on life, ambitions, and dreams


Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

The Side Project: All You Need is One

what you really look like when you multitask by ryan ritchie

In college, my screenwriting professor said that down in LA, every other person has a screen play in their back pocket. In these days of the hipster generation, I’d say that every other person has a startup, a side-project, or even a business that they’re working on in their spare time. And in tech communities like Seattle, I’d say that’s every person.

Ideas are everywhere. And the Internet makes it so easy to turn a ‘hobby’ into a business.

Are you a habitual side project starter?

You are full of ideas. You look at the world and problems that need fixing. And you know exactly how to do it.

You think up new projects and jump on them.  When you start, it’s like you’ve caught a fever — you brainstorm, purchase the domain name, snag the Twitter handle, and tell everyone you know about what you’re working on. You can’t be stopped.

But then it happens again. You get a new idea and it’s better than the one before.  You place your current project on hold or abandon it entirely.

The cycle repeats itself.

Question, are you jumping from project to project, because:

  1. You haven’t found that ‘one’ project that you really, really, really want to focus on?
  2. You believe that you can work on every single project at the same time (or switch as you follow your folly)?
  3. You don’t have the confidence that any of your ideas are ‘good enough’ to succeed?

Stop juggling side projects. Commit.

Projects, like goals, are most successful when you focus on one or two at a time. That way you can make an honest, full-blown effort at seeing one of those ideas through before choosing to go all the way or jump ship.

You need to specialize and focus on one project at a time. It’s why top companies focus their entire business on one thing, either having the best price, the best quality product, or the best service than anyone else in their industry. It’s why Zappos is known for great customer service, Southwest Airlines for price, and Apple for product (though the fan boys do help).

If you juggle too many projects at one time, you’re bound to drop one or keep them in the air at half mast. And multitasking may be bad for your brain.

If you’re constantly starting new projects, stop. Pick one and start working on it. Follow your curiosity and see where it goes. It might be everything you hoped it would be or it might be an utter failure. If it’s the latter, then scrap it and move on to the next one.

You may be surprised by what happens when you focus.

Photo credit: ryantron.

Imbalance, Burnout & Change: 2011 Year in Review

head, shoulder, knees and toes, knees and toes - aye_shamus

There are two kinds of end of the year/New Year blog posts to write. The first is a reflection of the previous year – everything you did, everything you didn’t, what you’re proud of, and what you’re not. And the second is a laundry list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for how to make the next year rock much harder than the last.

And then there’s a third, which doesn’t reveal anything about the writer but gives you, the reader, a map of how you can stick to your resolutions for the first time ever.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work Out

New Year’s Resolutions are like plans – you write them for how you’re feeling (usually fat) at that time (post-holidays) for the future (that has yet to be written) – and they never work out. They look great on paper, but horrible in execution because they all lack one thing – foresight and the understanding that you have to sacrifice something to accomplish what you need (and the ability to adjust to continue the momentum).

Instead of resolutions or plans, I make goals. I did this unknowingly as I entered 2010 and consciously as I entered 2011. I met the three goals I set in 2010 but not all of the goals I set for myself in 2011. While all of this past year’s goals looked great in December 2010, by mid-2011, an imbalance between work and life happened and parts of those goals were prioritized while others were not. Plus I set too many goals.

I don’t feel like 2011 was a failure, but just plain weird. In the Christmas letter John and I sent to our family, I summarized the year as one of “change,” and by God, if that isn’t true.

2011 started with a lot of oomph, passion, and excitement as things were set in place that I had been working hard towards achieving in the previous year and a half. But I got burnt out early, outgrew that opportunity faster than I imagined, and a new opportunity revealed itself and I jumped on it. If 2011 was a shape it would look like a giant “U” with a big, deep dip in the middle.

A New Template for Plotting World Domination in 2012

Earlier this week, my husband and I spent the evening working through Benny Hsu of Get Busy Living’s 2011 Year in Review Worksheet. What I like about his template is it focuses on how the previous year ended so you can reflect on what you’re proud of, what you accomplished, what you learned, what didn’t work, and where you’d like to see yourself in the future.

Benny’s worksheet helps you see where you want to go by reviewing where you came. It’s similar to racing a car – they say that you should look at where you want the car to go, not at the wall that you don’t want to run into.

Goals, plans, and strategies are the same way – look at where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go. (more…)

That Blog Post About My Cats

Minnie and Vito on the bed

There’s a cat on my desk and she’s growling at the cat on my floor that is sniffing around and has been worried about her all day. He, the cat on the floor, is about to be attacked by the cat on my desk.

I am in the middle of the battlefield trying to write my third-to-last blog post for National Blog Posting Month and I am dangerously close to turning this blog into a diary.


It’s funny. Again, I’m staring at my content calendar that has been telling me to write a post about the etymology of certain words and I really don’t want to write it. I don’t want to write it because I don’t have my point of view on that post fully thought out. I don’t want to write it because I have another blog post to write that has a more time sensitive publication date that I am (apparently) way more interested in than the deadline of this post that is midnight o’clock.

Isn’t it funny how the thing we want to do is never the thing that we want to be doing?

And Minnie, the cat on my desk, just chased Vito, the cat who is not on my desk. She has chased him because he is in her space – the space formerly known of as my office.

I guess I should be thrilled by this attack. Not because she attacked the Vito but because she’s sick. In case you were wondering, the worst way to start off a post-holiday week is in the veterinary’s office; the same office that put down the first cat that you and your husband and you owned together in your adult life nine months prior. And you’re there, alone, with your new kitty who just this last weekend you convinced your husband that you would like to keep.

No wonder I felt really wonky day today.

Minnie Stalks Vito

Minnie’s an Alpha. She came to us after being abandoned by her previous owners who moved out and literally left her in the house, telling no one. Her human grandma found her. And John found Minnie through a friend-of-a-friend’s Facebook. He saw per big blue eyes and her Siamese mix face and he fell in love.

We didn’t even ask if she got along with other cats before we made the appointment to meet her. That’s when I knew that as soon as we saw her, she’d be ours.

Old Man, may he rest in peace, passed away in April. We still haven’t opened his box of ashes that are sitting on my shelf, three feet from this computer.

Losing a pet opens a wound that never closes.

Old Man left behind a brother, Vito, named after the Godfather but has the personality closer to a teddy bear, likes to cuddle. He’s not an Alpha, though after bringing Minnie into the house, I keep hoping that he will be. As I said, he’s a teddy bear. Non-territorial, likes to show you his belly, and has the largest big green eyes of innocence that I’ve ever seen.

And then there’s Minnie, who was five-and-a-half pounds of fury when we adopted her in June and I’m so Goddamned proud that she’s up to eight-and-a-half pounds today. Cats come to our house to get fattened up.

And Minnie is eating again while Vito watches her from a chair. Which means she has her appetite back. Which means we’ve made progress if she doesn’t get sick overnight.

Tomorrow the vet will call me with results from her blood work. If anything comes back positive, that means that something is really wrong. If it comes back negative than that means that we don’t know why she is sick, but just was.

As soon as Minnie decides she’s finished with her bland, wet food, Vito jumps in to lick her bowl clean, like every good brother should.

Why do we always need to search for the ‘why’?

John Kimball and Minnie

Picturing My True Identity

Laura in Madrid, Spain, Summer 2000

Tonight I had dinner with my friend Harmony who is taking a 100-day break from working and blogging about it. Yesterday she shared an old photo of herself that gave her insight to one of the happiest moments of her life and insight into her true self.

But it’s more than just a photo; it’s about finding who you are based on who you were from your past. As Harmony puts it in her blog post:

Right now I have two books on my nightstand (from the library). Redirect by Timothy D. Wilson and Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis. I am finished with the former and just a chapter into the latter. Tim may not be as good at writing as Jeff is, but he is a pretty damn good scientist. He proposes that so many of our societies ills and traumas could be cured with story editing. He describes a method for re-writing how you see yourself. By changing our own self image, we can be happier, more successful and healthier – and this is all proved with scientifica studies.

If we could merge this “surprising new science of psychological change” with the message in Jeff’s book, “how sharing in the digital age improves the way we work and live,” you would end up with more or less what I am doing here with this blog.

Tonight when I got home, I went through my boxes of photos to find one that represented the image of how I see myself. The one that stuck out the most is the one at the top of this post. This one was taken in Madrid, Spain during the summer of 2000. I was 14 and on a student ambassador trip to Italy, France, and Spain. It was a summer of self-discovery and figuring out who I was, which is something that is bound to happen as a teenager studying abroad or traveling internationally with other teenagers.

This photo was taken before our final dinner of the three-week long trip. And the girl pictured here turned into the one below – a freshman in high school, with confidence of steel, true friends, and blue hair.

When I think of my own self image, this is who I think of.

Laura and Jaclyn, freshman year

American Wisdom

sticks and stones, may break my bones

Never eat alone. Do one thing every day that scares you.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Every expert was a beginner once.
Learn one new thing every day.
Take time to smell the roses.
Leave while the party is still going.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Figures of speech. Metaphors. Words to live by. Idioms. Quotes of the day.

Sarah Peck shared 52 lessons she wrote down in the year before turning 28, and I can’t get a few of those out of my head.

I want to try them. I want to learn from them.

What is it about her list of wisdom she shared, in little fortune-cookie-sized bites, that is leaving an impression on me and makes me want to listen? What is it about, literally, fortune cookies and their abstract bit of knowledge that makes every single one us want to find a way to adapt it towards into what’s true for our own life?

What is it about those completely random, fictional fortunes that make us believe that it is revealing a flicker of our future and our fate?

Photo Credit: ashley rose