Mistakes I Want to Stop Making Before 2018
“Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.”
— Vincent Van Gogh
#1 — My addiction to hustle porn
This nonsense keeps weaselling its way back in. I mark the “This advertisement is repetitive” button on YouTube, but somehow, I keep seeing those two guys with big houses promising they will help me make money (you know who I am talking about).
2017 was the year I actually did it. Via extreme hustle, I maxed out my time. Every single minute I owed to another person who I needed to pay me or love me or both. Then, I felt guilty because I wasn’t keeping up.
All the Internet motivation says to hustle more or sleep less. I tried both and wound up with a headache every single day from July 12th to August 31st.
Go away hustle porn. I am enough.
#2 — Taxes
Dear Mr. or Mrs. IRS representative,
I’m sorry I haven’t paid you yet. Turns out your rules are kind of confusing, so I skimmed them. When I submitted in early April, (and I owed HOW MUCH???) I panicked and didn’t send you a check. Don’t worry, it’s on the way.
Once upon a time, I complained about taxes. I didn’t understand why we had to pay them. Then, I heard Jim Rohn explain the “necessity of feeding and caring for the goose that lays the golden eggs.”
This country is amazing. I like to live here. Next year, I will prepare better for my taxes so I don’t end up trying to scrape together hundreds of dollars I should have known would be due anyway.
#3 — No more Surf and Turf
This August, my whole family sat outside by the pool, soaking up the warm Florida sun.
I sat in the condo, hunched over a laptop trying to finish work for a client. I took this work knowing I had a vacation coming. I set the deadline myself.
Those are seven days I will never get back. The opportunity to go to Florida may never present itself again.
I wish I could tell you that instance was a first, instead of a habitual and disastrous combination of my crippling difficulty saying “no” to people who want me and my underlying guilt that maybe I shouldn’t be taking a vacation at all since I am not a millionaire yet like all these people I see on the Internet.
In 2018, I will surf or turf. Not both.
#4 — Arrogance
Here is something I am embarrassed to admit actually came out of my mouth this year:
“I am in the top 2% of writers in the world.”
Then, I read Jim Collins’ Good to Great. And 7 more books from Terry Pratchett. And the fiction work of a few lesser-known writers who I initially thought were lazy and unfocused because they hadn’t written as much as me.
I wasn’t discouraged, just humbled. Great artists make you feel simultaneously inspired and inadequate.
#5 — Pretending I know things
“What is happening with Medium?” asked everyone.
I had to know the answer. After all, I was a “Top Writer” (note the impressive capital letters). Surely I had insight on the changes. What was happening with membership? Were they going to run ads after all? Why were they switching logos so much?
What I should have said was this: “I don’t know.”
What I usually said instead was a string of puffed-up assumptions and guesses. When you say things with confidence, people will believe you know what you are talking about.
Until, of course, all your predictions turn out to be wrong.
Ouch, my ego.
#6 — Leaving my shoes where the dog will eat them
#7 — Romanticizing mediums I love
Which wouldn’t be a problem if everyone liked Twitter as much as I do.
I adore Twitter. It is my first social media love. It made me smarter than everyone else in my class who refused to embrace it.
I can pretend I haven’t noticed the slowed growth, pretend it is still where I should be spending the majority of my non-writing time, pretend I get as much engagement there as I do here.
Or, I could attempt to master a new platform. What a bother.
It isn’t just Twitter, the bird is only a tangible example. I hold on too long to everything, including old ideas and beliefs. They were useful then. They are no longer useful now.
What are you hanging on to which is no longer useful?
#8 — Allowing other people to taint my voice
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
— Stephen King
Well doesn’t that sound nice, Stephen, except what happens when I start The Shining and then suddenly start spewing sentences only a horror writer from Maine would use or understand?
In moments like that, it becomes clear how influenceable I am. We all learn from each other, but where is the line? How do we stay unique?
I am legitimately asking. If you have suggestions, please let me know. Until then, I’ll keep trying to embrace this one, by Bruce Li:
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”
#9 — Lack of attention to detail
The message started like this, so I should have known what was coming:
“Hi Todd! I really like what you write, and have been following you for a while…”
I read on. Turns out there was a typo in my latest post. Normally this wouldn’t bother me much, but the message sender politely pointed out it happened more than once.
It also happened more than twice.
The error occurred 12 times, actually, in a post which was only 183 words long.
In case you are wondering, that is not a good percentage of words typed correctly. A horse with a split hoof could have achieved more accuracy.
In the beginning, quantity mattered most. How much could I do and how fast could I do it? I prided myself on cranking out a blog post in 25 minutes.
I am sorry. I didn’t respect your time enough to respect the craft. I will do better.
#10 — Mediocre effort
Not only at work. At home. In public. With my family. In my learning. With other relationships.
I would like to pretend this is a result of my time-stuffing habit throughout the rest of the year, but I know it is not. Often, I do not involve my whole self in activities which deserve it.
Then, my conscience said: “If you are going to do anything at all, why would you not involve your whole self.”
Me: “I don’t really want to be doing this, though.”
Conscience: “Then quit.”
The one thing I got right…
Is is my ability to continually generate ideas.
These ideas have changed my health, my relationships, and even the amount of money I earn.
That’s why I wrote The Ultimate Guide to Infinite Ideas, which I am giving away for the price of an email address.