Solitude or Isolation

Right now, you might feel confused, constricted or frustrated.

You might find yourself facing the crossroads of solitude and isolation.

There is a difference:

Solitude is being alone without being lonely.

Isolation is being lonely whether or not you’re alone.

In the last decade or so, solitude has become a luxury, an afterthought, or something in between.

Now it’s a necessity.

Walking alone with your thoughts, being in nature, letting the sun fill your body, mind and soul.

That is life.

Doing good, focused work that helps someone else.

That is also life.

In the social media age, minutes pass while anxiety builds. There comes a point when the amount of information we consume starts to lose its value–especially if it’s one-sided.

Spending hours scrolling through social media feeds to get the latest on the latest, or binge watching Netflix in order to escape the cold, hard realities of life: that’s simply waiting for the inevitable.

This is a rare opportunity. Don’t waste it distracting yourself from yourself.

Right now, you can choose solitude or isolation.

So, which will it be?

Now For the Future

You don’t need to worry about what’s to come.

You simply need to take the future into consideration as you develop your system for the present.

What actions do you need to take now in order to secure the best possible future?

The Rest of Your Life

Most things in our lives are out of our control.

Recognition, natural disasters, death.

We can’t control the outcome.

But we can control the process.

The amount of time each of us has left doesn’t matter.

What matters is how we spend that time.

What is your process for the rest of your life?

And just like that old pizza commercial:

What do you want on your tombstone?

Choosing

Happiness and Creativity

A person is who they are for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being that they are influenced by their inputs. What you consume has a huge influence on what you produce, and being deliberate about your consumption means you will be deliberate about what you create.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I am quitting my day job. One of my objectives for this new journey is to focus on developing my ability to choose happiness over wealth, creativity over recognition.

Happiness and creativity must be kept separate from wealth and recognition, because the former are things you can control, while the latter are not.

To Help Friends

Another part of my journey is to focus on helping loved ones, with no expectation of receiving anything in return.

This last weekend, I helped my cousin take a load of garbage to the dump. This wasn’t just any garbage. This was disgusting mattresses and moldy carpet covered in cat piss.

But, I didn’t mind doing it. In fact, I kind of enjoyed doing it, because it felt good to help him. Afterward, I felt energized to do more.

That being said, this new adventure may take me to dire straits at some point down the road, but having friends to lean on is a comforting thought.

The takeaway for me is this: I should expect to ask for help at some point down the road, without expecting to receive it.

Future Prospects

I am becoming increasingly of the mind that I never want to go to another job interview again. However, this may just mean I need to shift my perspective about possible job interviews in the future.

The thing is, I’ve always approached job interviews from a place of scarcity and desperation, which makes me nervous and anxious. This is now how I wish to show up in the world. I want to get to a place where an interview means I am the one interviewing the company.

I don’t want to see if I’m a good fit for them; I want to see if they are a good fit for me.

While the thought of being an employee again grows less and less attractive, I am aware of the possibility that I may end up hating self-employment. If that ends up being the case, I’ll need to be sure that my next job search yields a beneficial outcome.

A job is an input. It takes up space in your brain. If that’s the case, I want to be deliberate about which jobs I allows into my life.

The same could be said for my relationships.

Solitude

Both writing and spending time in nature are activities of solitude. The different is that one is output, and one is input.

I’ve been listening to “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport on Audible. One of the key purposes of practicing digital minimalism is to re-claim solitude.

Solitude allows us to think our own thoughts, free from input from others.

Part of the problem with social media is that it robs one of solitude if they spend too much time on it. This is a result of not being deliberate about inputs.

Final Question

Today, have you:

  • Helped someone else?
  • Spent quality time with your loved ones?
  • Spent time in nature?

Time Has Value, Too

At the beginning of the month, I’m quitting my day job to become a full time creative. This is a long time coming. I don’t know what’s in store for me, but at this point, I feel like it’s the right decision. The way I spend my time is important, and my day job takes away from what I could be doing.

Of course, now I won’t have a regular income. So, what am I going to do about that? 

For starters, I have been saving up for a while, so I have a buffer. My finances will definitely be taken into consideration whenever I make an important decision about my time. But that won’t be the only consideration, nor will it be at the top of the list. Money can’t be the only thing that guides my decisions. I realize that there will be a significant amount of time in which I will be making little to no money at all. That’s okay.

I’ve reached a point in my life where my time is more valuable than money.

If I fall below a certain threshold in my bank account, that’s how I’ll know it’s time to start looking for another day job. 

However, in the meantime, my primary focus will be on sharpening the tool set, refining my skills, learning new things, and spending time with the ones I love.

I don’t quite have a concrete plan set in motion. I have a somewhat vague direction I’m heading in and a few projects I will focus on, with the hope that one of them may one day bring in some amount of revenue. I realize this is a bit of a gamble, but like I said, if my bank account falls below a certain threshold, I’ll get another day job, and I’ll be in pretty much the same place I am now…except for the key difference that my skills will be a lot sharper. 

And maybe I’ll even get a gig that I somewhat enjoy and am good at.

Anyway, I’m not super concerned about that yet.

The possibilities are endless at this point. I’m just going to move forward, and try to optimize my time.

I want to see how far I can take these projects, and no time like the present.

I anticipate a rough journey, but at least I have goals to aim for.

And I have people to support me, so I’m not alone.

I’m just giving my creativity the chance I’ve never really been able to before. My day jobs have always used up too much of my time, not to mention physical and mental energy, so my creativity has always been left with the scraps.

I know the day job isn’t the only thing to blame. The other key problem was that I was never disciplined enough to develop routines for my creativity…until I started writing, that is.

But, now that I have, I see how important my time is. If I don’t spend the time doing the thing, the thing won’t get done.

So, that’s where I’m at this week.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this:

Is your time more valuable than money?

Minimalism, Social Media and Convenience

I recently moved out to a rural area, and while I have internet, it’s not exactly optimized for streaming video, which means I watch far less TV and read a lot more than I did when I was in the city. To me, it’s a perfect example of how your environment affects your behavior.

More and more I’ve been realizing how detrimental the excesses of convenience can be to my personal development, so I’ve been trying to use “inconveniences” (like limits on internet usage) to my advantage. When I have less to work with, I find creative uses for what I’ve already got. In short, I’m more likely to take action because there is less out here to distract me.

I took a social media detox last July, and wrote about my experience here. I’ve rarely logged in to social media since, and am quickly reminded why every time I log in.

I also quit Netflix over a year ago and have never looked back. Netflix and other streaming services are included in those excesses of convenience I mentioned previously. For the most part, I avoid TV shows like the plague because it’s so easy to binge. I’d rather read long form stories than watch them.

Filling Your Pockets

I see life like a jacket with a shit ton of pockets which society pressures us to keep full at all times. There is no apparent reason to fill these pockets other than the person next to us is filling their pockets, too. And so is everyone else.

The problem, of course, is that the more you have in your pockets, the harder it gets to move around. It takes significantly more energy to take a single step, than it would be if the jacket was less full. I guess I’m just trying to pay attention to what I’m carrying, and fill my pockets with the right stuff, without overflowing them.

Moving into a tiny home prompted me to get rid of a lot of junk. Not having as much stuff in my physical space has allowed me to focus more on what matters. I view work in a different way, and consistently return to the question of why I do any given task. The purpose is to create purpose.

To help me get into this mindset each day, I make my bed first thing in the morning. This kicks my brain into gear, so I can move on to my next task, which is always either writing or exercise (depending on the day).

I’ve also been using Google Calendar to organize my days, so each hour, I know what it’s time to work on (or if it’s time to take a break).

The Perceived Relevance of Social Media

I don’t use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. — basically, all of the tools that many say are required to be “relevant”. I’m not exactly sure what that even means. From what I’ve seen, most content on social media is relevant only to itself and inconsequential to all else. It’s junk food for the mind.

Any value equated with social media can be acquired in a much cleaner way from physical, social interaction, nature and books.

These services have tricked us into believing they are necessary for us to live meaningful lives. And I take issue with that, especially because each of us could do more good for the world if our default state was something other than “distracted”. Everyone is looking for answers inside the screen, when the answers aren’t there to begin with.

That’s my belief, anyway. Of course, I’m always happy to engage in civil discourse on the subject.

Your Time is Yours

There are a lot of resources out there that tell you how to write a book. These resources can be helpful, but they will only take you so far.

Whether you’re a newbie, or an old pro, I doubt you’d disagree that the best teacher of writing is writing itself.

You could watch every single how-to video on YouTube, or read every book on writing, and still not know how to write a good story, because the best way to learn how to write a book is to…write.

You can’t get better at playing the piano if you just stare at sheet music all day and never actually play. You can’t get better at painting if you only go to art galleries and never pick up a paintbrush.

The hard truth is this: Getting good at writing takes time and effort. If you really want to get better, you have to make it a priority.

Be consistent. It’s no secret that quantity leads to quality. Maintaining a consistent practice, whether daily, weekly, or every other Tuesday, is paramount to your success as a writer. If you’re unable to stay consistent, can you identify what’s holding you back? Maybe it’s your living situation, your work schedule, or other obligations. Or, maybe it’s something internal–a mental block or some sort. Whatever it is, there are things outside your control and things within your control. Where do you think you should place your focus?

Change Your Environment. Your environment has a direct effect on your behaviors. So, try experimenting with it a little bit. Move the TV to a different room. Set a cut-off time for phone use. Let your family know you’ve set a block of time dedicated to writing and you can’t be disturbed. An environment that’s not conducive to writing will make it that much harder to get anything done.

Evaluate Your Downtime Activities. The next best thing to do besides writing is reading. Books should be your default downtime activity. If you say you want to be a writer, yet you spend more time watching TV or using social media than reading, well…good luck, I guess.

So, take a look at where you’re at, currently.

Your time is yours, no matter how it may seem.