Living well

You might read previous posts about food and think to yourself that I have a diet that “reads like a horror novel.”–Cathy Dupuis 2009. In reality though, I am actually very conscientious of what I put into my body…and I don’t always mean food.

In late 2010, I was catching up on my Google-reader posts and came across this very interesting Lifehacker.com post entitled “The Minimalist Guide to Leaving Your Soul-Crushing Day Job“, in which I was introduced to Everett Bogue’s interesting take on work and life. That night I went home from work and read about 80% of his posts on the minimalism movement. Not too much of what he wrote was new thinking. As a matter of fact, several philosophers, religious figureheads and motivational coaches have been banging a very similar drum for centuries. It was the way he wrote what he did that I could relate. Add that to the fact that my mind was already in  place where I wasn’t sure where I was professionally was where I wanted to be and the pins were in place for me to engage in the self-fulfilling prophecy of leaving my job to pursue other adventures. This also meant reduction. I didn’t have much stuff to begin with, but I probably cut my material possessions down by 25% and have continued to pare down as the weeks roll on.

If you are curious to read his writing, he occasionally has some content available for free. (He’s since monetized his blog to a ridiculously high level and is now claiming to be a “cybernetic-yogi” thanks to an engorged ego due to subscribers and watching one too many of Amber Case’s talks. Not to say anything bad about Amber, she’s good people with a great head on her shoulders. However, Everett is like a drunk with a sword too big for his body with her concepts.

Moving on.

If you’ve been reading my blog you know I’ve taken up an lifestyle of working for myself. by starting CCDG. Business is going good. As a matter of fact, it has afforded me an interesting mix of work time and more time to think and enjoy simpler joys in life. Namely waking up at a reasonable hour, having a good breakfast, meditating on design, drawing for fun and profit, and getting in fresh air, spending copious amounts of time learning more ways to illustrate–namely, through the use of Gnomon Workshop and Matt Kohr’s Ctrlpaint.com site.

Matt is a super talented dude, but I’ll leave that for a future post on content creation and learning how to take concepts that you have in your brain and visualize them. <—This is going to be a really fun blog series and I hope you stop by and check them out!

Back to topic though. I’m thinking some of you reading this are kind of at your wit’s end with your current job situation but you feel stuck in a big rut. The only thing keeping you in place and miserable is your fear of the other side of the fence. I can tell you from first hand experience that it isn’t as scary or dooming as you might think it is to hop the fence and be a free-range whatever you might be. I’ve discovered 4 inter-playing facets to analyze  in my own life that keep me going when I’m feeling down, doomed or ‘what the hell am I doing!? I shouldn’t be doing this! What the f*ck!’. These are:

-Health

-Wealth

-Relationships

-Experiences

Now it should be noted here that I’m not a doctor, financial advisor, or marriage counselor by any means and what I say is only coming from my experiences and maybe you’ll find some parallel to your own life.

Health

In the morning I like to do a little checklist of the health of my health, the health of my wealth, and the health of my relationships. I ask myself a few questions:

  1. Did I get enough sleep?
  2. Do I need anything nutritionally that I might not have been able to give myself in the day prior?
  3. Is my money running financially as planned (You have to work with the health of your wealth deliberately. If you are just saving to save, that isn’t a plan and will cause you to be in a state of constant panic to never stop saving for ‘just in case’. Guess what? Now is happening now. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a pillow to fall on, a retirement account or back up–but saving for saving sake with no plan is just silly.)
  4. Are the relationships that I own today healthy? No? What small step today can I use to improve them on some level.–Then take that small step. This doesn’t mean you have to call every cousin you have or even every person you know to say, “I love you”. What it means is you should be aware of you and how you touch the other people, places, and things in your own life and if there is something you can do to help a relationship you should take a small step towards it. Relationships matter and will help out the other two facets immensely.

Wealth

This one is a little more tricky. There aren’t a list of questions I ask myself, but I do make sure I am aware of the wealth of my health, wealth and relationships. Here are a few things you can try to be more accountable for this key facet.

  1. The wealth of your health is pretty basic. Are you all checked up? Teeth clean? Eyeballs working? No? If you have insurance, go get fixed. You aren’t worth the meat that carries you if you aren’t exercising or taking care of you to the best that you are able. I understand you might not be insured or you might even be in a point in life where you just can’t. Try brainstorming a few ideas of ways you might help yourself out in some small way. I believe in you!
  2. Read J. D. Roth’s blog and take the free advice he gives seriously. I was never in any huge debt, but the debt I had was crushed thanks, in part, by his awesome financial wisdom.
  3. The wealth of your relationships is also an interesting and slippery fish. For myself, I have a small circle of friends in multiple locations across the country. I am very fortunate to know and love them. For other people, the wealth of your relationships might be more in quantity than quality. Cool! This is a very subjective matter and I’m no one to judge your surrounding posse. However, I will say that, given enough time you absorb those around you; personality traits and all. We are tender and influence-able creatures. Surround yourself with what you want to become.

Relationships

I’ve spent close to the last year with someone amazing. Learning and growing from her. This is partially from what I said about #3 in the Wealth section. I surround myself with what I want to become. She is a strong and independent woman with a good sense of quality. Why else would she date me…;) Seriously though, pruning and pampering your relationships is also very important in all 3 facets.

  1. How is your relationship with yourself? Do you like who you are and where you are? How could you improve upon that? Are you treating yourself right? Only you know the answer to that…as scary as that answer might be.
  2. How is your relationship with your finances? Is it a mess of debt and a laundry list of random investments? How could you tidy this up? Again…read J.D. Roth’s blog for a good place to start. It will essentially tell you to spend less than you make. Very simple once you’ve got the hang of it.
  3. Finally, how are you with your relationships? Is there someone you want to become friends with? Why haven’t you? It is kind of funny how we’ve extricated ourselves from one on one analog interaction. I make a point to go out to the coffee shop or a restaurant at least once a day during my work day to interact with a human being (as my work is at home, I don’t interact nearly enough with my fellow humans in real time. This is my homework assignment to myself daily).

Experiences

Ah, the tie that binds. Every single moment in your life is an experience. That sounds silly and obvious doesn’t it? However, when you think about it, every moment is filled with possibility. Possibility to decide to take action. Possibility to change lanes in life and take that side street you’ve always wondered about. Possibility to create whatever you want to and to take risks. The past 18 months for me have been all about taking risks–and I can tell you with zero hesitation that 99% of every risk I took reaped HUGE rewards.

Now I’m not telling you to gamble on “Blue Pony” in the 5th race, I’m not telling you to go on a 40 day cleanse, and I’m not telling you to leave your partner. What I am telling you to do is to be unsatisfied with where you are and to push forward and grow. It doesn’t have to be 1000% in the next hour. It doesn’t even have to be 1% by tomorrow. What it should be is a step in a direction that is mindful and deliberate towards a future that you want for your future self.

I hope you receive this in good light on an awesome day. It’s freaking awesome outside. Go play!

-Gabe