Posts tagged goals
How To Discover Your Personal Philosophy in Three Steps

It’s become a bit of a running joke in a group of my friends: hang out with me long enough, especially if you add a few beers into the mix, and I quickly become philosophical. I can’t help it, really. I’ve always been bored to tears by small talk and am often guilty of jumping straight into the deep end of a conversation without letting it properly warm up. While I realize not everyone is like that, I’m occasionally surprised at how many people seem to live their life without any philosophical context. By that I mean a lot of folks seem to be going about their daily motions without thinking too deeply or asking questions about why they’re doing what they’re doing. Will this decision advance me toward my personal goals? Does that action truly align with my values? Will that next tequila shot make me puke in my Uber? (That answer is usually "yes.")

It’s not that we should be overthinking every little detail of our lives or constantly second guessing ourselves. And it's not that we should be living within a strict set of rules. Rules are arbitrary and restrictive and make you feel bad when you break them. There are no rules in life, and it’s exactly this fact that makes having your own personal philosophy so important; since there are no rules, you can do anything you want at any time (yes, there are laws, but laws don't restrict free will, they simply inspire you to choose wisely). That freedom may sound liberating, but it won’t get you anywhere on its own, and what is life if not a fine chance to explore, discover and work out why we're here? If you’ve ever set a goal for yourself or pursued a dream, you know that to accomplish anything you need direction. We can all benefit from having a set of guiding principles which help us make the decisions that will lead us down the path we're aiming for. Nobody can truly control their life, but you can do a damn good job of setting yourself up for success, whatever your definition of "success" is. Every little decision you make can have an effect on that.

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Making Art for Art's Sake or: How I Learned to Give Up the Agenda

When my band broke up last year, I found myself in an uncomfortable but interesting place. I’d been in bands for almost my entire life starting shortly after I first picked up the guitar (six months after, to be exact). From that time in 1996 through 2011, the longest stretch of time when I wasn’t in at least one band was no longer than a few months. It’s always been something that felt right to me, that feeling of being an important part of a small, tight-knit group of like-minded musicians creating new and exciting things. But here I was after a six and a half year run with Shaimus: bandless, lost and exhausted.

In so many ways it was like getting out of a six year relationship; just the thought of starting a new band was enough to make me feel worn out and frustrated. Along with this (and many other feelings) came a sense of melancholy freedom. I had been obligated to go to rehearsals or meetings on Monday nights, Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings for years. I couldn’t take a trip out of town without consulting five other people. It was a sacrifice I was more than willing to make and had no regrets about, but now I suddenly had a huge chunk of my personal life restored. Yet I was back to the beginning: we had not quite made it to the level in our career that would have opened doors that could ease the transition into my next musical project. It was either join a band that was already at that level or start from scratch again.

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Don't Sweat the Huge Stuff

Life is pretty imperfect, and we should probably carefully adjust our expectations. That might come off as a bit cynical, but it’s not meant to be. Let me explain.

I heard Shaun White being interviewed on the radio one morning. He was talking about how he won an Olympic gold medal after an incredible performance on the snowboard half-pipe, got interviewed by Oprah, learned that he would be on the cover of Rolling Stone for the second time, found himself flying to Italy and sitting front row in a major fashion show, and heard President Obama mention him in a speech to the nation.

And this was all within one week of his life.

Pretty amazing. Stories about people living life beyond our wildest dreams no doubt makes many of us picture what our “perfect life” would entail. Of course, Shaun White’s life isn’t really perfect, and he deals with his share of bullshit just like rest of us. But that’s not my point.

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The Death of Deadlines

Birthdays are a lot like New Year’s Eve in that they're often a time when people reflect on the year that’s past, how they’ve grown, what they’ve accomplished, mistakes that they’ve made.  Some people fret about another year that’s gone by and how much shorter life seems after every 365 days.  Other people don’t think about it too much at all and just use it as an excuse to party.  I think I’ve done all three at one point or another.

But usually I spend at least a little time reflecting on all the things that have happened and how much I’ve changed over the course of a year.  I assume the average person goes through about as much or as little as I do in any given year, so I rarely find the need to openly share things I’ve learned or accomplished.  But as you reach your mid and late 20s, I think it’s only natural for a lot of people to start feeling like their youth is slipping away more and more quickly as their age rises.  I’ve certainly felt that before, but I’m finished with it.

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