All the action happens at 32 degrees.

Focus on systems, not goals. 

Since 2012, when I took a travel writing course, I wanted to write a book. This was my goal.

It is now 2021. The book hasn’t happened. I have pitched this goal. Instead, I made a system.

Why now?

I got so sick of myself not writing. It was too big of a goal to write a book and I felt paralyzed.

Like wanting eight pack abs, one goal for me was to show up and write. This goal wasn’t working. I didn’t have a well-designed system in place. I atrophied.

James Clear, the best-selling author of Atomic Habits, says that massive change occurs over time in small increments.

He tells the story of an ice cube sitting in a warming room.

At 25 degrees, ice is ice. Nothing exciting happens.

At 26 degrees, ice is still ice, yet at the molecular level, things are changing.

At 27 degrees, same story.

At 32 degrees, BOOM! Now we have water.

No one can see the small molecular changes happening in those 7 degrees of change. To the outside observer, it is as if all the change happens instantly.

Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

Now I have a system in place. 

It took me a long time with other projects (photography, healthcare drug waste, comic strip, a children’s plush animal for a book) and sunk costs to realize what was and wasn’t working. And that is okay. Those previous experiences are all part of the building process.

I am writing.

The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

It is motivating for me to look back and connect the dots. It is more exciting to imagine and plan for a brighter future. It starts now. When asked, “Are you a writer?” What do you say?

Thanks for reading,

Cory

Wrenching Season

Photo by Tekton on Unsplash

It is that time of year to take the cover off the bike, refresh the fluids, invest in new tires, find that 10mm wrench, and get to work.

There is a thing about wrenching that is very grounding. The physical turn of the wrench, the removal of bolts, schlepping of metal, and replacing gaskets and seals provide endorphins where I find myself returning to it again and again.

Regardless of the project, the wrenching process itself can be illuminating. With the proper diagnostic mindset, you end up finding out more about yourself in the process. The blood, sweat, and profanity of a pinched finger are essential elements.

“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Similar to wrenching your machine for improvement, journaling sharpens the mind. It is the process of self-reflection through writing. Similar to fresh oil in a machine, journaling helps clear the mind, improving arterial flow to the brain. The habit of wrenching your mind daily with pencil and paper provides profound creative bursts of insight. At the end of the wrenching session, you may feel as if you have solved all of the world’s problems.

Write

When you are happy, Write.

When you are sad, Write.

When you are feeling confident, Write some more.

When you are unsure and stuck, Write Again.

Keep Writing and then Write some more.

Reflect on what you Wrote.

No one ever has to see it.

If you do share, do so generously.

And Write again in the morning.

Keep on Truckin’

Love, Your Future Self

The Snake Next To The TypeWriter

My mind wanders as I think about about Stephen Pressfield’s book The War of Art, which describes the inner battle the writer struggles with in their creative pursuits.

I look over to where my laptop lays and to my surprise I find an anaconda, seven and half feet in length with a circumference of thirteen inches, just sitting there with her mean yellow eyes looking deeply into my soul. The green scales coiling slowly. Asystole. My heart flatlines. Poof. This is how it ends, I think.

This is the scene I imagine at the thought of sitting down to type.

But as I ignore my lizard brain the fog clears and the sun comes up. I start to type and then the words start to pour. The sunbeams shine brighter, flower petals open; even the succulents seem happier.

This is the definition of winning I think. I look next to me and see a quote by Aldous Huxley

Do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.

And another,

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, it is a habit.

These kind words fill my soul, motivating me to seize the day.

And then I realize, I just did.

Shipping before you’re ready (and you’re always ready)

Write, they said.

It will be fun, they said.

They must have been on drugs were right.

Writing is a fun, creative, painfully antagonizing! process, which is a reflection of thought. The ability to deliver a succinct message, create tension for a reader, hold it, and then have them breathe out with release with a change in their perspective is the result of a laborious grueling process, similar to shoveling pig slop. The final written product of what you read results from clear perfectly formed ideas having an idea, putting it down on paper, revising, and revising some more. It might appear like pig shit shiny and bright once you’re finished with it.

However, this is rare. The ability to put the alphabet in a particular order and then form a word combined with another word that makes somewhat of a haphazard sentence is easy as 1-2-3! takes daily practice, and requires showing up generously.

It is a simple act of throwing, catching, releasing, and shipping before you think you are ready.

To throw a ball well, you must first practice throwing the ball. You might shatter a neighbor’s window in the process, yet this is essential to learning. This learning process might be described as a peaceful flow of revising and editing that ebbs back and forth like a calm shoreline at dusk, as I was once told.

I couldn’t disagree more. Editing what you write is similar to stepping out on your porch in the morning to discover a hungry ravenous snapping alligator who has just eaten your dog; it must be wrestled with until either you or the alligator wins. Ah, now you can breathe.

The fact is, you are always ready. You must simply decide.

That’s all for today.

Cheers to shipping and gator soup,

Cory