I’m quite conflicted over how to feel about the first half of 2018.
On one hand, I’ve attended six of the first eight Verizon IndyCar Series races of the year and was present for three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship rounds in a row at Long Beach, Mid-Ohio and Detroit. I always thought it would be a few years before I traveled to this many races but after finally attaining my driver’s license and a car last fall, it quickly became much simpler. From the season-opening IndyCar race in St. Petersburg, Florida to my first Indianapolis 500 and the recent Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix which fills a special place in my heart, it really has been a crazy cool year.
On the other hand, while all that has been happening right before my eyes, a lot hasn’t been happening. I’ve fallen flat on my face with all the habits I had lined up as the new year began.
I stayed active by continuing a streak I had going of closing the Move, Exercise and Stand rings on my Apple Watch until the flu reached up and grabbed me during the first week of April. I still take cold showers almost exclusively. But beyond that I’ve…
- Failed to consistently exercise, leading to the loss of all strength and fitness gains I made during my senior year of high school last year.
- Failed to journal every night and every morning, leading to countless days being wasted as I mulled over the same thoughts and concepts that could’ve been solved through journaling, the loss of an opportunity to capture a remarkable year and a very spotty memory of the year thus far.
- Failed to consistently write on my blog, leading to the continuation of unnecessary confusion over what I even do with my time for family and friends who care and could’ve followed along.
- Failed to read 25 pages a day, leading to an embarrassing average of 1.5 pages per day through the first half of the year.
- Failed to prioritize sleep, leading to poor performance in conversations and situations requiring focus at the racetrack, too much wasted time sleeping in and a generally low energy level.
- Failed to contribute my fair share to my girlfriend and family, leading to negative energy and wasted time attempting to patch problems.
- Failed to reach my potential with The Apex, leading to extremely underwhelming output over and over again as the biggest races of the year came and went.
I have no excuses to make. The ball was in my hands — somewhat firmly — as 2017 became 2018 yet I remain on the cusp, overflowing with potential energy and in a holding pattern.
Tomorrow I’ll put my head down and make progress with that hard task.
Maybe later this week I’ll go to bed early and with no distractions.
After this race weekend I’ll be proactive, ensuring progress instead of putting out fires.
Once things settle down I’ll begin journaling.
Perhaps when I feel like it I’ll pick up that book and read the thousands of pages whose lessons I thought I’d have ingested by now.
This is what it sounds like to spin my wheels traveling on the Road to Nowhere.
I’ve learned that the habits come first. I won’t always be up for exercising, reading or writing but once I just do it, the feeling almost always follows. World-class athletes and performers in other fields use this to their advantage. This is what separates professionals from those who, in my opinion, are wasting their time.
More Than Habits
There’s definitely a connection, but my struggles this year go beyond my failure to maintain good habits.
It’s hard to feel the full weight of how cool it is to be in Long Beach or at the Indy 500 when you feel like a fraud and fail over and over to produce what you’re capable of producing. And you can imagine the guilt I deal with as I sit there feeling bad about myself at some of North America’s most prominent events.
Is working harder the answer? I don’t think so.
I find that working harder only makes things worse. It only makes burnout strike harder and forces us to let other important things fall by the wayside. I can block out extensive periods of time to focus on creating what I’m driven to create at The Apex but if it leads to burnout and an unhappy girlfriend, am I really doing what’s right?
The first half of this year has taught me that I need to work smarter, not harder. I need to plan things out and have literal lists of tasks to complete any project and achieve even small goals. I need to zero in on the outputs that really matter, putting my time and effort into the 20 percent of work that brings about 80 percent of the positive results.
Furthermore, I need to move forward with things instead of toying around in perpetual analysis paralysis mode, waiting to feel competent enough to not screw up. Mark Zuckerberg is evil but I’m in a better place when I’m remembering perhaps the only useful adage he’s ever contributed to mankind:
Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.
Again: Action comes first. Proactive > reactive.
Okay, So What Now?
I feel more mature. My people skills have skyrocketed. I’ve formed new connections at the racetrack, much quicker than I thought I would. I’ve learned absolutely invaluable lessons via articles and podcasts. Reframing how I view situations — thank you Tim Ferriss — has been the most useful addition to my arsenal probably since I learned to read.
These are some awesome gains I’ve made recently and I’m proud of them. Plus, through all this, I’m way more self aware than I ever have been, making it easy to diagnose every problem I feel — plus the problems that cause those problems — and making it so easy to find solutions that it’s become my new hobby. This comes into play not with the simple things (exercising, going to bed at a decent hour, etc.) but when doing the real work required to move forward (identifying sources of emotions, creating things at The Apex, etc.).
The thing is, getting real about the “simple things” is a vital step toward mastering the real work to consistently reach my potential and attain fulfillment.
I believe that checking off the simple stuff every day will lead to less friction when it comes time to do the real work. I believe that working smarter rather than harder will spark not only heightened productivity but also a deeper sense of freedom.
And if it makes days at the racetrack slow down a little bit so I can get more of that real work done, then I’ve found myself the answer.