Be F*cking Nice

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Today, I was the recipient of pure, unconniving, good ol’ hometown nice.

I found a desk that I wanted to get on Craigslist yesterday, but I lacked the space in my tiny Nissan Versa to move it. ¬†I posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone had a truck or an SUV they would be willing to let me borrow, but made plans to rent a Uhaul as I wasn’t really expecting anyone to respond.

Lo and behold, a guy I haven’t spoken to in quite a while commented that he had a truck and was willing to help! ¬†I texted him and arranged the time; he drove me to the place where the desk was, helped me load it, and gave me a hand bringing it in to my apartment. ¬†When I offered him payment for his gas and time, he refused and said “nah, it’s just what nice, normal people do.

How refreshing is that?

He had zero agenda.  He did not benefit from the exchange at all.  And yet, he gave his time and assistance in spite of the lack of reward.

I follow CEO Andy Frisella on Facebook, and a couple days ago he posted the following:

Be fucking nice.

Its not that hard.

You never know the impact a simple gesture can make on someone.

A hello.

Holding the door for someone.

Complimenting someone (with out an agenda)

There are a million ways to help people…and sometimes the simplest are the best.

Give people faith in humanity through your daily actions. Its good for both of you.

I love this post.  So much so that I stole part of it for my title.

It is admirable to be a driven, goal-oriented person.  Sometimes, however, the same people who are galvanized to succeed are also the people who brush past the niceties in order to drive hard for the prize.  This tunnel vision is great at times for getting results, but it sucks for creating relationships.  And relationships are what push you past the finish line those crucial .2 seconds before the competition.

Case in point, if you have equal¬†on-paper qualifications and an equivalent success track record as someone who is gunning for the same position or sale as you, but you’re a bitch/dick/unpleasant, it will go to the nice one every. single. time. ¬†Humans don’t want to be around horrible people (even if they are a horrid specimen themselves).

Nice has gotten a bad reputation. ¬†So many individuals think that “nice” is a synonym for weak. ¬†Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Try doing someone a favor when you are exhausted and all you want to do is sit at home in silence. ¬†Try holding a pleasant conversation for a couple of minutes with someone you secretly can’t stand. ¬†Try to compromise on something when the outcome actually affects you.

Yeah.  Not weak.  Not weak at all.

Sometimes, being nice is a task accomplished by those with only the most impressive store of willpower and inner strength.

Growing up in the Midwest, I was saturated with nice throughout my entire childhood. ¬†Neighbors stopped in randomly to chit chat. ¬†Checking out at the grocery store always included a “have a great day!” from the cashier. ¬†The mail lady bought our pet rocks that we were selling on the side of the road. ¬†To me, nice was simply normal.

In today’s world (or maybe it’s just anywhere outside of the Minnesota bubble), being nice is viewed as an anomaly rather than the status quo. ¬†I have never had so many people comment on how “nice” I am more than I have in the 2.5 years I have lived here. ¬†It’s something people notice and appreciate, especially when it’s atypical.

Now, to play devil’s advocate, one cannot go out of their way to be nice all of the time, or nothing personal will ever get accomplished. ¬†There comes a point when your actions can cross over from nice to doormat. ¬†That being said, when it costs to you nothing to lend a helping hand or give of your attention except a little bit of time or effort, just do it.

The world is one big mirror that gleefully reflects every single thing you show it.  Is the universe displaying positivity?  Are doors opening for you?  Do you step outside into a playground of friendliness and possibility?  Or, is the galaxy one swirling dark mass of negativity and suffering, with walls rising in every direction and people slamming into your shoulder as they rush past with their hat pulled low and their collar pulled high?

You have the power to create a little bit of beauty multiple times a day.  The more times you take the opportunity to be nice, the more times the world will bring nice to you.

The guy who helped me move my desk today?  I became friends with him after I offered to help him push his truck into the garage when I saw him struggling to do it himself.  You never know when your acts of kindness will come back to benefit you, but I can promise you, they will come back.  It might not be the next day or even the next year, but eventually, the tiny seeds of positivity that you plant will bloom, and the winds of life will blow those second-generation seeds back into your own garden right when you need them.

So really, what do you have to lose? ¬†Go ahead–pull on your overalls, grab a shovel and hose, and¬†plant nice.

Creating Steam

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This weekend was a three day weekend for me and an amazing one at that. ¬†I felt incredibly happy the majority of the time, yet looking back, I’m dissatisfied with how some of my time was spent.

On Friday night, I chilled out with my roommate and watched ‘our show’. ¬†This isn’t a problem, but the fact that I didn’t do ANYTHING else is.

On Monday, my extra day off, I cleaned in the morning, but napped in the afternoon and fell asleep really early that night.  I was going to do some life errands, but I put them off until today.  Uncool.

While this may seem like a typical weekend for most people, ¬†I know that I don’t want to be most people. ¬†I want to accomplish a lot in life. ¬†Like, a LOT a lot. ¬†Like, an insane amount. ¬†And that requires that my extra time be utilized to its maximum capacity.

Most weekends, I find it incredibly easy to work on the things that I am building in my life. ¬†It feels exciting and fun. ¬†But this past weekend, I lost my momentum. ¬†I wasn’t feeling inspired on Friday and Monday, and I simply didn’t care that much.

So what does this reveal? ¬†Does this imply that I shouldn’t be working as hard as I have been? ¬†Does this suggest I should lower my expectations of myself because they are clearly a bit unrealistic? ¬†Does this foreshadow the impending doom of my lofty ideals?

Hell no.

Upon reflection, I realized that I am never going to be gung-ho, balls out, 2 year old who just got a sucker excited about reaching my goals 100% of the time. ¬†That’s just not possible. ¬†I’m going to get tired. ¬†I’m going to get discouraged. ¬†I’m going to get lazy. ¬†This is normal.

But, I don’t want to be normal. ¬†The difference between ordinary and extraordinary lies in pushing through those moments where you feel like you’ve hit a wall. ¬†Ordinary stops and shrugs its shoulders. ¬†Extraordinary picks up a sledgehammer and starts swinging. ¬†Ordinary makes excuses. ¬†Extraordinary refuses to give in to stumbling blocks. ¬†Ordinary settles. ¬†Extraordinary achieves.

Creating the incredible requires that you just. keep. going.  Everything is so easy when you have that inner desire.  Sometimes, though, you can lose your steam.  Its disheartening when you can observe this happening in yourself.    If you feel like your fire is dimming, take steps to fan your own flames.

In order to create steam you need fire and water, much like creating progress takes motivation and effort. ¬†You’re going to have to add fuel in order to keep the flames alive. ¬†Most of the time, the wood is conveniently plopped in the stockpile close at hand. ¬†Sometimes, it’s still going to be in tree form and require an ax and some muscle. ¬†¬†Other times, you’re going to have more than enough wood, but adding more water becomes necessary so the pot doesn’t boil dry. ¬†It could be as simple as turning on a tap, or as consuming as grabbing a pail, hiking a couple miles, and filling that sucker up.

Regardless of what you need to do in order to keep the momentum, it is going to take mental determination.  Being willing to put in the extra effort creates the difference between achieving awesomeness and settling for humdrum and mainstream.

Sometimes, putting in the effort is easy because the flames of motivation are hot. ¬†Other times, it’s simply a matter of principle that keeps you going.

When it comes to promises made to other people, are you a man or woman of your word?  If you are, how much more important is a promise to yourself?  Know what you want to achieve, and make yourself a promise that you will get there.

And then?

Keep your promise.

Your Authentic Self

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I have a student who moved here at the beginning of the year and is quite different from all of my other students that I teach.  Mary* works extremely hard at school, takes dance classes every night, is involved in the drama class, belongs to the speech and debate club, AND wants to start a Junior National Honor Society Chapter at our school.

When I talk to her about the future, she tells me she is planning on auditioning for our Fine Arts College during her sophomore year of school (since she moved here too late to audition this year).  She also laughs off the notion that she needs to relax a bit, saying that doing all of these things now will give her more options in the future.

To top it off, this girl is also the most polite and sweet child I have ever had the privilege of teaching.  Her fellow students snicker when she talks and gives answers in class, mostly because she is a glaring anomaly in a sea of kids who have zero ambition and no future plan.

I am ashamed to admit, I find her irritating at times.  She asks for her scores at inopportune times, will come back again and again if I am busy at the moment, and takes up my time in between classes because she enjoys talking to me about whatever is going on in her life.

Why am I telling you this?

She is always no holds barred, unapologetically, in-your-face, 100% her authentic self.

 I cannot help but admire her.  She knows what she wants.  She takes the steps to accomplish it.  And I will bet you my life savings that she is going to BE somebody someday.  If she is this determined and strong in 8th grade, at a school where the culture is anything but goal-oriented, who knows to what heights she will soar when she gets around people who will embrace her true self rather than be intimidated by it.

I am almost 28 years old, and while I have always been someone who accomplishes what I set out to accomplish, it has taken me this long to be ok with my own authenticity. ¬†Growing up, I was always a person who secretly worried about what other people thought of me. ¬†Do they like me? ¬†Why not? ¬†Why aren’t they talking to me? ¬†OMG why ARE they talking to me? Should I wear this outfit? ¬†Talk about this topic? ¬†Maybe I need to be more serious/goofy/like them.¬†And on and on.

Thank GOD I have gotten over myself.

A couple weekends ago, I hung out with a group of girls, one of whom rubbed me the the wrong way COMPLETELY. ¬†When I talked to my roommate about it later, she said “Yeah, it was so obvious you were annoyed, and I could tell she thought you were annoying too.”

A couple years ago, a comment like that would have crushed me. ¬†She thought I was annoying? ¬†OMG-Now I need to change everything about myself. ¬†I’m obviously a terrible person.

Today, I don’t give two flying f*cks about whether she thought I was irritating or not, because I know who I am, and dammit, I like who I am.

Revealing your true self is one of the scariest yet empowering things you can choose to do.  People gravitate towards authenticity, no matter what form it comes in.  If someone is genuinely a sweetheart, those around her will notice and appreciate her thoughtfulness.  If someone is genuinely an asshole, peers will grumblingly admire his honesty.

If you are true to yourself, those who surround you will be able to sense the credibility in your actions.  You attract the vibes you put out in the universe: fake begets fake, real begets real.

Success will come much faster and more abundantly to those who achieve it through being legitimate.  Real desire, reliable work, and a convincing vision will win over slimy networking and brown-nosing any day.  Those who are at the top have zero reason NOT to showcase their ultimate selves, and they got to where they are by shedding their masks and using their verity to their advantage.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have cart blanche to be a terrible person and hold out the “authentic self” card like an all-encompassing shield of justification. ¬†If you are that person who is authentically an asshole, stay true to the genuine core of who you are, but take the steps to soften the edges. ¬†It is 100% possible to be true to yourself AND work on self-improvement at the same time.

Finding and displaying your pure self takes a lot of courage in the beginning. ¬†It’s hard to shed the need for other’s approval. ¬†But when you understand who YOU are, you can use that knowledge to propel you forward in life. ¬†Trying to make progress without accepting yourself is like walking on a treadmill: you may get a workout in, but you’re not actually traveling anywhere worthwhile.

Overall, you will be surprised by how many people actually LIKE you for you. ¬†In a world of filters, contour, and butt surgery, finding individuals who proudly display their personality ¬†like Mary* is a rarity. ¬†Take a chance. ¬†Let others around you see your hidden glow. ¬†You just might find the tools you’ve been needing to take the next step towards your optimal life have been hidden behind your walls this whole time.

 

 

Just Jump

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In the past couple of days, I have taken some steps to move me towards my recently reformulated conception of my future. ¬†One of these steps included renaming my blog from “The Optimization Operation” to simply “Hannah Elizabeth“. ¬†While this change was quite simple to do since my blog is still pretty new, it represents a shift in my focus that, quite frankly, is a little bit intimidating when I slow down and actually think about it.

The initial reason why I changed my name is simple: the former name was long and confusing, and my new name is not.  However, there is so much more to it than that.  By changing the name of my blog to my own, it represents that I am completely taking ownership of my content and my vision.  I cannot hide behind anonymity, and I am 100% responsible for any mistakes, progress, and interactions that take place on this site.

It’s all me.

This is a scary, scary reality.  But in a way, it is also freeing.  As a human being placed upon this earth at this particular moment, I am free to become whatever I want with the caveat that I actually work towards becoming that person.  Think about how awesome that is.  You can do whatever you want, you just have to put in the work.

Ah, there’s the rub.

You have to put in the work.  There is a reason that there are so few people who actually make it-no one actually wants to work hard.  It is innately human nature to desire, but also inherently mortal to choose the path of least resistance.  Most of the time, this translates to people envying others from afar while scrolling through their Instagram feeds for hours at a time.

You will receive nothing in this world that you do not earn.  And everything is earned by sweat, blood, and tears.

However.

Those drops of sweat, blood, and tears need to have a purpose. ¬†There is nothing to be gained by straining against a brick wall, unless you have a true reason for knocking it down. ¬†In order to begin, you have to know your ‘why’. ¬†In order to know your why, your have to put in the brain-work. ¬†Every single business, successful person, and amazing relationship started off as just a simple little thought in someone’s mind.

It’s amazing what our thoughts can do. ¬†Your mind is your most powerful weapon and your biggest stumbling block. ¬†It can cause you to push through anything that life throws at your or fold with a sigh.

I have a dream for my future that has slowly started to solidify in my mind, but it is so big that it’s frightening. ¬†I had a moment today where I looked at myself in the mirror and I thought “What on earth are you doing? ¬†You can’t do this. ¬†You are in way over your head.” ¬†And I almost allowed myself to continue indulging in that line of thinking, until I reminded myself who I was.

I’m the girl who moved across the county, twice, by herself, in just her car, and successfully found a job and a place to live seemingly out of thin air both times.

I’m the girl who was made chair of the English department after only 2 years of working for my school.

I’m the girl who got married way too young, yet still managed to overcome those four lost years of life to create herself anew.

I’m the girl who gets up at 5am for a cardio workout and stops by the gym after work every single weekday.

I’m the girl who simultaneously juggled a career, workout schedule, and master’s classes while still maintaining a semblance of a social life.

I’m the girl who grew up in a small Midwest country town ¬†and now lives in one of the richest cities of Orange County, CA.

I’m the girl who takes pride in what she does.

I’m the girl who commits.

I’m the girl who will get. it. done.

I will not allow all of my accomplishments so far to lead up to a life of coasting in the middle of the road. ¬†I have struggled my whole life, and the truth is, I don’t even know how to enjoy myself without a challenge to tackle. ¬†The apple that you climb a tree to pick and then sink your teeth into as the breeze washes over your perspiring face tastes so much sweeter than the apple you randomly grab from the store bin.

Life is meant to be lived.  Right now, I am taking ownership of mine and building the foundation of my  future.  And as with all things that scare the sh*t out of you, sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump.

 

Accepting Criticism

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I’m currently sitting in Las Vegas with 4 hours to kill. My friend had a seminar to attend from 11-3, and since I didn’t have any other plans this weekend and don’t mind chilling on my own for a bit, I decided to tag along and get dropped off at the hotel early while he was attending his event. ¬†Originally, I was planning to get some grading done, create some teaching resources for next week, and write a blog post. However, all of these grand plans came crashing down with the post-arrival realization that I couldn’t access the wifi without a room number, and I couldn’t get a room number until check-in time at 3 pm.

I texted my friend dramatically telling him my situation, and he responded that I could write a blog on Notepad (I have yet to install Word on my week-old computer). I dramatically responded that my blogging fire was feeling defeated right now, and he shot back “that’s all it takes to defeat you?”

Of course, this immediately rankled me because a) I’m not a quitter by any means, b) he didn’t give me the sympathy I was angling for, and c) I was being melodramatic with the conversation-of course I wasn’t going to sit and sulk and accomplish nothing for 4 hours. So, with an “I’ll show you!” attitude, I opened my computer and started writing this post on, yes, Notepad. After my initial butthurt reaction died down, however, I was happy he reminded me that I didn’t need Word to accomplish at least one thing that I wanted to get done. This whole exchange got me thinking about reactions: our reactions to others, their reactions to us, and if the reactions we want/give are actually the reactions we/others need.

Even if we don’t consciously admit it, we almost always have a reaction that we expect or want from other people whenever we ask a question or tell them about something we have positively or negatively experienced. When we don’t get the reaction that we desire, it usually causes negative feelings. However, sometimes the reaction we want is not the reaction that we need. For example, when I screw up on my diet or don’t exercise for a while, I have friends who tell me that “it’s ok” and “you can handle it, you always work hard” and other flattering comments. I have other friends, though, who point blank say “you screwed up” and “stop slacking”. Initially, the first comments are obviously the nicer ones to receive, because they assuage your ego and allow you to sidestep responsibility for your screw-ups. In the long run, though, the hard-ass comments are the ones that spur you to actually accomplish your goals. When someone tells me that I’m ok, it’s so easy to ease off the gas and coast for a bit, but if someone points out my failures, it drives me to step on the pedal and go faster.

It always sucks when someone refuses to pander to you. We are used to being “politically correct” in all situations, and it’s much easier to make someone feel good about themselves then to point out where they could improve. This is especially true with friends. We don’t want to cause any rifts or hard feelings in the relationship, so it’s easier to gloss over certain things that we notice rather than take the trouble to point them out. This results in each individual giving everyone else a thumbs up to their face and a grimace at their back. The result? Everyone stays pretty much the same, lying to themselves and others, and avoiding looking directly in the mirror because no one ever has the kajones to actually point out out the lettuce that’s firmly wedged between your two front teeth.

Of course, I am not advocating for everyone to drop all pretenses and be glaringly honest about everything all of the time; there is nothing to be gained by constant criticism and gleefully pointing out your friend’s every falter. There is value, however, in not allowing ourselves to fall into the “you’re doing fine” trap, and giving honest, firm observations from a place of love. The intention behind the feedback makes all of the difference. If you hear something that stings from a person that you know actually wants to help you, it makes it easier to swallow. If you receive criticism from someone you know couldn’t care less about your actual goals, it drives to you a defensive position, which doesn’t lend itself to growth.

This also brings up the factor of truly desiring direction versus kind of wanting input, but not really. Superficially, I love to hear that I’m doing well and that I should continue doing exactly what I’m doing. In reality, however, I am striving to optimize every part of my life, which cannot be accomplished without an outside, critical eye. I am not so egotistical as to believe that I magically know how to do everything the very best way, every single time. As much as I hate hearing that I am failing in this area or that area, that knowledge is invaluable for growth if I choose to accept it. As hard as it is to acknowledge correction, especially from people close to me, I know that digging in my heels and defending my position will not lead me to expand, unless I truly feel that their criticism is unfounded or given out of spite. The underlying desire for true success allows me to humble myself and admit when the other person is right, even when it’s not at all what I want to hear. The people who give lip service to their ambitions yet don’t want to change anything to make them a reality are the people who become angry at tough love and cannot swallow other peoples’ honest assessments.

Overall, opening ourselves to the possibility of learning from all different sources allows us to evolve in ways that we never imagined. Any growth is uncomfortable; this means that we may have to admit things to ourselves that may be incredibly painful to face in order to go to the next level. There is never any real advancement, however, without some form of sacrifice, whether that be our time, our resources, or simply sacrificing our ego. Instead of focusing on what you are losing when faced with vexing realities, look at what possibilities are now open to you. If we choose to embrace the sunlight let in from the doors pried open by those with more knowledge than us rather than shying away from the sudden brightness that will temporarily hurt our eyes, we might just find a whole new world of exciting potential that has always lain just outside our self-imposed walls.

Intentional Adversity

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I listened to a snippet of a podcast today from Lewis Howes in which one theme was “we don’t grow when things are fabulous”. ¬†In other words, we tend not to expand ourselves when things are already going pretty great. ¬†It is only when we face hardship that we truly test our inner mettle and rise to or above the occasion.

We see examples of this all the time.  Jay Z grew up in the projects surrounded by drugs and crime, and is now worth over $500 million.  Oprah Winfrey was born in poverty and is now worth billions (BILLIONS!).  Even in nature, birds, snakes, and turtles must break out of their shell on their own in order to create the strength necessary to thrive in the wild.  There is no progress without adversity.

Of course, not all of us are ‘lucky’ enough to have such suffering early in life that creates that inner drive and hunger. ¬†Which brings me to a question: ¬†how can you progress if you, for all intents and purposes, face no difficulties? ¬†How can you raise to greater and greater heights if you are at a fairly satisfactory middle ground?

If you are fortunate enough to have made it to average, you need to create your own adversity. ¬†This means setting goals for yourself that will 100% cause you to struggle and fail and feel frustrated and cry and feel like it’s almost impossible. ¬†There is no glory for the boy who performs his perfunctory 30 minute treadmill walk and 20 lb bicep curls. ¬†The prestige come for the man who adds on the extra 25 lb plate and performs so many reps that he drops his weights to the floor with a snarl. ¬†There is no recognition for the girl who perpetually moves through the assigned, stereotypical stages that history has laid out for her. ¬†The kudos comes for the woman who chooses to achieve great things in her career while still being an amazing mother, ride or die friend, and kick-ass romantic partner. ¬†Giving yourself hurdles to jump and mountains to climb means that you are forcing yourself to grow, expanding your mind, and most importantly, constantly reaching for more.

Of course, there are those who are perfectly content to stay in the middle lane, and why shouldn’t they be? ¬†They have no reason to work hard. ¬†Once the average existence is set in motion, there is a momentum that keeps things going at a comfortable speed, with only a slight push needed every once in a while. ¬†Life is good.

But here’s the thing.

We only have one life.  Take a minute or 30 to really, truly think about that reality. One life. Singular.  Unique.  Specific.  Finite. One.

What are you going to do with yours?

I grew up reading the Bible, and while I am not religious now, I still value the wisdom that many of the stories have to offer.  There is one parable that is particularly relevant to this situation, where there are three servants who are each given one talent while their Master goes away.  The first two servants grew their talents in different ways and showed a profit upon his return, but the third played it safe, buried it, and presented the same talent on the day of reckoning.  How well do you think his one talent was received?

If you don’t take your one life that you are given and do everything in your power to make it as amazing as you can, how are you going to feel when you look back on your life? ¬†How much better would it be to recall a life full of adversity, failure, and eventual success versus a life of 80-100 identical, average, complacent years? ¬†No one tells stories about that one time they made a comfortable salary and repainted their white picket fence every three years. ¬†Impressive stories, mind-blowing stories, glorious stories are made of times when you are so despondent that you cannot imagine sinking any lower, or so dizzyingly high that you feel absolutely invincible.

If life does not give you the opportunity to look failure in the eye and try anyway, create that chance for yourself.  Choose to put yourself out there.  Choose to be scared.  Choose to strive for things just out of your reach so that you can evolve upwards and pluck the highest, sun-kissed fruit for yourself and those you love.

But these are just words.

Triumph is only obtained when words become action.  This whole idea of intentional adversity is something that I have struggled with recently, and is the whole reason that I started this blog.  When things are pretty good, why would I want to go for more?  Why should I risk possible failure at something big when I already have a sure thing here and now? Why on earth would I face potential defeat just for a small chance at greatness?

The answer?

Why not?

Master the Forge

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While I was being productive browsing Instagram the other day, I scrolled past the following quote:

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.

-William B. Sprague

I absolutely love this. ¬†In other words…

Don’t wait for the skill, create the skill. ¬†For much of my life, I avoided putting in large amounts of effort into anything in which I wasn’t already relatively skilled.¬† This meant I got really good at writing essays, and stayed mediocre at band, choir, and drama (my activities of choice in high school).¬† Last summer, I went out of my comfort zone and joined a flag football league just to try it out (I had never played a sport in my life).¬† I sucked.¬† Pretty badly.¬† But I stuck with it, and this past Tuesday night I played an awesome defensive game, good enough that the other team was commenting on how many flags I pulled.¬† While this was, to be fair, a bit of an anomaly, I nevertheless would have missed out on so much if I had shied away just because I never developed the coordination to make me excel at sports.

There are so many times where people don’t even try because they know they are going to be terrible at something.¬† Those are the people that are going to stay terrible.¬† However, if you accept that you are a beginner, no matter what age you are, you can open up so many different and awesome avenues for yourself simply by taking the time to build up the skill, no matter how painful it might be.

Don’t wait for the time, make the time.¬† This September, I finished my Masters degree in Teaching and Learning.¬† It took me six months since I took two classes at at time (I had also received credits for another program I had completed).¬† The kicker was I started it in March while teaching full-time.¬† I could have put it off and completed it over the period of a couple summers while I had time off, but I decided to put my nose to the grindstone and get it done.¬† There were many, many nights when I would be mentally exhausted from teaching all day and have to come home, open my laptop, and write papers and discussion posts until bedtime.¬† The thing is, I did it.¬† I could have made the argument to myself that I did not have the time with a full teaching load and working out and having a social life.¬† But I carved out the arduous hours that it took, and now I have a higher degree and a nice pay raise to go along with it.

There will never, ever be enough time to leisurely fit in every activity that you want to do.  We always claim to be too busy, yet somehow, there is always enough time for Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.  Time is the only thing that is distributed equally to everyone every. single. day.  If you really want something, you will find a way to make it happen.  Somehow, everything unimportant takes care of itself or fades away, and everything that is important finds its own niche in the 168 hours we are freely given each week.

Don’t wait for the money, create the money.¬† The universe is quite unfair in that, for most of us, there are so many ways that our money can be spent, and only a few avenues where money can be made.¬† I saw how my parents struggled while I was growing up, and I subconsciously knew that I never wanted to have that conflict in my life.¬† I took the traditional college route, and my income now supports me comfortably in a way that I never experienced as a child.¬† Now that I have established this standard for my life, I have realized I have even bigger dreams.¬† While I haven’t worked out the details just yet, I know myself well enough to be confident that sooner or later, I will accomplish them.

Most of us allow our money flow (or lack thereof) to dictate our life when really, we should be trying to devise any way possible to achieve our ideal vision.¬† Our lives are finite, and our existence is but a blip on the radar of the cosmos.¬† This alone should make us crave an experience so rich that it defies the gravity of mediocrity.¬† This conception is unique to each person, but majoritively, life experiences cost money.¬† If you have always wanted to travel the world, but are off put by the steep price tag, don’t wait for this experience to miraculously manifest: find a way to make it happen.

Don’t wait for friends, create the friends.¬† I have always been envious of people who have large groups of friends that are always doing fun, cool events together.¬† When I moved to California, I was in a relationship and therefore didn’t establish a friend group.¬† When we broke up, I found myself adrift with no one to remotely consider a chum save my coworkers.¬† Rather than sit at home alone, I did everything I would normally do with a buddy alone, including going out to the bars, eating out, and attending various events.¬† Fast forward a year and a half later, I am living with one of my best friends (whom I met at a bar, mind you) and I have a whole other group of friends from work and flag football.

The moral of the story is, don’t be afraid to do things alone.¬† Nine times out of ten, people label things as weird because they are too afraid to do it themselves.¬† Doing public things alone requires confidence, and people gravitate towards confidence over all other attractive qualities.¬† If you don’t want to spend time with you, why would anyone else?¬† If you want to have friends that love the beach, go to the beach.¬† If you want to have friends that motivate you in the gym, go to the gym.¬†¬† If you want to have friends that are spiritual, go to a church or other arena of spirituality.¬† The point is, you are in control.¬† Make yourself available, and you’ll be surprised how many awesome connections you can make.

Don’t wait for the perfect love, create the perfect love.¬† I was married at age 19, and divorced at 23.¬† Those four years were the most miserable years of my life because I tried to force love between two people who simply were not compatible with each other in any way.¬† As with any type of pain, however, it has bestowed upon me so much knowledge about myself, my desires, and who my future spouse needs to be.

You will never find someone who completely fits your vision of a perfect partner.¬† That is a burden of expectation that no one should be forced to bear.¬† I do know, however, that you can find someone who fits your standards, gives you secret butterflies, and makes you feel like Rachel McAdams or Ryan Gosling in your own personal romantic comedy.¬† The mistake that so many people make is letting that person go when it gets hard.¬† A perfect love is only made perfect by both parties’ belief in its perfection.¬† Once the focus shifts from the flawless movie-screen moments to the inevitable rocky off-set interactions, the sparkle fades.¬† The difference between a life-long love and a fond memory is the elbow grease that both people put in to keep the iridescence radiating, time after time after time.

Everything that you want in life is within your grasp.¬† Sometimes, however, people treat their life like it’s controlled by a remote that’s over on the other side of the couch; we all know how many times the channel simply stays the same.¬† Don’t wait for the ideal time to make your visions come to life.¬† The ideal time will never, ever come.¬† Get off the couch.¬† Create your own channel.¬† Inspire others to do the same.¬† Become the ruler of your own forge, and let the resulting sparks ignite your life into a full blaze of masterful existence.