Don’t Coast! Do Things for Reasons!

My best friend Hannah has inspired me to think about the great things happen when you take control of your life. I am super excited for her, because she recently got a promotion at her job.

Her employer provides an opportunity for employees to get college reimbursement. I am sure many of her co-workers do not take her employer up on this offer, but she decided she is going to take advantage of the opportunity and go back to school.

This morning she was telling me about how she spent several hours going over her class plan this summer, and next fall. Hannah has life plan and is now putting it into action.

I thought about my own life, and considered the places where I have coasted.

Why did I go to Virginia Commonwealth University? Because the opportunity was given to me, I didn’t choose it. I went on a class field trip to VCU, decided that day to apply. They accepted me and I went to that college.

I didn’t even look at or consider other options. I was lazy about it. It ended up being a good thing, but I can’t really take credit for steering my life in that direction.

I have met some students who actually went on to get their masters or PhD’s because it was easier. School is all they knew and so they just decided to keep going into their major. It actually takes less willpower for some people to continue in school than to submit applications and find a job.

On the other hand, an old friend of mine Justin recently got a job at Microsoft. FREAKING MICROSOFT. This made me so happy because he is kind and genuine, one of the best people I have ever met and I honestly believe he can make a huge difference there. Why is this impressive to me? I never submitted Microsoft an application. There was a time I was interested in doing that sort of job, but I never had the guts to do what Justin did. I may have even gotten the job.

Many of my posts are directed at 20-30 year olds, which makes sense because I am a part of that group; however, for those of you who have kids I recommend encouraging them to Do Things for Reasons. I played soccer for most of my childhood, but I hated it. I was never really bothered to tell mom I didn’t like it, it was simpler for me just to keep going to practice.

If you are doing something, make sure you are doing it for a reason. I came home tonight tired, not wanting to write this post, and sat down on the couch next to Belinda. She was watching the news, so I just started watching with her.

After sitting there for 15 minutes I asked myself “Why am I watching the news, is there some specific information I want to know? Especially since this news is in Chinese, you don’t speak Chinese….”. I had no reason for doing what I was doing, so I got up and started working on this post.

Walking home from visiting Yvonne tonight, I looked around in the subway car and thought.

“Is everyone here in Taiwan here because they were born here, or because they chose to be here”

“That woman over there, is she married to that man because she picked him among a bunch? Or was he the first guy to ask her out” (Very common here)

I wondered about how often we go with the first available option.

I think its human nature to just sort of go with the flow. To go against the flow takes a bit of willpower.

When you do get that motivation, be like Hannah and Justin and own it! Get your plan in action!


“Do Things for Reasons” is a quote from Sebastian Marshall’s book Ikagai. I highly recommend it.

Adopting Two New Habits

Shifen waterfall near Pingxi, Taiwan. If you make it to Taipei I highly recommend going here, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Motivation is fleeting. Action, then details. It is important to act with celerity once you decide on the proper course of action or else you may lose momentum.

At this moment, that is adopting two new habits, time tracking and writing. Both of which I am going to make it a priority to do every day.

I have spent this past year working on myself. After a lot of study, I decided these two new habits will give me personally the best overall gain in my life. Better yet they are both no risk, very high reward activities.

Unlike some activities which you may fail at, or waste your time, both of these habits will improve my mindfulness.

Start Small, Consistency is Key

With my writing I am going to begin by writing something every day. Doesn’t matter how long it is, or the quality of the work, as long as I am consistently writing and publishing.

We are judged by our best work, but to become an excellent painter you have to paint a lot of crap. Leonardo da Vinci is known for many things, like his Mona Lisa, but I can promise you Leonardo made a lot of terrible paintings first.

Steve Jobs said, “Real Artists Ship”. There is a lot to be said about those words. What it means to me is that if I am going to get anywhere I have to publish my work. I once worked on an app with a very close friend of mine, but we never ended up shipping because I was so worried about the details. I was close to 80% finished, but decided to do a rewrite to make the app “perfect” and never ended up finishing.

Again, Action. Then details.

More important to my writing, is the addition of time tracking.

“What gets measured, gets managed” –Sebastian Marshall

We humans have a tendency to just follow our routines and habits. It is also said we can only keep track of 7 or so things at a given time.

This is why it is so difficult for people to change. If you are trying to adopt a new habit, like flossing for example, it actually takes quite a bit of willpower even if the task is simple.

Everyone knows that flossing is very important, some studies even say it’s more important than brushing. If this is true why don’t more people floss? It only takes 30 seconds.

Simple. Habit.

If you have brushed your own teeth every morning since you were 3 years old, then it takes no effort to remember to brush your teeth. I don’t consciously decide to brush my teeth every morning. I do it automatically without thinking about it. If I don’t, I feel weird.

When I go to the dentist, the cleaning person tells me to floss. For the next 3-4 days, I do. But like the person who makes the New Year’s Resolution to go to the gym, I will inevitably forget one day. Then another. I lose momentum because I was not consistent.

I didn’t consciously go, “Gee, I am not going to floss”. I stopped because it wasn’t a habit, and I may not have been aware that I stopped.

This is why it is important to track time.

The only way for me to remember to floss on the difficult days when I am stressed and have many things to do, is to track it each day. Without tracking, it’s nearly impossible to be able to build a new habit. Trust me, I have tried the past 6 months to get by without tracking.

My time tracking habit is going to begin very small. Sebastian Marshall actually uses a very complex method to track his time, but he built it up over several years.

Remember, the most important thing is to keep things simple so you can be consistent.

Time Tracking Example 4/25/2015:

Writing: Yes

Time Track: Yes

Floss: Yes

Stretch: No

Exercise: No

Crap. I forgot to stretch and exercise again. I can’t go to bed until those are yes, no matter how tired I am.

I keep track of this in a little memo pad I keep in my pocket. Eventually I may develop a little app for myself, but this will work for now: