Category Archives: FinishYear

Two things for Friday – One month to go and #QuitterConf

I’m posting tonight, and many of you won’t see it until tomorrow.  The content is kinda raw tonight.
Today is an exciting day – for two reasons.
1. There are exactly 30 days (well, at least I think, considering that February has that extra day this year), or at least it is safe to say that I am one month away from my 31st birthday, and the end of my 30 While 30 Project.  The year has flown by, and to be perfectly honest, I am sometimes surprised by other people mentioning some of the things that I did this year.
Didn’t you learn to ride a motorcycle? – and it takes me a few seconds to realize they’re talking about me!
I still have a few things that I am trying to accomplish prior to the year ending, but like I have posted before, have come to the cool realization that not everything will be done.  I am ok with that, and understand the several reasons that contributed to that outcome.  Regardless, it has been an awesome year, and I am excited about what is coming next.
What has intrigued me the most in the last year is not so much the goals, but the process that this year has taught me.  The process of what makes change possible, how you decide what to change, and the realities of what happens when you do … and when you don’t change.  More on this to come.
Goals I’m still going to try to take care of for the year:
1. #14 Paint a picture
2. #21 Take a cooking class
3. #27 Launch my professional entity website (Note: I am SUPER excited about this one.  As I am sure you have noticed, the content at ThomsThoughts has tapered in the last weeks.  That isn’t because I’m not writing, only that I am writing pre-content for the new site – to be announced on March 10 of this year – something I am looking very forward to sharing with all of you)
There are a few others, but I am a bit scattered right now.
In addition to all those things, today is an awesome day because I am getting to participate in the Quitter Conference with Jon Acuff.  If you follow me on twitter (@thomasvertrees)  you’ve seen some feed already.  More of that tomrrow, and if tonight is any inclination, I will have content topics for weeks based on what I will learn here.
Happy Saturday.

30 While 30: Day 308 – Stop letting other people do your work for you. What LEGOs taught me.

My son, Daniel, loves LEGOs.

And I love that he loves them.

I can remember being little, cracking open the box, meticulously following the directions step-by-step as to not make a mistake and have to back-track several pages to correct it.  Finishing the model, however, was just the beginning.  After that came the splicing of bricks and designs with sets I already had, creating both structures that I had seen other places or detailed automatons from my own imagination.  It was great.

And that was just last week.

I kid.

A little.

Because of this shared passion, for his 5th birthday, we purchased Daniel’s first LEGO model – a replica of the Pizza Delivery truck from the Toy Story movie.  That day he and I worked to build the model.  After a few moments of fumbling over the small pieces, Daniel asked me for help … which I was (probably visibly) elated to provide.  I involved him as much as I could in the process, asking him to search out the pieces needed for each step and having him help check my work, scanning the directions and then the model after each image.  The finished product:

Awesome … I know, right?

We shared this new interest with the family, and boy were the floodgates opened at Christmas.  Most of the sets (thank goodness) were small, unlike the massive castles you would find a certain 8 year old drooling over outside the windows of the local Kay-Bee Toy Store.  Danial got several, with the first being at my mother-in-law’s home.  Of course, he couldn’t wait, so we sat down at the table to begin construction.  We cracked the box and opened the bags, and as I started the same routine from his birthday, Daniel spoke seven simple words:

I can do it by myself, Daddy.

Now, Summer and I had heard these words before (and I will let the parents in the audience comment below about activities associated with that phrase that have come from the mouths of their little ones), but after picking up the pieces of my shattered heart on the floor, I let him work.  Here was the outcome:

He did it … all by himself.  Watching him build, ever so carefully, tracking the instructions so closely, checking his work, and correcting his mistakes, I could only think of one thing:

He’s a freaking genius.  Someone call MENSA … now!

After calming down a bit, what settled in me was a sense of pride and love for my son, who through his hard work, frustration, knowledge and determination (that last one a product of his mother, for sure, and one of her best features) was able to accomplish something (not to mention developing his fine motor operations and spacial reasoning – that genius!) that, if I am honest with myself, that I didn’t think he could do.  Sitting there, I thought:

I almost took that away from him.

I almost took that away from him, because I wanted to do it for him.

It didn’t stop with that set. Oh no … no, no, no.

Then there was this.

And this.

Can’t forget these rough and tough guys.

And last, but not least, these awesome folks.

All on his own.  The only help I gave was breaking the box and ripping the bags.  Quite a different picture than just a few weeks before.

–          –          –

In my work, I was able to meet with a team at school to help assist a young child with some problems he was having in the classroom.  One of those issues was a concern that the child had under-developed fine-motor skills (cutting paper, writing with a pencil, coloring, operating an zipper/buttons/laces/etc.) I was in agreement with the initial assessment, until I heard the observational assessment from the occupational therapist.  While I can’t remember the exact quote, it went something like this:

He can do more than we originally thought.  When I began the assessment, I noticed several folks doing things for him, taking his coat off, helping with his zipper, stuff like that.  Once I asked the teachers to stop the things that they normally did to help him, I noticed several skills present.  He can hold his pencil, he can cut relatively straight, and he can attend to some of his basic needs.

Now, get ready for the blindside –

How do you get in your own way?

How do you know that you can’t do this or do that until you make an attempt, take a leap, or commit to a change?

We are our own worst critics.  When we speak out, asking the masses if we are capable of completing a task, learning a new skill, training for a new career, you know which voice is the loudest against us?  Often our own.

Maybe you don’t believe me.  Let me ask you a different question:

Do you have a “bucket list”?  A “dream list”?  Are there those things in your life that you would be able to do “just if …”?

How about a personal example?  Working on #27 (Launch my professional entity website) I am building a site from scratch … from the ground up. – and when I mean “scratch”, I really mean the kind of “scratch” where you take a tube of cookie dough, add some chips of your own to make them “chunky” and call it “homemade”.  That kind of scratch. – The fact is, I am a total web design virgin.  A neophyte.  A newb.  As of 30 days ago, I knew nothing.

Now?  Every day since about the 15th of December, I have been learning about self-hosting, comment systems, CSS, plugins, SEO optimization, 6-integer color codes, among other things.  30 days ago, I knew nothing.  I still don’t know much, but each day a little bit more.

If you had asked me 13 months ago if I thought I was the kind of person that would build a website for myself, I probably would have:

  1. Chuckled.
  2. Have told you that I didn’t have time for that.
  3. Have told you that I would have thought the task too hard to be worth my trouble.

The difference?  Perfection is not my name.  Choice might be.  I didn’t know it could be done until I leaped in head first.

Don’t assume you can’t do it, just because you have never done it before.  Instead, turn off that little voice that assumes that because of “X” reason (I’m too young/inexperienced/old/male/entrenched/busy/etc) that something can’t be done.  Become a student of yourself.

Tell yourself –

“I can do this by myself, Thomas.”

What can you leap into this week?

Don’t you think LEGOs are awesome?! Comment on your favorite set or memory!

_Thomas


30 While 30: Day 306 – Only 60 days remain

Photo courtesy of Rawich via freedigitalphotos.net

It’s been a while since I did a bona-fide list update, so today is as good a day as any!

1. #1 Read 30 Books – I’m not going to make it to 30, and while at first I was a little disappointed about this, truth be told, it meant reading (on average) 2 1/2 books a month.  There were some months that I could do this (especially if I was flying somewhere – seems reading is the best thing I can do on a plane), but for most months, I was averaging 1.5 books a month.  I also had this peculiar problem about adding books to the list throughout the year (for example, currently reading Quitter – by Jon Acuff) so the list kept getting larger.  Regardless, my pace has varied with the heaviness of the content and my ability to assimilate the information.  I feel good about what I’ve been able to do, and since have modified my reading target for the next year in my FinishYear.

2. #2 Lose at least 30 pounds. – First, I am excited that this goal will be accomplished by March.  I am so close, it is nerve-wracking.  I just want to be able to take a picture of that scale and share with you all here, but it can’t happen till it happens.  What I will add to this, is that even when at times the numbers on the scale don’t show what I want, three days at the gym, and movement on other days is changing my body.  I feel stronger, more flexible, and well … better.

3. #14 Paint a picture. – This one going down within the next 30 days.  We have a local shop here in Clarksville that holds classes where you can paint a picture under the direction/guidance of the instructor.  Gonna be done soon!

4. #27 – Launch my professional website. – This is what I have been spending a large amount of time on the last few weeks.  In preparation of a launch by the end of the 30 While 30 Project, each day I have built the habit of adding some kind of change to the site.  Can I say – I love the process!  I am learning a lot about formatting, CSS, html, and the wonderful plugin page on my wordpress.org page.

–          –          –

On Friday, I mentioned a lie that we (including myself) like to tell about how we view the time that we have each day.  It is my contention that we have just enough time each day for what is important to us, but by accident, habit, or on purpose, we fill each day with things that are not linked to what is actually important to us and to our purposes in life.  On Friday, I also mentioned some tasks to accomplish to try and re-align our time spent each day.

Jeff Goins ( @JeffGoins on Twitter ) has shared a few posts about the love-hate relationship that people have with making goals and plans.  While some of the gripe seems a bit about semantics, something that he mentioned struck me, and is an idea that I am believing more and more each day:

Changing your life, as it turns out, isn’t about setting large, unattainable goals. It’s about small changes over time. That’s how I became a writer — by getting up every day and doing what I needed to do.

Now, we can chit-chat about how you have to have new habits to execute a plan, or how you have to plan to set time for your habit to built it, but the core of the message is this … change is less often one giant step, but instead is found in the small changes we make that allow for us the freedom to be who we need to be.  Small moves … for big changes.

This January is about taking inventory.  While I don’t espouse the “don’t ever plan” ideal, it’s crucial that I make decisions, that I “do” different things, to allow all the plans the freedom to develop.  This is what I was really talking about in the post from Friday.  Instead of trying to pour more coffee into an already-filled cup, what do I need to pour out to make room for the things that are really important?

The good news is that this isn’t new.  All the time, we don’t give ourselves credit for the small changes present in our lives.  January will be a bit of an inventory of the last year.  Which habits stuck, which didn’t, and having a discussion on why either was the case.

In honor of The Happiness Project and in participation in my own FinishYear, each month I am going to share habits that I have mastered to free up time and energy from idle time as well as habits focused solely on building disciplines that, by default, will increase my success with the things that really matter.

Feel free to take a look at the #FinishYear 2012 page as this list builds.  I haven’t planned out the whole year.  Who knows what habits will be important in August?  Instead, I will look one month at a time at what freedom-inducing habit I will attempt to master.

Do you think that there a difference between a plan and a habit?

What do you need to take inventory of today, this week, this month to decide on what is worth keeping (stuff, routine, people, vice) and what is essential to remove?

_Thomas


The lie we love to believe about why we fail at our goals – #FinishYear 2012

Photo courtesy of graur razvan ionut via freedigitalphotos.net

This week, you are likely reading a variety of posts about how to follow-through, commit-to, or stick-with your New Year’s Resolutions.  You will also likely read posts about the pitfalls to our plans that cause many “resolvers” (is that even a word?) to “give up” by right around Valentine’s Day (a third won’t even make it to the end of January).

We are really good about making ourselves feel better about that failure.  We tell ourselves lots of things in order to soften the sting of not being able to do what we said that we would do, especially in the presence of such an overwhelming body of knowledge and expertise in the world on goal-setting and follow-through.

There is a lie that is being overlooked, and it is a lie that we tell ourselves every day – so comfortably, so naturally, that the perceived truth of this lie permeates most ideas about time management in general.

There aren’t enough hours in the day.

This is a lie. Continue reading


Jan 2nd – My #FinishYear begins!

Photo credit to Idea Go via freedigitalphotos.net

So, Summer asked me yesterday what I resolved to do this year.  You see, for some reason, that’s something that people do in an around the first of January.  If I am honest with myself, I used to make resolutions, and have for several years … though I can think of very few that I actually accomplished.

It was this history of (let’s be honest) failure at meeting these life goals, that prompted me to think about and complete my 30 While 30 List, the journey that I have been on this whole year, starting on March 10th 2011, and which will end on March 9th of this year … just over 60 days from now.  So, this year, January 1st wasn’t as meaningful a day for me as it might have been in past years.  This year, January 1st was not unlike any other day. Continue reading