This is not working

I’m going to mainly blame it on my ADD-ness. I say yes to too many things. I’m not really a people pleaser - I just like fun and interesting projects. But my mind is very much a single track - it can only play one tune. It can not multitask. It is also pretty bad at switching around. So quite honestly I’ve failed. But I think I can reorder things more intelligently. For instance creating an habit of early rising would greatly benefit all the others. So next Sunday I’ll be adopting early rising for three weeks, with another habit.

Here’s to this go-around.

Progress

Well all:

Day one - complete fail. I’m almost glad that on the first day I utterly failed. It reminds me that I am completely and utterly human and that perfection is not the end goal.

Day two - I realized that walking to school doesn’t really make this challenge fair - I get an hour of walking in by default and can of course multitask praying. Is this cheating? I’m not sure. Of course I want to say no, but maybe I should say it is…

Habits

As promised, here are the goals I’ve tasked myself to develop as habits and in general develop greater self discipline. I’ll be starting today with number one in Personal (walking) and number one in Faith (praying). These will last 3 weeks where I will then be starting on number 1 in Family/Friends and number 1 in career. 

Personal

1.       Walk 1 hour - reflection time, low-level exercise, also time to pray - actively listen to music - take pictures - and simply observe the world in the moment

2.       Read 1 hour fiction - most likely before bed. - Better writing and thinking, scheduled imagination time. Improve sleep.

3.       Early mornings – good sleep sched. In bed by 10PM, up at 5 AM. I’ll have to sacrifice many things I think to accomplish this, but the regularity of maintaining the same ample hours every night should work wonders. 

4.       Write down everything that is curious or that occurs to me (journal) - I’ve often longed to be more intentional about writing down thoughts, quotes, stories, products, anything that strikes my fancy and that is interesting to me. It allows one to if nothing else develop an attitude of self-aware observation

Family/Friends

1.       Time with friends/family daily - Friends and family are a really important of my yet I don’t always make an intentional effort to spend really good quality time with them. 21 days of happiness.

2.       Days of gratitude – tell friends what they mean to me. Write letters or emails telling people why they matter to me.

3.       Pray for friends - I need to think more actively more often of my friends - their needs and struggles. Love them more

4.       Note everything about family and friends, important dates/projects/joys/failures – follow up. Similar to last - be more intentional about noting things that are important to my friends and followup about them. Too easy to forget.

Career

1.       Photos - make more photos daily. Document the human condition and my life. Share these images. Train my eye see more beauty.

2.       Blog posts – regimented content creation (writing) - Create, create, create, ship, ship, ship. Recognize that creating thoughts and writing them down in many ways outweighs reading others.

3.       Emails – connect professionally - send an email to someone who I would be afraid to contact or who I didn’t think would respond.

4.       Regimented learning - Teach myself a new subject for 1 hour per day. In this case - likely programming.

Community/Faith

1.       Pray 1 hour per day - take my concerns to God. Recognize my depravity and rebuke my pride.

2.       Read word 1 hour per day - Rely on it alone to sustain me and give me wisdom.

3.       Make the gospel known in daily conversation - I’m not trying to convert people but simply speak of the joy and hope that I have found. It matters.

4.       Memorize scripture. (inspired by Jessica Neville) - be sure to memorize the word so that I can be ready for every situation. 2 Timothy 2:14-17

What are you resolved to do? Email me at jeffchuber@gmail.com and I will post them here!

Experiments to Habits - Resolved Project

Merry 2011! As part of The Resolved Projects, this semester I will be commencing a series of self-experiments, sixteen in total, four categories, two concurrently, and three weeks in duration each. These four categories come from the Sternbergh Model of holistic thinking, Peronal, Family/Friends, Career, Community/Faith. I am focusing on two at a time to keep things manageable. And three weeks, or twenty-one days is the estimated amount of time that it takes to develop a new habit. I do this for two reasons. One - the realization that I am so far from perfect, but want to draw closer. And two - the realization that I suck at self-discipline and doing anything to develop that is a worthy aim. I encourage you to join me. Take a little while and fill this out for yourself. 

List four desired for Personal - can be personal development related, health exercise, meditation, or any other habit you wished you had that mostly affects you personally

List four desired for Family/Friends - Be intentional about spending time with family and friends, thinking of them, caring for them, reaching out to them, making new friends, cutting off bad friends, expressing gratitude to friends, giving gifts, new activities, emails, texts, etc. (remember something you will do every day for twenty one days, make it attainable, if complex, plan it out, and tell someone else)

List four desired goals/habits for Career - Anything related to the professional development your life, this can be learning, sharing, teaching, writing, thinking, networking, skills-based. The key here is make it attainable and something you can do every day. Build your citadel, brick by brick.

List four desired goals/habits for Community/Faith - For me this will be expressed in the development of my relationship with Christ. Prayer, reading the word, sharing the gospel, living the gospel, serving others, etc. Community is used as a catch-all for things of a higher purpose or higher cause, something that you can invest yourself in and be a part of.

Start next Sunday. Jan 9 - Jan 30. Run your first personal, and first Community/Faith goal. Write it on your hand, stick in your pocket, text yourself, tell other to text you about it, put notes on your fridge, on your mirror, just be intentional about it, and disciplined. The key to creating the habit is continuity. I’ll be sharing what I’m choosing in the coming days and weeks. 

Resolved . Project

I’ll be starting a new series of posts, focusing on living a resolved life. I’m calling it The Resolved Project. Please join me. The task is this: to write a list of resolutions by which to live one’s life. This task is emboldened by its timeliness in youth and punctuated by those great men that have done so before, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin and others. 

Life isn’t a board game

Thinking. Learning. Reading. Wisdom. Knowledge. Doing life well. All these words mean so much to me. Intentionally moving through life. Not accepting the status quo unquestioned. Deciding for myself, for my future family, for those whose lives I affect what life should look like. Some things are obvious, but most are, to me, very subtle shades of gray. Some people are content with facts, realities, living life largely as they get it, and are happy in that. To them, I wish them the best. Whether unfortunately or fortunately - I am constantly forced to delve into reasons, motives, presuppositions, why I do something, why others do what they do. I want all to be illuminated by the light of truth. 

I have started and stopped four blog posts now. There is just so much to write about, so much to discuss, the Whys almost never stop, the answers to the Whys nearly always hidden. A truly examined life is probably characterized by the realization of how much one realizes to what extent their lives are unexamined. That thought scares me. I have to appreciate the pursuit is the goal, not the end. The burden of proof, the burden of tackling something as large as doing all intentionally is daunting. But. I think it is a worthy challenge. I can only hope I am worth of it. I want my life to be characterized by the rush of the Divine coupled with the realization of death. Divinity and Death demand reflection, demand action. 

I have built a (very) incomplete list of aspects and activities included in life - and consequently wonderful subjects for blog posts. If the first step to action is realization, realizing the scope and breadth of the challenge for me makes it able to be accomplished. I want to share it with you.

Health, Diet, Exercise, Splurging, Reading, Material Possessions, Wealth, Doing “what you love”, Education, Role as Husband, Role as Father, Role as friend, Friends, Family, Pets/Animals, Writing, Conventionality, Purpose, Coffee, Sleep, The preparing of Food, Design, Hygge, Travel, Languages, Technology, Laptops, Cell Phones, Social Media, Entrepreneurship, Faith, Reflection, Money, Time as enjoyment vs investment, Career, Self-branding, Photography, Relationships, Self-discipline, Giving + Service, Music, Entertainment, Art, Movies, Museums, Eternality, Polymath, Risk, Ideal-self, Vision, Do, Creativity, Repetition, Change, Politics, Alcohol, Sports, Video Games, Legacy, Fascination, Curiosity, Poetry, Life’s daily interactions, Conversation, Fun, Business, Role Models, Nature, Gardening, Driving, Speaking, Wine, Happiness, Relaxation, Peace, Love, Extra-ordinary, My prosthesis, Image, Society, Self-reliance, Teaching, Investing, TV, News, Blogs, Cleanliness, Church, Time, Core competency, Thanks, Community, Cars/Transportation, Texting, Email, Mentors, Architecture, Incubators, Smoking, Ambition, Home-Design, Wisdom, Travel

What did I miss?

"There was one who was great in his strength, and one who was great in his wisdom, and one who was great in hope, and one who was great in love; but greater than all was Abraham, great with that power whose strength is powerlessness, great in that wisdom whose secret is folly, great in that hope whose outward form is insanity, great in that love which his hatred of self."

— Soren Kierkegaard

How to waste 28 hours per week!! Answer: TV

Image By Stéfan, Used with Creative Commons License

*** Reader beware: this post is an exaggerated and slightly (ok, extremely) sarcastic analysis. It may be offensive. *****

Seriously, the television, from now on to be referred to in its short form “TV” (tee-vee), is likely the single worst invention in the history of man kind. 

  • TV wastes my time. I only get to pick from a short list of channels and programming. I have to watch the programming on the TV’s schedule. And I’m repeatably forced to watch advertisements and other crap (excuse my french) I simply don’t care about. 
  • That is assuming that I can find something I care about on the television. Which 9 times out of 10, I can’t. (likely closer to 99 out of 100) And no, Mythbusters doesn’t count as something you care about. Just because it’s interesting doesn’t mean you should care about it.
  • TV encourages laziness and boring people. The average american spends 28 hours per week watching TV. 28 hours. Over an average lifetime (28 hours*52 weeks*60 years) thats 87,360 hours of TV. Nearly 10 years. If you take out sleeping time (*1.25 (25% of day sleeping)) 10 years becomes 12.5 years. Sitting on one’s butt. And people wonder why America’s children are the least competitive globally largely than they ever have been.
  • TV is not interactive. You sit and watch. No interaction included. Browsing channels, adjusting the volume, or programming your DVR to record Jersey Shore does not count as interaction. I’m sorry. Mental laziness is free! free! free! For 3 easy payments of your worth to humanity. 
  • TV is not content creation - While consumption of material is all well and good. And I recognize the place of entertainment in de-stressing and spending time with family and friends. The human race does not move forward through the mindless consumption - only through ‘original’ thought and creation. Now you may argue that spending 28 hours of TV watching per week including the cult classics of Jersey Shore, MTV Cribs, Friends, and Sex & The City are inspiring your genius which will manifest in it’s fullest form after the fall season is over. OK. Let me know.

Types of content TV produces:

  • News: I can get online faster, more up to date, and filter easier by what I care about. 
  • Sports: don’t follow
  • Talk Shows: Decently interesting. I am a Charlie Rose fan. - I can get this online. In fact most interesting content is not on TV, but on the web. TED.com!
  • Sitcoms etc: Ok-Ok, you caught me. I watch The Office and Top Gear (British version) more or less religiously. But … I watch them online. On my own time. They make me laugh =). Maybe TV is good for something! (this amounts to ~30 min per week averaged over a year)
  • Kid’s programming: Don’t follow anymore. =(

That’s all I can think of. What am I missing?

**Sarcasm over**

While there are a multitude and a half of great reasons to never sit in front of a television, I do it too. Michael Scott, Dwight K Schrute make me laugh. Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond of Top Gear- they make me laugh even harder. Plus I get to see cool cars go in circles on that show. Which is an obvious plus.

I’m still trying to discover what I feel the balance of entertainment is in life. 28 hours, I would argue is clearly way too much. Then again, an existence of 80% work and 15% academic inquiry, and 5% sleep is hardly admirable or desirable. What is the entertainment / work balance? Assuming entertainment gets some % - does the TV make your cut for worthwhile entertainment?

The Greatest tool I’ve found for focus and time well spent: Coffee

Coffee. The nectar of the gods or the symbol of a culture obsessed with working 100 hour weeks and sleeping 4 hour nights? Of course - the culture of coffee is extremely contextual. While American coffee could be stereotyped as Starbucks’ Venti Peppermint Frappacinos, to-go, European coffee is the late afternoon classic late enjoyed in bone white dishware with friends (real or books), in ambiance (bookstore/coffee shop, low lighting, great smells, candles comfy chairs, or the spring garden, birds, and flowers) for hours on end. While I ask you, reader, to please excuse my obvious exaggeration and glaring bias - there is a reason that Starbucks did not succeed in Denmark, Sweden, or a over a large part of the continent. In my opinion, it is because coffee is respected for what it is, and what it does.

My saga of the bean began in high school. My mom would bring me up a half cup of my dad’s strong, dark, dare I say, thick French roast black coffee. Perhaps giving me this veritable bolt of bitterness and caffeine was simpler than convincing me that life outside the warmth and comfort of my down comforter was worthwhile. Especially during the winter. Coffee has served me in many utilitarian ways over the last eight or so years:

  • Getting me out of bed in the mornings (Thanks Mom)
  • Staving off the afternoon lull 
  • Keeping me awake for the late night study-a-thons and the occasional all-nighter
  • A good excuse to go somewhere and sit.

Go somewhere and sit. In this I find the real reason I enjoy coffee. It isn’t even necessarily the beverage itself. I do enjoy the combination of warmth radiating to my hands, lips, throat and core, a sweet nutty bitterness, full and robust flavor, and a distinct smell paired well with old books, journals, and graphite. (and of course the little rush of endorphins from the caffeine) What the experience of drinking coffee means to me is not altogether foreign to the US, but it is not common. And that is:

  • Where else can you sit alone and not be judged?
  • Where else can you sit just for the purposes of reading, thinking, writing, listening to music and 
  • Slowing down. Stopping. Sitting. Reflecting.
  • Talking with friends about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
  • Sharing an experience with friends brought, or the friends assumed sitting around me. (people watching) The smells, the sounds, the flavors, the light, and the general slow passing of time - a common experience. 

For these reasons I have the utmost respect for the invaluable service a coffee shop provides to the community. I know the shops I frequently attend pull double duty as community centers, a place to catch up and be caught up, seeing friends you didn’t think you’d see, asking the owner about what bean tastes like what, or the barrista giving you your specialty drink without whip. Because he knows you like it like that. Maybe someday I can give a similar experience and service to others. If it promotes community, reflection, and sincere thoughts - what could be more valuable?

Photos Copyright Jeff Huber 2010. All taken in Copenhagen at the Cafe, Paludan BogCafe, http://paludan-cafe.dk/

Community after College: It doesn’t have to die

Machu Picchu by szeke

Being surrounded by people who inspire me, who have a voracious appetite for learning, who enjoy life, think big, and in general believe their lives can change the world - is the single greatest aspect of the college experience. While I can not speak to anyone else’s college experience, and recognize that perhaps a typical college student is surrounded by everyone but those people, I can not help but to give the college experience that credit in my life.

No man is an island. No man stands alone, no man has original ideas, no man changes the world single-handedly - it is in and through community that change is birthed, fostered, and made. And because of this fact - I am deeply and utterly scared to finish school. Where will community go? My impression from other’s experiences - is that this transition from an inspired environment surrounded by community to the 9-5, living on your own, can be difficult, even depressing. Why do people do this??? Why after graduating college do people go off and live by themselves (I know that not everyone does)? Humans were not made to live alone - we are inherently social beings. Even further, why when people get married do they go off and live with only their spouse? My naivety is clearly blinding some things to me here, but I like to think it allows my idealism to shine. Even further still, why do families live in their own little 4 walls, on their own piece of land?

This is surely not how we were meant to live. I think there is a lot to be said for indigenous living - primal living - how our ancestor’s ancestors lived. Take your stereotypical village. Families living together - in very close proximity - with their own private space yes - but in general doing life together. Their kid’s play together. Run into each other’s homes as if they were their own. Parents would talk around the fire until the coals turned to ash. The grandparents had already gone to sleep. Children’s laughter would echo in as night fell. When the light had all but disappeared, mom and dad would call their children and return to their hut to rest for the next day. Families. Living. Together. Why don’t we do that anymore? Do we seemingly purposefully devoid ourselves of happiness, meaning, and satisfaction by isolating ourselves, our spouses, and our families from the those we ostensibly love? 

Part of this line of thought was inspired by Tony Hseish in his book, Delivering Happiness. After selling LinkExchange in ‘99, Tony and a bunch of his friends bought a bunch of condos together in a more or less otherwise empty building. Tony went on to buy a huge loft space to put on parties for all his friends, bought the restaurant for his parents to run, bought more space still for a gym, business incubators space and more. This to me is the clearest intentional (or perhaps just fortuitous) demonstration of purposeful community building I have witnessed. I think the argument could be made that during the hardest times at Zappos - it was this community that pulled the company, and it’s people, through. 

I see community then as incredibly important. Not just for creative inspiration, for really for happiness. How can I design this in my post-college career? It is still something I am grappling with. Ideally - I have the capital to design an intentional space for this express purpose, and invite those and their families whom I admire and love to live with together. But I may have to get creative - which would just make it that much more fun and rewarding.