The Importance of Wasting Time

I was listening to Brené Brown’s Audible book The Power of Vulnerability today on a trip to IKEA.

Through qualitative research (I’m recollecting the audio, so I’m probably not wording this correctly), she discovered that people who unconditionally love themselves shared similar qualities.

Here are two of the qualities people who unconditionally loved themselves shared:

  1. They spent a greater amount of time playing. I’m not talking creative play at work or anything like that. We’re talking actual play. For example, jumping on a trampoline or playing a board game.
  2. They spent a greater amount of time sleeping. We’re talking 8-9 hours of true sleep every 24 hours.

I haven’t gotten far enough in the book to know exactly why this characteristic pops up. But I have a theory.

Individuals who truly love themselves put taking care of themselves at the top of the priority list.

Even when I consciously make an effort to take care of myself, I don’t treat myself this good.

Here’s the warped way I can sometimes view taking care of myself:

  • Exercising on the elliptical in my garage.
  • Forcing myself to eat some vegetables.
  • Tracking eight glasses of water in an app.
  • Writing down my goals for the day.
  • Going for a 10-minute walk outside.

Is there anything wrong with any of these things?

No, not really.

But if a good friend asked me to prescribe them tasks to take care of themselves it would look more like this:

  • Take an hour walk in nature and contemplate a passage of spiritual writing. No phone.
  • Slowly savor a delicious meal made with fresh ingredients.
  • Meditate for at least 20 minutes in the morning and evening.
  • Write a letter to let someone know how thankful I am for them.
  • Spend an hour playing a game of Backgammon with a friend with some delicious coffee.

Notice the difference here?

The former list crams self-care down my throat. It’s an unproductive way to try to take care of myself.

The latter list takes heaping portions of time. It forces us to give up some of our productivity.

How Can You Waste Some Time This Week?

What can you do for yourself this week to give back to yourself?

What can you do that is a waste of time regarding productivity (but a valuable investment for you as a person)?

Take 60 seconds and leave a comment below letting me know what you plan to do. I’d love to hear your ideas. Plus it will act as a living list of ideas for other readers. 

 

 

 

Why It’s Awesome to Be a Beginner

A few days ago I purchased Shunrye Suzuki’s book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

One of the first things Suzuki emphasizes in the book is this quote:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”

One way of looking at this is the expert tends to become blind to opportunities and stubborn in his ways. The beginner sees opportunity and novel solutions everywhere.

For example, I’ve run RetroSupply for five years now. The business has generated a healthy six-figure income year in and year out.

If I’m honest with myself, this has made me rigid. I tend to believe I know how to make something succeed. I follow worn paths that have worked in the past.

So when I started my daily drawing ritual 30 days ago, I was immediately humbled by my lack of knowledge. I’m a designer and not much of an illustrator.

I quickly realized I was not good. And each day as I drew and posted an illustration I felt humility, saw the entire world from new angles and saw many possibilities for myself.

But what made this almost magical was how having a beginner’s mind changed the rest of my life.

Here are some things that have happened since I started drawing:

  • I see new ways to bring more value to RetroSupply.
  • Everday experiences are richer. Drawing has helped me see the beauty in everyday objects.
  • I find myself going into a flow state when I draw. Something that wasn’t happening nearly as much over the past few years.

How You Can Reignite Your Beginner’s Mind

Do you want to instantly have a fresh view of your business, art, personal life, and the world in general?

Choose a daily practice you can start today. Start developing a new skill that can be done in 30 minutes or less each day. Ideally, the skill should put you in a flow state.

Here are some examples of skills you might try:

  • Gardening
  • Cooking
  • Painting
  • Learn an instrument
  • Play a sport

Once you’ve chosen your activity practice it 5-7 days a week for at least 30 minutes.

Document your process publicly. You could use Instagram if it’s a visual practice or even Twitter (for example, Day 1 | Practiced the transition between the D and G chord in open position for 30 minutes).

Conclusion

I didn’t think this drawing practice would have such an impact on my life. But just a little time each day doing something with a beginner’s mind can rewire the way you see the world (and yourself).

If you have 20 seconds respond to this post. I’d love to know about your experience with beginner’s mind, activities that put you in a flow state, or a new practice you’re committed to starting. 

I Made This for You

I’ve always been fascinated by marketing.

From why so many fast food restaurants have used red in their branding (it makes us hungry). To the psychological tactics used by infomercials to persuade us to buy (social proof, scarcity, pricing tactics, etc.).

As a result, I’ve purchased dozens of books on marketings and psychology.

I worked with my friend Jonathan. A fantastic small business owner and copywriter.

Jonathan built a six-figure business by himself mainly due to his copywriting skills.

Between all the books, courses, and educational material I’ve consumed and learned from a mentor I’ve gotten decent at using these techniques.

I’ve built a business in part because of these techniques.

The problem is that it can end up feeling hollow and dishonest.

Just like all the music theory in the world won’t make a songwriter write great songs all the marketing knowledge in the world won’t make your audience grow to love your work.

Here’s a simple thought trick I use to solve this problem…

When I was a teenager, I probably made hundreds of mix tapes.

I put great thought and care into each tape. My friend Alex (who loved blues guitar and lived in an abandoned house) got a much different tape than the girl from high school I had a crush on when I was fifteen.

The point is that I curated a particular selection of music for each person.

What if when we created something for our audience, we pretended like we were making a mix tape for them?

Here’s a simple step-by-step way to do this:

  1. Think of a real person you know consumes what you make.
  2. Consider what they’re struggling with and what they need.
  3. Think about how you would provide content to them if they were a good friend.

Let’s stop thinking of our audience as an abstract mass of people. Instead, let’s imagine we’re making useful art for one person.

Why You’ll Always Be Anxious

I’d be willing to bet you’re feeling anxious today.

Maybe you’re behind on a project. Perhaps you have to meet new people at an event tonight. Or you’ve spent weeks wondering whether you’ll ever get your new career off the ground.

So you look for solutions to eliminate your anxiety.

Work harder. You put in extended hours to get ahead on your work. Once you’re ahead on all those projects, you’ll feel better.

Numb yourself. On the way home from work you grab yourself a six-pack to help you forget about the relationship that’s not going well.

Tell yourself it’s temporary. Once you get the job you’ve been dreaming of, 20K followers, the perfect partner. Then you’ll finally be free of anxiety.

But the truth is that deep down inside – maybe in the minutes before you fall asleep at night you know, deep down, that you will never escape your anxiety.

You entered this world alone. You’ll exit this world alone.

We were born into a world constructed from layer upon layer of unnatural stressors:

  • 40 hour work weeks.
  • Information delivered to us instantly.
  • Our social conditioning screaming at us to earn more money than our peers, buy a beautiful home, and gain admiration.

False alarms continuously trigger our survival instincts leaving us an anxious mess.

You Can’t Eliminate Your Anxiety (But Here’s What You Can Do).

Instead of being anxious about being anxious accept anxiety as part of life.

Here are some things I do to make my reduce my anxiety (your list might be very different):

  • Take long walks at night.
  • Meditate using the Headspace App.
  • Play with my daughters.
  • Make a home cooked meal (no television).
  • Enjoy an honest conversation with a friend.

Conclusion

Anxiety is part of being human. We can’t eliminate our anxiety. But we can learn to manage it, live with it, and become friends with it.

Have a few seconds? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Do you agree or disagree?

Note: This article is my feelings about anxiety. It shouldn’t be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This article is my opinions and for general information purposes.

No Deprivation

I own two hard copies of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and an audio version. I probably listen to his words at least once a day.

On quote always stands out to me…

“No one can lose either the past or the future – how could anyone be deprived of what he does not possess? … It is only the present moment of which either stands to be deprived: and if this is all he has, he cannot lose what he does not have.” – Marcus Aurelius

This might be such a common idea as to be a banal platitude. But read it once more.

As I pass it through my mind over and over I occasionally catch the feeling of freedom.

With each passing year, I collect more things that I feel I’ve lost.

I’ve lost the wild adventures of my twenties. I’ve lost touch with good friends. I’ve forgotten the chords to the songs I played in that band for six years.

I also fear losing the future.

I fear I’ll lose the relationship I have with my daughters. I fear my love of Half and Half is going to get payback in a massive heart attack in my forties.

But Marcus Aurelius had it right. We can’t lose either the past or the future. All we have is right now. This exact moment. The past is gone. The future hasn’t happened.

What if each day we do our best to minimize our fear of losing what we don’t have?

We do that by realizing all we have is the present.

Nothing can take that from us.

How to Use Frameworks to Solve Creative Problems

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a songwriter/guitarist.

I spent hours in my room with my four-track writing music.

Many times it was a mystical experience to hear the instruments combine to create beautiful soundscapes.

But sometimes it was a frustrating struggle.

If the inspiration wasn’t there, I would have battles with my Martin acoustic, notepad, and four track.

The bummer part is it didn’t have to be so hard. We often attribute creativity with picking ideas out of the ether. But there are step-by-step formulas we can follow to generate fresh ideas, novel connections, and new insights.

How to Turn First-Time Buyers into Long Term Customers

This November was RetroSupply’s biggest sales month ever. We had 1355 transactions. 613 were brand new customers.

You’ve probably heard the advice that an existing customer is 10x as likely as a prospect to purchase from you.

Personal experience with RetroSupply has told me this is true. A customer that has bought once is way more likely to buy again.

These customers result in reliable revenue, higher cart values, and an active community.

We want to invest a disproportionate amount of effort into creating repeat customers.

So what’s the best way you can turn first-time customers into repeat customers that can’t wait to consume everything you release?

Here are a few ideas that I’m planning on trying.