Looking to the future

So what does my future look like?  Most of the time I try to focus on being in the present.  Now I want to think about my future.  This is a difficult task.  I think about the future in big grand terms or general terms.  The focus on details is crucial and important.

Just like a business you can’t grow unless you have goals.  A business will have short and long-term goals.  Like a business you need personal short and long-term goals.  You need be forward-looking in life with direction to set these goals.  I saw this phrase on Facebook recently and it really resonated with me.

The most dangerous phrase in the language is “we’ve always done it this way.”

This is something I’ve heard many times in life.  I’ve heard various people say this and I’ve seen the results of it time after time.  The thing that it indicates normally is that the person/group/company doesn’t think outside the box.  They don’t thinking in what I would call solution based.  I’ve always been a big picture kind of guy myself.  Why or how did I get this way?  It sure wasn’t taught at home during my childhood.  Unless you count the times where as a family we had to make ends meet when we didn’t have much.  I guess that’s one way I learned it.

So what are some of the things I want?

Well there are the basics that everyone wants.

  1. Love
  2. Respect
  3. Money
  4. Home
  5. Retirement (sooner please rather than later)

I need to focus on how I get there.  Each person has a different idea of what this looks like. Now I’m trying to define this for myself.  The question is what do these things mean to me?  Respect is really vague.  So what does it mean?  That’s more about how you’re treated.  You have to ask for and demand it at times.  You don’t have to be rich, glamorous, tall, thin, have great hair or the whitest teeth to be respected.

I’m going to build a page to start putting down what I want.  I think this will help me quantifying or qualify what I want in the future.  I’ll be able to start with something generic and through refinement get to a more specific detail.  I can also use of some images to define what I want in life.

I keep telling myself it shouldn’t be that difficult. I feel like some of my items are superficial but I imagine if I had it then there would be something else.  Does that mean there are stages of desire?  I imagine that concept is pretty true.  There’s always stages in your life, right?

Leave a suggestion in the comments below.  What kind of tools do you think will help? How can I figure out what I truly want in the future?  Tell me about my bad grammar or just leave a polite supporting message.  It’s all good in the grand scheme of life.

I’m grateful for …

  1. I’m grateful for Susan letting me use her car so I can get to work and then later get to Orchestra rehearsal.
  2. I’m grateful that I got to go on a whale watching cruise this past weekend.
  3. I’m grateful that the weather is warming up.

I’m curious about …

  1. I’m curious about how to create passive income for future success.
  2. I’m curious about the effects of the drought here in California.
  3. I’m curious about what my future holds.

I’m surprised by …

  1. I’m surprised by how much I really want a car.
  2. I’m surprised by how close whales will get to the shore
  3. I’m surprised by how much my mind wonders.

Taking in the positive

Buddha QuoteSo I’m still reading ‘Just one thing’ by Rick Hanson and I’m working on integrating his practices into daily life.  You know I just read the second practice and there were some extremely important take aways.  For example if you’re going to try to do any personal development you need to fully invest yourself.  It’s funny how it makes complete sense when you think about it.  It’s no different than if you were going to learn to play an instrument or learn to program for computers.  If you’re going to do any anything involving learning you have to engage fully.  If you don’t invest you won’t fully learn or development the skills you’re working to achieve.

So the second practice is to ‘take in the good’ or focusing on the positive.  No big deal right?  Oy! I don’t think this is easy at all.  In reading this section in the book I find solace in the fact that this book is written from a scientific point of view.  Scientifically they have noted that we respond better to the negative influences in our life.  If you look at the development of humans we’ve learned to survive by avoiding the whatever it is that going to hurt us.  So by reading this you find that it’s not something to beat yourself up about.  It’s centuries of human development.

Take in the positive!  Every little positive thing that happens your day should be noted and you should praise yourself.  EVERY LITTLE THING!  Don’t let the negative voice pull you down and talk poorly about your achievements.  I read all my email today.  I responded to all my email today.  I wrote a blog post today.  Someone may say well that’s no big deal.  You can dismiss this kind of negative response. This is negative and NOT something to affect you.

So my task for this week is to focus on the positive in my life.  I can see how I don’t give myself credit for all those small things that I do/get done in a day.  You know it’s the whole “day in a life of” thing.  So no matter how small of an accomplishment it is I need to recognize it the accomplishment and celebrate it.  For example, yesterday I went on a 3 hour walking tour of restaurants, stopped to visit my fiends at Eye a, went to the grocery story, prepared some pasta sauce, went to dinner with Susan, did a load of laundry and relaxed for an hour at the end of the day.  That’s a lot going on in a single day.  I have to remember that I do as much or more than most people.

If you like mental imagery the way I’m going to start thinking about this is to picture myself with a kind of bubble around myself.  This bubble helps filter out garbage (negative thoughts).  While the bubble lets the positive through like water or air.  The positive thoughts should refresh you and make you feel warm.  I’ll close my eyes and feel the positive accomplishments warming my body.

This is going to be a great week.  I will focus on the positive.  I will let the positive warm my insides.  This feeling will not leave room for negative garbage.  The negative will just slide off like a fried egg from Teflon.  I will work to make this my truth.

If you had something you want to share or add please leave a comment below.  I am interested in hearing what others think.  I’m sure many people have been through something similar.

I’m grateful for:

  1. I’m grateful for the fun opportunities that I’m afforded here in San Francisco like the Mission restaurant tour that I took yesterday.
  2. I’m grateful for my boss who is a great person.
  3. I’m grateful that I am a good cook.

I’m curious about:

  1. The extinction of honey bees.
  2. What my friend Bob is doing today.
  3. Why people don’t try to change their lives like I have.

I’m surprised by:

  1. The science that I’m reading the book, Just One Thing.
  2. How many NPR stories deal with California.
  3. How I miss the steamy hot weather of New Orleans.

How can I keep focus?

So in life we have so many distractions every day it seems.  If you’re someone like me I sometimes go find distractions to keep myself busy.  I find that I’m sometimes my own worst enemy when it comes to this lack of focus.  So now I’m asking myself more and more about why I’m doing this to myself and how to break out of the cycle.

Lets tear apart my day to see how I’m spending my time.

Time

Task

Duration

6:30 AM Get up, get shower, get dressed 30 minutes
7:00 AM Pack up lunch and get ready to leave 15 minutes
7:15: AM Get on bus to head to work 1.5 hours
8:50 AM Work 8 hours
5:00 PM Head to gym (walk, train, walk, change) 45 minutes
6:00 PM Work out 1.5 hours
7:15 PM Commute home 1 hour
8:30 – 9:00 PM The time I get home

That is how my schedule looks on the days I go to the gym or exercise.  So that would be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Tonight I’m also going to an orchestra rehearsal which run till 9:30.  After that I’ll drive home which should get me in around 10:30 PM.

OK so that leaves between 9 and 11 PM on the weeknights that I go to the gym.  Friday’s I’ve been working from home and my evenings aren’t structured.  When I say my evenings aren’t structured what I’m really saying is that it’s free time and I go out.  Saturday and Sunday are free and I schedule them as I find things to do.  So I really only have 2 days that I don’t have about 11 to 12 hours of the day committed.

So I find myself getting emotional over this because I feel like life somewhat out of control.  I have to remember it’s not out of control.  I’m doing more than most people.  I’ve had people say ‘You’re always on the move doing something.’  Of course they say that based on what they see on my Facebook account.  Looking at the schedule above though I am pretty busy.

So I think the lesson I need to take away after writing this down is I need to treat myself with as much positive encouragement and praise for the work I am doing.  So I’m doing a good job.  Next something I should do is work on posting my accomplishments to my blog.  Writing blog post about what I’m accomplishing and doing helps make all the things I do more tangible.  I think we can all agree that having tangible accomplishments is a good thing.  While writing my blog post I need to narrow down some what of what I’m looking to do in the future.  There are so many great ideas and things I want to do.  Now I need to go through that list and narrow it down.  Prioritize the list and see if there are any multiples.

Let’s review my next steps:

  1. Praise and encourage myself!
  2. Write my blog post!
  3. List out these things that I want to do.
  4. Prioritize my list

It may seem silly but I feel better already.  This reminds me of two things.  First is the Kiss principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Don’t let it overwhelm me.  Write it down and really see what you’re dealing with before jumping to conclusions.  Second is to set up SMART goals (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely).  So if I keep it simple and great SMART goals for myself then I’ll be successful.

What’s my next step?

First I’m going to write my next post.  I find it amazing and fulfilling to write these post.  I’m able to process so many feelings and thoughts.  It’s not import if anyone else reads it.  Most import is that it’s helping me get my own feelings and thoughts together and allow me to move forward.

Second I am going to make a list of the things I am telling myself I want to do.  I am guessing that there will be some very common themes.  From that I think I can categorize them and then start to put a priority to them.  This isn’t about the future.  It is about today.  What can I do today.  What would have the biggest impact today.  I need to focus on the present day and what I can do or what is important to me.

Third is something I almost forget to acknowledge.  I need to continue my focus on the positive by stating the things I’m grateful for in my life.  Seeing the positive people and events in my life are extremely important.

I’m grateful for:

  1. My friends who are there to support me.
  2. My workout partner who keeps me focused on exercising.
  3. Music and the fact that I am able to play my tuba.

I’m curious about:

  1. How difficult would it be to moving to a foreign country?
  2. Why haven’t I felts like I have roots in a city?
  3. What is my friend Bob up to?

I’m surprised by:

  1. People’s instability, never fails to surprise me.
  2. How involved people are in soccer.
  3. How busy I am on weekdays.

I’m grateful, are you?

So I’ve been thinking more about how to be positive in my daily life.  I’ve heard of different things but the one thing that seems to strike a cord is a gratitude journal.  Simply acknowledging the good things in your life in which you’re grateful. Simple enough, right?

What am I grateful for?

  1. I’m grateful for my cousin Scott, a wonderful friend.
  2. I’m grateful for Karen, a great boss.
  3. I’m grateful for my workout partner Rick, without whom I wouldn’t be going to the gym.
  4. I’m grateful for an empty BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) car on the trip home.
  5. I’m grateful for my very good friend Susan who’s always there for me.

Today I ask my boss if she grew up in a home where she was encouraged as a child.  I don’t really remember that about my childhood.  I remember the majority of my childhood being humiliated and bullied.  It was hard growing up different in a small backwater area of central Ohio.  I think that was the first time that I really ever spoke about my childhood and what it was like unemotionally.  Normally it’s a conversation filled with sadness or anger.  It wasn’t until I went to college that I found my people you might say.

When I went to college at Otterbein University (College) it was the first time that I met other people like me.  Funny thing is some of you might be thinking I’m talking about gay people.  That’s not it at all.  This was the first time I met other people my age who sought to further themselves with education.  Men and women from small towns around Ohio who came to college to better themselves.

As a member of the marching band we arrived at Otterbein a week before school started for band camp.  My first day I walked into my room and there sat my roommate, a football player.  I was a little shocked but made the best of it.  His name was Mike and come to find out his sister was a violinist with the Dayton Jr Philharmonic.  So he was OK with the band geek thing.  To this day I still have friends from Otterbein that I met in the band program 20+ years ago.

In today’s discussion I was able to say and feel that I’ve really accomplished something in my life.  In terms of education I went to Otterbein University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education.  I went to Ohio State University for the better part of a year and did their Masters of Education program.  Last but not least I went to DeVry University and received a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology.  Which may I add I maintained a 4.0 GPA while working a full-time job.

Image That’s pretty freaking impressive for a kid who came from a family who doesn’t value education, grew up in a house where you could see the wind blow the curtains (the window was not open), where the blanket I slept with froze to the outside wall one winter, and a whole list of other stuff if I really thought about it.  Yes we lived in poverty and we were poor.  I never really thought about it though because my parents made the best of it.

So today I say I’m grateful that I’ve had enough ambition to move forward and do what some may call impossible in my life.  I’ve received education.  I’ve traveled domestically and internationally.  I’ve worked for major companies.  I started a company.  I’ve bought a home.  I’ve lived in New Orleans and San Francisco. I’ve made friends from so many countries I couldn’t even begin to count.  Man, that’s something!

Today I posted on Facebook the following message. “I stumble along through life. I haven’t really sought out as much as I dream of.”  Well my stumbling has allowed me to do far more than I’ve ever acknowledged.  In my stumbling I’ve met so many WONDERFUL people.  I’ve played tuba in places that are amazing and beautiful.  I’ve sang songs that have made people cry (not because it was painful).

“I stumble along through life. I haven’t really sought out as much as I dream of.”

For a kid from Knox County Ohio I’ve done pretty darn good!  That’s the truth, my truth!  I’ve come a long way baby and I’ve still got further to go!  So I’m grateful for somehow, someway finding my way to where I am today.