Give it Your All

What’s the point in doing something half-heartedly? Sure, that a sensible question to ask, but in reality we can never do everything to our fullest potential. We need to make sacrifices. Some things will just make the requirements, while other tasks get our full, undivided attention. It’s a constant battle on what to put our time and effort into, and what to put on the side. The challenge comes from the stakes in this game we call life. Every project, assignment, favor, or presentation is a representation of yourself to the recipients. This means that some people are going to get a half-presented view of yourself, while others are going to picture you in shinning light.

That balancing act is what catches some people up, who do you choose to impress? Well, there are some obvious ones, like your boss, significant other, coworkers, really anyone close to you. But what about the people you are not close with? Shouldn’t they still view you in the best light too? Giving tasks your “all” is difficult, but it can be done. Carrying yourself high and not burning bridges could leave a lot of doors open for you down the line. Being open and honest with others is a great way of providing value. If you cannot perform a specific task properly, then don’t waste their time. Passing on that specific project not only shows your professionalism, but also shows respect to the person requesting your help.

The key here is knowing your passions and goals very well. You need to have a firm grasp on where you want to go in life, and then only take on projects that align with those passions. You never know when you will need to tap on a connection you made years ago. It truly is a small world, and the more doors you leave open, the more opportunity you will have to progress your career and improve the lives of others around you.

Obviously this is the “perfect-world” situation. We all know that at school and work, things get put on our desks that we must do, regardless of our passions. That’s not what this piece is about. It’s about giving your all to the tasks at hand, and only choosing tasks outside of those inevitable ones, that best fit your life goals – and then mastering them.

Bottom line, bite off what you think you can chew, and give it your all. Go to bed knowing you represented yourself in the best way possible, everyday.

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The One-Line Journal

Journaling is a hobby that a lot of people share. That time of day to just dump your thoughts on paper for only you to see. But journaling is also a daunting task for a lot of people. Most don’t know where to begin, or if they do, how to articulate thoughts to writing (or typing). That really is where the one-line journal shines. As you probably have guessed, each day you simply write one line in your journal. Just one line that talks about what happened to you that day. It’s simple enough, but what you will find, is that after some time – that one line will turn to two, then three, and eventually a paragraph before you know it!

The advantages to journaling are incredible. You would be surprised at how cluttered our minds become when left to work constantly without a break for too long. Throughout the day we have stress, anxiety, paranoia, and thoughts all piled into our brains. If we bottle that up for too long, we could start to break down! Venting on paper is a nice way to let loose and write whatever comes to mind. It’s like a mental detox, but everyday! The best part is, there is no judgement, no eyes looking over you, it’s just you and your thoughts.

Writing down my thoughts and ideas is something I started years ago and have noticed a variety of benefits. For one, I sleep a lot better. Seriously, I sleep so much easier than I used to because my mind is blank when I go to bed. Anything I need to get off my chest, I either blog or journal about. The second thing is that I generate a lot of ideas and put down potential worries before they begin. While writing, I tend to think a lot about life and my current problems. While thinking, my thoughts flow to the paper and I often times work out my worries right before my eyes. It’s hard to explain but sometimes the pen acts as a counselor was you write.

It doesn’t have to be on anything fancy, just scratch paper and pencil will do at first, but overtime you are going to want to write with a fountain pen and actual stationary! I mean, there’s a reason why those companies are still in business, because it’s nice to work with quality materials and it truly is meditative!

Let me know how it goes with your one-line journal, you may just write a book someday, all about your thoughts!

Our thoughts are all profound, but you can never remember them if you don’t write them down.

Pocket Notebooks

The other day I wrote about the importance of remembering people’s names. After publishing that post I got to thinking about how I was going to achieve this mental goal I placed on myself. As fate would have it, I came across this Art of Manliness post. While I do cite AoM articles often, I do feel that they provide great value to all people. That article and ones similar to it talk about the great people in history and various professions who carry and benefit from carrying a pocket notebook. I actually bought a few Moleskine pocketbooks a while ago, but I never got around to writing too much in them, which was foolish on my part.

The pocket notebook is going to solve the issue I have had for some time, remembering people’s names, and ideas that come to mind throughout the day. This is also the perfect thing for anyone who has a passion that revolves around idea generation. Some examples of what I mean are bloggers and YouTubers, people who have hobbies that revolve around new, sometimes daily ideas. If something comes to mind, you can simply jot it down and come back to it.

Some people may be thinking that they can use the Notes feature on their phone, and sure that works, but there’s something about carrying around the physical thing that makes a difference. I still to this day have two journals in my bag. One I use to write down powerful and interesting quotes, and another is a book of life lessons I have learned and will continue to learn throughout my lifetime. I plan on using a pocket journal as a placeholder for those messages, so when I get home I can transfer them over. But it really is the “looking through” part that makes the physical copy so special. Every once in a while I will look back at what I wrote months ago, and reminisce on that point in time where I heard that quote or learned that specific lesson.

I’m sure you could think of various reasons to own a pocket notebook, and the best part is they are made to be put in a back pocket, be sat on, and tossed on the table when you come home. They will quickly become a staple item in your every-day-carry.

I highly encourage you to get yourself a nice pocket notebook and just start jotting down profound and interesting thoughts that come into your head. Because you never know, those thoughts could turn into something spectacular one day.

Having a Routine

It seems like most days during the week are a blur. I wake up on Monday to then realize it’s Thursday night. It truly goes by quickly, and everyday is different. Sure, I have a set schedule for work during the day, and my masters classes at night, but other than that – so much goes on throughout the day it’s hard to keep track as to what happened sometimes. But through all that craziness, I make sure to take control of two things, my morning and evening routines. When I first moved out from home, I started to realize that rolling out of bed and barely making it to class was not going to be a viable option for me. I never liked the feeling of being rushed, having to hustle to class, and then the first ten minutes of the lecture I was just trying to cool down from my Olympic speed-walk I just embarked on.

No, I wanted something more structured, more definite. Something that I knew I could control and dictate, and that “something” was how I started and ended my day. The rest of the day, I am subjected to deadlines and a ticking clock, but when I wake up and go to bed, I have control over what I do and it certainly helped. I found that a routine allowed me to properly wake up in the morning and feel refreshed before the day began. Often times I would have two or three things off my “to-do” list before most of the world was awake. This meant that I had some progressive momentum going into my day. And at night, I am able to wind down from the day, think about what I did right and wrong, and build off that feeling for the next day.

The Morning

My basic routine is that I wake up around 5:30am, “What?! Nope, sorry, not for me.” Okay, well hold on. I know it sounds early, and it is. But I didn’t start out that way. At first I would wake up at 7am for my 8am class. Then, I slowly moved that time to 6:45am, then 6:30am and so on until I was comfortable getting up that early. Anyway, when I wake up I wash-up a bit and splash some water on my face, go down and get the newspaper (yes, I receive the newspaper. It’s easier to read at work most of the time), then look through the reports both in the paper and my phone. From there, I get my girlfriend up, and we make it to the gym by 6:15am. We do our scheduled muscle group and cardio for the day and make it back home by 7:15am to then begin making breakfast and packing a lunch. Once that’s done, I get ready for work and I am out the door by 8:15am, to make it to my desk at work by 8:30am. Obviously I don’t live too far from work, so you may need to schedule yourself differently.

The Evening

Okay, so that’s the morning. Now, nighttime is a bit tricky because all of my classes are at night, meaning that sometimes I do not get home until 9:30pm, and long days tend to take a toll on your drive to do anything once you get home. But, my evening routines consist of winding down a bit, making dinner, having a drink, and then seeing if anything needs to be finished by midnight. If not, then I straighten everything up for the next day and begin to brush my teeth, shave, and all the things associated with going to bed. My girlfriend and I may watch an episode of the latest hit show on Netflix or something, and then off to bed we go.

The Results

It seems simple and mundane but it really can help get your mind in the right mood to wake up and fall asleep. Without a night routine, I found myself laying in bed, not being able to sleep through the night. The structure helped my mind by conditioning myself to know, once I start to brush my teeth for the second time that day, it’s almost time to rest. By the time my routines are almost complete, I’m just about asleep!

While we may all categorize ourselves at not being a morning person, or constantly being a night owl, there really is something to be said about getting a lot done before most people even wake up. There are plenty of articles out there on why routines are beneficial for our structured minds, but you can look that up for yourself. I simply believe that if we form a routine around the parts of our lives we know we can control, odds are we will get more accomplished, feel more satisfied, and look ourselves in the mirror knowing we created value – not only in ourselves but in the people around us.

What’s Your Name Again?

Working as a sales student, I had various internships and positions that required me to learn people’s names. I mean, in sales specifically, calling someone by their name is a show of respect, and acknowledges that you thought highly enough of this person to remember their name after first meeting. However, I was not good at this. I always had a tough time remembering people’s names, even right after I met them. I attributed it to having too many things going on in my head. I always was thinking about the next five steps in the sales process, meanwhile forgetting one the most important.

A name is more than just an identifier. For most people, a name carries decades of tradition and heritage, passed down from generation to generation – carrying too much history and pride to be forgotten. For others it’s the sign of hope, new opportunities, because the name they have now, was changed once their ancestors came to this country so many years ago. By the way, how crazy is that? Some random stranger didn’t think a certain name was, “American enough”, so they changed it. It blows my mind how one person could change a family legacy, forever.

Anyway, remembering someone’s name will get you a lot of acknowledgment. You hear it all the time, “So and so is very nice, she/he always remembers who I am, and I haven’t seen her/him in months!” It’s flattering, and shows that you respect that person enough to remember who they are. There is nothing worse than having an awkward situation where you need to dance around someone’s name, simply because you have forgotten.

When in doubt, apologetically ask again. But making room for others in your brain, forming new – genuine relationships, will lead to those people making room for you when you need something down the line.

Jokes in Real Life

As I was walking back to my car, the band was setting up in the field behind the College of Business. Most of the kids were groggy and moseying around, waiting for their practice to start. It was hot and after a long day of classes, so I imagined no one wanted to be there.

Very faintly I heard someone playing All Star on their trumpet, and thought nothing of it. After the first part of the song was played, the person started again, but louder. And then again, but even louder. All of a sudden this girl walked up and punched him in the face so he would stop.

I can only imagine what it would be like to play the rest of the practice with a Smash Mouth.

Self-independence

The lesson taught at this point by human experience is simply this, that the man who will get up will be helped up; and the man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down. Personal independence is a virtue and it is the soul out of which comes the sturdiest manhood. But there can be no independence without a large share of self-dependence, and this virtue cannot be bestowed. It must be developed from within.

– Frederick Douglass

Credit: Find more quotes like this from The Art of Manliness

Find your Niche

I know I still have a long way to go, but it seems like I have started and stopped so many different projects, hobbies, majors, and career decisions – just through college. It’s hard to find something you’re not only good at, but also passionate about. The issue is identifying that passion and knowing you can carry it out for a long time. It’s scary, at 18 you’re asked to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life, not easy as a high-school senior. I personally have talked to some people who said they gave up after high-school, saying they didn’t think they would amount to anything because the cookie-cutter career choices that everyone around them chose, wasn’t what they were interested in. Obviously that’s an issue, we think everyone needs to know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives, and offer little guidance when someone strays off the path. People shouldn’t feel like they are less than the people around them, simply because they haven’t found their niche yet.

“If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life.” That’s the cliche we hear from time to time, but I don’t know if I agree with that 100 percent. In order to succeed you need to put in hard work, long hours, and grind through adversity that might come your way. However, the differentiating factor is if you love what you do, and are passionate about the work you’re trying to achieve, the grind doesn’t feel so bad. You can see the end from when you start, and every road-block is a chance to learn something new. If you hate what you do, that road-block is just an excuse to close-up early and go home.

We place too much emphasis on what people need to be doing with their lives, and is seems like everyone is an expert on everyone else. Instead of waiting for an opportunity to come your way, take responsibility for your actions and actively seek your dreams. Have an open mind and try something new, something you think you may like. If it doesn’t work out, move on and try something else. Eventually you’ll find what really motivates you to do great work, a job that makes you angry when you get it wrong – one that you can excel at.

A good place to start is to ask yourself, “What are you passionate about? What would make you jump out of bed to go do, regardless of the hour?”

A Day to Remember

Today marks 16 years since tragedy struck our nation in New York City, a day that will be remembered forever as the day America suffered a black eye in our course of history. There is so much to talk about in regards to this topic, and certainly too much to cover in one thought here. So many women and men sacrificed, lost, and put their lives on the line to help others, some were even flown from home to continue the fight on foreign soil.

For most of us, today is a day to remember how fragile our lives are. We thank those who serve to make our great nation free, those who gave up their freedoms in order for us to live out our dreams. For that I am eternally grateful. But for others, today hurts as much as it did 16 years ago. The stitches that time so perfectly places on our wounds, open again, and memories of loved ones begin to bleed once more. Terror is always most properly handled with the courage to continue on our everyday lives. The moment we give in and stop doing our daily routine because of fear, that fear wins. But staying strong and taking action for greater good, is the best way to couple time’s medicine.

It’s sometimes hard in today’s society to mourn – often times we are falsely accused of not having permission to mourn because we were not directly effected by said incident. But I think regardless of your connection to a tragic event, everyone has the ability to stop and think. Think about those who truly make a difference in this country, who go on the front lines and defend our freedoms, those who lost their lives because of the anger and hatred from those in faraway lands, and cherish those around us who do great things, and make this world a better place.

I firmly believe that if we all take some time to be grateful for what we have, and appreciate those who coexist around us, then we will always get back up when we fall down, and never forget how good we have it thanks to those who make the ultimate sacrifice.

Have Many Hobbies

If sales has taught me anything, it’s to be open to all passions in this world. You meet so many people on a daily basis, and while society seems to subject certain hobbies as being popular, people are passionate about a variety of different things. So what happens if you don’t like the same things as someone else? What do you do? Not talk about anything with substance? I would recommend not doing that, and instead be open to everything around you.

If someone is interested in something you are not, why not do some research on it and have some talking points for the next time you meet? It’s so much easier to talk to someone when you do it on the grounds of their own interests. If their interests are also yours, perfect! You’ll hit the ground running. But there is nothing wrong with learning a new skill, hobby, or simply learning a new topic.

Let me be clear, there is a way to do this improperly in my opinion. You never want to come off as artificial, or the person who walks around loving everything, but if you are educated on a vast majority of topics, you can have a diplomatic and educational dialogue with people. Who knows, you could come out with an open mind knowing you had a great conversation and formed a new connection.

Great connections are made on common ground, so the best way to achieve that, is to master the art of an open mind.