Motivation and Mastery

I find mastery inspiring. Masters of their craft from elite athletes, woodworkers, musicians, and everyone in between have a certain disposition, a dedication to perfection. I think it is the willingness and the perseverance to not give up until that perfection has been attained that sets these individuals apart from the herd.

The internet is a beautiful and dangerous thing. Within networks an abundance of individuals who are creating and accomplishing unparalleled feats. I find this both helpful and hurtful. Helpful that they are inspiring and hurtful because I have a hard time imagining myself every coming close to their capability. Two things to take away from this. One, its all about the details, more specifically the organization and understanding of the details. Two, the mental aspect; performance always has a mental component and it usually has a greater impact than we want to give it credit. The mind is where pain is exists and dealing with it hurts. It is the perseverance to push through until every detail is taken care of that sets the masters apart. In respect to their efforts, the pain is not a hurdle but a necessity, a battle within themselves which provides the environment for their craft to be executed at such an elevated level.

The reality of most motivational and self-help literature on the internet is extremely hard to live up to. It must be taken with a grain of salt. At the end of the day we’re all just human. At times we will struggle to find motivation, or get out of bed, or do the work we love. Don’t be too hard on yourself, take a break, your focus will come back around. The important thing is that you keep trying, keep pushing. No giving up. Keep creating. The world, and You will be better for it.

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Gotta start somewhere!

After a hiatus, I am revamping my blog because I need a more organized way to think about work and my journey as a carpenter. My passion as a carpenter is rooted in a love of working with my hands and the significance of craft in homes and buildings that shelter and enrich the our lives. Ever since I was a kid, I remember the tangibility of work in jobs like mowing the lawn or painting and how these tasks showed such an obvious difference from start to finish. Also the creativity of activities like drawing or building jumps for our bikes; designing and creating things part of what it is to be human. We are all constantly designing and creating, even in mundane ways such as everyday routines, cleaning, or budgeting.

I worked my first proper construction job in high school during the summers. I got to see a lot of the work, but my participation was mostly hauling lumber or trucking concrete. After a couple summers, I was just starting to be a more active part of the building and I quickly grew dissatisfied by the quality of our work, so I quit. I was in college at the time and struggling to balance the perceived societal pressures that a trade less desirable than tie and desk work. Fresh out of school, I got a job with a real estate management company. At the time I thought I just hated working at a desk, I made myself miserable. I really felt I was excelling at my varied responsibilities, but I was pretty depressed so I decided it was time to move on. I was able to take a few months off work and in that time I focused on training for a marathon. Training is such a tangible thing much like working with ones hands. It was quite refreshing after all the number crunching and remote project coordination; which felt very distant from the product. It wasn’t long before I had the opportunity to build again.

This was really my first major project. The parents of one of my good friends, were building a large garage at their cabin the rocky mountains (one of my favorite places, I should add). Tyler, my friend and I were going to do most of the work. It was exciting and a little daunting to tackle such a big job, with the freedom and autonomy of our own hands and minds. We had and needed a great deal of help along the way, but the process and result was greatly satisfying. That is a project I will be proud of and remember forever.

Since then I have taken a job as a carpenter on a small crew, doing remodels and custom homes. I am still learning everyday. Since I am still pretty green, I really appreciate working with some experienced carpenters. I am constantly reminded that the craft is a life long endeavor. The entire process really excites me, seeing a project go from an idea and dream to a reality is pretty rad!

The industry is quickly evolving, as technology improves and homes are becoming healthier, more comfortable and having less of an impact on the environment. Environmental impact must be one of the top priorities in every industry. As a builder we have a responsibility to be educated and to educate. Helping clients make the best decisions in their project is of utmost importance in providing a product thats impact is much broader than it’s life time. Currently, even the code build home is cringeworthy in ways.

I want my impact in the building industry to be towards positive change, making high quality and environmentally friendly buildings the norm. My journey begins here, wearing a tool belt and swinging a hammer. I believe the experience to be invaluable.

Thanks for reading!

Time | Should Time be Considered an Enemy or a Friend?

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Everyone at some point experiences the panic of racing against the clock. Whether to finish that report, be ready to give a presentation, or even just to eat breakfast before needing to be out the door in the morning. Time can your friend and your enemy at the same time. What do I mean by this?

Time in a practical sense is a constant. Just ignore the Einstein for a moment. Each day you have 24 hrs. With between 5 and 9 hours (the more the better) dedicated to sleep that leaves you with between 15 and 19 hours awake. How can we make the most of those 15-19 hours? Let’s first consider time as a friend.

Make time your friend. I can sit passively and do nothing with any particular purpose. Or. I can use my time to pursue something of value and excitement. Leave room for flexibility but take control of the majority your time and make most of it. Time is your friend because without it’s parameters it each day would be formless and the days would bleed together. The concept of productivity is possible explicitly because of the implications of time. Don’t let time become something overly constrictive, but attempt to engage it well. Marry your work, passions, and relationships with time. This joining of creating and distinct moments will result in increase quality and satisfaction in the creation.

It is important not to overlook that time is limited. As stated, these limitations are the very thing that allow productivity to be something that is measurable. Here is where the friend-time and enemy-time enter into contest with each other. This contest is critical to successfully utilizing time.

Make time your enemy. Time is short, limited, and uncertain for the individual. You only have the time you’ve spent and you cannot get that time back. This understanding is what give time its preciousness and why, one must not shy away from embracing it’s friend/enemy characteristics. Time is an enemy, a relentless enemy. This is especially evident in Western culture where we are continually working against the perception that we are behind. This has created an environment where productivity is high and upheld as valuable. Although, whether that productivity is always producing high quality product can be questionable at times.

The past two years I have lived in a big house with some of my best friends from college. In less than two months, our lease will be up and we will all be heading our separate ways. Some will be getting married, others going on to grad school, while others are moving to new places or back to their previous locations. Although it is an exciting time of change, it is sad as well. This time is coming to a close. Living together in our pseudo frat house has been as fun as it has been hard in ways. Time has been our friend and our enemy. It has allowed ‘this’ time to be characteristically different and special from other times in our lives. But it has gone as quickly as it appears. Time spent never to be again held other than in memories. Make time count. Be productive but don’t neglect to really settle in and enjoy it!

Distracted and Ready to Do Something to Change It

Focus is a key to success.

That said. My focus constantly bombarded. Whether it’s mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or the thought that I should do my laundry, but haven’t for a few days… These distractions steal my focus and make it exceedingly difficult to focus on things that will be more productive.

Some will argue that doing my laundry is productive and I do agree, but is laundry productive towards specific goals? It’s helped me to think about distractions in the following ways.

Technology

Technology is both incredibly helpful and incredibly distracting. It’s multi-faceted likeness  allows it to be a tool, entertainment, a luxury, and a complete waste of time. In order to make the most of your smart phone or computer use, focus on the goals – focusing on finishing a blog post or email first, will allow you to finish it more efficiently and even increase the quality of the finished product. Another excellent method for improving focus is to predetermine a specific time that is spent for merely indulging in Facebook or Instagram scrolling, this digital age practically demands that we use social media to ‘connect’ so if you are getting on with specific purpose of connect, do it! But be careful not to get sucked in to mindless scrolling.

Life

Existence itself is full of distractions. For me the big ones would be decision-making, eating, relationships, and money to give the abridged version. Oh and don’t forget laundry 🙂

The first thought that may come to mind is that those aren’t ‘bad’ things. Exactly, none of these are bad things. There are in their very essence part of life and inextricable. The aim is then, what do we do with those distractions? Especially, in relation to goals and the work or hustle needed to complete them. I find it incredible helpful to write things down. Make a list of the distractions. Then decide which ones you have control over and make a plan to get them off you list. This will free up time and energy. With the distractions you can’t control, you’ve written them down and recognized them. Move on and work.

Environment

Finally, the environment that you work or are trying to be productive can make or break your success. The perfect environment for productivity will be different for everyone. So experiment, but surround yourself with positive influences and plan specific time to accomplish specific goals or objectives. Or maybe not. That’s just what works for me! Experiment and we all keep on grinding.

And to remind myself I’m just as bad as anyone else…

Even now in the process of finishing this blog post, I have committed the following crimes against my focus – checked email, sent a snapchat, ate a banana, turned on music, talked with my roommate, and watched a youtube video. Confessional over. 

(ski bum dreams) and how things change

It’s been almost four months now since I have worked in an office and for a boss. I took a break from “working” for a number of different reasons.

Initially, I was unsure what this time would look like. I had high hopes for a killer winter and snow skiing my face off but… this winter has been really mild.

So instead…

Here’s how my winter/spring went from ski bum dreams to goal-setting, different health exploits, and re-evaluating my understanding of “work”.

First a little background. I ran xc and track in high school and have always enjoyed running/competing/being in shape etc.

Background done.

2014 was probably one of the most unhealthy and sedentary 12 months of my live this far (just north of 21 years).  50+ hour work weeks, fast-food diet, and a cigarette habit were just cherries on top, I guess.  

For 2015, I decided I wanted to do some racing again and my poor habits wouldn’t very well co-exist with that. A win-win situation.

Since graduating in Dec ’13, I found no program outline or course syllabus guiding the next steps to take. And working had drained me of creative energy and motivation I needed to explore those things.

I decided to run a marathon.   Signed up and the goal was set.

What happened next was great.

Goal setting immeadiately started to permeate into other areas of my life in which goals had be mostly none existent. I quickly found myself thinking more critically about the food I was eating, opting for a more plant-based diet. Longer term dreams and ideas about what to do with my everyday life since everyone has to work, or play their part in society which is more the way I like to look at it. Writing goals and realizing there are many stories to tell.

The list keeps going.  

What I want to highlight for you is NOT my specific goals or aspirations. I want to highlight the act of setting goals and the ripple effect this can have. Quitting work or drastically increasing free time is not often a realistic option, but setting goals always can happen. And these will shape the journey.

Start simple. Mine started with a running race.

But make sure you do that. START. 

Other goals, dreams, and motivation will follow. 

 

 

Not Normal

I have to remind myself consistently that there is NOT any normalcy to life.

There are many ways to live the everyday. Ways that are exciting and fulfilling. My way probably won’t be your way. Nor will your way be mine.

I do not need to keep in step with the way others think I should be living. And Neither do you. But so often I find myself conflicted to think this way. I like to make others happy and others have opinions on how life is best lived. And who doesn’t want positive attention over negative.

There are very few elements of life that would be considered normal (although in expression can be radically different from one another. These elements I am thinking of are sleeping, eating, and money (livelihood). Since very few people present day live completely self-sustainably, money is king.

Sleeping and eating are a biological demand. Money is NOT – money is a societal demand. Biological or societal, these demands are foundational to how you or I live our lives. There is no normal expression of these elements.

Let’s be creative in our expression, try different things, succeed and fail, trying again.

Let’s be informed. Ignorance in only bliss if you want it to be (trust me – not nearly as blissful as making informed decisions).

You’ll sleep better for it.

EatSleepMoney

Seriously?

seriously

One of my friends would often say that life is a constant battle to not take himself too seriously. And in this he was realized he was failing often.

This is an important practice in the effort to live life in a meaningful and fulfilling manner.

I too, realize that I often fail in the attempt to not take myself too seriously.

The distinction between taking particular things seriously and myself is important. There are many aspects of life that we should give serious attention to, while taking yourself too seriously will often lead to embarrassment and dissatisfaction.

Laugh it off and don’t freak out if things don’t go as planned.

Life is a series of failures and successes intended to teach and shape. Let it happen. Keep moving.