I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer.
“Anthony! Anthony! ANTHONY!”
When you have a rough childhood dreaming serves as an escape. Times might be tough now, but someday… someday…
But that boy looking off into the future is now met by a man looking back at him.
I’m not nearly as successful as I imagined I’d be at this point, but that seems natural given at this point I imagined being president of the moon in the midst of a fierce galactic battle that would ultimately determine the fate of humanity for generations to come.
Putting those high expectations aside, I can still hold my head up high for the man that I am and am becoming because I can’t necessarily control the outcome, but I can control my thoughts and actions.
“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius
I generally think well others. I have no enemies and nothing but love for everyone. How you think of others is often indicative of how you think of yourself, which is to say I also generally think well of myself.
But what I struggled with the most in 2018 are those thoughts that filled me with disappointment.
I would publish an essay, check my stats, feel disappointed, and then lose motivation to write more.
“Depression begins with disappointment. When disappointment festers in our soul, it leads to discouragement.” — Joyce Meyer
I would try to pump myself back up, but often the greatest cure was time. It would take me about 24 hours to recover from my disappointment before I felt normal again.
This sequence of events happened regularly.
I felt like I spent 2018 repeatedly running head-first into a wall.
But as we jump forward into 2019 I realized the best way to overcome disappointment is to not repeat the same pattern that caused the disappointment in the first place.
Instead of trying to pump myself back up, I’m better off avoiding the self-imposed disappointment to begin with.
And that’s the thing, the disappointment was self-imposed. No one had a gun to my head saying CHECK THE STATS OR THE GIRL GETS IT!
I justified metric-checking by saying to myself, “I need to know how the essay is performing so I know whether to do more essays like it or adjust maybe the thumbnail or title” and there’s some truth to that (the truth can make for the most persistent disempowering thought patterns), but ultimately the benefit of immediately learning from the stats was outweighed by the cost of the disappointment and demotivation it created.
It’s far better for me to take some time before looking at the stats so I have more emotional distance and perspective.
It may mean I’m not as fast to adjust course on an underperforming essay, but the payoff is I experience less disappointment. I made a rule for myself: no looking at the stats until 3 days after publish date (using various browser blockers like StayFocusd help).
It’s better to protect yourself from disappointment than try to recover from it.
As I look around though I realize a lot of people live according to this axiom, but not necessarily productively. A lot of people are too afraid to try since they don’t want to feel the disappointment that comes with failure.
But if you’re never disappointed then you’re probably not pushing yourself enough.
“To keep on trying in spite of disappointment and failure is the only way to keep young and brave. Failures become victories if they make us wise-hearted.” — Hellen Keller
Like with most things in life, it comes down to balance.
Waiting to engage with my analytics is a better way to reduce the frequency of my disappointment while at the same time keeping myself open to where I’m “failing” so I know where to improve.
To live my life in such a way where I’m NOT constantly staring out the window, but occasionally peering out of it.
Because much of the life I’m chasing is the life that I already have. I spend the bulk of my day teaching and writing and although I don’t have as much money or applause as I’d like I can still hold my head up high doing work that I believe is getting better and bettering the world.
Or said in a way that would appeal to my younger self — I’m fighting in the midst of a fierce galactic battle against the dark lords of indifference, ignorance, and hate in a great effort to create Heaven on Earth.
May you live the life you got in 2019!