Creating a ‘social isolation dream board’
My ‘fix it’ dream board and other useful ways to spend your free time
I used to think it was annoying when I was a kid. I’d want to hang out with my (late) grandfather in his basement, but he’d always be fixing something or gardening. Meanwhile I would much rather hang out at Chi Tung, or play Tonk, Blackjack or War with him. Sometimes I’d settle down next to my (late) grandmother and watch “Golden Girls” re-runs. But quite frankly, I preferred being a magnet on my grandfather’s hip and eventually ended up in his basement workshop anyway.
He bought his home for less than $100 and built/repaired the whole thing from the ground up. So I couldn’t really judge his need to always want to hammer, screw or drill something — anything. That was his world. And so I sat there and halfheartedly watched my host in his workshop, still talking his ear off and looking at what he was doing. I didn’t realize that those not-so-quiet visits were useful.
When I rented my first condo, I remember my landlady complaining, “You need to be more handy. I have to teach you how to fix stuff.” I used to hiss at her that she sounded too much like “the Thai version of my grandfather.” She shrugged and said, “Well, you do! Get handy so you can buy your unit!” Initially I thought it was a scam to get me to fix things so she didn’t have to. We butt heads about that a lot because, as a renter, I didn’t want to fix squat. Still though, I admired watching this woman outside in our front garden, building her own fence because she refused to pay anyone else to do it. Every time I saw her, she either had hammer and nails or gardening gloves on.
While our camaraderie was later ruined by “the bigot across the hall,” what I will always respect about her was whatever she wanted me to fix, she would (forcibly) walk me through it. It gave me flashbacks of my grandfather’s demonstrations. By the time I purchased a condo, I was absolutely shocked that I was able to complete most of my own plumbing jobs and some electric tasks. Where in the hell did I learn how to do all of this? And how did I manage not to electrocute myself or flood the whole building? Home Depot became my home away from home.
You’d be surprised by what you learn by accident, simply by observing people who have learned a trade. Vocational schools aren’t what they used to be, but there’s something to be said for those who can make a full-time permanent living from one specified talent.
The dream board idea to pass your time wisely
There will be many people online during the coronavirus scare who have suggestions for meaningless (but probably entertaining) YouTube videos, Netflix movies and sitcoms, podcasts and more. However, I challenge you to try something else.
- Create a dream board of what you would like to learn by the time the social isolation — mandatory or not — ends. It could be weeks. It could be months. Just assume it’s going to be awhile.
- Make sure to include on that dream board topics that are as useful as they are interesting for you over the long term, preferably financially.
- Set up a schedule (once a day is fine, once a week is depressing — how long are we really going to be isolated?) to find magazine articles, how-to video tutorials and step-by-step instructions on how to do more of [insert talent/trade here]. Decide how much time you want to dedicate to learning this craft. I’m giving myself 30 minutes per day.
On my dream board, I plan to learn two topics: 1) How to fix more random things around my condo (if ever broken). I bought the place. I definitely do not want to invite people in to fix anything right now. I may as well use this time and all of these tech resources to gain a general understanding of how to do it myself. My grandfather and landlord have done their part, and it’s time for me to take all the lessons they gave me to learn more. 2) Stop stumbling over financial language. My poor economics teacher in high school tried so very hard to teach us about investing stocks, but I chose flirting with the cute boy behind me through the whole class — the entire semester. Surprisingly, I still remember the basics and my Kiplinger magazine subscription helps more. If I want passive income, there’s absolutely no downside to learning how to invest.
Whatever topic you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time to do it, here’s your chance. Don’t spend your entire day on Facebook, arguing about reality TV or something else that doesn’t do you any good in the long term. Let’s get to fixing!
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