Saturday, January 31, 2009

Making the most of what you've got

Make the most of what you've got. Remember, people have started with much less than you and are currently enjoying luxury and excitement far beyond what you can imagine. Let's do a little list. This is a list about macro-constraints -- huge, looming constraints that people are forced to operate in.

1. People much stupider than you have had much more success than you.
2. People uglier than you have dated/married hotter mates than you think they deserve.
3. People with worse ideas than you have become rich off their ideas, but you haven't.

Why do things work out this way? Why do people get ahead of you when they've been given far less, when you've judged them to have less than you? I'll list some reasons.

1. They know they're stupid, so they realize they have to work harder to get what they want
2. They feel as though they have nothing to lose, so they risk it all.
3. They're hungry for success after seeing so many people pass them by on the socio-economic ladder that they bust their butt to get where they can be comfortable.
4. They make the most of what they've got.

I know that I am one of the people that feel as though things should be "easy" for me. I stopped being hungry for success. I coasted along, going nowhere. My life hasn't turned out so wonderfully so far. I'm poor, socially disconnected, single, not unhappy but not joyful, have no hot car, don't have a house, and have a low-paying job.

The importance is to jump to the mindset of the person we've listed before. Become one of those people who started with nothing and then achieved everything. Make use of what you know -- your ability to learn, synthesize information, copy and switch things around a little. Do what you've gotta do to get what you want. Be one of the stupid people who gets smart and makes a million dollars. Be resolute and dedicated to your success. Think of yourself as one of the "little guys" whose gotta fight to be a top dog.

Make the most of what you've got. Don't expect someone will come around and tell you what to do or do it for you. They won't -- and that's not fun anyway.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Constraints: The Babyface lesson.

So, I was going to write this long post, really emotional and depressing about feeling undervalued. I felt undervalued because I was offered a job today. Now, I should consider myself lucky that in this economic climate I even received a job offer. So, yes, that's great. Go onto Craigslist, the Rants and Raves section, and see how many people are there complaining about having all this experience, multiple degrees, and not being able to find a job. But the salary they offered me is extremely low, really not to live on. I will probably have to move in with family members to get by. The area I live in is so expensive -- I had hoped that I would have enough to at least pay the mortgage on some foreclosed property.

But that was not in the cards for me. I'm thinking about how to view this in terms of my constraint perspective -- achieving more by having less to work with, or working within a confined space/modality/etc. What turns me on is the idea of having this salary and then being able to find money from other sources -- online, selling stuff, using my creativity.

However, I will have severe constraints because most of my day, at least from nine to five, will be used in the company I will be working for. So my constraints will be really strict in terms of time. Instead of "you have four hours to do so and so," it will be like "you have forty-five minutes to work on this, etc."

But I feel kind of have to see the movie "Babyface" with Barbara Stanwyk, an amazing movie from the 30s. You can get it on Netflix. It's exceptional in its gritty reality and how real the emotions are captured. Babyface is this girl whose father owned a bar that she was forced to work at, and then she ran away with her friend to New York with essentially nothing. However, she was able to leverage her intelligence, looks, sexuality, and other parts of herself to get to the very top of the social ladder. The movie is controversial because of the cold, ruthless way she went about doing this...but I know how she feels. That hunger for comfort, for success, to feel protected by money, to not have to worry about money, having your own place.

That's why this low job offer excites me. I'm going to accept it, I think. I can't be jobless. Just call me Babyface.

Here she is plotting and scheming her way to the top, her friend Chico looking on:

I feel excited. Enthralled. But I feel so hungry for it. Hungry as babyface. Take action. Make moves. Plot and scheme. What were her constraints? What constraints was she operating in? Well, she had to support herself. She had no connections, so she was operating with no social network. She used what knowledge she had to leverage her way further up the social and career ladder -- in the movie, they show her moving up the different floors of the skyscrapper she worked in. First she was in the filing department, then mortgages, then finance, then bonds, whatever. So it's about leveraging within whatever constraints you are working in.

It is fun to work yourself from the bottom to the top. It feels exciting. I want to work hard. I want to work smart. I want to use everything I've learned about meditation, diet, exercise, feng shui and cleanliness, to get where I want, to get what I need.

I'm tired of those fools that say money is bad, that we're not supposed to like money, we're only supposed to earn a certain amount within a certain context. I am sick of being poor. Yes, I'll say it. I don't want to be poor. I am like Babyface right now, right before she moves to New York, in some ways.

I am going to work within my constraints. I am going to outsmart everyone. I am going to leverage what I can to get higher up, to get there faster, to get more than those I am competing with. I can get it because I'm hungry for it.

I'm not going to fool myself anymore. I am not going to pretend that money is something that I can live without, something that is nice but not neccesary. It's too bad money just doesn't float to me through the ethers. But won't working for it, earning it, feel good? Money is what I need. Babyface needs money.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Setting constraints to succeed.

Hi everyone.

This is part two of my series on setting constraints for creativity and success. I am going to address some ideas that have to do with constraints that I experience in my everyday life -- however, I have never deliberately applied constraints to maximize some outcome. Instead, I have had constraints placed on me by external forces like teachers, bosses, the state, etc.  But I'm ready and wanting to change that!

However, let's brain-storm a little, flip the script a little, and see how we can take these nasty external constraints and use them to our advantage.

1. Be Your Own Teacher: In school, it is customary to be assigned tasks that have a certain due date. The teacher decides when the work product is required to be submitted to him or her. If you do not submit the work, you do not get graded, which results in a grade of F - fail. Isn't that so much like life? If we don't do something by a certain time, even if we expected a wonderful outcome, if we don't do something, we fail. We fail because we did not do anything.

Why don't we become our own teachers, and create arbitrary guidelines to work towards? A silly example comes to mind, where you take a dart and throw it at a huge desk-sized calendar. But first, choose something you want to do.  What about "go one a date with someone new and exciting," or "be able to do 200 pushups".   And then throw that dart at the calendar and that's when it has to be done by!

Now, you might think "Wow, I can't possibly get _____ done by this date.  I'll need more time!"  Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy!  Remember how in college when we were assigned 30 page essays 2 months in advance?  We would spend so much time ruminating over the task at hand, thinking "It will take so much work, I will do it later."  We didn't want to expose ourselves to the pain!  

But, by God, when we finally started working away at that paper at 2:30 AM, the night before it was due, we worked without thinking, just total focus and concentration guiding our efforts.  And we got good grades!  Yes, it was painful.  But it was finished, complete.  

What if we can do that in our own lives, being strict and requiring that a task be done at a certain time.  It doesn't have to be PERFECT!  Maybe you have to write 10 pages a day for your novel -- who cares if it is horrible.  You will get better!  Soon you'll get into the groove, knowing how to draw upon your novel-writing inspiration, but you never would have gotten there if you hadn't first set some bullshit constraint to force you to do it.  You still would be thinking about it, waiting for that "perfect" moment to come along, the muse whispering sweetly in your ear, guiding you to your computer.

No, you have to just sit down in front of the damn computer and start writing out ideas.  Don't wait for the muse.  Show that damned, yet lovable, muse that you are ready to work NOW and you will offend their refined muse-sensibilities by cranking out the worst, lowest quality writing ever until they help you out.  That will be a big enough threat for them!  

2.  Confused about what Constraints to set?  Copy from famous, successful people!  Now, a question you may be faced with is -- well, I know what activity I want completed by a certain time, but how much should I do daily, monthly hourly?

That's where Google comes in hand!  Thanks to Google, we have access to the minds of thousands of geniuses, both contemporary and classic.  So say you want to know how many pages of your novel that you should write a day, google author interviews to see what they write a day.  In terms of song writing, I know that Missy Eliot writes a song a day.  That is 365 songs a year.  That's enough for like 365/12 = approximately 30 albums.  So essentially what Missy Eliot is saying implicitly that not EVERY song she writes is going to make it onto her new album or is going to be a song she will offer another artist to sing.  But she keeps up the writing habit so she's ready for that good song.  

[ google snowflake method for writing a novel -- -- stupid safari won't let me paste the url into the browser -- this is a reminder to always use Firefox]

Anyway, yes, copy famous, successful people.  Be aware that you aren't going to copy them FOREVER.  We're just experimenting and seeing what happens.  We might realize that we work better doing one thing or method.  

I will continue this treatise tomorrow.  I will also start putting this into action.  

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Major breakthrough.

So if you have been following this blog, you have known that it has been boring, weird, and random. I never knew what to write about, simple as that. I always knew that I wanted to blog and I have always thought of myself as a generally creative person. I also have always thought of myself as being a mediocre yet earnest writer. However, I always felt at a loss when I thought about what I wanted to blog about.

However, just this morning, as luck would have it, I happened to come across a very, very important website. The message of the website was simple. When learning this secret, or any secret that you always know in the back of your mind, but kind of forget about, I was like "Oh my God! I found it! I found the secret I have been looking for!"

First, before the tears of joy start running down my cheeks in appreciation, or before I jump up and work on a goal now that I know the secret, I would like to briefly discuss how my life was before this secret. I always felt blah, uninspired, convinced of my ability to create something meaningful and of value, but unsure of how to go about doing it. Days would pass where I woke up thinking "this will be the day where I finally do X, Y, and Z", only to go to sleep at night disappointed yet hopeful that tomorrow might bring about the output I desired. But it would never happen. Maybe I would start something, like sketching out some ideas for a story or writing a few verses of a song. However, while I would not just give up, I simply would not know where to go with the project and would inevitably set it aside to be worked on at a later date.

But now with my new secret I've discovered, I can bypass all that shit. The secret is not time management or setting time limits. It is not "not caring what other people think." It is not "thinking outside the box." It is not "doing other things to serve people." Let me tell you, I have picked up a lot of bullshit tips from a variety of "self-help gurus" over the years. I'm sure if I said stuff to their face, they would say 'you didn't implement my principles correctly', or 'you lack proper motivation' or something.

But I do know one thing -- applying this secret is the reason behind all of these gurus, or other successful persons, success. Perhaps they are cognizant of this secret and maybe do not spell it out or else the market demand for their information would be radically decreased as people dutifully worked on what they were passionate about instead of always rechecking their favorite guru's page to see what new tip might just give them the extra oomph they need to achieve what they desire.

Anyway, the secret is...constraints are necessary for creativity. Isn't that so liberating? Before when doing something creative, well, everything is creative, but I would just be at a total loss. I would think "Where the hell am I supposed to go with this idea?"

But yeah, create constraints for yourself. That's why you did such a good job writing those last minute papers in college. Or why you're able to clean your room in 15 minutes before your girlfriend comes over when usually it takes you weeks to even take any action.

So what type of constraints can we set to get the train rolling on creative activities? Remember, I consider everything as a creative activity -- but right here we're talking about blogging, writing books, screenplays, music, cleaning, etc.

1. Define a time limit: perhaps create a reward or punishment if you don't finish on time. Have an exact action that will be taken when the time limit is up, whether or not you are finished. For example, sending a manuscript to a publisher, posting your song on your website, publishing a blog post, etc. Perhaps visualize it in your mind for a few seconds just so you know how it is going to end up in the end.

2. Constraints of length: Creative works often have a specific volume -- 70,000 for a novel, for example. Perhaps we can set constraints in this aspect -- like, I am writing a book a month, at 13,000 words a day. Yeah, maybe initially it won't be perfect, but you are producing something!

3. Constraints of speed: Doing things as quickly as possible can sometimes yield some good stuff! This is similar to one, but to me it is a bit different -- it means not mulling things over, overthinking things. Do it from the gut, from your instincgt.

4. Constraints of options and tool: Perhaps you are writing a song. Limit yourself to five instruments, and decide before hand the title of the song, key signature, chord changes [use common ones, don't start anything new right now], etc. Shakespeare wrote in sonnet form, which I think was like 14 syllables or something. He had constraints and look how much he produced and how relevant he still is!

5. Constraints of theme: Doing something in a particular theme is kind of similar to that stupid "write for a niche" for blogging. I feel like it is different though, because theme sounds cooler and niche makes me think of electronics and boring stuff. So yeah, have the constraint of a theme.

6. Most importantly : experiment with constraints! Let's all try them out and see what happens. Maybe a good constraint would be to write 10 pages of your novel when you first wake up in the morning? Or something else. Let me know how you are experimenting with this!

I feel overwhelmed now, but I am going to put this into practice. I think procrastination is not the lack of motivation, but moreso the lack of constraints. We need constraints so we know what we are working with.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Why adults should color frequently.

I remember a few months ago I was totally stressed out by this take home final for a subject I had trouble with in the past. I was working on completing my degree at this time, and just felt completely overwhelmed.

You know how when you are given a task to complete within a certain time period (in this case, a week), it seems to dominate your entire mind. You just keep going over in your mind -- I have this task to complete, there's so much left to be done, how am I going to do it all?

Then I decided to color -- I printed out some pages from a free internet coloring site. I took out some colored pencils I had found the week before, and just started coloring. It felt so mind like emptied. I felt that blissed out way a four year old feels. You should try it!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Yearning for authenticity.

A brand new year. I am starting this year by cleaning up my major living areas, thinking positive thoughts while I do it. I am thinking "this is a place of evolution, progress, growth, and this is just for me."

My only goal for the new year is to set smaller goals. Not huge ones that never get done.

I have people here for the holidays. I realized that one of them is NPD [narcissistic personality disorder]. It now makes so much sense. Ugh, they're not fun to be around though and are constantly craving attention. Here are the symptoms:

* grandiose sense of self-importance
* preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
* belief that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
* need for excessive admiration
* sense of entitlement
* takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
* lack of empathy
* envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
* arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

They have the ability to make you feel like you are going crazy yourself because their behavior is very odd and subtle. But I think the lesson this teaches me is that you have to be really, really careful who you open up too.

My new job also taught me another thing about relationships. Sometimes the people that are easiest to be friends with are those who are you should really avoid being friends with. The people who are kind of distant and not so easy to get to know are the ones that you should really try to become close too, if you want to. Does this make sense?