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Minimalism, Priorities and Punching Difficulty in the Throat

Some people, activities, and things are so important that you would give up everything else in order to hold on to them.

The tricky part is that we’re so awash with ‘stuff,’ it becomes hard to tell what’s important and what’s not, and the only way to figure it out is to trim the fat.

This is what I did when I left the US to start traveling the world.

I sold everything short of a bagful of necessities, cut back on all but the most necessary communications and put myself in a situation where I would need to spend more time just learning how to live, leaving less free time in which to do the fun things I’ve always done. This has given me a lot of clarity as to what I value most.

My Freedom is My Life

One lifestyle facet I wouldn’t trade for anything is my freedom of movement and time.

I can wake up, go to sleep, eat, read, work, write, date, chill, drink, and party whenever I want. There is no one looking over my shoulder telling me I should be more productive or dropping subtle hints that I should work less.

What’s mine is mine, and that’s just fine.

There are times, however, when one priority might infringe upon another priority’s turf, creating some tension.

For example, another priority in my life is starting up new ventures and using them to build something out of nothing, and one such venture is ebookling.

Working Together

After talking with a lot of people, all of whom decided that ebookling is the cat’s meow and would hit it big, no question, I decided that it would be prudent to bring someone else on board to help manage the thing. A capable ‘How’ person to help me convey the ‘Why’ of the project.

I hadn’t even begun to look when a chap from New York named Miles hit me up for a Skype conversation and convinced me that he was the man to get things shaking at ebookling. After having worked with him for a month I’m inclined to believe him.

The crux of the issue isn’t Miles, but rather the fact that now there is someone else involved with a project that, up until now, I had full control over. I controlled the brand, the website, the conversations with customers, and the content that was published. The blueprint in my head was all that mattered, and I had no one to answer to. I could work on it once a week or eight hours a day without recriminations or congratulations.

I don’t really answer to Miles, but as someone who is working on a project I believe in and as someone whose opinions and work ethic I respect, I kind of do. My action or inaction impact him now, and to a greater level than if I were to, say, not blog for a week.

Conflict is Necessary for Continued Evolution

What I’m aiming at here is that no matter how you refine your lifestyle to fit perfectly with how you want to live your life, so long as you are still pushing and challenging yourself, there will still be friction and uncertainty and conflict.

You may be forced to choose between priorities or to meet in the middle with them. You may even have to invent new ways of operating so you can enjoy them both.

You shouldn’t try to run from difficulty, you should seek it out. Embrace it! Take it on, beat it, punch it in the throat, and look for more of its kind.

Minimalism isn’t just about reduction, it’s also about reaffirming daily that what you’ve got is exactly what you need.

You get better at rolling with the punches as you get more practice, and if you want to keep growing as a person while building your ideal lifestyle, you’ll need to be able to do just that.

Update: February 1, 2017

I still prefer to work alone in most things, not because I don’t think other people add something valuable, but because of the concerns mentioned in this post. I like to work in accordance with my own rhythm. I like to be able to change things on the fly, without consulting anyone else.

It’s frankly a bad attitude that I’ll need to balance out someday, if I want to scale anything a lot bigger than what I’ve done in the past, but it works well for the types of projects I usually undertake and operate.

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We Live in the Frickin’ Future

When someone tells you that something is impossible, what they really mean is ‘I haven’t figured out a way to do that.’

Or ‘I haven’t heard of anyone figuring out a way to do that.’

Or worst of all, ‘Someone else told me that there is no way to do that, so I never bothered trying.’

We live in the frickin’ future.

We shouldn’t be asking if something can be done, but how.

Update: February 1, 2017

Preach.

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I Build

As far back as I can remember (and even beyond that, in the realm of 80s-style, beige-hued childhood photographs), I had to build.

My creations were simple at first; a few carefully scrawled lines would become a stickman. With the addition of more lines and some dots, it become a stickboy. With the addition of some unpracticed letters spelling out ‘Colin’ on the same sheet of paper, it became me.

From crayon to conception to creation, so I would build.

As my understanding of the world around me grew, so did my construction capabilities.

Paint was splashed, clay molded, and ink etched on to thick, textured paper.

I cobbled words of increasing sophistication together into sentences, and those sentences became thoughts, and those thoughts became ideas.

Each and every creation existed because of me. If I had never been born, they wouldn’t have either.

Today and every day I continue to build, not because it’s a habit and not because it’s a job, but because it’s a drive.

When I find chaos I must create order. When I find thoughts, I must create action. When I find possibility, I must create inevitability.

I, like so many other people out there, cannot not create.

This is the burden builders carry, but rather than a sack of rocks, it’s more like a sack of balloons, propping us up and taking us to new heights.

A builder knows that the sky is not the limit, that there are no limits, only goals not yet reached.

We can fight our need, we can decide not to build and only to consume, or worse, to tear down bricks rather than mixing new mortar. But to what end?

We can deny what we are (as I have done in the past) and attempt to shift the responsibility to others, but all that earns us is stagnation, depression, and a partially-built structure that leaves us exposed to the elements. External influences that would bounce off the walls we could easily construct.

With crayons or words or ideas or businesses, build and be fulfilled.

Update: February 1, 2017

This still resonates with me, today.

I’ve allowed that concept, that I build because I can’t not, guide a lot of my actions in the last seven years. It renders a lot of otherwise complex choices far simpler, and allows me to feel that I’m adding to the world, rather than simply taking from it.