Living in the future

“Babe, the recycling truck doesn’t have men hanging off the back of it anymore,” I told Rebecca. “There’s just the driver, and he controls a robotic arm that reaches out, grabs the recycling can, and dumps it in the back. We’re living in the future.”

“Neat. You want to go work for them now?”

“Yeah. Kind of.”

I wish I was a cop

Processed with Moldiv

Growing up, I loved CHiPs. Before I could even tell time, I knew when CHiPs was coming on. Somewhere there’s a photo of me in the early 80s riding my tricycle with a police helmet, sunglasses, and a pistol.

Needless to say I’ve always loved the idea of being a cop. Sadly I never took that route. But, one of my best friends did. Despite being way, way too old for such shenanigans, he decided to become a cop. We helped design the logo for his class at the police academy.

Today I opened my mail box and found an unexpected box. Inside was this hat, with the logo, class motto, class number, and my name. This hat is probably the closest I’ll ever get to the police academy, and it’s also one of my most prized possession.

David, I’m proud of you, brother.

Living the dream.

A vicious cycle

For people looking at starting a business, I thought I’d give you a rundown of how my brain works when it comes to taking time off, 9 years into this thing.

“You really need to take a day off,” my brain said to me early Saturday morning.

“I don’t have time to take a day off,” I responded, “Do you not see the mountain of things we have to accomplish?”

My hand flew up out of nowhere and slapped me in the face.

“What was that?” I yelled.

“That was me,” my brain said, “I can control things like that. And I’m going to keep doing it until I get a day to rest.”

“Look, I don’t…”

My other hand flew to my cheek, stinging it.

“Stop it!” I said.

“Nope, you give me a day off or this continues.”

“Fine, I will give you a day off, but let me just get this one last…”

Slap.

“That’s getting really old. Stop it. Fine. Day off. Starting now.”

An awkward silence ensues for 10 minutes.

“So what if I just do this one small…”

Slap.

“Listen, stop being unreasonable, I can’t just go cold turkey. What if I do a little bit today, and less tomorrow, and then you’ve had most of a weekend off. Then by next weekend I’ll be okay with literally doing no work?”

Slap.

“Why would that not work?”

“Because you won’t take next weekend off. If history tells us anything it’s that my next real day off will be in the next 90 days, not seven.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“But there’s this one thing that will only take 10 minutes.”

Slap.

“It’s going to be like this all day, isn’t it?”

Slap.

The never-ending story

There are things I know I need to do more often. Things like writing, planning marketing for my business, and just taking time off.

These things are good for me, but I rarely take time for them. Usually it’s because there area a hundred other things I could be doing for my clients with that time. If I’m going to be doing something, it seems like it should be something to chip away at that never-ending pile of client tasks.

But, did you notice the key words in that last sentence?

Never ending.

Never. Ending.

The funny part is, I’m always busy. Even when I look back at times when this business wasn’t bringing in enough money to pay our bills, I was busy. I have always worked hard. I have always pushed myself and done more than I probably should have. Always.

And now that the business is taking care of us and growing at an insane pace. Nothing has changed. My days feel very much like the days when we weren’t making it. I get up, tackle as many things as I can throughout the day (and some of the night) and then go to bed exhausted, never pausing to do the things I need to do. Why is it that I’m the same amount of busy in a growing company versus a failing one? I don’t know. But what I do know, is I need to take time for things that are important, because there will never be a time when I feel caught up enough to do them.

Writing
I need to write more. I love it. I’m sure my high school journalism teacher would be happy/incredibly angry to see how much I enjoy writing now. It gets thoughts out of my head and on paper (screen). It allows me to think through problems and topics in ways that I don’t normally if I’m not trying to put them into words for the world to read.

Marketing
I own a marketing company, and sell good marketing ideas to companies every day. And, yet, I don’t take time to plan mine out. I still do it, but it tends to be in more of an “oh crap I need to get something done this month” manner, rather than a nicely calendared plan (which happens to be what I counsel all my clients to do).

Rest
I’ve never been good at this and probably won’t ever be. If you look back through this blog, you’ll see an awful lot of “I really need to take time off” posts. More and more, though, I can’t push myself to work 100 hours a week too often. I can work through the weekend, and sometimes have to, but when I do, I can see I’m much less productive the week after. Maybe someday I’ll figure this out.

The mountain of tasks staring me in the face today won’t all be accomplished today. I hope I’ve learned that that’s okay. The world keeps turning. Clients keep paying. We do a good job and we meet deadlines. I think I can keep doing that and take times for some small things that matter.

Just get it done

I’ve never been a believer in New Year’s resolutions. There is not a magical switch that flips from December 31st at 11:59 p.m. to January 1st at 12:00 a.m. that makes you a better person. You aren’t somehow better equipped to stop doing bad things or start doing good things.

Now don’t get me wrong I do believe in getting better every year, but I believe laying the groundwork for that begins way before January 1st. My one goal this year is to stop procrastinating and just get things done. I started working on this way before January 1st so I think there’s some small chance of success.

This last year was like every other year, full of challenges and joys. My business grew by just under 300%. I learned a lot, including that I can’t count on always being healthy while working 100 hours a week. I’ve made adjustments, including getting some help and following my new rule: just get it done.

It’s easy when the sky is blue and the sun is shining to procrastinate. Things are so nice, I’ll worry about this tomorrow. The problem is there’s no guarantee tomorrow won’t be stormy. I learned that in a rapidly growing business tomorrow always looks different than you expect. Always.

So this year, instead of putting things off, I’ll try to force myself to get it done when I can. If that happens, then when the storms come I won’t feel the weight of so many unfinished tasks. I was sick for about two-and-a-half months straight during the late summer and early fall. Not one time during that stretch did I just get to take off and be sick. No time to heal. No time to rest. Granted we did as much business in August as we did in 6 months of 2012, but still. Had I known that was coming I probably would have buckled down more in June and July to prepare.

I’m not hoping for another 300% growth spurt. I’m not sure I could survive. But whatever God decides 2014 looks like, I’m going to try to just get it done and see where that leaves me on January 1st, 2015.

Healthy

There’s always that moment in the middle of being sick when you think, “why am I not more thankful for my health when I have it?”.

I got sick the second week in August, then it stretched to the third week, then the fourth week, and then most of the way through September too. I don’t get sick often and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been that sick before. Throughout it I just kept hoping I’d get over it so I could wake up in the morning and just feel good again.

Well it finally happened and you know what, I’ve been much more thankful for health the past two weeks. I find my thoughts often going back to those weeks when I just felt terrible all the time. If nothing else, maybe having a more grateful heart is worth dealing with all that.

32

It’s 3:04 a.m. as I write this. I can’t remember what time I was born 32 years ago. I think it was in the 3:00 a.m. range, but I could be wrong.

For whatever reason I can’t sleep.

32 years down.

I wonder what God has for me in the next one.

Early in the morning

Over the last couple of months I’ve started getting up early. I’m amazed at the difference it makes in my day. If I get up at 5:00AM, by the time the rest of the world is working at 8:00AM, I already have a few hours under my belt.

I really notice the difference when I don’t get up early. Yesterday morning I didn’t get up until 7:15. The entire day felt like I was under the gun. I was constantly running and my stress level was just higher.

Getting up early seems to lead to less stressful days for me and allows more creativity. Granted, I have to be in bed by 10:00PM at the latest, but that’s a fair tradeoff for more productivity and less stress. It’s been one of the best changes I’ve ever made.

30 Minutes

What’s the one thing you could do this year that would change your life?

What would that goal look like if you spent 30 minutes a day on it?

Just 30 minutes. Over the course of a year that adds up to over seven and a half days. Over a week of completely uninterrupted work. 182.5 hours. That’s a lot of production when focused on one thing.

For me, it’s writing. What is it for you?

Burning the New Year’s resolutions list

Every January 1st: “This is the year. I’m losing weight.”

Every February 1st: “Well crap.”

I’ve learned not to do New Year’s resolutions. Usually when they are drafted, I’m filled with so much hope. I’m generally coming off a few days rest between Christmas and New Year’s day. I’m optimistic the next year will be different.

I fail to ask why it will be different. It won’t be different on its own. You see, and this may come as a bit of a shock, there is nothing magical about January. Nothing.

That’s why New Year’s resolutions never work. We don’t take steps ahead of time and plan to do the things required to be different. 2011 was very different for me because I had a plan well before January 1st. This year is the same. I have some lofty goals for 2012. I started working on those goals months ago.

Am I going to lose weight this year? Yes.

Am I going to make more money this year? Yes.

Am I going to spend more time with my family this year? Yes.

But only because these are more than just goals. These are fully realized plans I’ve been working on for a while. I figure if you aren’t several steps down the road to completing your plan by January 1st, it probably won’t be any different by December 31st.

But maybe that’s just me. Maybe everyone else always achieves their New Year’s resolutions…

2011

This has been a year for which I’m very grateful. It saw us hit a turning point in my business that will, I pray, drive it for the next decade. It had its ups and downs as with all years, but the ups where higher than ever and the downs really weren’t that low.

We were really blessed in 2011. I’m thankful for that and hope 2012 will be just as much fun.

My prayer for you is that however 2011 went, the next year will be even better.

All inclusive

All inclusive vacations should also encompass hiring a therapist to help with the transition back to normal life.

Days not filled with beaches, long naps and great food are just something I’m not prepared to deal with at this point.

Planning for a day off

I’ve always been very bad at taking days off. With business being really good this year, it’s been even worse.

Finally I’ve learned I have to plan for a day off. It’s not just going to sneak up on me. It’s not just a matter of taking off, I have to also get enough done ahead of time that I don’t spend my day off fielding client calls or worrying about the amount of things I have to get done.

So last night I planned ahead. I worked until 11 in the evening, finishing off the things on my list that I knew would come back to haunt me today. Here I set, watching the Rangers’ game from last night. Outside of also watching today’s Rangers’ game, I have absolutely no plans and already feel more relaxed.

I just need to start planning for a day off.

Cell phones are the new He-Man

Am I insane for thinking it’s insane to give a fifth grader a cell phone? I realize there might be a few fifth graders out there who have legitimate need of a cell phone. I get that. However, you can’t convince me that the majority of my son’s fifth grade class needs a cell phone.

This comes up because Colton was being made fun of because he didn’t have a cell phone. Back in my day it was He-Man. My mom thought He-Man was scary so I didn’t have any of the toys or watch the cartoon. Then one of my friends wouldn’t come to my house because I didn’t have any He-Man toys. My mom, being awesome, quickly bought me some He-Man toys so that my friend (who I realize now probably wasn’t a great friend) would come play.

But a cell phone?

I’m sorry, I can’t justify buying my 10-year-old a cell phone and a plan. It’s for emergencies, some will say. Sure. But you know what the boys were using their’s for when they made fun of Colton? Playing tag. He had to try to find them and they all coordinated with their cell phones so he couldn’t win. Yeah. Big emergency there.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being a cranky old man, but the very idea seems goofy to me. Am I wrong?