you can

I’ve now been actively running barefoot for the past two years. Thus, I understand that eventually you’ll find that that open field just isn’t enough. You’ll want a larger challenge, a wider landscape. You’ll start hitting the pavement barefoot, you’ll realize what it is to fly, and then you’ll want more. I remember one of the first times I went on a barefoot run – about a half-mile in I just started laughing, so full of joy was I.

warnings for new barefoot runners

If you do decide to initiate yourself into the world of barefoot running, especially on pavement, I highly recommend not heel-striking. Information is abound on the interwebz on how to properly run barefoot, but here are a few key pointers for those too lazy or too time-constrained to look it up:

  • Land with your midfoot or forefoot, NOT your heel!
  • Shorten your stride – do not overextend (this is good advice to the shod runner as well – your knees will thank me when you’re 70)
  • Keep your arms at 90° angles, pumping forward and back, not twisting around your torso
  • Relax and enjoy the ride

I don’t want to discuss the mechanics of “minimalist” running too much. That will be saved for another blog post.

Do you have any experience running barefoot? Please share in the comments section!

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motivational mondays – how bad do you want it?

05/07/2012

Life is a series of ebbs and flows. When tides rise, they fall somewhere else. When tides fall . . . well, you get it.

It can be easy to become complacent with our lot in life. Too easy, it seems, to simply roll with the tide. We get up. We go to work. We come home. We pursue pleasant distractions that enliven or deaden us (sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference). We go to sleep.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Push that button, flick that switch, and we’re in cruise control. Doing the same thing interminably, hovering in second gear, barely aware of the tide or potential eddies we get stuck in.

paddle hard

Enough with the analogies. Time for jeffspeak:

Life’s fucking hard. Plain and simple. If it’s not hard, we’re not doing something right. “…that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

I’ve fallen into the complacency trap so many times I’m embarrassed to even try counting. I don’t feel like doing or learning anything and the last thing I want to do is become self-motivated. I succumb to the overwhelming influence of Steven Pressfield’s Resistance.

Life’s constant challenges can continually confound us. But somehow, some way, we have to find a way to crawl out of these slumps. Sometimes it’s our own indomitable will (of which I tend to sorely lack). Sometimes it’s someone else telling us to wake the hell up. And sometimes it’s the offhand comment, the chance-read web article, seeing someone do something selfless, a good book, or any number of minute instances of incidental inspiration. Any number of things can pull us out of that swirling eddy and toss us back on the path we know to be right and true.

One of my mentors continually tells me that one of the only things worth living for is seeking constant improvement of yourself. Seek knowledge, seek health, seek humility, seek open-mindedness, seek love. Find answers. Find more questions. Continue improving.

So this begs the question: is there a way we can quit relying on outside sources and incidental inspiration and find a way to continuously do work we love?

seek self-discipline

This, I believe, is the hardest of all the things we seek, and is the ultimate answer to that question.

For three years I showed up every day to a 9-5 job, shirt tucked in, tie in a half-windsor with a smile painted on my face. For three years I cashed a decent paycheck twice a month, then wasted it on alcohol and entertainment. For three years I kept telling myself I would become a full-time writer some day. But I lacked the one thing that would enable me to do it: self-discipline.

Is self-discipline showing up every day to a job we aren’t passionate about? Is self-discipline doing work we don’t love for a cause we don’t buy into? For some, maybe – especially if you have others to support. But for me, in my position – and I know for many people who read this – no, that is not self-discipline. Subjugating dreams with job security because the former is too difficult is not self-discipline. It’s an excuse. And I did it for years.

Self-discipline is overriding those doubts. Is taking risks in the pursuit of passion, of dreams. Is not listening to that devil on our shoulder telling us we’re not good enough.

Self-discipline is dedicating our precious time to pursuing the life we want to live.

And the one question you really have to ask yourself is this: how bad do you want it?

motivational mondays – the amish project

02/06/2012

A friend recently posted a link on my Facebook wall – I’m assuming it was in response to my post from a couple weeks ago: the importance of disconnecting, but I could be wrong :). The link took me to a story about a 24-year-old college student named Jake Reilly who embraced a technology-free lifestyle for 90 days, eliminating his cell phone, social media accounts and email. He dubbed these 90 days “The Amish Project,” and found his way to a more fulfilling lifestyle than he had ever known:

  • He forged a deeper relationship with his closest friends
  • He realized some of his closest friends weren’t so close after all
  • He revived a dying romance
  • Experienced higher levels of productivity
  • Got better grades
  • Got creative with ways he had fun – and had more of it
  • Started meditating

Think of how much time we waste mindlessly combing through online platforms, reading articles, watching YouTube videos and cyber-stalking. Most times when we engage in activities like that, we enter what my mentor calls “robot mode.” No thought required. Just mindless online navigation, reading or watching what other people wrote or made.

Maybe it’s time to wake up.
Maybe it’s time to come back to reality.
Maybe it’s time to experience real life once again.

If you’re looking for ways to change your life for the better, form good habits and eliminate bad ones, or just simply be happier, a trial run akin to Reilly’s Amish Project is a great way to start.

motivational mondays: creating good habits without goals

01/30/2012

To quote an old apothegm:
“We are what we repeatedly do.”
– Aristotle

Simply put: We are our actions.
Another way: We are our habits.

If we smoke regularly, we are a smoker. If we exercise regularly, we are in shape. If we eat the right foods, we are healthy.

(Keep in mind, I’m tailoring this down to its simplest form. I understand much more complexity exists within the boundaries I’m laying out, but, in the theme of this post, something is much easier to grasp when pared down to utter simplicity.)

The question now, is how do we create good habits instead of bad ones?

how I’ve created good habits

Since I left my 9-5 job, I’ve created a plethora of good, healthy habits – most times without even meaning to. A mindset that I’ve always found hard to adopt, but have seen repeatedly work in my own life, is that of living without goals. Leo Babauta sums it up incredibly well with his blog post: the best goal is no goal. Even Seth Godin, marketing extraordinaire, has an interesting perspective on a similar vein of thought.

This mindset goes against everything I’ve been raised to believe. In middle school we learned the importance of setting goals to improve ourselves. My father preached to me the importance of having five-year goals and ten-year goals. While I never did this, I still always thought, based on what everyone was telling me, that was the way to get things done.

My own real-life examples say just the opposite.

Now I’m not saying that living with goals is a bad thing or doesn’t work. As the newer, slightly sexual adage goes: “Different strokes for different folks.”

But allow me to lay down a few examples for you. Some of the good, enduring habits I have formed in the past seven months are:

Eating healthier

In June I decided I wanted to try Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Body diet for losing weight. I didn’t need to lose weight, I was just curious to see if it worked. I went on the “formal” diet plan and it fell apart within two weeks.

Then, some time in August, I decided to start cutting to the core of his philosophy and just nixed white carbs (breads, rice, flour-based foods, etc.). Since then, I would say I cut down on my white carb intake by 90%, vastly increasing my consumption of vegetables, fruits and legumes, along with a healthy intake of meats.

I didn’t set any goals. I didn’t follow any plans. I just did what I wanted to do, knowing it was healthy for me. And I enjoy it. I feel better.

Writing daily

I abhor the daily word count goal. It stresses me out and I’ve had mini-anxiety attacks when I don’t meet it. In November I created a nice habit by mixing a goal with the concept of living without goals. I declared that I would write 3,000 words a day, or roughly 100,000 words in the month. For those of you that aren’t familiar with word counts – that’s a freaking book.

I wrote 55,000 words that month. About a week into it I realized I wasn’t going to hit my goal. I accepted that fact and, remarkably, ceased worrying about it. Instead of focusing on the goal, I kept in mind that I wanted to produce a higher volume than Stephen King and just rolled with the daily writing. Whatever I got down on paper, I got down on paper. Whatever I didn’t, I didn’t. And I was content.

Now I don’t focus so much on word count, as much as my smokin’ hot girlfriend says I should :), but rather on writing the things I want to write. I’ve made more progress these past two weeks on my novel than I’ve made in the past two months when I kept trying to make goals.

Stretching daily

In mid-December I made a list of workout goals I wanted to achieve. It set an incredibly high standard and I should have known I wouldn’t have even come close to meeting it. I wrote it all out, printed it up, and never looked at it again. As I said in the writing daily piece above, having daily goals like this stresses me out, because if I don’t do it I feel like I’m falling behind and have to re-evaluate and readjust – steps that take more admin time than I’m willing to put forth.

Since then, I’ve thrown that list of workout goals in the garbage and have focused on a few things at a time, the primary exercise being stretching. Since mid-December, I have stretched out almost daily and noticed a substantial increase in my flexibility. My sideways split has increased by seven inches, and I’m incredibly close to touching my chest to my thigh with little to no warm-up. And all this without goals. I stretch simply for the enjoyment of the physical accomplishment.

Learning new things – all the time

Neuroscience, Taoism, medieval society, the Beatniks, new words, barefoot running – these are all things I have a strong desire to learn about. Instead of laying out goals filled with books I wanted to read by certain times, I just learned what I wanted to learn when I wanted to learn it. And I haven’t stopped. I’m all sorts of smart now!! (if only…)

Final example:

Over the summer I lifted weights nearly every day for three months straight. Without fail. I was excited when I saw results, which I noticed on a weekly basis. Whether it was getting more cut in my glamor muscles, as my brother would say, or increasing weight – which I knew to be muscle weight – I saw results regularly. My lifting threshold would increase, my max increased by 40 lbs, and, in direct proportion, increased my esteem regarding my physical appearance and sense of well-being.

All this I did without goals. As soon as I returned from Nicaragua this past October, I laid out a weight-lifting regimen.

I stopped going to the gym after that.

living in the moment

Bottom line(s):

  • Find something you love doing and just do it.
  • Find something that makes you feel good and just do it.
  • Find something that can improve the quality of your life and just do it.

But START SMALL! Nothing is as conducive to putting the brakes on a good habit as the “all or nothing” mentality. Start small, then, as you get more comfortable, work your way up the ladder.

Without goals, you may be surprised by just how high you can climb.

motivational mondays – snow driven

01/16/2012

It’s January. With January comes winter. With winter comes snow. With snow comes fun commutes. With fun commutes comes hydroplaning, skidding semi-stops and driving your cop car backward off a steep embankment (see: Die Hard).

While this taciturn white precipitation lies silently in wait, eagerly anticipating the next unsuspecting automobile operator to overcompensate on a skid, there isn’t a day goes by where people don’t bitterly complain about driving in the snow.

To them I say: shut up and pay attention.

a brief summation about why we should love driving in the snow

Driving in the snow ain’t so bad. Right up front, here are a few distinct advantages:

  • Keeps your senses alert and your mind/body in tune with your actions
  • Places you more in the moment
  • Challenges you
  • Allows you to run red lights pseudo-legally
  • Allows you to be late for work and have a valid excuse
  • Allows you to sleep in and be “accidentally” late for work (see above)

See? Advantages galore.

The reality of the situation is this: driving in the snow is a minor frustration, nothing more. Like any so-called minor frustration, if we view it negatively, our stress levels rise, we become angry, and toxic emotions rise to the surface, inhibiting the potential to live a joyful life. But like anything else, when viewed from a positive light (such as the reasons above . . . well, the first three anyway), the endorphins begin to flow, our minds become more alert and our synapses fire a little bit faster, increasing our reaction speed to possibly dangerous situations and allowing us to appreciate life just a little bit more.

Snow, like rain, is a natural part of life that many of us allow to negatively affect our moods day in and day out. Why can’t we simply embrace the natural course of the seasons instead of shunning them? Why can’t we be grateful that something as simple as precipitation does fall, granting life to everything around us, including ourselves?

a brief summation about why we should love life

Come on – you knew I had to make the correlation to daily living eventually!

Rainer Maria Rilke said in Letters to a Young Poet, “…that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it.” Life should be difficult. Anything worth attaining should not just be handed to us, but rather earned through hard work and toil, through blood, sweat and tears. As the Buddhists say, “Life means suffering,” and those who do not suffer can never know what it is to be truly content (not that difficult work implies suffering, but for many it can sometimes be the case).

In this modern age of advanced technology and countless conveniences, this can be a hard mentality to adopt: everything is just so easy. We can fly across the United States in just a few hours. We can heat up cold food in a microwave. We can keep warm in the middle of January in Minnesota without huddling around a big hearth fire. We can get surgery on our eyes to get perfect vision. Plastic surgery. Television. Electricity. Snow blowers. Planes, trains and automobiles. Daily life has turned from hardship to easy in a matter of just a couple hundred years. And so many of us take advantage without even realizing it, myself very much included.

This ease of living, this convenience, can prove a very dangerous thing indeed, for it can make us lazy.

If we let it.

There’s a certain mentality that says if you’re doing something and it’s easy then you’re probably doing it wrong. We fall into lulls, we become complacent, we stop trying to improve ourselves: mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Complacency is the worst type of crime. The people we quote on Facebook did not earn the right to be quoted on mere presence alone.

Doing what I do now – writing – I have to motivate myself every day to sit down, eliminate distractions, and put words down on a blank page. Day in and day out. As much as I love writing, it’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do all my life. And by that fact, coupled with my passion, I understand that it’s worth it.

So the next time we do something difficult, the next time we drive to work in the snow, realize that the difficult gets easier with practice. With hard work. With living in the moment and bettering ourselves each and every day in some small way.

So let’s head out onto that snow-packed pavement and just drive.

motivational mondays – word choice

12/05/2011

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a good question for a child. We all have wants, we all have desires, and as children there is a myriad of desirable professions and occupations that run through our heads. Personally, I wanted to be a police officer, an architect, a history teacher, and play second base for the Cleveland Indians.

As a child, what was your answer to this question? Did you want to be the first astronaut to Mars? A special education teacher? An Olympic swimmer? Once you’ve remembered what your answer to that question was, answer this one:

“What will you be when you grow up?”

Does the answer change? If so, why? If your answer doesn’t change, stop reading this post.

the power of word choice

Back in June, I quit my 9-5 white-collar job to pursue a career as a full-time writer. Five months later, I’m writing literally thousands of words each day with the intent of publishing soon and it’s more thrilling than I ever believed possible. Back in May . . . hell, since the seventh grade, I would tell people “I want to be a writer.”

That word choice is no longer acceptable. Six months since May, I now tell people “I will be a writer.”

A powerful difference there.

The profundity of a single simple word should not go unnoticed or under-appreciated. Think of the best speeches you’ve ever heard. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech. The simplicity of Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech.  One meant for 21-year-old college grads, the loftier one for a discordant nation. Both knew their audience. Both chose their words based on that audience. Both are brilliant.

lofty to mundane

Speeches are easy to refer to in regard to word choice, but what about our daily interactions? Conversations we have every single day that we brush off as inconsequential.

They’re not.

Think about something as simple as a coworker asking you how your weekend was. Do you just say, “Good, how was yours?” Think about the difference when compared to this: “It was actually a really fun weekend!” Nothing groundbreaking, but a marked improvement. The latter depicts sincerity, like you’ve lent thought to the response and aren’t a blasted robot. That something this weekend was different. People recognize sincerity in conversation. They appreciate it. And they want to know more.

Straight up, when I worked in an office my response to that weekly question was nearly always “Good, how was yours?” I wanted to be noncommittal. I’m not very comfortable talking about myself to coworkers unless I’m good friends with them. But when looking back on it, think of how much I missed out on, how many positive relationships didn’t burgeon because of my lackluster? Even if it’s someone you don’t necessarily care to buddy up with, you never know how you can help each other out or what you may have in common. The least likely people, I’ve found, can push your life in a whole new direction you never thought possible.

honne vs. tatemae

Recognizing your choice of words is a mindset, an adjustment of your mental attitude. To elucidate, let’s refer to the Japanese.

A central theme to Japanese culture is the concept of honne vs. tatemae. Honne represents our deepest desires, those things we keep hidden except from our closest family and friends, and maybe even from them. Tatemae literally translates to facade, and refers to how you act in public in accordance with society.

This cuts to the core of how people change. Japanese culture leans toward the belief that to change, to truly change, you must first alter your actions (tatemae) and then your honne will change as a result (your inner feelings, desires, motivations, etc.). Western culture tends to believe exactly the opposite, with degrees of variation based on personal beliefs.

But this concept of word choice I’m discussing caters directly to the Japanese version of social constructs. In July, instead of saying “if I get published” I started saying “when I get published.” Instead of saying “I hope I can get a couple chapters done this weekend” I say “I’m gonna get shit DONE this weekend!” It’s vocal, it’s seen and it’s heard, and it’s motivating. And the best part? Now I do it.

moving forward

One of the rules of writing and speaking is this: to depict absolute truth, render it in the shortest possible sentence.

Use this mentality to improve yourself, either as a professional, within relationships, or simply as a human being. It’s time for us to think critically about how we present ourselves through our careful choice of words. It’s a conscious effort and it’s not easy – I can tell you that from personal and observed experiences – but it is very worth it. Simply the sense of confidence it lends is astounding, both with just evaluating the words you use to describe yourself or your actions and the motivating factor of saying something akin to: “I will be a writer.”

And better yet: “I am a writer.”

motivational mondays – how great you are

08/22/2011

It has been 7 weeks and 6 days since I quit my job.

It has been 7 weeks and 6 days since I took my first true direction-changing choice with my life. For 25 years, my life was predetermined. I rolled with it. I did everything that was expected: I went to school and I got good grades; I went to work and stored money for college; I went to college and stored knowledge for work; I got internships, I networked, I got a job, and I made friends. Challenges were met and overcome along the way, but they were challenges laid before me by a system I entered into because it was normal. Because it was expected.

I have now done what is unexpected. And in that, I have incidentally inspired.

incidental inspiration

I say this with no pride. It has been a song sung to me for the past 7 weeks and 6 days, and it is a heartening song, one I did not expect to hear in such abundance, if at all. After I quit, I had more than a dozen friends and family members tell me they wish they could do what I did. I had no less than a few tell me they were probably going to quit their jobs soon to pursue the life they want to live. I had no intention to persuade, and yet I’ve influenced, albeit incidentally.

It is amazing to me how we inspire one another by simply doing what we love. History is wrought by people who have provided that beacon of light for so many. How many musicians have been inspired by Johnny Cash, by Aretha Franklin, by Charlie Parker? How many authors have been inspired by Ernest Hemingway, by J.R.R. Tolkien, by Ray Bradbury? How many businessmen and women have been inspired by Warren Buffet, by Henry Ford, by Edward Bernays?

What did all of these people do that made them so inspirational? Simple. What they loved.

My cousin asked me the other night if I could ever go back into public relations.

“Could you ever see yourself being a marketer again?” he asked. “Would you ever go back into PR?”

“No.” My immediate response.

He smiled at how self-assured I sounded. “Why do you say that?”

I hesitated, searching for the proper explanation. “I know it sounds kind of stupid, but I know…I just know…that I have to be a writer. I can’t let myself get distracted mentally, ya know?”

He shook his head and seemed to get a little irritated. “That pisses me off that you say it like that.”

I was a little taken aback. “Why?” I asked.

“It doesn’t sound stupid that you know what you want to do with your life,” he said. “That’s awesome. There’s so many people that wish they could do what you’ve already done. Look at a lot of the people who’ve made it big. They all did what you did. They made some big decision and took the plunge. They risked it all. That’s what you’re doing.”

That was just plain cool to hear.

how great you are

When was the last time you told yourself how great you were? When was the last time you did something with supreme passion or an ideal sense of direction, knowing it was right and good? When was the last time you put in the hours to be great? The last time you dedicated yourself to something so completely that all else became a blur?

Was it earlier today? A week ago? Five years ago? Have you ever, truly?

Ask yourself this question very seriously, and visualize your answer. Visualize what it was you did that propelled you along the path to greatness. Whether you’re there yet or not, it doesn’t matter. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Do this thing. I did it. I’m doing it. Do I have anything published? No (and I don’t count this blog haha). But that doesn’t matter. I’m doing what I love and I’ve been more content these past 7 weeks and 6 days than I have been in 7  years.

We can all be great. We all have the potential. But our repeated actions day in and day out must demonstrate that fact. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

So ask yourself this: “How great can I be?”

And in the meantime, imma show you how great I am.

motivational mondays – creation

08/08/2011

creation kanjiAnybody can destroy. The most spiritually bereft can step on an ant hill, can take a sledgehammer to something beautiful, can kill another human being. Real worth is demonstrated by those who create.

Now that’s not to say that destruction isn’t, at times, favorable. In fact it can sometimes be necessary in order to create. But if all you do is destroy, whether it be physical, spiritual or moral, then you may need to more deeply examine yourself and your values.

create a character

The possibilities are boundless when it comes to creativity. One of the most beneficial things I’ve found in my life is to periodically create a fictional character. Now I’m sure some of you are thinking that it only works for me because I’m a [wannabe] writer. I have to create characters. That line of thinking would be false. I create characters out of context all the time to help me get through trying – or just plain interesting – situations. Sounds odd, but stick with me.

Take some aspect of either someone you know or just your imagination and run with it. Create this character’s physical appearance, moral stance, spiritual leaning and level of intellectual prowess.

  • Is he attractive or the most hideous person you’ve ever seen?
  • Is he moral, immoral or amoral?
  • Does she practice Islam, Judaism or Christianity? Maybe she’s atheist because she was raped when she was little and, based on that, she can’t rationalize that a benevolent God figure would exist who let that happen
  • Would he feel remorse or pride if he killed someone in self defense?
  • Is she a book-worm or an athlete? Maybe a balance of both? Maybe she got injured running in the Olympics and has to realign her goals?
  • Is he a veritable Don Quixote? Or maybe a Tyler Durden?

Let your imagination run wild with this! Take at least 15-30 minutes to create this person and simply enjoy the creative process.

the fatal flaw

Then, with all good characters, give them a flaw. No good character exists who does not have flaws. It’s human to have flaws, and we all want people we can relate to. People with whom we can share anxieties and fear. With whom we can talk to privately and feel a deeper connection. Nobody likes a flawless person because he doesn’t exist.

Now the key to creating this flaw, as it relates to this post and your character creation, is to give this character a flaw to which you can relate. A flaw that you and your character can both overcome. Perhaps there’s a girl behind the coffee shop counter you like but have been unable to approach. Maybe you have a boyfriend to whom you want to commit but find you can’t. What if a close relative or friend is on their deathbed and you can’t find the right words to say?

apply the character to your situation

What would your character do in your situation? What do you think is the most appropriate action? Are you one to take that action or is your character better suited? If the character is better suited, ask yourself why that is? Determining this will allow you to modify your own action and put it more in line with what you think should happen.

By creating an ideal, it gives us something to live up to. People do this all the time with religious and historical figures. What would Jesus do? Malcolm X wouldn’t stand for injustice so why should I? And so on and so forth.

Creation is a beautiful thing. It can be done to further a cause, to fulfill a dream, or simply for the thrill of creating something original. So use your Monday to create something. Anything. I recommend a character, but then again I’m biased.

What will you create before death comes calling?

motivational mondays – you’re gonna die

07/25/2011

Death. The ultimate equalizer. The source of so many people’s fear about so many irrational prospects. What if I told you that by embracing your own death you are embracing life more fully than ever? That each moment will feel that much more alive, that much more vibrant.

Most people have probably stopped reading by now. And do you know why? Fear (or boredom). People fear death. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to confront it. The only times it enters their consciousness is when someone close to them dies and they are forced to embrace the truth – that some day, somewhere, you will die. In fact, it might be within five minutes of where you are right this second. And why not?

To fear your own death is to fear the only inevitability in life. Nothing is guaranteed, save the fact that one day your heart will stop beating. Life and death exist in harmony, one balancing the other like yin and yang, like good and evil, like Simon and Garfunkel. It’s natural.

visualize your death

The key to living well is to realize this fact. Not just understand it, but to internalize it. To make it part of your daily living. And it’s not even paradoxical, except for those who refuse to really think about it. And I mean REALLY think about it. It’s a liberating form of meditation and will allow you to feel the emotions that will accompany your final moments. Fear. Loss. Resentment. Regret. You don’t want those to linger in your head during your final moments – your death is YOUR moment. The most glorious one you will ever have. Embrace it. It’s the most alive you’ll ever be.

grim reaperDo it. Visualize your own death. Will it be when your car gets T-boned driving to work, smashing your head against the driver’s side window and killing you instantly? Visualize the blood. Or maybe you’ll be cleaning your gutters this October when you lose your balance and fall from a second-story roof, hitting the grass at an unlucky angle and breaking your neck. Visualize your neck’s unnatural angle. Or better yet, what about an aneurysm? One second you’re walking down the sidewalk, cookies-and-cream ice-cream cone in hand – the next you’re experiencing the most intense pain of your life in a split second and suddenly drop dead. Visualize your body lying still on the sidewalk.

Maybe it will be in 10 years…maybe it will be in one week…maybe it will be tomorrow…maybe it will be in one hour. It’s unpredictable. It’s uncertain. But it will happen.

take it to the limit

Your embracing of death should be your motivation to do something meaningful – today. Do something unpredictable, foreign to your normative behaviors. Something people wouldn’t expect of you. Take a risk, damn it! Escape from your usual Monday routine and tell the world to go kiss its ass while you do what you want to do. Lose control and lose yourself in the act of living.

By losing your fear of death you become unbound by contemporary constraints – whether that be the fear of pursuing your dreams, the fear presented by the unfamiliar, the fear of becoming a social outcast – anything! You just need to look your own grim reaper in his skeletal face and say, in your own special way, “Go fuck yourself.” (that’s how I say it, anyway)

This is your time, and you haven’t got much of it left.

Now if that isn’t motivation on a Monday, I don’t know what is.

the beginning of motivational mondays

07/11/2011

Mondays suck, huh? It’s the beginning of the work week and most people would rather be doing things other than sitting in an office or just working on someone else’s agenda for 8-9 hours.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed Mondays – even before breaking free of the 9-5 lifestyle. Here’s why:

mental preparation

Every Monday I wake up intent on setting a few short-term goals to complete before the day was over. By setting just a few short-term goals, I could see immediate progress, thus motivating myself further. I then set a loose schedule for the rest of the week and adhere to that as I could, given emergencies and issues that need an immediate response. Operate in the short-term, plan for the long-term.

By doing this, I made Monday the most productive day of the week. My best work and my most intense periods of concentration naturally occurred on Mondays as a result of adopting this mental attitude.

make monday night your bitch

My motivational Monday philosophy really started in high school. I ran a martial arts class every Monday night after some of our other instructors backed out. I had been at the mercy of boring, banal senior instructors who could have been making the class more fun and challenging. Now it was my turn to take the reins.

I was young and full of vigor, and upped the intensity of the workouts tenfold. I integrated different approaches into the teaching and learning process, making those two hours much more exciting and interesting for the students. I would then stay after class for upwards of an hour, giving private instruction to those who wanted it. It was liberating and it was my drug.

In college, my Monday nights transformed into meeting three buddies at The Pub in Athens for $1 draft night. After a couple months of that, we started to get a bit of a following. Many of the kids in my major started to attend, and before we knew what happened we had 15-20 people in regular attendance. Little did I know what that would do to my reputation among my friends in the PR crowd, though haha. A little change of pace from the martial arts Mondays, but the end result was still the same (in a manner of speaking): Monday was still my favorite day of the week.

By making a point to plan something fun or stimulating every Monday night, you have something to look forward to during the day. It’s the reason you keep pounding the keyboard and picking up the phone. It’s the reason you go to class and work your ass off until the evening, knowing you’ll be rewarded later that night. It’s rewarding yourself for a job well done. Whether you do this thing for 10 minutes or 4 hours, you’ve earned that time for yourself.

Pat yourself on the back, friend, and do what you love every Monday night.

motivational mondays

Motivational Mondays will now become a staple of this blog. Every Monday you’ll get a juicy nugget of goodness from either me or someone way smarter than me (although that doesn’t really make for slim pickings).

Please feel free to comment below with your ideas and suggestions for what you do to motivate yourself on Mondays. Whether it’s mental, physical, spiritual, relaxing, or just plain idiotic and crazy, I want to hear about it. This blog is about interaction – so interact!