Buying books

I just bought a book on Amazon, the money being automatically withdrawn from my account, causing me  a moment of doubt stemming from several years of always thinking about the expense of a book here and there and what it might do to my savings. And then I thought of how things have been going and felt profoundly grateful that I really can afford the book, that I’m earning significantly more than I need for my daily expenditures, that I can enjoy a new novel guilt free.

This month has been rough. It turns out I was weak on something I had thought would be very easy — getting parts made. It should be just like shopping, right? Wrong. Oh, so, so wrong. The first really big job I landed will be a month behind schedule soon, mostly due to difficulties in acquisition. I’d figured on getting quotes from three shops and presenting them to my clients with a recommendation. In the end, I contacted a total of thirteen gasket companies and nearly as many machinists, just to find three of each that could provide real bids for the parts.

Needless to say, it took longer than expected. Also needless to say, my clients are less than thrilled about the current pace of work. My only hope now to right the job is to keep things at a fast trot from here in, provide a correct schedule, and see what I can pull off. On the plus side, my worries about the parts not working have been put aside.

Beyond that, this month has been stressful. I have another project, also slightly delayed, that I’m balancing against two new projects. And with the delays, I know my income won’t be as high as I’d predicted.

But, at the end of the day, I am actually learning a lot about business, specifically now about task management, which I’ll write more about soon, and part sourcing. And I’ve just been able to buy a new book to read. And that’s pretty good for a new business.

Life is either a grand adventure or nothing

…said a woman both blind and deaf, a woman who became a well-known author. And then Helen Keller became the subject of a pop song. Still, she had a hundred years of less infamous publicity.

I reverted to some bad habits in work during the crunch in the first half of January. My days were long with gradually decreasing focus; I worked most days; I didn’t take time for reflection. Yesterday these caught up with me and I found myself stuck in a mental loop of trying to decide which pressing thing to do, while questioning if I had everything in mind that needed to be done. I was trying to hold too many things in my mind at once, and paid the price with about three hours of wasted time.

What’s worse, though, is that I’m certain this has happened to a small degree as I’ve built up more projects. When you’ve only one or two projects, steps are clear. But when the number of “next tasks” increases, more time is spent on organizing, and less on doing.

So I’m trying out the Get Things Done approach. Yesterday I began the process of emptying my mind of the things in it, keeping a browser open with just Trello and a list. Everything that came into my mind I wrote down so I wouldn’t have to remember anything. After a short while, it was incredible how much more relaxed I became.

Today I’ll download the book and get started. And today I’m grateful for yesterday’s feelings of crisis, for the motivation to change. Just like in any area, it’s overwhelming my current system that’s forcing adaptation and growth.

New Year…well, relatively new

January was an interesting time, mostly because so many jobs I’d bid came back as positives. That’s good news, except that I had already booked a vacation with my parents for the last two weeks of the month, so there was a pretty hard deadline. The month started like a hurricane and didn’t really let up. Regrettably, I lost focus on good work habits for some of that, and had unclear goals; I don’t know for sure if it will bite me, but I suspect I’ll have a small bump in the road ahead.

Since I’m a ways behind in writing, I’m going to be compacting a few experiences into the next few posts and trying to catch up with what’s important. First off, goals.

I’ve had a hard time putting down goals, as the ones that I set mentally didn’t completely resonate with me. Instead of taking a day to really be alone and get a feel for what I wanted, I’ve procrastinated setting hard goals. But I feel safe doing that now. My goals for this year:

  1. Pay off my student loans completely (about $20,000 US)
  2. Have $5000 saved up with no outstanding debt
  3. Stay at home for the holidays, from Thanksgiving through to New Year
  4. Go home once during the year for my friend’s wedding
  5. Keep a monthly cash flow of at least $2,500 each month
  6. Comfortably wear my 30-inch-waist jeans (from Target, so I’ll need my waist below 32 inches)
  7. Be able to: do 25 pull-ups (from about 12-13 now), do 100 push-ups (45 now), do 5 handstand push-ups (against a wall is fine- 0 now), walk on my hands for 10 feet, walk on a 25-ft slack-line ten times (1 now)
  8. Bring a product of my own design to market

These are high goals for me, but I’ve realized that only high goals are motivating. I’d much rather work my heart out for something great than work half-heartedly for something mediocre. Cheers to striving valiantly.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “ – Theodore Roosevelt