Hello, I know it's been a while since I posted, and even longer with anything substantial about my life. This is not going to be one of those personal posts. It's for a project I started working on recently. I'll post a personal news update when I get a little more time.
So, without further ado:
In a world where you can get metrics for nearly everything you do, how do you define and measure success?
This is a question that has gotten under my skin for the last few weeks. I think it all started when I first listened to Jocko Podcast #174. I highly recommend it if you are interested in self-development at all.
Everything we do professionally is measured, and our success within a company is usually driven by the metrics that are measured for performance reviews. This includes sales numbers, KPIs, etc. Of course, metrics can be gamed if they are not well thought out, but this is an efficient system for the most part, and works well in companies that put real thought into their implementation.
So that got me thinking, why hasn’t anyone done this for life? There’s literally an app to measure just about everything you want. Smart watches constantly measure heart rates and sleep patterns. There are apps that track and measure your fitness patterns. There are apps for that measure and analyze your finances. And there are plenty of data available online to compare your professional achievements.
I’ve looked around, and mostly I find common practices in the areas of self and life development, but there isn’t much talking about actual metrics. So, that’s what I’m doing now. I’m trying to decide what metrics I’m going to use to help me set (quite possibly the most difficult part) and achieve goals for myself.
I found a website that is a good start. It provides a list of different areas to focus on, and it includes a few metrics for each area. But as everyone defines personal success differently, I feel like the specific metrics would be different for everyone.
So, having said all that, what metrics would you consider if you were, as the boss of your own life, going to realistically give yourself an annual review? Why would you choose those metrics?
Good [insert appropriate time of the day] ladies and gentlemen.
It’s been a while since I posted, and thought that now was a good time to update.
I have some good news. I have finally made it through my custody mediation. It seems that after 2 years, we still cannot come to an agreement for custody (surprise surprise… yes, that was sarcasm). Now we get to move into litigation…
On another note, in my spare time, I’ve decided to pick up crafts. Leatherwork to be exact. I haven’t done anything major yet, but here are a couple pictures of kinds of projects I’ve completed so far.
It’s not great, but I’m just getting started, and I’m having fun with it. The nice thing is that, despite the wallet being a bit too small, it’s holding up well. My bracelet is too (I’ve given 3 away so far, so I don’t know how well they’re holding up).
The hardest part so far is working with buttons. They are a pain. Of course it will just take time, but I’m hoping to eventually be able to make something that people will want to buy.
It’s amazing how fast 2019 has passed by. I can’t believe that it’s already December. I’ll have to start putting together a list of things that happened this year. It’s been so busy, but also, in a way, it’s calmed down a lot (especially since I’m not doing recruiting anymore).
I have a new job now. Well, newish. I started in April. But since I haven’t posted in over a year, it’s easy to understand that you wouldn’t know.
Since my last post, I’ve done a few things:
As I mentioned, I changed jobs. I’m back to teaching. This isn’t for any normal school. It’s an international school backed by a big venture company. This will give me some opportunities if I stick with it for a while. Ideally, I’m hoping to move into an IT position. As of now though, I’m enjoying my new job. I’m teaching an after-school program where I see the same kids every weekday. Their at an advanced level of English, so they can have full conversations with you (although it’s still pretty broken).
I competed in a speech contest. I’ve now been in Toastmasters for a year and a half. In February-April, we had a series of contests. I was able to win the club and area contests. I got 3rd place in the division contest. The guy who won had been doing Toastmasters for 20 years, and he knew exactly how to win. I’m preparing for the contest next year now. I may already have a speech ready for it. I just need to practice, practice, practice!
Speaking of Toastmasters, I’m not the 2nd in command of my club (Vice President of Education). It’s pretty much the most intensive job in the club. I’m doing a lot of organizing since we’re a new club, and trying to simplify the process so that whoever takes over next won’t have many problems.
I’m starting to test my hand at leatherworking. I haven’t made anything yet, but I’m starting to get to know how to use the tools. I bought a leather working tool set similar to this from Amazon Japan, so it’s not a huge investment yet. I also found an awesome leather shop in Japan where I can get some practice hides relatively cheap (around $30), but I didn’t realize how much the nice stuff costs (between $200-300). The company name is Sanyo Leather. Here is a picture of the sample book they sent for $10 as well as a few scraps that they sent for free for testing. I think I’ll try to make a wallet with it.
It’s hard to believe that I came to Japan 8 years ago this month. Before that I had never lived anywhere except Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in the last 8 years, I’ve only been back home a handful of times.
I miss home, and all my friends and family. All the food, and the thunderstorms in the spring. I miss playing guitar while watching the crazy thunderstorms. I miss puffy taco Wednesdays. Hell, I can’t list all the things that I miss here. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.
After reminiscing a bit, I started to realize how much I’ve done since I’ve been in Japan. I’ve become a teacher, and then been in one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded shortly after. I learned how to live completely on my own. I traveled to Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia. I got married, had a child, and then got divorced (well, started the process anyway). I’ve had to face one of the biggest challenges of my life so far in the courts in Japan. I’ve become a headhunter, and I’ve written a book. I’ve joined groups to learn how to speak in public (I promise I’ll be better if anyone ever needs me to do a best man speech again), and I’ve started doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ve been in both the best and worse physical shape since high school. I’ve read more books in a couple years than I have in my whole life (nearly 50 this year alone if you include audio books).
In all of that, the lesson that most stands out to me is persistence. It was one of the things that I never quite had before I came to Japan, and if it’s the only lesson that I learn while I’m here, then my time here will be well worth it. Not to be too cliche, but it’s true that anything worth doing is difficult, and it takes a lot of time. If you give up anytime things get difficult, then you’ll never accomplish anything of value.
That’s what I did before I came to Japan. I did that with all my music instruments, my sports, and even my business. I don’t feel like I ever really engaged myself 100%, and that’s why I never became great at any of them. I was a dilettante (still am really). Persistence pays off in anything you do, but if you really want to find success (at least what I think of as success), you have to learn to stick with the thing you want to be successful at.
Don’t get me wrong. Hobbies are great. It’s good to find things where you can spend some of your time and get some R&R while simultaneously improving some aspect of yourself. You can’t dedicate yourself 100% to every single thing you do. But you can find the one or two things that are the most important things in your life. The things that make you want to wake up in the mornings. And it’s for those things that I am learning persistence.
I didn’t really intend this to become a motivational piece, but rather a reminiscence of the last 8 years, so I’ll stop before I get too high on my persistence soapbox.
I just want everyone to know things are going well and I miss you all!
And congrats Kenna and Amanda on your little bundle of joy! I’m looking forward to meeting him!
I love the new year, because it gives you a set time that it’s okay to rethink everything you’re doing and try to figure out what’s next, or even just to question the direction you’re moving in.
Well, anyone who’s known me more than 5 minutes knows that I’m pretty scatterbrained and have so many crazy ideas that I can’t ever get anyone of them finished.
I’ve been working over the last few months to focus. Basically, I’m working to finish something at all times. I have new things that come up, just like I did before, but I’m always prioritizing one project and working towards its completion. That’s new to me, and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It sounds strange, but I seem to get bored with the last mile. It wasn’t until recently that I heard something that resonated well with me. It was on a Tim Ferriss podcast. I think he quoted someone when he said it, but I can neither remember who he got it from nor can I quote it perfectly, as I can’t remember the exact podcast to relisten, so I’ll just paraphrase it here. It was something like, “The last 10% is the last 50%” or “The last mile is the last half of a project.”
Basically, once you’ve made it to what appears to be the end of a project, a lot of people, myself included, tend to relax and end up not finishing up. Personally, I just get bored with what I’m doing. I’ve never been a fan of the tedious, and it seems that finalizing something is the most tedious of all. So, now it’s time to force myself to do the tedious.
The next thing that I’ve been doing a lot of recently is rethinking goals. I remember when I was younger, I learned SMART goals. I can’t remember if it was in high school or university that I learned this concept, but basically, it goes as follows:That
Goals should be SMART which stands for:
Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
Achievable (agreed, attainable).
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
That’s great! And I agree to a certain degree, but a SMART goal doesn’t always help in the long term, which tends to be more abstract, and not bound by a certain period of time or specific details. Of course, it’s important to have as much information as possible when making a goal, but when you’re grasping at straws looking for some kind of direction to move into, it’s difficult to visualize the kinds of goals that will lead you in the direction that you’re interested in moving.
So, to answer that, I started researching, and found what would appear to be the opposite of SMART goals in DUMB goals. These are goals that are much more abstract driven by passion rather than reason and logic (granted, it is built in there, it’s just not going to jump up and slap you in the face.
I finally realized that not all goals can fit into that SMART standard, so I finally stopped banging my head against the wall trying to make it fit, and beating my own self-esteem when I couldn’t meet the timelines that I set for myself, or wasn’t as successful as I had wanted to be, or a speed bump came up and knocked me off course.
So, the last few months, I’ve been reworking my thinking process, and I have come up with the following goals. These are what are driving me, and will be how I frame all my projects into the future. They are ALL career oriented as I’m still not ready to dive into some of the deep personal stuff (especially in such a public way). So here we go:
I want to earn one million dollars from a company that I create.
I want to write a New York Times best seller.
I want to create a podcast that helps hundreds of thousands of people.
I want to get paid to speak publicly.
So, I’ll end on a story that really got me into this thought process. For anyone who’s ever seen me as a best man, you know that I’m terrified of speaking or performing in front of people that I know, to the point of anxiety attack. Well, this year, my company was putting on a talent show to showcase the little known talent within the company. About two months before the talent show, I decided that I was going to perform. I didn’t know what, but I knew that I had to do it. There were five other people who signed up to perform, and all of their talents were pretty well known. I was the dark horse. To be honest, it wasn’t up until the final week that I even knew what I was doing. I only knew that I had to do something. I had been practicing the song Desperado on guitar, and was planning to sing it, but in that last week, I decided that it wasn’t much of a holiday party song, so I trashed it with just seven days (actually less than that since at that point as it was a Sunday and the party was on Friday). While trying to figure out what I was going to do, I was listening to a very old story/song called Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie, which if you haven’t invested the twenty minutes to listen to it, I’d highly recommend it. Hell, I’d recommend that you invest another twenty minutes to listen even if you have already heard it.
Well, I’m sure you can see where this is going. I reworked the lyrics, and told a story to the tune of Alice’s Restaurant, and ended up winning third place (I later paid for the success with an anxiety attack, but woke up the next morning still alive, so I consider it a success). After that, I decided that it’s never too late to accomplish your dreams, and that it’s time to get started.
In case you’re interested, one of my coworkers recorded my performance (it’s filled with jokes that only the EWC employees would understand, but you can judge for yourself):