So…. About New Year’s resolutions

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? I ask because this is usually the time that most people are beginning to fall out of their goals for the year, and back into their old routines.

I’m no exception.

One of my goals for the year was to spend 20 minutes a day on Duolingo, a free app that teaches you your choice of language. Well, unfortunately, it’s been about a month since I’ve opened the app. I did well for a while, but then completely collapsed. Why is that?

It’s not like I made a commitment to run five miles a day. I asked myself for 20 minutes. Finding 20 minutes during my day isn’t hard. Sure, I’m busy – I keep a full schedule. But 20 minutes is always available.

And what’s the long-term return? In just a routine 20 minutes I could become competent in basic Spanish by the end of the year. This is a skill that I could continue to build upon; and I’m certain that it would prove beneficial in the future.

Isn’t it an easy decision? 20 minutes a day, in exchange for a 2nd language. If you’re young, if you love to travel, if you love learning new things – If you are any combination of the three (ME) – This is a no brainer.

If it’s such an easy decision, why isn’t it easy to stick with?

Spending 20 minutes on an app is much easier than a common resolution that I’m sure many of you chose to pursue this year — exercising more.

The first week at the gym is hard, but it’s fun. Even with the sore muscles you’re excited about beginning the journey. It’s fresh, it’s new. Your workout partners are awesome. There’s great weather. Your gym is currently running a discount on membership. You have awesome new workout clothes. You’ve got a new shaker bottle, and new training supplements.

It’s a perfect storm and everything is as it should be.

But as my favorite middle school novel “The Outsiders” explains (with the help of Robert Frost), “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. Things are rarely perfect, and when they are they don’t tend to last.

When the honeymoon wanes, what are you going to do?

I would argue that it’s hard to stay consistent because of the incredible number of firecrackers that are thrown into our lives every day. So much time is spent on making sure our homes don’t catch on fire. And it’s so easy to be overwhelmed, right? We are forced to prioritize. This first. That second. You, go here, in third. And it sucks. It’s not the greatest way of managing things – it’s really poor actually. But it’s what we have to do. Because life is unpredictable.

With all that being said. That’s why it’s hard to keep up with resolutions. Something that has major macro implications just isn’t as imperative as your house catching on fire – and it never will be.

So in the case that you’ve broken your New Year’s resolution because of the massive barrage of life’s firecrackers, I offer to start a March 30th resolution with you.

 

Today, I’m going to spend 20 minutes on Duolingo.

The Roadmap

This is an old article uploaded to this site for archive purposes.

 

 

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Sometimes I sit down to write and words seem to flow onto the page. I don’t second guess my word choice, or worry about how I could construct things better. I fall deeper into the story with each sentence I write and there’s not much revision when it’s all said and done.

But sometimes I struggle to write because I get in my own way. I’m sure you know the feeling. There’s an explicit goal — maybe you’re in English class and need to answer an open response — and for whatever reason you do everything but state the answer. You write, write, and write some more only to realize you haven’t really said anything. And then of course you erase everything and start over.

 

It’s not a good feeling. Like running in circles or forgetting your dog before going to the vet. Okay, maybe those are a tad too extreme to be legitimate examples as I doubt many cases of pet-less vet ventures have occurred and who would ever purposely run in a circle. But regardless, you get the picture.

For those who have yet to pick up on the hints, I’ve been struggling to write. Today makes 68 days since my last post on CommonSenseNews. That’s not something I’m proud of. I don’t like that I let what momentum I had built with my regular readers bottom out. I lost focus with what I wanted to say and I couldn’t find the right words to maneuver my way towards something that had meaning. At the end of the day, I couldn’t force myself to write half-heartily.

I found myself in classic writer’s block; and unfortunately, life doesn’t pause to let you overcome any such derailment. There’s no arena to square off against the clouds that block your writing roadmap. It’s not as simple as driving out of the rain into sunny skies. Sometimes, you can’t escape the clouds; and it’s hard to figure out where your writing road map could’ve gone.

 

With all of this being said I think I’ve rediscovered part of it. I know what I want to do with my writing. I want every word, every sentence, every story, to create a positive change in the world. This is something that I plan to do until the day I die, even if I choose to pursue other things.

Writing is more to me than just a hobby. Whether it’s a keyboard or a piece of paper, poetry or what I’m doing now, for private or for public – it is fundamentally who I am. Whether I reach one-hundred people or one-hundred thousand people, the ability to change someone’s day – someone’s life – brings joy to me like nothing else.

I know I spent a lot of time on me tonight but I guess what I want you to take away from this is to find what you love and use it for the greater good. There are going to be times when you feel like you can’t. There may be times when you aren’t sure what you should say, do, or think. But if you can find what you love, and hang on to it, the clouds eventually break. It doesn’t rain forever.

 

-Harrison

 

 

College is still worth it

This is an old article uploaded to the site for achieve purposes.

 

Over the spring semester I had a pretty severe internal debate with myself. I kept asking the question if what I’m doing in college is going to be pertinent for my future career.

I entered college with a pretty narrow idea of what acceptable career options were: Engineer, Doctor, Lawyer. I was smart, and my parents always pushed me. And I definitely don’t blame them; these are all great careers. But society has conditioned young adults to believe two detrimental fallacies when choosing a career. One — that the greatest factor of happiness is how much money you make. And two — that more education is the best way to ensure you earn the most money.

While I don’t think everyone falls victim to these lies, a significant number of young people do. I know that I did.

In the Fall of 2015 I enrolled as a Chemical Engineering student at the University of Kentucky. Yet I knew little about engineering; and even less about chemistry. So why in the world would I chose that major? Well, because I looked at a list similar to this. Who wouldn’t want to come straight out of college and make 70,000 dollars a year?

Me! ME! Sign me up.

That’s a lot of money, especially for a y22-year-old who’s starting their first “real” job.

But before I even took my first engineering class I knew that I wouldn’t be happy being an engineer. My plan was to pair an engineering degree with an MBA, and become a business executive. Of course I had absolutely no idea what a “business executive” did — but I knew they made a lot of money, and they didn’t have to do “engineering stuff”.

Fortunately for myself, I had a precipitative event that really shook my life up. Among a number of other things, it led me towards what I’m really passionate about doing. I began surrounding myself with like-minded people, and working on a few projects, CommonSenseNews being one.

Eventually, I arrived at the conclusion that money doesn’t determine happiness or satisfaction. If someone offered to pay me $200,000 a year to shovel dirt for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t take the job; I would be miserable.

Money’s important. But there are many of ways to become wealthy that don’t involve college: Real estate, small business, innovation. Not a single person on the Forbes list earned their fortune by working as an employee for 40 years. Most, in fact, pursued what they loved.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t work for someone else. Because almost every one of us will at some point in our lives.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to college. Because I think that college can benefit everyone.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t become an engineer, doctor, or lawyer. Because by all means, the world needs you.

What I am saying, is that you should do all these things because you want to. You should do all these things because you’re driven to. Because working on the technology that makes autonomous cars possible excites you so much that you dream about it every night. Because spending your career working tirelessly to develop a cure for cancer makes you sick with joy just talking about it. Because making a difference though an unorthodox approach to the legal system has been your only focus since you set your sights on becoming a Judge.

College teaches you the skills necessary to pursue these passions. If you’re crazy about something that requires a college degree then there’s no question, college is the way to go. So I have no doubt that college is still “worth it”…

But it’s not the golden expressway towards a happy life.

There are many different roads that will take you to the country club. All you have to do is decide between the scenery.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed.

-Harrison B

Losing is a really good thing

Today I talk about perspective. I find that very fitting for a day like today. Whether you are overjoyed or lost for words, perspective can help to center your reality.

 

How do you deal with being the one that isn’t chosen?

 

When I was in the sixth grade I thought that I was going to be one of the five “starters” on the basketball team. When I wasn’t chosen I remember feeling like the world had collapsed; and, as I’m sure my mom can attest, it wasn’t an easy couple of days. I’m hoping that my mom has since forgiven me for those tantrums. It couldn’t have been easy managing, what probably seemed to my mom, a minor issue.

 

Parents have that ability. They (mostly) know what is and isn’t a big deal. Of course, you can’t believe them when they tell you “It isn’t the end of the world” or, my dad’s personal favorite, “I’ve lived it son.” You just cannot begin to consider the fact that they could actually have a clue about the situation you’re dealing with. That “Do you want to be my girlfriend? Circle yes or no” note that the teacher happened to intercept and read aloud to the ENTIRE class is a momentously – giant – super – awful – terribly big deal. Come on mom, get with the picture.

 

I mean, what even do adults know in the first place? In your 12-year-old mind not being a starter on the basketball team is a massive disappointment. And why wouldn’t it be? This is what you’ve dreamt about since you started playing as a little kid. County championships, game winning shots, and cheerleaders with your number on their cheek. It’s almost impossible for you to think beyond this single year in your life. Little do we know, as 12 year olds, that the inescapable reality of failure remains constant until the day we die.

 

As we grow up we will be faced with obstacles that, in the moment, seem to be as imperative as our sixth grade love notes gone wrong. You might struggle in school and question your future. You might have to deal with the loss of a parent and suddenly shoulder responsibility that no kid should have to take on. You might be in love with a person who doesn’t love you back and think that you just cannot possibly live without this person. Life might give it to you worse; or life might make things easier. But regardless, the unwavering truth remains – the obstacles will come.

 

It doesn’t matter if it’s basketball, school, career, love, or life and death; things cannot always go your way. This is an absolute reality that has withstood the sands of time.

 

Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, and Sylvester Stallone (as Rocky Balboa) are all people who commonly come to mind when thinking of experts in failure: unbelievably successful individuals, who also had unbelievable failures. Edison famously failed 1,000 times before creating a successful light bulb. Jordan missed more than 12,000 shots in his career. And Stallone’s “Italian Stallion”, who had a number of losses himself, absolutely summed failure up perfectly,

 

“It ain’t about how hard you can hit, It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep going.”

 

Ultimately, I think that what separates the successful men and women from the common isn’t their acceptance of failure — contrary to it actually — I believe what separates the successful men and women from the common is their embrace of failure; their welcoming of the unknown, and their willingness to wake up in the morning with the same hope and spirit every day. Successful people don’t concern themselves with the anxiety that they might fall short. They already know failure is coming.

 

Psalm 73:26 says “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

 

This bible verse applies to you whether you believe in God or not. For the truly successful people realize the possibility does exist that they will fall short, but also hold strongly within their heart their passion, faith, and goals that ensure their next victory is just around the corner.

 

Nobody can adopt an attitude, or a lifestyle in a day and I’m not suggesting you do that. It takes hundreds – thousands – of hours to build habits that lead to real change. But if we can all actively focus on having a little more perspective for the failures in our lives, we can immediately become happier, more complete people. As we continue to develop, this perspective will only improve; leading to not just an acceptance of failure, but an outright embrace.

 

I’ll leave you with one last quote to think about throughout the end of the week.

 

“Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change”

 

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

With blessings,

 

Harrison