Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Progress or Depression

So everyone has something. Maybe you don't know what it is yet, but you have something, some little defect that makes you who you are. It could be OCD, it could be an eating disorder, it could be any number of things. But it's something. I have Depression.

It seems that the current theory is that my new passive trend may just be the first step towards a seasonal relapse into a Depressed state.

I thought I had beat this. I work out so that I'm in good shape. I changed my diet so that I get Vitamin D and I even take fish oil supplements for the Omega 3. I keep a pretty strict sleep schedule.

I can't even write about this.

I'm probably bipolar, since that's what my great grandmother was. That nervous energy I wrote about is probably a manic state that just recently came to an end and now comes the depression state.

I hate this.

I guess we'll see.

Rent vs Buy

Renting makes more financial sense than homeownership

Very interesting argument with a lot of valid points. Currently, I'm still a renter and probably will be for at least a while since housing prices have inflated to such a ridiculously high amount, but that's more a personal choice of what works best for my current situation. Personally, I still believe with the right consideration of the following points, buying trumps renting.

The first thing to consider is the specific market you are analyzing. In the NY market, I could see why there is a significant difference between monthly rental rates and ownership mortgage payment rates, but in other markets the balance is the reverse, you can actually end up in a situation where the rent is more per month than the mortgage payment. A year or so back, I did some sample evaluation in North Carolina and found a market where the prices were almost equal, something I have never seen in my home market. There is enough public information out there that you can research markets across the country to find ones with better ratios so that the odds of finding a deal in that market is statistically favorable. This of course assumes you have the freedom to choose where you are buying, which works better for an investment property than a primary residence.

The second thing is the price and method of purchase. Just like how rental price can be negotiated, a house purchase price shifts by the laws of supply and demand. You don't have to buy a house through a Realtor, you can purchase a foreclosure, a bank auction, or do a lease option. Regardless of how the national market is, there will always be people desperate to sell and offering great deals if you are willing to look for them. It comes down to a matter of preference, esp if this is your primary living space, but with an investment property it becomes more about finding numbers that work in your favor for making a profit off of the rent.

I will say this, there is no blanket right or wrong answer for whether renting or buying is better. The bottom line is your individual financial situation, expectations and desires. Business and real estate are great investment tools, stocks and bonds being better for the passive investor and real estate better for the active investor, so it comes down to your preference for level of involvement. Sometimes the burdens that come with buying a house add a level of stress or frustration that tips the scale against the value any monetary gains would give.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Quiet Confidence

So I've noticed this shift recently. I wrote about this previously, about feeling like being in a current and always trying to fight against it. Now that I've stopped fighting the current and started to go with it, everything in my life is dramatically changing, and for the better. It's like this. Previously, I'd read something, understand the concept, appreciate the inherent beauty of it, and then try to change my life to be more like it. But the problem with this approach is that you are constantly trying to be like someone else. That doesn't work though because you can only be you.

I want to say, it's like I've accepted who I am instead of fighting it. Now when I read something inspiring, it's more like I incorporate it into my philosophy, or see how it applies to what I am doing, but it doesn't change my core goals. Instead of trying to do what seems to be successful for someone else, I just apply the new knowledge towards what I am working towards already, what is important to me. I'm not going to be happy even if I'm successful accomplishing someone else's goals, I'm only going to be happy being successful in being me and accomplishing my goals.

Sadly, the more I write about this the more it seems like obvious common sense, but I say again, it's not so obvious when you're too close to the action.

The result though is that I'm developing this quiet confidence. This greater understanding of who I am, what unique gifts and talents I have, and how I can develop them and use them to benefit a greater and greater number of people. Growing up, I always felt like I had to be someone else in order to do something people would see as valuable. Like I had to be a engineering type major in order to end up successful or be paid well. But now I'm starting to see the truth in that being a person of value, who has developed their natural strengths and used them to do something in a successful way is always going to be valuable to someone. The better I develop, the more value I'll have.

Previously, all my actions were reactionary, or almost in desperation. I was uncertain of who I was, so I'd be the person I thought other people wanted me to be instead of being true to myself. Now, I'm more honest with myself and what is important to me. Now I have a core philosophy that governs my actions, helps me to see what choice is correct for me regardless of the situation or person I'm dealing with at the time. It's like with the Catholic church, any new issue that comes up, they already have a position on it based on their core belief structure. I know what I believe to be true, and I act accordingly. I had this to some degree before, but before there was always this fear like what I believed was wrong or unacceptable, like everyone had to agree with it or if they didn't something I was doing was wrong. But now I understand that I have to do what works for me, based off of what I want and what I believe to be true, otherwise I'll never be confident in my actions. Now I follow what comes naturally because I have more trust in my own decision making.

In part I have to thank Steve Pavlina for this. Reading his book and writings has gone a long way in giving me a proof of example as to how being yourself is rewarded by the world. I'm a little sadden though, because in this move he's made to a pure raw diet, he seems to have made a shift that's made it harder to relate to him. It seems to be very good for him, but it's not something either I'm ready for or that I'm considering in my own life at this time, so I feel like we're falling more and more out of sync. I truly hope that this is not the case and that he'll keep writing in a way that I can continue to grow from, but as of now I'm worried based off some of his most recent posts.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Price of Success

I've been thinking today about this concept of "The Price of Success". I have read a lot of books about habits, ways to be successful, different techniques and skills to learn. All kinds of things that, if applied correctly, should lead to success, happiness, all your wildest dreams...

Here is what bothers me though. They don't talk about what you give up. In order to be successful, it seems you almost have to be a slave to a routine and a certain way of thinking. Sure that sounds fine and dandy because you don't focus on it, all that is focused on is the rewards. But it's all starting to sound like a sales pitch again. I've learned the secret to a great sales pitch is never to talk about the product first, always start by establishing the customer's goals and dreams, then find some way to incorporate how your idea or product is essential to fulfillment of that dream. That way they're so fixated on something ethereal and far out that they forget about the short term inconvenience of what they are giving up to you, essentially their freedom.

Now, this may be totally off balance. Maybe these people really are trying to help. Maybe the success and happiness promised that they say they have attained is the end goal everyone should strive for. Maybe being a slave to this routine and habits and way of thinking is really the best way to develop as a human being, and secretly we think we want freedom but the reality is that we just want the freedom to pick out our cage.

The question though is, what if I want to make "bad" choices? What if I don't want to be frugal? What if I want to not think about the consequences of my actions? What if I want to gorge? Maybe I would never read their book or advertisement. But does having doubt, having this sense of a conscience, this uncertainty about the direction I'm taking with my life really just make me a pawn that's easily coerced by their speak?

What if the real answer is your answer? What if reading this advice is just a deterrent from you actually just doing what you want but by providing it, I'm feeding your insecurity and weakness, perpetuating your fixation on needing someone else to tell you what is right because you don't have the confidence to believe in yourself?

Maybe the reason people reach a level of success is because they stopped listening, they stopped looking, they just did what they wanted to do, fought through the resistance and became free of the lack of trust in themselves? That's why people who lose and lose big do so well. They forget about everything else, loss all the inhibitions that they've collected because they reach a point where it's just about survival, not about the shallow constructs that are so easy to build around yourself and trap you where you are.

But how can you be sure I'm right about this either? I'm just a talking head like the rest of them.

Personal Development

Just recently I ordered, received and started reading through Personal Development for Smart People, The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth by Steve Pavlina. Let me just say first, this has been the best personal development book I've read so far. I am only about 100 pages into the book, but already the format and explanation of concepts has been very clear and concise. Also, I've found what he writes about to be inline with what I've been intuitively learning through experiences and trial and error for the last few years.

What I find funny about the book is the logical building blocks he uses to formulate fundamental tenants for putting together a life that will provide you with happiness, success and purpose. It's almost like he is writing a mathematical proof, first defining the core tenants than using them to build higher. I mean, the approach really makes sense once you see it written out, esp since the fundamental tenants he has chosen seem dead on, but it's unexpected in this field since I imagine most people that gravitate to it don't have formal training in logic.

Also what I've found interesting is how much overlap there is between this book and the Rich Dad, Poor Dad coaching and philosophy. The terminology is different, but the concepts and general ideas are the same. Basically that you grow rich in life through development, hard work and working towards goals through experimentation, learning and perseverance through failure. Also, that people who are rich become rich by helping as many people as possible. I find the whole thing to be similar to the concepts in Maslow's hierarchy. (http://sagerave.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/maslow.gif)

I'm intrigued about what the rest of the book has in store since I haven't even finished the initial section about the principles. The second section seems to focus on application. That also seems like the Rich Dad program, but that is also where I struggled there, so hopefully I'll have better results with the exercises here.

Dealing with Disappointment

One of the things they teach you in Quixtar is when you make an appointment with someone, always restate the details of the appointment and make sure that they wrote it down in order to confirm. Apparently, most people are not good with keeping appointments.

This was always, and still remains, a foreign concept to me. I strive to be as truthful as I can, which actually seems harder to do when making commitments to myself rather than to other people. But for some reason this is not the case for other people, which surprises me because of my perspective towards it. I remember in the Rich Dad Poor Dad Coaching tapes this one interview with a guy who studied wealthy people. He said they all seemed to share two things, real estate and their word was their honor. Apparently for a lot of people, making a verbal or written commitment is more of a guideline than a commitment or a maybe than a yes.

Again I say how this seems strange to me because I firmly believe that in any relationship the most important things are trust and communication. If you cannot keep your word, how can a person believe anything you say or come to count on you if they need your help? What is the good of having an unreliable friend other than if you feel like there is value in "being friends" with a large quantity of people? If you are missing the trust, how can you have good communication? I personally would not share anything personal or important to me with someone I don't trust because it would be like giving money to a known thief and expecting some positive return on investment. It just seems so contradictory.

The final thought I have about this is a question about why people make the commitment if they don't intend to keep it. I'm more disappointed when I'm expecting someone to do something and they don't than I am upset if they just say no outright. Usually these happen in situations that don't contain any sense of urgency, like if someone says "Oh, I'll call you tomorrow". If they expect to be busy tomorrow or they know that calling me back is not a high priority so they'll probably end up pushing off, then don't commit to tomorrow. Just be honest, because then at least I know the truth. If I'm not happy with the truth, then it is my responsibility to make the truth more inline with what expectation I have or what I want, but if you just lead the person on then how can you validly say that it's the other person's problem rather than your own? If you just have a bad memory and you forget, at least you can be honest and offer the other person the opportunity to remedy the situation by taking over responsibility to remember contacting you.

I guess you could make the argument that you try to say what you are saying without actually saying it, by giving clues that are "obvious". I would argue though, that nothing is more obvious than just saying what you really want to say directly rather than trying to spare the person's feelings.

Buy maybe I should just change my base assumption of trustworthiness and instead only trust through validation. They say when approaching a business deal you should always trust by verify, so maybe all encounters should be treated this way.

Walking Zombie

So I've been shifting my schedule earlier all week. Part of the motivation has come from the numerous articles I've read about the advantages of getting up early. Part of the motivation came directly from talking to a good friend of mine who goes to bed early and gets up early (I figured if I'm more aligned with her schedule, I'll be more likely to meet more people like her). This is day four of waking up a half hour earlier (not a half hour earlier each day, just one half hour earlier than I'm use to). The experience so far has taught me a lot of things.

First, if other people are as tired as I am now, but on a normal basis, that would explain a lot. I'm irritable, crabby, lazy and quick to anger. My fine motor coordination has dropped significantly, I almost feel like I'm drunk. Today on the way to work, I honked at a few people and maneuvered around them because their driving, which was pretty on par with the standard poor driving, was too much for me to be on the defense for. I just wanted some separation from everyone else because I knew I wasn't going to have the reaction speed necessary to do emergency maneuvering if they started edging into my lane or cut me off.

Second, I understand this addiction to coffee that everyone seems to have. While I personally have not submitted to drinking coffee, I have bought myself some candy bars the last few days just to try and get a boost that will help carry me through the rest of the day. The idea of a 9-5 work day seems really stupid in my eyes. Personally, I'd be more productive if I had just stayed in bed until I got enough sleep to function correctly and then came in and worked the rest of the day. I see how this isn't the employer's fault, but allowing a more flexible work schedule as long as the work gets done cannot possibly be a bad thing. I'll have to reevaluate once I've fully adapted to the new schedule.

Finally, this has been my experience with the change. So far it has been almost impossible to actually fall asleep earlier. I imagine I could take some supplement like melatonin or serotonin (whichever it is, memory problems have also started to occur with sleep loss) and that would help me to fall asleep. I did fall asleep a little on the early side last night, only to wake up 4 hours later. This had the unfortunate side effect that taking a nap when you really want to go to bed for the night would. I couldn't fall back to sleep for about 3 hours after this. On the other end, waking up has taken a little more effort just with the initial step of getting out of bed. I've read and found to be true that if you get up when your alarm first goes off you are more likely to stay awake and the process is easier. The only additional difficulty has been going through my normal morning routine with less fine motor coordination. I've actually run into a few walls, I guess because I figured that I had walked far enough to get around the corner or through the door.

I'll report further once I have adapted to the change better, but so far the costs have been outweighing the benefits. I'm hoping with the daylight shortening, I'll at least have the benefit of enjoying a little extra sunlight than I would have gotten. If this does start to work and I end up pushing earlier, I hope to be able to exercise some in the morning before going to work. I'm not sure how early I'll have to get up in order to do this, or what the best time to get into work in the morning is, but that'll be thoughts for down the road.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bad Customer Service

I'm writing this not to settle a personal gripe but more because I feel this needs to be said. I've had experiences with three businesses lately that have shown very poor Customer Service. In business, I believe that Customer Service is, if not the most important part, one of the most important pieces. One of the reasons I decided to work at GameStop part time was because of their emphasis and understanding of the importance of Customer Service. If you do not treat your customers correctly, providing them with prompt and courteous service and solution to their need, then they will not remain your customer for long. In this day and age, word of mouth advertising is one of the few genuine, trustworthy sources of recommendation left. Bad recommendations are an even purer source with much larger reach and less hesitancy to spread.

That being said, here are my three recent example of bad Customer Service.

First is Chipotle. This is not a universal criticism, but rather specific to one location and one employee, but as an employee of the company you are a representative of the brand. Recently I went in to a local store, waited my turn in line and ordered my common order, which is hard tacos to go. The lady placed the aluminum foil down and pushed it along. The next lady in line filled the customer before me's order, paused, removed the aluminum foil for my order from the line and proceeded to fill the next customer in line's order. No explanation was given. I politely asked about my order, but no response was given. The next person in line's order was filled and the line started to move along past me. I inquired again, but still no response. At this point I looked around at the other customers, then left the store. I'm still not sure why exactly my order was left out and why the ladies behind the counter were ignoring me, but I have not returned since and do not plan to any time in the near future.

Second is Three Brothers. Being lactose intolerant, it is always a nuisance to have to tell everyone at restaurants to hold the cheese or not put cheese on, but I always make a special emphasis of the point. I ordered a normal order of a chicken cheese steak, without the cheese (making special emphasis because this store has gotten it wrong probably 3/5 of the time I've ordered there). Not surprisingly, they got it wrong again. Normally, I'm very forgiving of this and would not make a big deal out of it. This time was different. The manager there, after finding out that they got my order wrong and were going to have to remake it, came up to me and said, "Next time, make sure that they type it into the order." There were several things that bothered me about this. The first was the tone, which doesn't come through in print. The second was that, even though I made special note of this when ordering, apparently it is my responsibility as the customer to make sure her staff does their job correctly. Something rang false about that to me. I'm paying them for a service, and apparently I am now responsible for supervision on that service. That sounded more like her job to me than mine.

The third and final example is Sprint. I'm not sure exactly where it all started. It may be the poor level of service, it may be that they have hung up on me so many times, but Sprint is probably my least favorite company. In my most recent conversation with Sprint, they called me during the work day (for the fourth time or so) to tell me that I have an old crappy phone that I should upgrade. They of course want to provide me the upgrade for free (minus the new commitment to a 1 or 2 year contract). After the lady was laying into my phone for a while, I stopped her and said that I wanted to speak with her manager about my account. She put me on hold for about 10 minutes, then hung up on me.

So there you have it. Each of these small, almost petty seeming encounters have left a bad taste in my mouth as a consumer. We have the choice to vote with our dollars and my patronage at these companies has been lost.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Direction Thoughts

Some men have had a deep conviction of their destiny, and in that conviction have prospered; but when they cease to act as an instrument, and think of themselves as the active source of what they do, their pride is punished by disaster. …The concept of destiny leaves us with a mystery, but it is a mystery not contrary to reason, for it implies that the world, and the course of human history, have meaning.

I found this quote in a blog I was reading earlier today.

It felt very inline with what I've been thinking and experiencing lately.

For a long time I've had this sense like I have to force all these things to happen in my life because I have this sense that I'm destined to do more than I'm doing. Usually, the result of this is me expending all this time, effort and energy into making something happen, with the end result being frustration and more of the same.

So instead, I'm trying to take the perspective more of the observer. I have certain talents and abilities and I'm going to continue to work on developing them. While I do it, I'm going to keep my eyes open for the opportunities that come along, rather than trying to force them to appear. That way it's more of an organic growth, rather than something manufactured and over hyped. I'm focusing on something I enjoy and am good at, rather than trying to be someone else just for perceived benefits.

While the opposite approach seems to work for some people, it doesn't seem to work for me. I have this deep belief that you have to work for and earn what you have, that your status changes as you grow. So when I try to take shortcuts, I sabotage myself because I don't believe it is either fair or honest or I get this sense of guilt.

I have noticed an improvement since I've shifted in my thinking. An example is with running. I like running, I do it for fun and enjoyment. But now I'm getting to the point where I can run further distances, so I've started doing 3K, 5K and 10Ks. This has opened up new topics of conversation, helped me to meet new people and has just been an overall positive experience in my life. It all happened without me having to beat everyone over the head around me and get them excited in it, or rely on other people to help inspire me to want to do it. I don't do it because I think I "should" do it, or because other people have told me to, I do it because I enjoy doing it.

Somewhat related to this is another concept I've heard about a lot recently. The idea of "media fasting" or "commercial fasting", basically avoiding other input for a certain amount of time in order to get in better touch with what you want. I'm finally starting to understand why and how this works. By removing the influences around you, the focus starts to shift more onto what you naturally like or dislike in your life. For example, if you work at a job you hate just to pay the bills so you can live in a large house, something may be wrong. Maybe you'd be happier working somewhere else for less pay and the overall total happiness would be higher even if you had to move to a smaller place. It seems pretty logical since you have to work so long or hard that at the end of the day you can't even enjoy the large house anyway.

Stars Wars: The Force Unleashed

One of the perks of working at GameStop is that you get to borrow games from the store for four days at a time. Apparently, it's so that we can do 'research' and be up-to-date with new titles and experienced with games that we are selling at the store.

In keeping with this, I've been borrowing a game each week. The first week I borrowed "Infinite Undiscovery" for the Xbox 360. I ended up playing it for 30 minutes, not really liking the controls and then not playing it the rest of the four days. I hear the plot picks up about four hours into the game and I imagine you get use to the controls but I didn't enjoy it and it doesn't get my recommendation.

Second, I borrowed "Mercenaries 2: World in Flames" for the Xbox 360. It seems to be very similar to Grand Theft Auto, except with the addition of being able to destroy different parts of the environment. I played this for a couple of hours, got bored and sick of completing the little objectives and that was it. Fun, but not a must play.

Finally, over this last weekend, I borrowed Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for the Xbox 360. I feel obliged to review my thoughts on this game.

First of all, a disclaimer. I only played the 360 version of the game and I played through on the easiest difficulty, one because I had four days to beat it, and two because I'm lazy and wasn't looking to play something challenging.

The concept behind the game is that you are playing as Darth Vader's secret apprentice between the time frame of the third movie and the fourth movie. He sends you out to hunt down various Jedi and then through some plot twists you end up gathering together the Empire's enemies in order to start the rebellion.

This is a very linear, action game with some platforming elements tied into the game play as well as "button time sequences" when fighting against bosses or various larger enemies. As you progress you get "level ups" in a sense that allow you to unlock new combos, force powers (strengthen really since advancing the game unlocks the new powers), and status increases that enhance various categories. Also, there is a collection element to the game in the form of different power ups that will either give you force points, some item like a light saber crystal or a cloak, or a rank up point that can contribute to upgrading one of the three different elements I mentioned earlier.

What I enjoyed about the game was mainly the Force Lightning. Being able to shoot lightening out of yourself and fry everyone around you is one of the most enjoyable things a person can do. It's small and simple, but frankly, it made this whole game for me. There are lots of force powers available, like the force push, being able to pick up things and people and throw them around, a force lightning shield and this force shockwave, but the lightning was the main power I used because it is so effective. As you go through and gain access to all these abilities, I imagine you'll end up like me, forgetting about all but one or two of them for long stretches and sticking mainly with whatever is your favorite.

The only major gripe I had with the game was the platforming elements. They give you free control of the camera, so you can rotate it around, but it doesn't make it any easier to determine exactly where you are going to land. By "using the force" you have the ability to double jump, but it isn't always clear what is a platform you can land on and what is part of the background. I wish you could use your force grip ability to levitate or lift yourself onto higher platforms, but sadly this is not an option.

Overall, I enjoyed playing through the game. I don't think I'd buy the game, but it's worth a rental if you have 10 hours to kill and you're looking for something fun to do with the time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Today is one of those days.
It's hard to accurately describe it,
it's like your soul is sucked out of your body,
and you just sit there numb.

It's like you have a certain number of ways you can lie to yourself about your situation being better than it really is but eventually,
you run out and you're just stuck staring at the cold reality.
The question is, what is better;
finding some way to keep killing the pain because you don't know how to find a better solution,
or just sit in that state until it is so unbearable that you just snap and force some dramatic change?

Sadly, I'm going to go buy a candy bar and numb the pain some more.

Cleansing Fire

If you're like me, you've gotten the privilege of watching your stocks drop in value a significant percentage over the last week. Nothing helps to ruin a day like seeing those red numbers come up all over your portfolio, almost like watching your net worth bleeding away.

Unfortunately, I don't have any magic advice to save your portfolio. Instead, I'm going to just sit and ride it out, continuing to dollar-cost-average as I wait for my portfolio to recover over the next couple of years.

I do want to interject some perspective. The linked article talks about how this is just technology starting to creep into the finance industry and how it brings about destructive but progressive change. I like to think of it like a cleansing wild fire. Times change, humanity advances and people's needs change. If businesses don't change with them, then they become like rotting, dead wood, waiting for a spark to set them aflame. The healthy, growing and changing businesses are strong enough to not be engulfed by the flames, and then grow stronger from the ashes of their competitors and the new space opened up by their removal.

The economy is cyclical. It's always been that way and it will always remain that way as long as the basic principles of supply and demand remain true. We are in the midst of a down cycle. It was going to happen eventually, despite the government's best efforts. Things are going to be very different from the up cycle we are all use to, but that doesn't mean that the opportunities are gone, or that the new challenges presented cannot be overcome. It's just time for us as individuals to shift our thinking and adapt, much like the businesses have to. Just make sure that you aren't stuck being dead wood.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I feel really different today. I'm not sure what to make of it, like if it is a good thing or a bad thing.

Normally I have this anxious or almost nervous energy, like I have to do something big and dramatic right now to change something in my life so that it's better. But today, I feel different. It's like this content happiness.

I think I normally picture this world where everything is this idealization that seems so perfect, and I want that to be my life, I want to change everything to be like that world. But recently I've started to let it go. I don't really think it exists.

Now, you're probably thinking, what? How is that a good thing to give up on your goals and just start to be content?

Well, I think it's a little different than that. It's more like I have goals, I want to be happy, and I do want some areas of my life to change. But at the same time, the ideal world I picture is never reality, it's always just a fantasy. And usually, it's a fantasy so outlandish that it's just not possible. So by thinking I can have that, or that I should want that, I miss out on the little things that make me happy, or that will start to change my life in positive ways, because I'm always looking for bigger things that will cause instant and dramatic change. But it just doesn't work like that.

It's like working out. If you're out of shape and you think there is some pill or some magic exercise that's going to make you have a perfect body, then you're going to get very discouraged and quit. But if you realize that taking a small step now, and progressing at a steady pace, eventually you can achieve your goal, then you have a better chance of making it a reality.

I've used the analogy in the past of this feeling like I'm trying to walk upstream against the current. Well, I think the reason for that is that I'm trying to make everything happen on my own. I'm trying to be this dynamo that's going to make the water start flowing the direction I want it to. But I'm starting to think that is what is causing all my unhappiness. By trying to force everything to work, I just get frustrated and stuck where I am, rather than working with the environment around me to get to a better place. I put so much pressure on myself that I become terrified of messing up, and that forces me to mess up.

So instead, I'm just going to start going with the flow. I'm going to do what comes naturally, trust my instincts and intuition and be open to what comes along, rather than trying to optimize everything and passing on every opportunity because it doesn't seem perfect enough.

Again, I'm sure this seems like common sense to everyone else, but it's hard to see what is the cause of the problems in your life, esp when it turns out to be you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


So I have a new theory about fear. The problem with it is that usually it's based around some misconception or some perception we create that makes whatever we are afraid larger than it really is. Larger in the sense of, harder to overcome, a bigger problem than it really is, or just actually seem physically larger (like a fear of insects).

So when you try to overcome this, the longer you wait the larger it becomes, until you get to the point where it's too large to even think about it. So you push it off or try to focus on something else.

This leads to the problem. The fear has made the task so large that you as an individual can no longer seem to conquer it on your own. So the only way to conquer fear, is to work with someone else. Someone who may have fears of their own, but not the same fears that you have. This is why expanding your social circle or experiencing something new is so vital, because it forces you to alter your perspective and it helps to shrink fears back to reality.

Growing up, my parents were never ones to ask for help. Maybe on occasion they would have certain people they would call on for specific tasks, but when it came to new problems they were all about tackling it on their own. In observing them, I picked up this trait. While I feel like I've developed into a capable individual, learning how to ask others for help is a necessary skill that I was lacking and am only now learning to develop.

Asking others for help is a tool for breaking down barriers, building relationships, and presenting other people with an opportunity to feel useful and helpful. We all have our own individual strengths and weaknesses, by understanding that and overcoming the pride that prevents us from reaching out to others, we helps create a chain of growth and opportunity. I've found from personal experience that any thoughts or actions that help us to feel connected to other people around us cannot be bad, but those that create a sense of isolation only lead to negative recourse.

This all sounds like common sense, and I'm sure it is, but sometimes it's hard to look at our own lives and see what mistakes we are making. Being too close to the action makes it difficult to see the alternative paths that we miss out on.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A little Differnt

This is a little different than normal, but I really enjoyed this story so I figured I'd link to it:


So, I took this personality test last night and the result has been bothering me.

At this point, I've taken the test so many times that if I wanted to I could steer the result to any of the sixteen types. But this time I was trying to be as honest as possible. On the questions that I wasn't too sure about, I stuck with just the middle of the road choice since I couldn't make a hard decision one way or the other. In the cases of S vs N, I'm sure I had some bias towards N because I know that I am an N and that just felt right, but the rest I just let whatever my first impression was come through.

The interesting part of all of this was that I ended up with INFP as my type, which is different than the ENFP normal result. So I'm wondering, maybe I was wrong about the E, maybe I am an I. It wasn't like the I was a dominant result, it was pretty close to the border, but I could see why I would make the mistake of thinking I'm an E. Normally my Mom likes to analyze people and determine their types, but she's very introverted, so I imagine anyone that seems more extroverted than her she categorizes as an extrovert. She is the one who is very adamant about me being an ENFP, but that E could just be her personal bias.

Viewing things from my perspective, I do tend to be hesitant in crowds of new people, and in any groups greater than three. It's not that I don't enjoy outgoing experiences with lots of people, but I also don't jump in head first. One of my brothers and my sister are extroverts and they do seem to react very differently in crowds. They don't have the hesitance that I do, they just engage. I'm usually better with one on one conversations or groups of three people. I'm tentative about when to speak in a larger group and don't like to push my thoughts into conversation over other people. I tend to express myself more openly in my writing than I do when talking to people, and am very introspective about my thoughts.

The real kicker for this is that my Aunt is an ENFP. She and I are very different when it comes to social situations. She is always talking, and usually constantly pushing some viewpoint she has about whatever topic is at hand or on her mind. She likes to be the center of attention, but I actually like one on one conversations where I feel I have more control and can focus on different topics of conversations that I share interest with the person I'm talking to.

So I'm really starting to jump on the band wagon of this INFP thing. I realize there is a pretty big overlap between the two types, but at least this way I feel like I understand better why I have that tentative feeling in social situations that I imagine most (if not all) extroverts don't have. Plus I see why, even thought I don't like spending eight hours a day in a cubicle, I do like to have some time to myself to decompress rather than being up and out all the time during the day. Usually I'm good with social situations where I am introduced to the new people and have some common ground to start building on, rather than just the cold entry.

Anyway, here is the description for the INFP personality type:


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Second Job

So I finished my second shift at my second job tonight. It's enlightening to work in a manually labor job. For example, after standing up for five hours, I can fully understand why people go to bars after work.

I'm picking up some things quicker. I've gotten better at reading the customers, growing interactions and helping to close sales, or at least be more helpful and develop a repoire. I'm not good at moving past the first no to at least the second one when I try to push products. I still think it's "wrong" or feel bad about putting pressure on people, but the reality is that people are just always going to react with a no first in 90% of the cases.

One thing I don't understand still is how to make plans for a Friday night. I guess since I worked Friday nights when I was in high school and I went to a school a 30 minute drive away from where I lived, I kinda missed out on how all that works. It'd be nice to have some friends that actually called me up and invited me out instead of trying to generate some activity myself all the time. In Bill Simmon's article, his wife talks about the concept of "pursuers" and "pursuees". I need to find more "pursuers" who will generate activities to do. I guess in the past I've blown them off, thinking that whatever activity they were offering wasn't something I wanted to do. I need to change that and start participating.

I still have this feeling like, "why don't people have any interest in doing the things that I want to do?". Maybe I'm still targeting the wrong audience.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Unstopping the Cork

Have you ever had those moments in life where there is just this big rush or flurry of activity after a long time of nothing? Like all your energy and motivation towards something is just unleashed all at once?

I feel like it's like unstopping the cork. Like you have a goal, but something is holding you back, and you keep wanting to do something about it, but for whatever reason you don't and the energy almost seems to bottle up. And then some event occurs, and the obstacle blocking your path is removed and you just burst forward.

Robert Kiyosaki likes to talk about "expanding your context", this idea that you have to believe something before it can become reality. I'm starting to understand more and more what he means as these things happen. Once my context shifts, then something happens in my life and all of a sudden the problem is solved and it's hard to even imagine what it was like before.

What I find strange about this is how sometimes the event happens without me causing it. Sometimes it's almost like a direct action of me NOT doing anything. I almost think that I try to force things too much, and that the reason I feel like I'm walking upstream in a fast flowing river is because I'm doing that to myself, fighting the current instead of going along with it. It's almost like I have this intuition about what to do, but instead of trusting myself and believing that the right thing will happen for me, I keep trying to make something happen that I think is right or I think is what I want.

Does any of this happen to other people, or is it just me?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quick Story

So, just because it's 9/11 I'm going to share this quick story.

I remember the events of 9/11/2001 for one main reason. It was my senior year of high school and I was in AP Econ at 9:11 AM. I remember looking at my watch and thinking, "Wow, it's 9:11 on 9/11, weird how that's a lot of 9-1-1". The next class they turn on the TV and you see the towers on fire.

It just kinda left this weird impact on me and now whenever it's 9:11 AM or PM and I happen to look at the clock I almost expect something significant to happen in my life or the world in general.

Take the Time

So, to put this in context, this is my fifth speech for Toastmasters. I joined the club in January and am now the Treasurer. It's been a great experience so far since I've met a lot of quality people, I've honed some of my writing skills, I've gotten practice giving speeches and I've gained some self confidence. I give this speech on Monday. It's suppose to be at least 5 minutes, but right now it runs about 3:15. It should run longer when I say it by memory and input gestures and movement, but I still need to add more to it since 1:45 is a lot of time to make up.

I might post my earlier speeches as well, just because I put a lot of time into crafting them, and sadly when I deliver them I don't always say them right and they are designed with certain wordplay and content ordering that doesn't end up coming through because of that.

In life, our most precious resource is time.
You cannot turn back the clock.
You cannot change the past.
You cannot freeze time.
Time is always marching forward. Worst of all, you never know how much time you actually have left.

Mister Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and guests.

Does this subject make you anxious?
It should.

Everyone should have a list of things they still want to do with their lives. If you don’t, then are you really living? Goals are our lifeblood. They keep us moving forward, growing, working towards a better future.

But even knowing all of this, I present you with a contrary thought. Take the time.
Take the time to enjoy the journey.
Take the time to experience life.
Take the time to soak it all in, absorb all you can.

The time spent between actions quickly disappears from memory. Sometimes, this time is even spent in an unconscious fog. I remember a time in high school when I would wake up, throw on some clothes, grab my books, get in the car and the next thing I knew the whole day had gone by and I hardly remembered any of it. So do not spend all your time in transition.

Do you remember the trip to work this morning? Maybe you do if it was stressful, or unusual. But if it was just like the day before then it’s already a blur with all the others just like it. And if you only remember it because it was stressful, is that a good thing? If you only remember bad things, how can you feel positive about your life? Spend your time in the moments of your choosing.

Sometimes at work, I like to walk to the strip mall where I buy my lunch.
Yes, it would be much quicker to drive.
I could rush there, buy my food, rush back and eat at my desk. Then at the end of the day I could get home a little earlier. But something is wrong with that.
That is a life always spent in transition, waiting to get to the next big thing.

When I walk, I take my time.
I stretch a little.
I look around.
I am conscious of the ground under my feet.
I take the time to “smell the roses”. Rather than focusing on where I’m going and finding the fastest route there, I’m focused on where I am. I am in the moment. And I enjoy the experience. It’s nothing special, but it’s time that I am choosing to spend in the manor that I want to spend it. It is my time.

Think of it like this:
After much research, you find an $80 bottle of wine that fits with your tastes. You open it up and pour out the first glass.
Would you chug that glass?
Would you race through the bottle, downing one glass after the next?
Would you pour it down the drain so you can open the next bottle?
Of course not!
You’d probably look at the wine in the glass. Swirl it around some, smell the aroma, take one sip at a time. And you would savor it. You would drink it slowly, noticing each hint of flavor, enjoying all it has to offer and feeling the reward of the effort you put into finding it.

And that’s just a bottle of wine. Something that is simple, expendable, and replaceable.
Look at your life.
Think about your time.
Once the time has passed, you cannot have it back. The time is going to pass. You do not have control over it; all you have control over is yourself, your actions, and your choices.

So I say this:
Enjoy it.
Savor it.
Live it.

When your time runs out, you’ll be glad you did.

Mister Toastmaster.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Funny Story... for everyone but me

So after trying to find ways to see this girl that I like for something like 5 weeks, I finally get the nerve to get her number.

The problem though, as it turns out, is that she is currently living with her girlfriend and is a lesbian.

Some guys have all the luck...

I did get her number though, for whatever it's worth.


So, I'm starting to accept more and more the reality of my life and what I've been refusing to accept for a long time.

The main thing I've realized recently is that I've let my financial situation get out of control. Instead of taking control of it and making it what I want, I've passed off control as much as possible. I keep putting money into my 401k and Roth as well as my house fund, but I end up with more stock and the same total monetary value.

The theory is that eventually the market slump will pass and I'll be better off for buying into the bear market. But I could be doing more to meet my goals and then I'd be working towards something instead of just sitting in wait.

I should be putting money into a very stable holding place until I have the exact amount I need for a down payment that will get the mortgage payment for a 3/2 house to an affordable rate. Then I should be looking for houses on the market till I find the right motivated seller and get in for as low as possible. Then I should rent the extra rooms and start saving for an investment property.

On top of this, I should set up the website I have planned out but have yet to execute. Then I should be passing out business cards and driving up interest in some of the skills that I have that I could help people with part time for a fee. As the demand increases, I can increase the price I charge. That would expedite all my real estate plans as well as give me a vehicle to put a corporation over and start shifting some of my expenses to my business.

Eventually, the price for my time will get higher and I can start doing some business consulting because I'll have the experience needed, or I'll have enough money to purchase a franchise or other small business.

So knowing all of this, I'm still not going to change anything. After laying it all out like that, you're probably asking why? Well, that's why.

What you need as motivation is a why. I don't have a why. In my life, I have everything I need for me for now, but in order to move up the Maslow pyramid of happiness I'm missing something. I'm searching for someone who will understand me and my goals and want to work with me.

My mom always says that your significant other is your witness in life. The person who validates your existence, who cares about even the smallest details. The person who makes you significant.

That's what I want. That's what I need before I can really have the true motivation to execute my plans.

It's hard to find someone who understands though, who wants to be more than just an employee. Someone who wants to do the work to take control of their lives and be the best person they can be. Most people cop out easily with some manufactured excuse. They feed you lines about how rich people are evil or greedy.

Frankly, it's just stupid. I'm sure some of the rich are, but if you don't have money you can't magnify your efforts. I can do charity work or donate some money here and there now, but I have the potential to do so much more, everyone does if they're willing to put in the effort.

Anyway, I don't want to argue about it, I just want to find someone who sees the beauty in it and believes. I don't want to convince them, I want them to develop the same fire I have so we feed off of each other and work together, lifting each other up.

It's a tough find though, so each day I keep searching.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Today I'm tired. Tired of trying to keep up with everything. There are so many outlets of advice as to what you should do that it is becoming impossible to determine what is right and what is not.

Who would have thought that a world of choice and opportunity would actually be a bad thing? It seems that way though, since there are too many conflicting viewpoints, and not enough universal truth. What criteria do you use to filter out options? What lifestyle choice is actually going to result in happiness?

My head is swimming, my body is exhausted and I'm just tired. I'm stuck sitting here for another 4 to 5 hours, dreaming of a better life, seeking anything to kill the boredom and finding too much to process.

Here is what I don't understand. Is it all really just about doing what will make you happy? Or are you suppose to help other people? Can you help other people if doing something to help them makes you unhappy? What if your happiness really is dependent on people around you? What if you naturally pick up on body language cues that betray deeper emotions people are feeling that they hide? Do you just learn to ignore it and just focus on getting what you want?

I don't know what is right and what is wrong anymore. I feel very lost. I keep trying, trying to be a good friend, trying to be a good worker, trying to be a good person, and trying gets me nowhere but farther lost.

Maybe I just need to start having faith - faith in myself and my ability, my instincts and my intuition to guide me in the right direction.

Today solace is only found in quotes from one of my favorite movies, "Thank you for smoking".

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


So I'm starting to accept more and more that I can only be who I am. You can't really pretend to be someone else in hopes that the world will embrace you. Most of the time, the world is just not going to like you regardless. The only thing you can do is be true to yourself, laugh in the face of the world's rebuke, and just do what you are going to do.

Something I ponder a lot is how the world is going to remember me. You read people's wikipedia articles and there are usually one to three main points that are emphasized that are basically the summary of that person's life. I've never wanted to be summarized that way, but I guess it's a fate that is inescapable. Again, all you can do is be yourself and the world will decide what it will remember you for.

The final point is that, while you can't decide how the world will receive you, you can be the world to someone. That's my focus now. Finding someone or someones that accept me for who I am, enjoy spending time with me, and want to be a part of my life. Those are the only people whose opinion of me really matters. It's so cliche, but sadly it's true. If people can't accept who you are, then there are plenty of other people.

Life if just a big numbers game.