My 2018 motto is “no rushing, no slacking.”
I’m going full tortoise.
Many of the problems I’ve created for myself in the past couple years have come from rushing around. I broke my foot trying to get somewhere in a hurry (on a skateboard, in the dark). I accumulated a huge number of rejection slips because I hastily submitted short stories that weren’t completely polished (some were later accepted after a few more rounds of editing). I injured my stomach by eating too quickly, drinking too much coffee, and letting myself get stressed out.
Rushing has consequences. And they almost always outweigh any small possible gains.
For me, rushing is a symptom of trying to fit too much in. This is a common problem for people who need to earn money, parent, and have a creative life. Or for people with too many slashes in their occupation or identity.
Back in 2015 I decided to embrace it, and join the maximizers, and go with a bit less sleep. That worked, up to a point, and the huge expenditure of energy helped get me published for the first time (while still producing music, being a reasonably attentive parent, and freelancing to pay the bills).
For awhile I found it empowering to crank it, and earn more, and produce more, and really push myself. Work hard and play hard (except without the play hard part).
Then essentially, I crashed. Literally, with my foot coming down on a sharp curb and torquing in a way that a foot shouldn’t. What followed was months on the couch, a series of health problems, and a serious reevaluation of my life.
Here’s the thing–I don’t want to rush around like a maniac, but I don’t want to give up being a productive person with many interests and activities. So this is my plan going forward:
- No rushing. Eat slowly, sleep enough, give myself plenty of relaxed downtime (reading, hanging out with my family, etc.). Give myself plenty of time to get places (arrive a little early, and relaxed). Don’t rush conversations, jobs, projects, anything. Give the important things the time they deserve.
- No slacking. Use StayFocusd to limit internet time. Watch less TV, and no bad or mediocre TV. Don’t read junk (most magazines, bad fiction, most internet news, etc.). Pursue only one hobby at any given time.
- Don’t work more than I need to. I’ve pushed myself the last few years to earn as much money as possible. While I still need to earn, I’m going to focus on earning enough, not as much as possible. In terms of money, the long game is a better strategy for me at the moment (investments and building passive income sources).
- Just one creative career. While music has been really good to me, and I still want to make beats with my friends, I’ve lost interest in actively developing my music career. If a track takes off, then great (I’d still love to crack the Beatport Top 100 some day). But in terms of networking, dealmaking, marketing, and the like, I only feel motivated to work on writing fiction, and paving the road to becoming a working novelist. This is probably already obvious to everyone around me, but it’s significant to actually write the words and accept the choice.
So that’s my plan. Now it could be that I’m merely expressing a seasonal sentiment, a wintery semi-hibernation phase. More sleep, more melatonin, less caffeine, way less booze, fewer carbs, more parasympathetic activation, less dopamine, etc. Maybe, come summer, I’ll be staying up late and trying to juggle seven clubs again.
But it feels good to fully relax, and not rush, and do less. And as long as I keep doing the important things everyday (writing, spending time with my family and friends, taking care of my health, generally being a good person), I think I’ll probably reach my goals sooner rather than later.