School Ruined Me (and it Probably Ruined You, too)

When I was little, I loved school. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I thought school was a colossal waste of time. I was a nerd. I liked books and math. I didn’t have a lot of friends. That was okay by me. Just leave me alone to do my math homework now so I don’t have to do it later. Don’t talk to me during “free time” because the people in this book are more interesting than you anyway.

What I did like about school was having the right answer. I liked being able to answer the question the teacher asked. I liked the circled number on the top of my test. I liked being right. (Yes, I was that kid you probably hated. Unless you were that kid too.)

That’s horrible preparation for life.

In life, you don’t have the answer. I was driving the other day and mulling over a question about life. “Do I do X or Y? What is the right answer?” That was the wrong question. “What should I try next?” is closer to the right question. I’m so caught up in being correct or getting my proverbial “gold star” that I forget that nobody but me cares if I am correct, and life doesn’t hand out gold stars.

The question I asked instead of “What should I try next?” was “What do other people do?” That question is equally horrible. Nobody has the right answer. We are all just trying things.

The key is to learn from what you try.

I’d like to say I had this great “a-ha!” moment when I realized that everyone is guessing, everyone feels like they are floundering sometimes, and everyone is scared to get it wrong. Maybe I did. But then that moment passed. The stress of finding the right answer came back. I had to pull myself back again (and again) from the mental spiral I found myself in.

Maybe you try something and you don’t like the result. You can try something else. Unfortunately as humans we like routine and staying in our comfort zone (I blame school for this as well). So we will try something, not like the result, and decide to live with the result instead of trying something else next time.

So what can I try next? And  what will I try after that?

I don’t have the answer. But I can keep looking.

What will you try next?

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Things I Tried in 2016

BOOKS

I actually successfully completed the Goodreads 2016 challenge. My goal was to read 52 books last year and I read 53! I haven’t officially checked, but that might be the first time I ever completed the challenge. Part of my goal included reading a certain number of books on writing and creativity. On Writing by Stephen King was by far my favorite. It is a good book for writers and non-writers alike. I’m not going to do a “best of” list (at least not in this post) but I did end up with a few new favorite books in 2016.

Podcasts

I started out the year getting caught up on Welcome to Night Vale. That was in part due to tickets I had to an author discussion with the creators in late 2015 to promote their book of the same name. Of late I have not stayed on top of their podcast updates, but I did appreciate it for Twin Peaks-like storytelling. Lately I’ve been listening to the James Altucher podcast. I don’t listen to every guest, just ones who sound super interesting. When he releases a new podcast, he also teases with a blog post listing several things he learned from the latest guest. I click over to listen when I want to learn something from his list too.

Habits

Speaking of James Altucher, I started a practice in 2016 he strongly recommends. Every day write 10 ideas about anything. He claims doing this has drastically changed his life every 6 months. I haven’t made it a daily practice yet, but I have noticed that I am taking action on ideas I generate on my lists. Not all of these ideas are good. Actually a lot of them are terrible. Chances are I would not have come up with my good ideas if I didn’t write the bad ideas too. This has led to blog post ideas, new creative project ideas, and new avenues in writing projects. I’ve also used this at work when I get stuck on a problem to find alternative solutions when they aren’t immediately evident.

At the end of 2016 I also started a habit tracker to promote good habits in health, mind, soul, and creativity. Results have been mixed. From what I learned in December I need to make more time for fitness and writing.

Meditation

This has been something I have tried on and off since reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I try for a daily mindfulness practice for just a few minutes, though lately I haven’t been very consistent. Meditation is something you build. Just like your idea muscle with your 10 ideas. This is your mindfulness muscle. I have noticed that I feel the need to get back to my practice when I am feeling most out of line in my life.

Blog

I revived this blog towards the end of 2016 with the goal of posting every Wednesday morning. About that… Anyway, it’s Wednesday and I’m back. I’m going to keep plugging away at this and see what it turns into. The blog, just like everything else I tried in 2016 is an experiment. I’ll try and I’ll tweak and I’ll figure out what works for me and ultimately do that.

Thanks for hanging with me.

Happy 2017. Are you trying something new this year? Are you keeping up with a new habit from last year?