Two weeks ago I finally graduated from college. I'd been waiting for that moment for months, if not years. In fact, I used to do a countdown of how many days I still had until graduation.
And boy, it sure felt good when I was done. I still remember the joy that I had as I was proofreading my bachelor thesis for the very last time.
In this state of a mind-numbing euphoria I came up with what I thought was a great title for my work: "Why Nothing Matters As Much As You Think It Does." Of course, the grader of my thesis didn't like it too much. After all, my thesis was in Economics.
OK, I'm getting side-tracked now...
But I think you get the point. I was as happy as I could be when I was finally done with studying. I never liked doing pointless work that took up a significant portion of my time just to meet some arbitrary graduation requirements.
And now I was done with it forever.
The thing I didn't expect was that removing a large chunk of pointless, annoying work from my life wouldn't automatically make me a happier or more fulfilled.
Sure, the studying was gone, and that was awesome. But what the hell was I supposed to do with that free time and energy that I now had?
Tim Ferris was right. Eliminating negative or pointless tasks from one's life doesn't automatically lead to more meaningful activities. Instead it leaves a void in your life. One that won't get filled unless you consciously choose to do so.
After graduating I was still getting some work done while also having some fun. My iPhoneography blog has been doing well, and I spent time working out, going to the beach, reading, meeting up with friends and doing other worthwhile activities.
For the last two weeks I was doing just fine if compared to how I used to spend my time in college. But it was a total disaster in comparison to what I could have done with all the extra time that I now have on my hands.
Something has to change. And today is the best day to make those changes happen. I hope the fact that I'm updating this blog for the first time in almost a month will convince you (and me) that this time I'm serious.
Now, this doesn't mean that I'll be working 24/7. I'm far too lazy for that. And besides, why would I want to spend the rest of my life working? There are so many better things to do with our limited time in this world than just working.
What I do mean, however, is that none of my time should ever be wasted. All of it should be spent on one of the following three categories: productive high-impact work, learning and improving myself, and having the time of my life.
No more busywork. No more pointless tweaking of blog that nobody but me will notice. No more lying on the couch out of boredom or exhaustion. No more surfing the web 'cause there's nothing else to do. There's always something better to do.
Now, will I actually be perfect at any of this?
Of course not.
I have a long history of writing posts like this, and yet I've never been perfect at following my own advice. In fact, there's no way anyone could spend his waking hours without wasting some time, and I know I won't be an exception.
However, that won't stop my from trying. At the end of the day, it's the strength of our resolve that determines to what extent we'll succeed at anything, and this time I'm dead serious.
I sometimes think of my life as a runaway truck going downhill faster and faster, with nobody there to control it. Of course, there's no way I can stop the truck, and I already know what's going to happen in the end. It's the destiny we all share.
But if I'm brave enough, I can step in and take control of the truck. I know I'm going to fatally crash in the end, but I can at least make sure I get the most out of this crazy ride.
And you could do the same.
For years I've been pondering what could be the key to living a happier, more fulfilled life. Today, I think I have the answer.
Forget about money, fame, fancy cars, relationships, exercise, family, traveling, new experiences or even good health. Because none of that matters if you don't know how to appreciate it.
I'm terrible at judging the quality of my own work.
I've almost deleted some of my best blog posts, thinking that they weren't good enough. I was ashamed to publish them, and I only did it to push myself to write better next time.
Guess what? Some of these posts, like this one that Tynan reposted to his community, turned out to be very good.
I've also noticed the same with photos I share on Instagram. Here, the quality (or the popular appeal) of a photo can roughly be judged by the number of likes and comments that a photo gets.
Over the past year I've uploaded over a hundred photos to Instagram... and I'm still struggling to see which ones will be well received. I'm almost ashamed to say this since I also give advice on how to take better photos with the iPhone.
I've been putting off writing this post for more than a week.
The last post I wrote was about how your blog is essentially your business card, and that blogging is the best way to get in touch with other cool people.
Do you already have a blog? If you don't, you should start blogging right now.
In the 21st century your blog is your business card... except it's real and it actually works. If you want to let the world know who you are, what you're doing, and why someone should listen to you, blogging is the best way to do it.
Some time ago I realized that if I want to make good things happen, I've got to start working hard. I'm about to graduate from college, and if I want to live the kind of life I've always wanted, I really have no choice but to work my ass off.
And so I did. Or at least I was trying my best.
I started writing this blog. I was spending 20+ hours a week at my part-time job. I revived my iPhone photography website. I was studying direct response marketing and copywriting. I spent more than an hour each day hand-copying successful sales letters. I was working out four times a week. I was doing all of that while being in my last semester of college. Most of my classmates are already freaked out, even if they aren't doing anything else.
It's probably not hard to see that my life was not exactly fun most of the time. My quality of life was suffering, and I was beginning to feel isolated from other people. Not good for an introvert. And my productivity was beginning to suffer.
More and more often I found myself mindlessly spending time on the internet. It's one of the things I really don't want to do, yet I was often wasting hours online. My motivation was getting worse and worse. I was still more productive than I'd have been a year ago, but it was obvious that I could do a lot more.
Today I saw a woman walking out of a parking lot carrying rolls of toilet paper under her arm.
A lot of people do that, carry toilet paper. I mean, everyone needs to buy toilet paper. (Or not, I guess, depending on your lifestyle preferences... I ain’t judgin’...)
But this woman... She was maybe in her early forties, a little pudgy, and she had this blank, bored look on her face.
Like she was just going through the motions of day to day living.
It's a dangerous headline for a blog post, isn't it?
If you were to follow it, you wouldn't even be reading this. But while you're still here, I want to share with you the secret to living a more productive, more happy, and more fulfilled life.
If you're anything like me, you probably spend many hours each day in front of a computer. And it makes sense. Computer is a great tool for work and the easiest way of finding information.
And our technology is indeed wonderful. I could go on and on about how amazing the internet is, and how foolish one would have to be to not take full advantage of it. But I'll leave that for another post.
Of all the resources that we have, time is the most limited.
It's always possible to make more money, learn more things, meet more people, buy more stuff, have more fun... as long as we have enough time for all of that.
But we don't.
It's great to have money. Money can buy you many of the finest things and experiences in life. Sure, there are some things you can't get for money, but there really aren't that many.
When I was a kid, I used to dream about having a yacht. I could spend hours researching different luxury yacht models, looking at pretty photos of what I thought represented a happy life.
I guess I was spoiled by our materialistic world from an early age. Or maybe I was born that way. But now I've learned that materialistic goods don't add much happiness to our lives.
I used to think that owning a Retina Macbook Pro would make me so much happier than having my two-year-old laptop. So I worked really hard and saved up some money until I could finally afford to buy it. It's by far the most expensive thing I ever bought.