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?

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

This last weekend was the first day in two years that I’ve missed writing.

I had gone to a friend’s house the previous night and stayed up way later than I normally do, and then I had to drive back home early in the morning because my daughter’s mother had to work and my daughter couldn’t be home alone.

The result was that I only got about five hours of sleep, was super tired (and slightly hungover) all day, so didn’t write at all.

I didn’t beat myself up about it, though, because that would’ve just been a waste of time. I had a good time with friends and that’s what matters.

I was able to get back to my writing routine the following day because I’m consistent.

You don’t need to write every single day, but if you want to get anywhere with your writing, you do need to be consistent. This means something different for everyone. Whether it’s once a week, twice a week, or on your lunch break, consistency is key.

The moral of the story is that while consistency is good, it’s also easy to get locked into the trap of being overly productive, and trying to work too hard. Writing is important, but you’ve got to live your life, too, y’know? It’s okay to miss a deadline every once in a while. The world will continue to spin.

Just try not to consistent in missing out on what matters to you.

Writing and the Day Job

Writing Lessons

Creating threads. I find that as I go through subsequent drafts, I add more things, and re-arrange them. For instance, midway through the story, I might think of something and create a new thread to add more depth to my characters, and then go back to an earlier part of the story and write in the kick-off to the thread there. It’s like putting together a puzzle. Finding where things go, removing pieces that don’t quite fit and placing them somewhere else.

Writing Every Day. This, to me is one of the most important things you can do as a writer. Otherwise, you waste mental energy deciding whether or not you want to sit and write in any given day. 

Reading More. Reading helps me write better. Knowing the right words to put down on the page takes practice and an understanding of good prose.

Social media is a destroyer of attention spans. Everything in our society has to be acquired right now for little to no effort. This is detrimental and anathema to being a good writer. To write well requires a large amount of focus and attention to nuance, which are all mostly lost on social media. Maybe I’m just an old man, but for me, social media does more harm than good. On top of that, it takes people away from reading books. So does TV. 

Writing 1000 words a day

Getting out all my thoughts on the page is really important. I find that it helps me process things and arrive at conclusions I wouldn’t have otherwise. My life is a process of experimentation right now, and reorganizing my schedule has been the result of figuring out what is important to me (and what’s not) by writing out my thoughts.

This is better than just sitting and thinking about these things, because thought without action is nothing, and writing is action.

But, it can’t stop there. In order to have interesting things to write about, you need to have interesting experiences. 

Day Job

I guess that’s another thing about my day job. Being chained next to my computer all day prevents me from doing a lot of things. I can’t have certain experiences. It would be very difficult to garden or just take a nature walk, for instance, with my current situation.

There is so much I’d be able to do if I didn’t have this day job nipping at my heels. So, yeah…I’m going to get out of this really soon. I need to. 

Then, I can finally write about shit besides my day job. I’m tired of writing about my day job. There’s nothing to speak of that I haven’t already said. I know how I feel about it. I need to quit. 

I just need to hold out until I’ve saved up my target amount. Quitting will be a bit of a scary thing no matter how much I save up, but as long as I keep up with the flow of my creative work, I’ll be fine. And If I need to look for another day job down the line, I will, but I’ll do everything I can to make sure that does not happen. 

I sure as hell don’t ever want to work in an office again.

Thought + Action = Change