Making it up (as you go) & Risk.

I’m approaching the mid-point of my thirties this year.

And I have no idea what I’m doing. Still.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve accomplished a good bit. And I have a semi-idea of how to proceed to make sure the lights stay on. To make sure that I can afford to feed and clothe myself.

Went to school. Got the doctorate. Did the training after school. Got the “dream” job.

And yet,

I look into the horizon and I sometimes feel like the thing that I most need is the exact opposite of what’s in front of me.

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Photo by Lino Khim Medrina on Pexels.com

The older you get the more that the world tries to imply that you should avoid discomfort and risk. We look down at people who are still figuring it out publicly at an older age. The 40 year old rapper is admired by exactly zero people. And while I can’t comment on the viability of that plan, I can say that I admire people who are willing to swing wildly, enthusiastically and intently at life.

I grew up in a immigrant household, whose whole life was built on decreasing the amount of risk that was inherent in their decision to leave their home country and build stable lives in America.

They tried to decrease any tendency towards risk-taking by encouraging all of us to take “stable” jobs in “stable” industries. As we are all finding out, the future is no respecter of the past. Change is happening so fast, there is no guarantee that the stable jobs of yesteryear will continue into the next decade.

Also, somewhat unrelatedly,

Risk is a part of life.

I think this pressure to avoid risk is what slowly kills men in relationships.

I’m not advocating for unnecessary and unsafe risk. But, I am confident that men die inside if the opportunity for adventure is stolen from them.

And it may not be actively taken, it may be something that we give up because we think the people who surround us are asking us to give up that part of ourselves.

There has to be a way to ensure that adventure remains a part of our lives.

Let me speak for myself.

I know I need to find ways to challenge myself daily, weekly, yearly.

fly or fall,

OFO

A Story About Fish.

This is a story about fish.

More specifically: One fish. Meticulously prepared. For me.

This fish made it’s way from cold water of the arctic circle of the pacific ocean, to my local whole foods grocery store.

Although the fish’s species was indeterminate, I was sure about one thing:

This fish was going to be delicious.

It was cooked African style – whole – with the head on. A reduced tomato based stew was lovingly ladled over the fish and it was wrapped in foil while it was nestled inside the oven.

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Photo by Dana Tentis on Pexels.com

I had tasted a bit of this fish when it was first baked.

It. was. delicious.

I couldn’t wait to dig into the fish.

When I got home, there were some friends over. As I started to process of warming up the fish to make it ready for the gasto-journey I was going to embark on – I noticed some of my friends eyeing the fish with interest and perhaps..desire?

I wanted to eat the fish.

By myself.

I felt like after a whole day of thinking, hoping, wishing, and dreaming about this meal, I deserved to have it all to myself.

I announced this aloud to the room. Repeatedly.

I saw the light dim in some of my friends eyes.

I paused.

My girlfriend pulled me aside.

And reminded me that the fish might be divided but the love would multiply.

I took a deep breath.

Shared my fish.

My friends shared their loaves.

And at the end we had a lot left over.

Of both food and love.

..

I’m learning.

OFO

Consistent effort.

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Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

Today I was listening to a podcast from BiggerPockets.

The guest was talking about something that I’ve been fighting against and losing for a good portion of my adult life.

He describes the fight that we all have when we’re trying to go from Zero to One while maintaining all the machinery that keep our day-to-day lives on track.

He explained how our brains were not designed to address the important, but instead were made to ensure the urgent was taken care of.

The problem comes from the fact that the important is almost NEVER urgent.

The actions that will lead to financial security in 20 years does not feel urgent.

The workout that you should do today to stave off illness in 40 years does not feel urgent.

The schooling that you should pursue in order to have a better life in 5 years does not feel urgent.

Figuring out how to work less so you can spend more unstructured time with your children doesn’t feel urgent.

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On the other hand..

The bill laying on the kitchen counter with the red writing feels urgent.

The email your boss sent you about a report due next week feels urgent.

Because of these misleading feelings – we can go our whole lives taking care of the urgent and missing the opportunity to do anything truly important.

Distractions like tv, social media, and screen time don’t help.

They distract us from our inner voice and prevent boredom from creating space for us to reflect on where we are falling short and missing the mark.

Adding to the problem is the fact that addressing the truly important often feels like wasted time. We may put in hours, weeks, months, or years of work before we see a significant change in the circumstances we are trying to affect.

He calls the urgent that fills our daily life “the whirlwind”.

Our biggest challenge to being truly effective is learning how to manage the whirlwind and make sure that daily we are accomplishing something truly important.

This has been the biggest struggle I’ve faced in the past 5 years, as what is most important get’s a lot murkier after graduation. The surrogate marker for success of schooling or certifications isn’t always the most efficient way forward. 

I’ve set goals, and tried to make my important goals tangible.

I’ve started to work on those goals, but usually give up when the whirlwind of life has made being consistent too difficult. And I usually don’t spend a-lot of time defining the actions that will make my final goal attainable. 

I’m tired of this cycle and not seeing progress.

I have to move forward this year.  By setting clear goals, defining clearer action plans and lead indicators, and finally by executing on those goals.

And I wrote today.

OFO

Relationships & Responsibility

 

Being in a relationship can sometimes be an eye-opening experience.

At it’s base level there is  a element of two realities clashing. The way one person see’s the world is interacting on a day-to-day level with the way the other person sees the world.

Toothpaste squeezed from the top is neither good or bad.

However, in one person’s reality – it’s a major offense. For the other partner – it’s not even noticeable.

What one partner doesn’t notice, the other partner is disturbed by and given enough occurrences this partner then potentially considers ending the whole relationship.

How do you fix the discrepancies?

“Communication” is key they say.

But what about when the differences are more than skin deep or trivial practicalities. What about when differences are cultural, or things that you were raised with?

Sometimes it’s not until your years-deep in a relationship that you realize that you and your partner have some fundamental differences in the way that you view the world.

If you can’t agree on what the world looks like, how can you navigate it together?

“Can two walk together, except they are agreed?” – Amos 3:3

Relationships can also make you question the validity of your own feelings. Are you unhappy because of a history of independence and not being used to having to compromise? In which case you should probably learn to be uncomfortable until you remember how to sacrifice.

Or is this a real red-flag that is trying to save you from hurt feelings and wasted time down the road?

When emotions are inflamed/involved, how are you supposed to know what is real and what isn’t?

Is there a person who I can’t possibly leave?

Looking back there were definitely people who it hurt me to leave.

When I’m not given enough alone time, I overwhelmingly feel relief when the opportunity to not hang out comes up.

Maybe its because of my attachment styles.

Because I’m of the avoidant attachment category, I require large amounts of free time otherwise I end up feeling smothered.

One way to reclaim responsibility for my happiness is to ask for and make space for myself. To a allow other people the opportunity to respond to my requests and sacrifice for me.

If I need alone time, communicate and take it.

Visualize and think about what you want from a relationship, week to week, day to day and what the most successful relationships in your past felt like. What do you need? What do you want? where can you not compromise?

Fly or Fall,

OFO

One Big Goal Down..

 

Great news!

Ya’ll remember that goal that I referenced in a earlier post? Well, the actual goal was just to sit for the exam. On 6/26/18 I found out that I actually passed the exam! I was elated! The people at my job made a big deal of it, which was nice.

I was happy that I didn’t fail.

It also started me to thinking about the rest of my goals on my board. The BCPS exam has been on my  goal list for almost 3 years. This was the first year that I was able to put real effort behind accomplishing the goal of knocking it out. Luckily for my confidence, I was able to achieve the outcome I desired. Now, I’m pondering the other huge goal that has been haunting me for the last two years.

The goal thats been haunting me for the last 3 years is my quest to buy my next rental property. This goal is daunting because from my rough calculations it would require quite a bit from me.

And isn’t this the point of goals? I know I need to grow, and in order for me to grow I’m going to tackle things that I’m not sure I can accomplish. So just like for this exam, I know I’m going to need to do 3 things to achieve this goal in this competitive market.

  1. Pray Consistently
  2. Break down the pieces that I need to have in place
    1. Market
    2. Important team members
      1. Real estate agent
      2. Lender
      3. Property Manager
      4. Contractor
  3. Create a system for screening deals in the market I choose
    1. Aggressively screen deals (at least 5-10 daily)
    2. Be ready to move when I do see a deal – making offers.
  4. Act!

Keep me honest as I try to move towards this goal!

Fly or Fall

OFO

 

P.s. One of the things that I have struggling with as well was figuring out how to reward myself with a job well done. I was having trouble at first, then I looked at the things that I needed and realized two things have been on the list for a while: A Laptop & some new clothes and shoes.

[*The Appearance of] Integrity

Integrity

A couple of years ago I think I was listening to a sermon by Andy Stanley, where he was talking about the definition of “Integrity”.

I hadn’t taken time to really ever think of Integrity and had assigned it some definition related to virtue and being a person of upstanding person hood.

That is definitely one possible definition.

However, for some reason, this definition didn’t resonate with me. Probably because I’ve run into too many examples of human frailty parading itself as the epitome of moral idealism.  For me, the most interesting (and perhaps attainable) definition was that of wholeness.

Wholeness. Being undivided. Being one.

That to me, resonates, as both achievable for the average human being and yet more  challenging than one would sometimes suspect.

This had been a particular struggle for me. When I was younger I made some decisions that I wasn’t always proud of; sometimes I still struggle with shame and feelings of not being worthy. As a result I had some puzzle pieces of my life that weren’t given quite the same amount of sunlight that I gave to other parts of my life.

How do I integrate the parts of my life that I’m not super proud of? How do I love all parts of me. Even the young, foolish parts? The parts that have burdened me with regrets or responsibilities I couldn’t quite shoulder at the time? How do I move toward a whole Me?

Answering these questions has been the work of the last couple years. I’ve made some progress but I find that there are always new challenges on the road to integration.

One of the areas that I often wonder about is Social Media. How do I use social media to face my fears of being transparent? Do I exhibit my scars, or just expose them when asked? Is social media the place for my soul baring? Isn’t it just a curated presentation of our best selves?

..Just musing..

OFO

Too much Me.

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Dominican Republic

The pursuit of Happiness. A inalienable right in America.

For most of my adult life, I’ve been on a safari for the perfect cocktail of life events, people, and places to create a life that would bolus happiness straight into my veins.

Because I started the son of immigrant parents, I tried to fix the glaring holes first. I remember the pain of wanting certain experiences and knowing that I wouldn’t even ask because my parents were already under financial pressure.

Staring at Bruce Lee and David Carradine and wishing that I could learn martial arts and be safe and able to protect the people I loved. I remember seeing the looks in my parents eyes when they had to say no to my repeated requests.

These feelings morphed into a focus on fixing my financial status and chasing financial freedom. I spent a good portion of my 20s chasing overtime, looking for investments, and saving for rainy days. Even today, I can feel the panic approaching if my bank account drops too much in too short a time period. These feelings were/are not wrong. They were survival skills. They are the fuel for my ambition. They have kept me pushing at times when I didn’t want to continue.

However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed the falling utility and joy that I’ve found in material success.  Past a certain point, each dollar saved has had less and less of an impact on my happiness. In my early thirties I started to allow myself to demand more utility from my money, and try to use my money to create the experiences and life that I dream of.

I started to realize that money in the bank is practically useless with regards to my happiness.

For a long time, I’d confused the need for safety/financial stability and happiness. It wasn’t’ until I came face to face with my unhappiness and started to ask myself “why so sad batman?” that I was able to unearth some of the issues surrounding money that were affecting me.

But you’ve heard that from me before.

What I’ve newly realized is that too much thinking about the future and the worries that come bundled with trying to plan the un-plannable can lead to unnecessary anxiety.

I’m coming to see that sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is just let go and chase the illogical. To reach for the thing that turns me on.

I’m also starting to see that focusing too much on what I want can be a recipe for disaster. Thinking too much about why “I” must have “my” way is terrible for overall happiness. I’m learning to let go of my desire to be in control and to have my way.

Too much introspection is dangerous. Too much self-focus can lead to unhappiness. Instead .. in these moments I’m learning to see if I can find a way to give some of myself away. To help someone else.

“Who can I be of service to” is the question I must remind myself to ask when I start being to navel-gazey.

FOF,

OFO