ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

Every Day is a New Day to Try to Do Something Different

What are you doing about your future?

Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

— Sir, I’m afraid you have one day of life. Your cancer spread faster than we imagined.

It is 9 AM, and I feel like I haven’t done much. That is not true, though. I woke up at 6 AM, went for a fasted cardio, took a cold shower, and read for about an hour (I finished my second book of the year).

However, when I moved from the couch, where I was reading, to my office wheelchair to start working, I didn’t know what to write. I have been staring at my computer for an hour.

The same thing happened yesterday morning, and I thought that I would be better in the afternoon after returning from the gym. I wasn’t. Today, I was expecting that would be a better day. I have a future to build.

The dream I had reminded me about my mortality. It’s been more than a year that I left the company I founded in 2012 to build a new future for me.

Today is leg day, and I am already wearing my gym clothes. It looks like I am making a commercial for Adidas, as all my pieces are from them. Black tennis, black socks, black shorts, and a dark blue T-shirt. That is my uniform to training legs. It is 86 degrees outside, and I am looking at my sunglasses looking for ideas.

Building a future takes time. I read once that we should accept the past, embrace the future, and live in the present. What I decided to do today is what will influence my future.

The second book that I finished this year is about how to manage yourself. Leaders study how to manage other people, but they usually forget that they must first manage their own timing.

Leaders are the example for an organization. Employees look up to them and act the same way. If a leader doesn’t know how to manage his time, his employees won’t know how to do that either.

Even if we are not a leader, we must learn how to manage our day. We waste much of our time on unnecessary things, like social networks and checking email repeatedly. I was the founder and CEO of a profitable gaming company until I decided to leave it. Now, I work alone, and the only person I have to manage is me.

I have been treating writing as a job. I sit down at 8 AM and try to start putting something on paper (not really on paper, as I start my pieces on Google Docs). I usually have material to edit from the previous day or a draft to write based on my notes.

I don’t like to start and finish a story on the same day. I prefer to look from a different perspective that an extra day may bring. Sometimes I write something that I like, but I don’t find the piece interesting anymore when I read it the next day. The opposite also happens.

Today I don’t have any text to edit. I use Trello to manage the progress of all my stories. I have columns for headline ideas, topics, first drat, ready to submit, sent to publication, and live. I have plenty of cards in headline ideas and some in topics.

However, I don’t feel like the ideas are good. I’m not going to delete those cards. I may find them interesting in the future or have a different view based on something that happened in my life when I look at them again.

This year I planned to read 30 books, so I continue improving my knowledge. It is straightforward to do if you have the routine of reading at least 30 minutes per day.

In 2017, I read 60 books (about 1 per week), and it was not that difficult either. In 2018 I set the goal for 100 books. I had to read two books per week (they should not be fiction books). I achieved the weekly frequency for a whole semester until I started to burn out because of work and stopped reading at all.

I like to study in different forms, not only reading. I also enjoy watching talks on Youtube, for example. I noticed that I was spending most of my study time in books and not taking the most out of it. That’s why I decided that I would read 30 books this year.

The first book that I finished in 2021 was about writing. As I am now a writer, I need to study more about the subject. I am a very competitive person. For the past couple of years, I learned to compete with myself and not with others anymore. My competition with myself helps me to be better every day. To do that, I need to study and practice.

However, I also learned the importance of rest because of my burnout experience, and I have been taking Sunday off completely. That’s the day where I am currently not writing (that’s also the only day of the week that I don’t go to the gym). If I have ideas, I take notes in a notebook or on Evernote.

The first book I finished was Bird by Bird, from Anne Lamott. The piece advises about writing and life. I love when people don’t separate work from life as I consider that my professional side is an essential part of my life.

I didn’t choose to leave my gaming company to work on any silly thing. I did that so I could find what I enjoyed doing the most. I don’t want to work only for money, even though I want to make a lot more. I did that with my gaming company, but I was not happy anymore.

I will not be productive every day. There are ups and downs in life. One thing that I learned with Timm Ferriss about writing is to write two crap pages every day. It is better to have a small goal that is easy to beat every day than a difficult one that I barely can achieve. In my gaming company, I was used to setting challenging goals that, most of the time, made my work stressful.

As I am not writing a book, I don’t have two crap pages to focus on. I am still figuring out what my writing goals should be. I have some financial goals, but they are not entirely up to me.

I am currently reading Stoicism and the Art of Happiness, and the last chapter I read talked about the power of action. I can choose what to do, but I cannot choose how the world will respond. I can choose how I will write, but I cannot choose if people will read what I produced.

I also like setting financial goals for myself. Nowadays, I want to buy a new 65" television and an iPhone 12 Pro. Setting goals motivate me to keep working.

Financial goals are lagging indicators, as they are the result of what I am producing. Lagging indicators are typically output-oriented, easy to measure but hard to improve or influence. Leading indicators are generally input-oriented, hard to measure, and easy to influence.

An example of that is weight loss. Weight is a lagging indicator, as it is the result of many things I do with my body while going to the gym is a leading indicator as it is up to me. I can influence my body to lose weight by going to the gym and eating fewer calories, but I don’t fully control the results.

I have my lagging indicators for writing, but I still lack the leading indicators. I set the goal to have five stories published in a week by publications, but again, that is not entirely up to me. What is up to me is how much I write. Having five stories published by publications or the amount of money that I want to make are things that push me to write better.

If I am trying to lose weight and that is not happening even if I am working out every day and eating fewer calories, I need to change my strategy.

I started 2019 30 pounds heavier than I am now due to a stressful work routine. I didn’t gain all this weight in a day. It took me months and months to get there. That means I won’t lose all this weight in a few days. It will probably take at least as much time it took me to gain it. And it was what happened — knowing that helped to keep working out and eating fewer calories.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl talks about people that put restricted goals demotivate quickly. In the book, the author tells his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

He describes his psychotherapeutic method. It involves identifying a purpose in life to feel optimistic about and then immersively imagining that outcome. Those who had only short-term goals, like thinking they were getting out of the camps the next weekend, were the ones that gave up the fastest and ended up dying.

I am not in a Nazi concentration, but I have a financial countdown ticking. Money is like oxygen. We don’t live without it, but we don’t live exclusively to breathe.

As for work, my goal is to generate value for other people based on my entrepreneurial experience. I decided that I will do that by writing, as this is the best way for me. I tried video and audio, but that doesn’t work for me. Peter Drucker, in his book Managing Oneself, says:

“One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”

I know what kind of life I want for myself, and I better use my time wisely.

I never know how what I am about to do today will impact my future. If I don’t plant anything today, I won’t be able to harvest anything in the future. If I am planting, the question is not IF but WHEN. While I appreciate what I have today, I imagine a brighter future for me, as I am working to make it happen.

I have been thinking a lot about when my gaming company still didn’t make money. I imagine myself talking to my younger self and saying that everything will be ok. I now imagine my older self talking to me and saying the same thing.

I watched Dark, the mystery-drama series from Netflix, too many times. I would like to have three versions of myself simultaneously — I digress.

What are you doing about your future again?

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