Learning to Edit

Let me admit this and face the truth right from the start. I have completely fallen off the rails when it comes to the daily pre-determined processes I wanted to implement in 2022. If you read my Best Year page and the 2022 page, I had a whole “system” built to make monumental progress this year, drop by drop by drop.

And in January I got sick, so I adapted some of my processes to work within my limitations. And in February, my work situation got incredibly demanding and stressful, so I reacted by short-circuiting most of my processes. And I justified this by saying there were simply too many little steps and micro-goals for each day…so, with everything else going on, I convinced myself I didn’t have the time to do it all.

That said, I DID continue with some of the processes, which I had already learned to “stack” throughout the day. Those things became habitual parts of my daily routines, so it was easier to keep those micro-goals and micro-improvements happening day by day.

But now, even in the middle of continuing ridiculous job stress, I realize I need to get back on track and the only way I will be able to do it, consistently and productively, is by learning to edit.

I need to learn to edit from 35-ish daily “did I do X?” questions and reminders, to very simple “stacks” of new daily action steps and new mindset habits. One great example is that I want to improve my relationships with my family and friends and also make new friends and push myself out of my shyness and learn to be comfortable with introducing myself to other people and interacting with other people.

My original plan for this includes nearly a dozen steps or daily check-in reminders because I broke this desired result down more and more, until I had a VERY detailed checklist of sorts. But honestly, it takes so long to look at all those steps throughout the day in my phone app and constantly remind myself of all the ways I want to improve how I interact with other people, that I rarely actually followed up with the actions that would make it a reality.

So I want to try a different approach. I want to go back to the work I’ve done so far and begin to edit. For example, for much of my health-related processes, I stole Brian Johnson’s very simple “eat, move, sleep” idea, which I believe he borrowed from someone else. I want to run a new experiment to see how effective I can be in creating the results I desire for this year, by putting in the hard work of thinking more and more about editing things down to less and less.

Rather than a dozen checklist items to remind me of the steps I think I should take to have better interactions with the people around me, maybe I could put it as simply as “be warm and friendly” and leave it at that. That would cover the steps no matter who the person is, regardless of gender, race, or any of the other things that could be added to overcomplicate the situation. If I am simply warm and friendly with any and all persons I am near, certainly this will yield a good result.

As I start to edit my processes for making 2022 my best year ever, I will also start to think about how I can learn to edit in my work life. And then learn to edit in other areas of my life as well. This has some interesting potential, and approaching it as an experiment takes away all the pressure. I’ll keep track of the results and report back so we can learn something together.

Week 6

I want to include a quick reminder, right up front, in this entry: These weekly summaries are like journal entries and give me a chance to reflect on the successes of the past week as well as areas I need to focus on, for improvement. This summary of the sixth week of 2022 is coming much later than I originally intended, but is still right in its timing. I can hardly believe this, but I am still dealing with some lingering symptoms of my upper respiratory situation. But, the symptoms are much milder than they have been and I feel better than I have since this started several weeks ago.

Looking back on the sixth week, I am feeling a mixture of healthy pride and irritation at myself. In week six, many little things went off the rails and I will need to make a concerted and purposeful effort to get everything back on track. The conscious and purposeful resting of the previous week turned, almost automatically and effortlessly into a week that lacked focus and purpose. I need to be mindful of this and keep it from happening again.

That said, the major stressors at work continued during week six and got worse, which I did not think possible. So maybe the lackluster performance in week six was a reaction (not a proactive response) to those stressors and the increased mental and emotional demands.

Core Focus of the Week: Plus one, plus one, plus one.

During the sixth week, I continued to remind myself that each day is part of a process of making 2022 my best year ever (hat tip, Hal Elrod). It is NOT about perfection. It IS about progress. And it IS about my perception of the year, the month, the week, the day, the hour, and the moment. As I have heard Brian Johnson say, several times, in various Optimize.me pieces, “Plus one, plus one, plus one.” Similarly, another thought I have been keeping in mind is the Buddha’s “drop by drop, the bucket is filled.”

I unconsciously relaxed on my predetermined processes this week, choosing not to try to force anything into a spare moment. Instead, I tried to be more mindful of each choice and WHY I would choose one option over another. And as mentioned before, there were also many times when I did not even make a point to execute a predetermined process step.

I continued working on optimizing my “process step stacking” that I started in the previous week. For example, listening to an Optimize.me content module on Stoicism, Buddhism, and one of the “Conquer” modules (typically anxiety or depression or procrastination) while I am making my first bathroom visit, doing a weigh-in, drinking my 8-ounce water, and making the bed. So far, I am liking the stack. The stack is proving to be very effective and very powerful as part of my morning routine.

Drop by drop, the bucket is filled…” – the Buddha.

This week, I continued working on being mindful of every drop I can add to the bucket, every “plus one” I can add to my best version of myself. Even with a lackluster week, my drop-by-drop helped me be a better version of myself by the end of the week. For example, I still gained nearly two dozen new nuggets of wisdom or perspective tweaks that help me refine my thinking and expand my awareness.

But this year, I am reflecting on results, which is why I am doing these summary posts. If my only two options in this world are to grow or to wither away, I continue to choose to grow. Even if that means I am only growing by a 5-minute walk around my condo, or one new idea, or by two minutes of meditation practice, or by 15 minutes of reading. Especially in light of a lackluster week, I need to remind myself that these are still seeds that will eventually yield a harvest. And I want to immediately recognize that it could be very easy to use this as an excuse to back off from implementing my predetermined processes.

In the sixth week…

  • My bodyweight was essentially consistent all week, which was a bit of a triumph given that my eating was all over the map.
  • I continued to drink more water than I did prior to 2022 and I am resolved to continue adding more throughout the day. But I still need to improve.
  • I made better food choices, in many cases.
  • I continued intentional walking, totaling about 2 hours worth.
  • I added another $10 to my savings balance.
  • I added another $100+ to my investment balance.
  • I applied for a Senior Technical Writer position with Amergint Technologies, answered a screening message, and set up an interview that will happen in the coming week.
  • I continued investigating side hustle ideas, ruling out several more ideas already.
  • I continued to deepen and strengthen my relationship with my wife, including a spontaneous date night at one of our favorite restaurants.
  • I enjoyed a night with my in-laws, including a great meal and some great conversation.
  • I consistently did my Miracle Morning SAVERS each day, and enjoyed Hal’s app for the 30-day challenge.
  • I read from 12 Rules for Life and Illusions and enjoy these books.
  • I continued to engage with high-quality content about Stoicism, Buddhism, and conquering my anxiety, depression, and procrastination, learning about practices that will make me a better version of myself each day.
  • I enjoyed some additional Jim Rohn content, taking advantage of Jim’s proven mindset and philosophy towards life, to begin refining my own philosophy and mindset.
  • I laughed each day, but on reflection, it was not nearly as much because, again, I gave the work stress more attention than I probably should have. And focusing more on the stressful parts of the day took away my enjoyment of the rest of the day.
  • I started learning about other spiritual practices, scratching the surface on Wicca and Paganism.
  • I started going through the content of A Course in Miracles online. This is very interesting reading and seems to be an amalgam of Christian thought, Buddhist thought, and New Age thought, with the conflicts removed.
  • I continued learning about, and learning to practice, Stoic philosophy.
  • I engaged with Psalms, Proverbs, and the Tao Te Ching, filling my mind with ancient, but timeless, wisdom. I missed a couple of days, but otherwise have been on track.
  • I wrapped up the Bite Size Wise podcast episode series on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Continued posting episodes of other type of content and continued making posts on the Facebook page. At the end of week six, I was up to 18 unique listeners. Once I get to 50 unique listeners on Anchor’s count, I can begin to monetize the podcast with host-read ambassador ads, which also means I can offer ad-free episodes and other premium content on a subscription basis. Also launched the Instagram account for this podcast.
  • I released a bonus episode and a second scheduled episode of the Illusions podcast. At the end of week six, I was up to 30-ish downloads and Red Circle was listing the weekly average as 25. Once I get to a weekly average of 500, I can monetize with advertising, which will make it possible to offer ad-free content as part of an exclusive content package. Also launched the Facebook page and Instagram account.
  • I played guitar at church and very much enjoyed the weekend of playing, especially with the group on platform with me.
  • I continued to refine my podcast subscriptions, trying to focus on shows that are edifying in one way or another. I have also come to terms with the idea that I will never be able to listen to every episode I have in my feed (48,000+) but that I will be able to take advantage of many, many good/great pieces of content to spur new ideas and new perspectives.

I simply continue to trust my daily predetermined processes, do periodic check-ins to get feedback, and continue to make gains.

Be Like Water

Bruce Lee is said to have told his students to “be like water.”

While I have always appreciated his action sequences in the movies Bruce starred in, I am learning to appreciate the incredible philosopher he also was. Yes, he invented a completely new form of martial arts (Jeet Kune Do) by incorporating the best of several other forms. And yes, he was driven to break through many of the barriers put up before Asian Americans in Hollywood.

But, the more I read about Bruce Lee, the more I realize he was also a profound philosopher. And his statement to his students to “be like water” is one exceptional example. Why? Let’s explore just a few thoughts about this.

Water flows through its environment, but always maintains its purpose. Water consistently and patiently flows downhill in spite of any obstacle in its environment. If it encounters a rock, it will immediately go over, under, or around the rock. And given enough time, the water will wear the rock away. There’s a lesson in this, if we’re willing to learn it.

Water takes the shape of whatever is containing it, but always maintains its essence. If you put water into a glass, it takes the shape of the glass. But it is still a collection of groups of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen bound together (H2O). If you put water into an ornate pitcher, it takes the shape of a pitcher, but is still H2O. If you cool water enough to put it into the shape of an ice cube, it takes the shape of an ice cube, but it is still H2O. If you heat water enough to put it into the shape of steam, it takes the shape of steam, but it is still H2O. There’s a lesson in this, if we’re willing to learn it.

Water simply accepts whatever is happening and returns to a state of calm. If you fill the sink and then put your hand into the water, the water will simply make room for your hand. If you leave your hand in long enough, the water will return to calmly resting in the sink around your hand. And when you pull your hand back out, the water immediately fills back in where your hand was and eventually returns to calmly resting in the sink. There’s a lesson in this, if we’re willing to learn it.

Water allows things to happen according to its inherent nature. If we truly understand water’s inherent nature, we do incredible things – or not. For example, an Olympic high diver can “fall” into the water from nearly 40 feet above and barely make a splash. But go to a backyard pool party and you are almost guaranteed to see at least one clumsy goofball doing a “cannonball” dive from only 4 feet above and making an enormous splash. The water is simply being water. There’s a lesson in this, if we’re willing to learn it.

Yes, this list is by no means comprehensive, but should give you a decent launch pad for your own thinking about water. And how you can be like water.

I offer my gratitude to the master teacher Bruce Lee.