Quote of the Week

"One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils."
- Woodrow Wilson

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

If I set it correctly, this post should have published right at midnight.

Normally I am not much for New Year's Resolutions. I've always thought why wait until January 1st to start making changes to improve yourself. Just start doing them right away. But at this time of the year, when the calendar winds down, one seems to naturally start looking forward to a better year.

I have some set some new goals for 2019, and a few of them would qualify as resolutions. I also didn't wait for the clock to strike midnight to start working them into my daily routines.... but anyway, here are my three 2019 New Year's Resolutions.

Empty my work's email inbox every day.

I've been practicing this GTD philosophy with my home email since this summer and it's made a big improvement with my productivity. Emails that show up in my inbox each day are acted upon accordingly. They are replied to, or any other action is taken if needed; then deleted, or filed away in another specific folder for later reference if deemed necessary. Ending the day with an empty inbox gives me a positive feeling of accomplishment. Not to mention filing the surprisingly few emails away in a place that is easy to find them makes life easier.

I've tried leaving all emails in the inbox and adding labels / tags to organize them, but I always had to scroll through tool much to find what I was looking for. Even when using Outlook's search features.

A few days ago I archived all emails expect for a few dozen recent emails specific to active work projects. I created a separate folder for each of the projects and create some labels in the GTD theme to keep some current tasks organized.

Now one of the last things I do before I leave work is go through the days emails. I delete everything that is not needed from the day, like "thank you" replies. I file away important emails that document action items, etc. Then I go through and delete action items that from earlier in the week that I no longer need to document.

Clearing the clutter has been a drastic improvement and it's quickly becoming another thing I wish I started doing year's ago.

Wake up, get up.

Over the years I've become an early riser. Usually out of bed around 5:30am now days. Which is still hard for me to believe, when I look back at my younger days.

While I am getting up early and getting a lot of things done around the house before work, my start can be on the slow side. I almost always wake up before my alarm. Normally a good 10 to 15 minutes before the alarm. And while I will rarely hit the snooze button, I will lay in bed for another 10 to 15 minutes before I get up.

That may not seem too bad, but its still at times a half hour of my day that I can put to good use. So over the past few days I make a point to get up as soon as I wake up. Let's see if I can't get something done with the extra potential 180 some odd hours in 2019. I think this will be the most challenging, yet rewarding resolution.

Carry medical gear on my person.

This is a habit I had going for a while, but early in 2018 I fell out of it. I used to carry a small trauma kit in a Ziploc bag in my pant pocket. The kit included gloves, a tourniquet, wound packing gauze, and duct tape.

Many have a well stocked first aid kit in their home or vehicle, but few actually have these items on them. This may seem to be a strange thing to do, but carrying medical supplies like these on you could truly be a lifesaver.

The biggest problem was space. Even though the one kit I carried the most fits in the palm of my hand, it took up an entire front pants pocket. Which was not that convenient. I got used to it, and I'm getting used to it again. But it was a hindrance nonetheless.

I think I found a solution. I ordered a product that warps around your ankle and has pockets to store the first aid items in it. It's kind of like one of those ankle holsters for a little revolver. Looking forward to it being delivered. In the meantime, I will loose the capacity of my left front pants pocket.

I hope you all have a safe and happy new year. I also hope you all not only have goals for 2019 as well, but have plans and action items to archive those goals.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Look At Where You Are

"Life is so subtle that sometimes you barely notice yourself walking through the doors you once prayed would open" - Brianna Wiest

We often become discouraged when we are working on our goals, and we don't feel any momentum. We don't feel like we don't have any traction. We feel stuck. These moments can slow us down or even derail us completely into failure mode, causing us to give up.

At times like this, when what we are moving towards in front of us does not appear to be getting any closer. We should look back to where we began on the path, and take in how far we've come.

We may surprise ourselves on just how much we have accomplished by our focus, passion, and hard work.

Seeing how far we have gone in the direction of achieving our goals my be all the more motivation we need to get unstuck and to keep moving forward.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Digital De-Clutter

Lately I’ve been on a de-cluttering kick. I’ve cleared out dressers and closets of clothing I don’t wear. I’ve parted ways with office items and all sorts of miscellaneous household things. And I still have a ways to go.

If you search web, you’ll find nearly countless articles, blog posts, and videos on de-cluttering. Many methods and tricks to help you get rid of the stuff you really don’t need and can actually be getting in your way. While I don't see myself ever becoming a true "minimalist," you know, one of those guys with the trendy glasses and hairstyle, wearing nothing but one of five plain black or charcoal gray t-shirts and two pairs of skinny jeans, who's living room has two pieces of furniture and bare, stark white walls. That is not me, but I do appreciate the mindset and concept of a Minimalist. 

Rid your life of the possessions that do not bring meaning or serve a purpose in your life. It saves you money, eliminates distractions from what is truly important, make life more efficient, not to mention you'll look like you have your crap together. Mainly because you have less useless crap to try to keep together. 

It makes sense. With that premise, people purge their bedroom closest, the kitchen cabinets, storage rooms, garages, attics, etc. They have yard sales, donate boxes upon boxes of stuff, and fill a dumpster with the rest. Stuff that should have been tossed long ago. But why stop there? Clearing the clutter in your digital world can be just as, if not more, beneficial than clearing the clutter of your physical world. 

  • Ever find yourself flipping through screens on your smart phone to find one of the few apps you really use?
  • Ever try to remember where that email address is? On your work's Outlook contacts, on your phone, on LinkedIn or other social site?
  • Do you have dozens if not hundreds of acquaintances cluttering up your social feeds with back to school photos of kids you never met, or political rants that numb you to your very soul? 
  • De-clutter your digital life.

Spend the next few days or few weeks tracking what apps you regularly use on your devices. Move the ones you use most to the first screen and the rest hide away from yourself. After some time goes buy you will find there is a bunch of apps you simply don't use. Delete them.

Go through all your digital contacts and merge them into one place. There are lots of options for that. Personally, I have migrated all my contact into Google Contacts. There are other good options if your not a fan of Google Contacts. Pick one and only one that works for you. My computer, phone and other devices are all set to pull my contact data for messages and email from Google Contacts. Now I have a copy of my professional bushiness contacts on Outlook on my work laptop, since our IT manager has an unhealthy fear of clouds. So I have to make sure I sync my work specific Outlook contact list with the rest of my every few weeks. But other than that, all names, addresses, and number are at one location. Having all your contacts in one place makes it easier to keep that list current and complete.

With your freshly consolidated, organized contact and your social media accounts. Weed out what you don't need. Delete that vendor contact from 10 years and two jobs ago from a different industry.  She won't know the difference and it will be one list line of information to scroll through in order to find the one you want. Delete that friend of a friend on Facebook who is constantly triggered and rant about the latest outrage trend. Even if you agree with some of his points, who needs he's negativity cluttering up what should be a positive way to keep in contact with people who should be bringing meaning and purpose into your life. Again, he won't even notice your gone.

The thought that stops people from digitally de-cluttering is the same that stops them from physically de-cluttering; what if I need that someday? The answer for the physical item is usually "if you haven't used it or even thought about for years, your not likely going to need it in the future." That answer applies to the digital stuff too. If it turns out you do need that physical item years from now, you can always purchase another one. If it turns out you need that app in the future, you can always download it again.

Give parting ways with what does not bring value into your life, both physical and digital stuff, a try. You may find that with less clutter and distractions it is easier for you to Stay On The Path.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this on social media, or directly with anyone you think would enjoy it.
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Monday, November 5, 2018

Since When Did Getting Up At 6:00am Become Sleeping In?

I’m a morning person, but I sure didn’t start out that way. Up until my mid or late twenties, I’d stay in bed until I had no choice to get up. I was horrible. I’d show up to school with my hair still wet from my morning shower.

As I grew older I discovered easing my way into the day made the mornings less hectic and more productive. Taking the time to fully wake up, enjoy my coffee and a breakfast starts the day off on a much better note than running out the door with a Poptart hanging from my mouth.

Now days, I’ve taken it to another level. Long gone are the days of arriving somewhere with my hair still wet from my morning shower. Besides no longer have much for hair, I usually have showered at the very least an hour before I leave the house for the day.

I enjoy a morning routine of preparing for the day. Besides enjoying a big breakfast & coffee, I get several household chores out of the way, along with my side endeavors before I leave for my day job.

The early morning hours can be some of my most productive hours of the day.

I’ve now gotten to the point that if I sleep in until 6:00am, I’m disappointed at myself for wasting an hour of my day. Since when is getting up at 6:00am sleeping in? I never thought growing up I’d become a morning person, but here I am.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this on social media, or directly with anyone you think would enjoy it.
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Monday, October 29, 2018

Dreams Are Not Goals

Recently I was listening to a podcast where the guest was talking about how goals are not effective for self improvement. This idea got my full attention, for I am a goal oriented person.

The guest explained his reasoning that goals are not effective for many people share common goals and not all succeed. He said everyone has goals of being successful at what the do, but few achieve their goals. So goals are not really that useful. I see his point, but I disagree with his view of the value of having goals. Mostly because I think the two of us have a different definition of what is a goal.

What many people, including the above mentioned podcast guest define as goals, I defined as dreams. In my view dreams and goals are very, very similar. They are so similar, it is extremely easy to them one and the same. They are something we have a strong desire to accomplish or become. We want to be successful, financially secure, in good health, happy. These are all dreams people have. For me the difference between a dream and a goal is not only a plan to achieve it, but a realistic plan. The word realistic is often the true difference between a goal and a dream.

The key to achieving our goals is to clearly define what it will take to accomplish them. Turn the 'whats' that need to happen into tasks or action items. If the number of tasks required becomes overwhelming, put them into groups and tackle one group of tasks at a time. Set dates to accomplish the tasks by to keep you focused and inspired. Again being realistic is the key.

Say, for example, if your goal is to lose 30 pounds, giving yourself a month to do so might seem realistic. But do the math. Is dropping a pound a day on average something you can do? If so great. If not, maybe you should plan on taking a month and a half to loose the 30 pounds.

Even if you don't hit the individual tasks or small goals in the time frame you set, don't let that stop you. That happens way too much. Take my weight loss goal example. Say your goal was to lose 30 pounds in a month, but you lost 16 pounds. Did you really fail? 16 pounds closer to being in shape sounds a lot better than not trying at all. Loosing 16 pounds is far better than simply saying "I need to get in better shape", doing absolutely nothing about it, and considering it a "goal."  The difference between a dream and a goal is a goal has action.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this on social media, or directly with anyone you think would enjoy it.
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Monday, October 8, 2018

Orbiting the Giant Hairball. Expected how to, got philosophy.

I added the book to my Amazon shopping cart as soon as I got home. The book arrived the next Wednesday and after dinner I dove right in. Only to be initially disappointed.
I can’t remember where I first heard someone reciting Gordon MacKenzie’s story of asking children if they were an artist. Wherever it was, the story has stuck with me. To be honest, I’m not even sure if MacKenzies’s name was mentioned, or if I was read or heard the analogy of asking differs aged kids if they were an artist.

Gordon MacKenzie made sculptures as a hobby. A couple times a year he would talk to different grade school classes about his art. He noticed something when he interacted with the students. During his presentation, he’d ask the class if any of them were an artist. With the 1st Graders, nearly every kid would enthusiastically raise their hands. When he asked the 2nd Graders fewer would raise their hand. This trend continued with each older class. By the time he asked this question to the 6th Graders, only a few would raise their hands.

Seems self doubt and conforming to what is considered normal does away with our inner artist, and our creativity is stifled. There is a linked to a child’s restrained inner artist and the misery many feel professionally. Especially working in a corporate culture.

A week or two ago I was listening to a podcast on my commute home. The guest was talking about the struggles he’s faced trying to get through professional life in a place of work with a heavy corporate culture and he mentions the story of Gordon MacKenzie and the grade school art classes. Then he mentioned how he enjoyed MacKenzie’s book Orbiting the Giant Hairball.

Honestly I have no one to blame for my disappointment than me. I didn’t research the book past it’s mention on the podcast. I didn’t even read a single review left for it on Amazon.

My initial disappointment was based on me presuming Orbiting the Giant Hairball was going to be a “how to” style businesses self help book. It is not. But once I came to terms with what the book really is, I did enjoy it. The books is a collection of well written short stories by Gordon MacKenzie, a very creative artist who worked at Hallmark for thirty years. While I was hoping to learn some specific tactics to use in my day to day profession life, what I read were a series of entertaining and thought provoking corporate life lessons. The chapter comparing the "Pyramid" corporate structure to the "Plum Tree" structure resonated with me in particular.

The book was a quick read. I didn't put it down, learning a new bag of tricks that will help be succeed in the workplace. But I do now have a better perspective on how I can "orbit the Giant Hairball" and get more out of my professional life.

If this book sounds like something that you'd be interested in reading, follow the above Amazon link.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Social Media Detox

There’s no doubt in my mind that social media, when used in moderation, can be a great thing. One can reconnect with old friends and family across the country or around the world. With a few swipes of the thumb, one can get caught up with current events, see photos from a coworker’s vacation, and find a Keto friendly cheesecake recipe.

There’s also no doubt in my mind, so others things when not used in moderation, social media is a horrible thing. A horrible thing that can be very addictive. A habit that can not only really cut into someone’s productivity, but bog down their lives in general and strain relationships in the real world.

With the negative side of social media, it does make sense to take a planned break from it every once in a while. In the past I’ve taken small breaks for a few days to a few weeks, but never a longer duration. But know that the election cycle rhetoric is already reaching critical mass, now seems like the perfect time to “go dark” on social media. So I have.

While the first half of this post was a rough draft, on October 1st, I had already stopped checking Facebook. I didn’t plan on saying anything about me taking a break on Facebook. I was just going to fade to black and then come back sometime after the elections in November.

Then I saw this YouTube video:
The 30 Day Social Media Detox

After watching the video I shared it on Facebook, then deleted the app from my phone. It’s been a few days as I type this and I’m still alive without my social media fix.

It will be interesting to how I react to Facebook again sometime in November. Will I fall back into my habit of checking it way too often? Will I have better control and only scroll through the feed once or twice a day? Or will I spend thirty seconds in it, get overwhelmed by the noise & nonsense and delete the app from my phone? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

However my 30 day social media detox goes, I’d recommend you give it a try too. Remove the app from your phone and web browser. Keep track of how many times you habitually go an click on an app or bookmark that is no longer there throughout the course of your day. See how much more focus you have on the people and tasks that truly matter.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Biggest Lie

The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we are too busy. We love this excuse. It’s our out when our doubt and laziness want to control our lives.

The excuse is conveniently made whenever we feel challenged by what we want to accomplish. Losing weight. Sticking to a budget. Advancing our career or finding a better place to work. Volunteering for a cause we believe in. Simply stating “I’m too busy” is an easy out.

I’m too busy to go to the gym, or walk a mile in the neighborhood before work.
I’m too busy to cook from scratch meals that are more inexpensive and healthier.
I’m too busy to take that online course, attend that seminar or work on my resume.

When simply saying “I’m too busy” doesn’t cut it, we like to throw in some qualifiers.

I works a lot of hours.
I have two kids in sports.
I have a long commute.
My wife works.

You know who else faces the above daily? Successful people who are achieving more than you or I. People who don’t use life in general as an excuse to not do more with their lives. People who live life with focus and determination.

If we want to joins those people, we need to break the cycle of looking for excuses to continue to be unsuccessful, and put forth a plan to achieve our goals and succeed. We need to get on the path, and make sure to stay on the path.

We need to figure out where we want to go.
We need to set achievable goals that will get us there.
We need to break down those goals into task and start completing them.
We need to find the time for those tasks in order to complete them.

Finding the time is the where the rubber meets the road, and where we start putting up our own obstacles to prevent us from leaving our comfort zones to venture on the path to better. We humans have an inherited fear of change. Even if we don’t like where we are, we don’t want to move on out of fear things would be worse. So we stick with “the devil we know” out of fear of a devil we don’t even know if it’s real, but fear it will be worse.

The unknown is not the only thing we fear. We also fear failing. We don’t want to be rejected from the better opportunity. We don’t want to try to lose weight, only to remain out of shape after weeks of starving ourselves. Or still be broke at the end of the month, even though we had a plan with our money.

Put that fear in its place, and start finding the time that is there, but your fears of the unknown or of failure are keeping you from using to your advantage. A great way to find the time is to spend some time tracking where your time goes.

My challenge to you is log your “free time” on a piece of paper for at least one week. Be honest with yourself. Write down how much time you spend with your kids, eating out, cooking at home, running errands, watching TV, working out, surfing the web or scrolling though social media. Chances are, you will not be happy with the results. Although it might spark something in you to get better with your time management. I might give you the motivation to stop telling yourself and others the biggest lie.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Book Review: Death by Meeting | Patrick Lencioni

I've read most of Lencioni's books and own several. I recently started to make a point to re-read them on a regular basis. Most of his books are written as a "business fable" that covers the topic of his book, with a detailed overview at the end of his principals detailed in the book and suggestions on how to implement them at your work.

I recently finished re-reading Death by Meeting. Which is well needed since the meetings at where I work are starting to get out of control. I constantly hear and occasionally say something along the lines, with a heavy sigh, "great, another meeting. Wish I didn't have so many meetings so I can get some work done."

Even though most professionals know that work is done in meetings and that they are a critical part of work. Yet too often not much is accomplished during the meetings.

This books tackles how to get the most out of meetings and offers some good advice on how you and your company conducts meetings. The "fable" portion of the book is well written. It is entertaining and the story has characters and events that will remind you of related situations and interactions you've had.

Even though I'm not in a position with the company where I can dictate how meeting are held across the company, or even in my department; I can control how I interact with others in meetings and how I conduct the meetings I arrange. I've found the information in this book a great tool to help get the most out of meetings.

If the above book interest you, please consider following the link to order from Amazon. Purchasing through the above affiliate links will help me grow this blog, while adding no additional cost to you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Being on the Right Track is Not Enough

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." Will Rogers

I've always admired the wit of Will Rogers. His commentary on politics and life in general are just as true today as they were a hundred years ago. The above quote is a great commentary on many of us that are on the path to better.

We can plan all we want. We can set goals, read books, think about what we want all day long. But if we don't put theory into practice, we'll stay in the same place. As you sit in the same place, your goals will fade back into dreams. Others will pass you by and you'll be in the same place thinking about "someday."

None of us can get in life where we want to go, unless we make purposeful movement in the direction we want to go. We need to visualize where we want to go, realize where we are, then move with purpose in that direction.

Being on the right track is merely the start. Putting forth the effort to more with purpose in the direction you want to go. Because even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

To Grow, You Need to Work

"All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work."
- Calvin Coolidge
The above quote is the truth. If you want to grow, you need to put for the effort. Things don't just fall in place on their own. You need to be in the right place ready for the things to land. Basically, you need to hustle and be purposeful with your hustle.

I think that's the tricky little point that trips up and derails creative people. The have dreams, goals and the drive to accomplish them, but don't have the focus to put that drive and ambition where it needs to be. Instead, they spread themselves too thin bay doing anything and everything all at once.

Working hard to grow it how thing get done and improvement happens. Working hard with laser precision focus is how you grow faster, bigger and more importantly sustained.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Trying to Buy Experience and Skill

A few days ago, a friend posted on Facebook a picture of overcooked eggs still in the frying pan, asking for help. In an instant I saw the problem, trying to cook eggs with too much heat. Then reading the comments already on the post I saw the bigger problem. People recommending a whole host of different pans that my friend needed to buy. That's the American way, trying to buy experience and skill.

All my friend needed to do to cook better eggs, is to cook at a lower setting and have the patience to practice. But the majority of the advice was to buy something to fix the problem. That seems to be the standard solution for more than just cooking eggs.

No good at golf? You need better clubs.
Can't catch fish? A new rod and reel is the answer.
Not getting enough exercise? You need a $300 smart watch that counts your steps and shows a GPS generated map of where you walked.

One could write dozens of examples of ways to improve any hobby, work or household task by simply buying a new gadget or tool. We are all looking for the quick fix that the latest technology or innovation can bring us.

But most of the time what we really need is some practice or training.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

On The Path it is

So I've changed the name of the blog to "On The Path." I think it's pretty fitting for where I am and where I'm going to go with this blog.

Lately I've been taking a much closer look at where I am and where I'm going. I've been focusing on getting more out of my days and life in general. I found that I have a lot of goals that have not been getting the traction they needed to get done. I was in a rut. Now I'm getting out of that rut and back on the path to reaching my goals.

I've started using a bullet journal. I started de-cluttered my house. I started tightening my budget. I've started on the path. On the path to a better me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Figures Don't Lie, But Lairs Can Figure

Saw this sign in front of a local gas station that made me stop and take a second look. It's a sign for pre-bundled firewood.

What caught my eye was the line "80% LESS SMOKE." That sounds good, don't it? 80% less smoke blowing in your face at your next campfire. 80% better for the environment, 80% less stink in your clothes, 80% less moving your camp chair to get out of the way of the smoke.

Who wouldn't like 80% less smoke? Sounds like a great deal, better buy a bundle or two! We better buy some, right?

Well, maybe. Maybe not. One needs to stop and ask a question. 80% of what?

The answer that pops into people's head is "80% less smoke, of course" but we need to ask compared to what?

  • 80% less smoke than the same amount of wood of the same species from their competition?
  • 80% less smoke than their product from last year?
  • 80% less smoke than the same amount of wood of a different species?
  • 80% less smoke than burning a truckload of old tires?

With out a clear definition of WHAT, percentages are a pretty useless and often misleading thing to use in advertisements, or memes, or any other statement of fact.

Like the old saying goes, "figures don't lie, but lairs can figure."

Monday, August 13, 2018

New Name, Same Blog But Different! Kind of....

To be completely honest, I kind of forgot I had a blog. Like many, I started off with big plans and lots of ideas, then got distracted with life and wondered off. Also like many, I had a spurt or two when I found my interest again and swore "this time it will be different" then, once again, got distracted.

As you can see. I found my interest again. Let's see if it sticks.

First thing is I'm changing the name from "Too Young To Be a Curmudgeon." While I still love that name and find it fitting; let's face it, it's not a good name for the long term. On on the edge of 44 now. I'm not really too young for it anymore.

Secondly, I am in the process of starting a weekly vlog on YouTube that will also be posted here, along with more blog posts to this site, and I want to have everything branded the same.

So stay tuned, there is going to be much more to come. New name, sample blog but different! Kind of....