I Used to Fear Routine, but Now I Embrace It. Here’s Why.

The older I get, the more complicated life gets. I have two young children, a wife who just went back to work, and several projects I’m either working on or considering working on.

And of course, I need a little recreation time once in a while, too.

Simply put, I have a lot going on. The only way to combat so many moving parts is by embracing a routine.

I used to fear and despise routine. I was afraid of doing the same things every day because I thought “that’s what old people do.” Who wants to be an old person? I wanted to go to sleep or get up each day whenever I damn well pleased.

But that just doesn’t work in the real world. Since I quit my job a couple months ago, I quickly realized I needed a strict routine to be a productive person.

Here’s my current daily routine:

  • My alarm goes off at 6am (every day, even on the weekends)
  • I snooze it until about 6:30 (OK, maybe 7 sometimes)
  • I get up, get refreshed, and make coffee (I love coffee)
  • I drink the coffee lovingly (I told you, I love coffee)
  • I read for an hour or two (books on my Kindle — usually non-fiction, but I’ve been getting more into fiction lately)
  • I eat something quick (usually yogurt/granola)
  • I do my work (lately I have been coding a lot more than writing — sorry to everyone asking what the hell happened to my blog!)
  • I eat lunch around 1pm (sometimes later if I’m busy with meetings, but I try to stick to 1pm)
  • I get back to work again (more coding and/or writing)
  • I stop working at 6pm at the latest (family is important)
  • I fall asleep by 11pm at the latest (I’m exhausted by this time)

This routine allows me to take all the guesswork out of my day, so I can focus on getting shit done. Some days, particularly on weekends, include a lot less work and a lot more recreation/family time, and that’s OK. What matters is sticking to everything else.

What do you do to keep yourself on track each day? What could you add or subtract to your routine to improve it? How do you think I could improve my routine? I’d love to hear from you.

Dealing with Doubt

dealing-with-doubtExternal doubts are relatively easy to deal with. Most of the time, criticism is helpful, and when it isn’t, we ignore it.

Internal doubt, on the other hand, is a different animal. It’s really hard to ignore yourself.

So, your best bet is to embrace your doubts.

Doubt is good.

Doubt means you’re thinking.

Smart people are full of doubt, because they realize how little they actually know. They spend a lot of time exploring their doubts. They beat up ideas and processes and products and services until very little doubt remains. Then they doubt some more.

If you aren’t doubting, you’re probably not creating much value.

Those who do, doubt.

Have You Tried Shutting Up?

shut-up-and-listenToday, I have a challenge for you. It’s really easy.

Just shut up.

That’s it. Shut up and listen.

Listen to your family. Listen to your friends. Listen to the sounds of nature, or your favorite music.

Listen to people who actually know what they’re talking about.

You can even listen to yourself. What is your conscience telling you?

Shut up and listen.

You might learn something.

The Difference Between Critics and Haters

Sometimes criticism can lead to fights, but that can be healthy too.
Sometimes criticism can lead to fights, but that can be healthy too.

Much of the time, criticism is good. After all, the only way to continually improve yourself — and your work — is to accept input from people.

Other times, however, criticism is worthless. Some people just want to bring you down, which means you can safely ignore just about everything they say.

The key, of course, is knowing the difference. Good criticism can sometimes seem too harsh, and bad criticism can be disguised disguised as trying to help. So here’s my quick guide to separating the good from the bad, so you know who to accept input from.

Good Critics Bad Critics (AKA Haters)
They care about you, your work, your cause, etc., and want to see you succeed. They don’t give a shit about you, or anyone else but themselves.
They tend to be close to you, or at least know you fairly well. They probably don’t know you, and certainly don’t understand you.
Their criticism is meant to help you. Their criticism is meant to hurt you.
Their criticism is based on their experiences, knowledge, and wisdom. Their criticism is based mostly upon their own shortcomings.
Their criticism is honest, straightforward, and constructive. Their criticism is mean, unfounded, and non-constructive.
You should seek advice from these people. You should completely ignore these people.

I Am Here to Tell You That Your Life Matters

your-life-has-meaningThe world is an amazing place. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Life is an incredible gift. Somehow you came from space dust. Tiny particles, floating aimlessly around the universe. Then an unknowable confluence of events led to the beginning of life.

First tiny, single-celled organisms. Eventually, more complex ones. Since all life originated in the sea, you probably have weird fish blood and guts in you somewhere.

Then some bizarre sea creatures wound up surviving on land. They evolved. Then those new creatures evolved some more.

The cycle continued over billions of years until modern human beings took shape.

Your distant human ancestors were lucky to survive past infancy. Up until about a hundred years ago, the average life expectancy for a human was 30.

Against all odds, humanity not only survived, but thrived. Your grandparents met. Then your parents did.

Then finally, you came along.

You.

A person with thoughts, feelings, ambitions. A person who loves and is loved. A real human being with real value.

Your life matters. It has meaning. You are important.

You.

You should be excited every day to be alive. You should be pursuing with reckless abandon the handful of things that make you happy.

You should be ecstatic to be you.

You.

Remember, it’s a miracle that you even exist. Yet it’s so easy to forget where you came from.

It’s even easier to forget how much you mean to other people.

I am here to tell you that your life matters.

You matter to me. You’re reading this right now, and I’m humbled by it. You have so little time in this world, and you’ve chosen to read this.

You.

Thank you.

Thank you for allowing me into your life in this small way.

Your life matters, and you’re helping mine to matter, too.

Your Biggest Risk: Doing Nothing

You'll never know how high you can go without taking risks.
You’ll never know how high you can go without taking risks.

Teddy Roosevelt once opined, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Most people would probably agree with this sage advice, but few are willing to act upon it. That’s because they’re paralyzed with fear of taking risks. What’s more, they don’t even understand risk to begin with.

Let’s say you’re thinking of leaving your traditional 9-to-5 job to start your own business. Sounds risky, right? You’re giving up a “guaranteed” income to venture into the unknown. Your new business could fail. You could lose money. And perhaps worst of all, you open yourself up to criticism.

On the other hand, no one ever faces criticism for staying the course of traditional employment. It seems the safest path, after all. It’s the least risky way to earn a living and provide for your family — or so we’ve been led to believe.

In reality, you’re simply ignoring the inherent risks of working for someone else. Remember, you could get laid off, fired, replaced, or demoted at any time, for almost any reason. The company you work for could go even out of business. Thus, you have almost no control over your employment situation. Isn’t that really just a whole lot of risk disguised as security?

Of course, you don’t have to take the drastic step of leaving your job to take a risk. It can be as simple as sharing a new idea with your boss. Even better, you could start a new project on the side without even asking. Even simpler, you could choose to document an important work process that only you know how to do. All of these things are clearly better than doing nothing, and carry some small amount of risk.

It’s natural to fear risk, but be sure your fears are directed towards the biggest risk: doing nothing.