Personal Development

#500words

“…most adult books are about 90,000 words, and no longer than 100,000 (unless you’re JK Rowling). Teen books are about 55,000 words.”(website)

I don’t have aspirations for writing a book, but I do want to write more frequently because it is an essential life skill. If you can’t articulate your thoughts in writing, when you have time to formulate your thoughts, select the exact words that mean the exact thing you want to say, then you’ve really have no chance of communicating at all.

For better part of my time as a CPA (certified public accountant) in public accounting, I used my writing and reading skills (not very good) more than I did my math skills (which I have none.) I read technical accounting literature, interpreted it, and wrote position memos to support an accounting position. I wrote footnotes that went into SEC filings of public companies. I’ve written memos explaining the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board why a certain audit procedure performed was to standard.

The more I write, the easier it gets to crank out a decent first draft. The more I write, the easier it is to get into the flow of writing but I still don’t do it enough. When I do go on a writing streak, I there is a noticeable difference is the flow of the writing. This doesn’t mean that the writing is any good.

To keep the state of writing flow near and readily accessible, I decided that I should add a daily writing component to my #75hard challenge.

Here’s what I’ve been doing since August 14th: write 500 words per day.

Here are the simple rules I use:

  1. Write 500 words per day.
  2. Any topic is okay.
  3. No editing, unless I catch a typo mid-sentence. The goal is to make progress, not perfect prose.
  4. No research. The focus in on writing, not researching (a deep and endless rabbit hole.) If I don’t have a fact or figure, I’ll put a placeholder like this: [insert fact or figure here].

Let’s do some math. 500 words per day x 365 days per year = 182,800 words.

Adult books have about 90,000 words; therefore, 182,800 divided by 90,000 = 2 books per year; or, 1.8 books if you’re JK Rowling. But, again, forget about books. That’s a lot of words for your blog, movie script, marketing content, thesis, journal, or whatever.

Here’s some technical stuff: I start my writing in the Drafts app which has a nice word count feature. I then push it to Dayone and tag it with “500 Words” for the writings that I want in my journal. I don’t want everything in the journal because some days are just rambling…forcing myself to write 500 words, even if it’s a bunch of nonsense (remember: progress, not perfect prose.)

By the way, the post has exactly 500 words in it so it’s part of my daily #500words.

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Personal Development

Shadows

This is Miles, my dachshund. This year he will be 18 years old (126 dog years!) A few years ago he had a back surgery. He recovered nicely but lately he’s looking frail again. No one knows how much time is left.

As I look at him, with the sun beaming past his body and lighting his way, I think that we are all like Miles.

When the sun is behind our backs, the shadow faces forward. It is darker because there is no clarity.

The shadow is a signpost of the past and the future.

If we let it, the shadow is the hazy memory of past failures. It could of a reminder of what we could have been but never was because we didn’t make so.

Or, the shadow can be the nascent self, the better self, if we can only get past the opaque outline and the uncertainty of what that self really is when we arrive.

The sun lights the way. Are we using the light to choose our path or are we staring at our shadow?

Whatever you do, don’t stare too long. The shadow will move, with or without you, to create a regrettable past or a unexplored future.

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Personal Development

Books I Read in 2018

I keep a list of the books I read each year, by month. In 2018, I read 24 books. Some were great, some were mediocre, some I read because I was tired of hearing about them.

Recommended books are denoted with *. Audible books are denoted with ^.


January

February

March

May

June

July

August

October

November

December

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Personal Development

2018 Annual Report

At the beginning of 2018, I chose a one-word theme: “attack.” The plan was to attack the day with maximum effort and win the day

I didn’t focus on goals. Instead, I focused on developing habits that moved the needle. I relied on consistency and the accumulation of daily effort.

Here’s how 2018 shaped up for me.

Physical Activity

In November 2017 I decided to start running and I kept up with this habit throughout 2018.

I logged in 591 miles over 176 runs. Although this is the most I’ve ever run, I am a bit disappointed that I did not run more. With 365 days a year, subtract 61 days in May and July where I did not run and subtract 52 rest days (1 rest day per week), I was left with 252 days available for running. I ran only 70% of those days. That’s 12 weeks where I chose not to run.

In May I sprained an ankle and did not run. In July, I experimented with only walking in order to keep my heart rate in the fat burning range of 105 – 135.

For the year, I walked 240 miles over 79 walks.

Weight

I started the year at 200 pounds. My last weigh in today, the last day of the year was 184. That’s down 16 pounds this year, an average of 1.33 pounds per month. This was a bit disappointing because I was hoping for a lot more.

But hope is not a strategy, and I didn’t have much of a strategy other than exercise which is not much of a strategy at all because 80% of weight loss is about diet. I prioritized the 20%, the exercise, which wasn’t smart.

I overate and I deluded myself by telling myself that my activity outweighed my calorie intake and poor food choices. As a result, my weight loss plateaued for months. It wasn’t until I was disciplined did I see downward movement on my weight. The disciple was short lived in June and November.

Reading

Since 2017 I’ve had a goal of reading 100 books each year. Each year I fail horribly at this goal. The upside is that I read more than I would have if I didn’t have this goal at all.

I read 24 books in 2018. One book was an audiobook, my first audiobook in a long time.

Personal Development

Attacking 2018 means action. To help with this I joined a mastermind group run by Andy Frisella and Ed Mylett. I credit these guys with getting me to take action this year.

The purpose of the mastermind is to help me connect with liked mind people and to keep me moving forward. I haven’t connected with as many people in the mastermind that I would like, but that’s completely on me.

Business

My business, Basis 365 Accounting reached a milestone this year: we acquired an accounting firm. That’s a big step for us.

As a result, we added 4 people to the existing team 12 and we added an office in Oceanside, California.

Personal

2018 started off horribly on the personal front. A family member passed away too young due to cancer. Another family member got cancer for the second time but, luckily, she’s in the clear.

I’m more than ready to leave this part of 2018 behind.

The Year Ahead

Similar to 2018, I’ll focus on habits, not goals. I’ll focus on consistency and the accumulation of effort.

Here’s to a productive and awesome 2019.

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Personal Development

Books I Read in 2017

I keep a list of the books I read each year, by month. In 2017, I read 29 books. Some were great, some were mediocre, some I read because I was tired of hearing about them.

Recommended books end in “*.”


January

March

April

May

June

July

September

October

December

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Uncategorized

Life Calendar — Visualizing Your Life


A few weeks ago I watched a TED Talk by Tim Urban. He talked about procrastination.

Near the end of this talk, he presented a “Life Calendar” on screen. The screen was filled with little boxes which represented a 90 year life, a grid. There were more than 90 boxes, so I’m guessing he broke it down by weeks. There’s probably 4,680 boxes (52 weeks X 90 years).

I thought it was a great way to visualize this fleeting life and to remind me not to waste time. I created my own grid of 4,004 boxes using the average male life expectance in the United States of approximately 77 years. I filled in 2,230 boxes with a little dot. Over half my boxes are gone!

At the end of each week, I’ll draw another little dot in a box. I’m hoping that I can fill in the 4,004th box and beyond, but there’s no guarantee of that.


You can also buy a life calendar poster from Tim Urban.

You can get a PDF of my less optimistic 4,004 life calendar here.

If you want something more digital, check out Count.Life. There’s a Chrome extension too.

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