The Road to Prosperity

I made the commitment on last week to bill $10,000 in the month. A couple days in, let’s talk about what have I done?

Optimize

I signed up for 17Hats. My partner and I poured through the workflow processes they have available. We are building our own workflows to handle interest, prospect management, quoting, issuing contracts and progressing projects.

We are working on getting my consulting (http://shawndewolfe.com/) up to full speed. I started it this January, then put in into suspended animation as I tried to get my house ready for sale.

Publicize

I have lots of experience with social media and publicity. Rather than hide what I am doing, it’s time to strut. I am sharing a lot more about what I am doing via social media.

My former venture, Those DeWolfes, is kind of a ghost ship. It was built up over six years and populated with all sorts of helpful information. We dismantled it a year ago, but left the domain to linger as we shuffle off its content to our other ventures. Why move everything, when I can selectively move only the popular stuff. I can tell what’s popular by looking at Google Analytics. That was able to tell me what’s popular and what gets impressions but may not get clicks. That was important because it showed where there was interest and where they interest doesn’t turn into results. I moved over those articles and redirected the traffic.

This week, the recent projects are going into a portfolio on the site to talk up we do and the technologies we’re using.

Work

This one is basic: all of the publicity and productivity doesn’t replace work. I have been trying to pull in enough contract work to fill out my dance card. Ideally: I want to get 125 hours of billable work in this month or 32 hours of billable work per week. That’s a lot. But I can also work smart. I have been fixated on the hourly work as the meter of value. Instead, it’s about delivery. The faster I deliver, the less I could earn for each project. Draw out the projects to generate billable hours and while I may win, the client loses in terms of delay. Instead, it’s about the quality of service: do well, try to do it quickly and those two factors generate value. That’s the shift, I am attempting to make: to move from hours to results.

Safe

What does safe look like? Last week, I wrote about agoraphobia and how a daily routine that involves travel can spark apprehension and anxiety. It seems like “safe” is impossible. But I more or less got there in 2014. In October 2014, I started working at UVic. The co-workers respected me. The environment was easy to survive in: I was able to drive to campus. I could walk at lunch time. I was working near my life-long partner– my wife. We could drive into work together. We could have coffee together. The income was okay but it was stable. When I didn’t work, I didn’t need to suffer– I could just ‘be.’ Nothing triggered me. I felt safe and as a side effect, my life started to click. My weight started to drop. I had time for friends and family. Safe felt pretty good. Safe felt like the storm had passed and the sky was blue. I was safe for two months and then some big revelations pummeled me and my marriage.

The revelations were regarding events that had been going on for years. In other words, throughout the years I was in turmoil and the time I felt I was safe, I was actually unsafe. My new partner, told me about the time she worked for a really aggressive property development firm. She remembered a handwritten letter from an elderly investor. The woman thanked the developers for the stable return on investment and how much it meant to her. It make her feel safe. That developer went under– taking $370-million including the life savings of this kindly old lady.

Safe is an illusion.

Lack of safety is both realistic and terrifying. We’re not safe. In a universe with viruses and asteroids, we cannot have a lock on being safe. My struggle: if my period of safety was a brief illusion and the reality is paralyzing, what do I do?

I accept that I am unsafe.

That statement has two meanings.

I have to learn to be okay with both of those statements. I am not safe. Any building could collapse. Any car could crash. Any blood vessel could give out. In the next 100 years, there is about a 100% chance one or all of those will hit me. Between yesterday’s 0% chance and the 100% chance these have happened before 2116, I’m hovering about 0% chance with an increasing chance of these happening. So today’s safety is not long term safety.

Likewise: being safe and predictable isn’t ideal. People can anticipate me. They can border me. They can reinforce the walls I don’t want. So: I have to be okay with exceeding safety limits and ask that people understand that I will exceed safety limits while trying to keep the negative consequences from happening.

I shouldn’t play to be safe. I should play to be unsafe short of frequent or severe negative consequences. I should test my limits, not keep back from them. The man who I thought was my Dad had a dud heart and a string of heart attacks before he was 40. He’s not my Dad. I didn’t inherit a bad heart from him. If I push, I may not break. I should push to discover what my boundaries really are– maybe they are far enough out that my arena isn’t a tiny foosball table, but a massive soccer field. Maybe even bigger than that.

Agoraphobia sparks anxiety. Anxiety manifests in two ways: fight or flight. I’ve been running. I’m tired of running. That trick is played out. What if I started to use fight as my outlet for anxiety? Instead of running from what strikes fear in my heart, what if I turn and stare it down? What if I listened to my spirit animal, the wolf? What if I understood what unsafe was and behaved like a predator and not prey? What if I rode the wave of unsafe and accepted that unsafe is the way of the world? The world is unsafe and still millions live quiet asteroid-free lives. Instead of living in a little box and tricking myself into thinking it’s safe, I’m going to work on strategies for thriving in unsafe places. I’m going to find way to thrive by pushing myself outside of safe, predictable and played out.

Photo credit: Flickr

Swimming Away From The Liferaft

I have agoraphobia. I first noticed it in a pronounced way when I was about 14. Prior to that, I would just opt to stay home instead of going out. It got to be a pretty familiar practice. By 14, I would end up with massive anxiety fits. I took Grade 9 as home schooling and formally swapped to correspondence education in the next year. In my teens, I took to writing for a living. I worked in retail for a number of years (varying degrees of sucking). As soon as I could, I went back to working at home doing web design and programming.

Not being at home is like leaving the liferaft. Going out further is like swimming away from that liferaft. The stress, tension and fatigue of simply not being safe takes its toll. Even though treading water is realistic, exposure in the enemy. I actually feel this wave of relief when I get past the midpoint of a journey, turn for home and know that in the remaining hours I am closing in on a safe place.

Combine the above dynamic with exercise. My preferred exercise routine is walking. It’s my ideal way to lose weight, as it integrates my day-to-day life with exercise. I can get somewhere and get healthy. Try to square that away with increasing anxiety the longer and farther I walk from my safe place. There is a big impetus to not walk. I have been trying to squelch the drive to be safe in lieu of the drive to be healthy.

Why do I have agoraphobia? Safety. It took a lot of detective work, but my agoraphobia crests when my life in flux– when I am unsafe. In an ironic twist, when I get in a domestic quarrel, the best thing to do is walk out of the door and cool off. I know subconsciously that flux plus walking triggers my agoraphobia, so I don’t leave. If I’m not going to leave, I bottle my upset. I box up whatever hurt I am feeling because I cannot vent it well nor safely. If I can’t win an argument because players in my head are not on my side, I will cave on arguments that I could win. I will not champion myself because I am gambling with my safety. It’s better to be safe than right. That’s what I tell myself on some level.

The challenge I am facing is how to fight agoraphobia by wrestling the core issue: feeling safe. I felt safe for a few months in 2014. That bliss was almost a miss-able event because it was an absence of turmoil. 2015 demonstrated that outside forces can spark a lack of safety in me. The goal in 2016 is to get to the point of feeling safe. My partner once called me the bravest man she knows. Outwardly: I will agree. I can stare down hard things and get them done. Internally: there’s a big cave of fear. The fear is borne of a lack of safety. The lack of safety that came from my home life when I was a kid. I’m not a kid. I am capable to feeling myself safe. I am capable of squaring away that lack of safety with the reality that I am safer than most people. I am resourceful and I have a keen survival instinct. My survival instinct came from my long relationship with fear. It’s my driver– my vehicle. My goal is to turn the survival instinct into a tool instead of a vehicle. What will drive me if not fear and a need for safety? I don’t know. It would be great for me say, “I’m gonna be _____!” but I know that I don’t know what the next chapter looks like. That makes the liferaft of safety so hard to puncture. I may be adrift in a kiddie pool. I may be in shallow water. I may be an excellent swimmer. Losing the liferaft of agoraphobia, fear and anxiety is hard because it’s been a part of my life for so long.

Let’s Start The Rebuild… Again

Thirteen months ago, I was gung-ho to get the Rebuild going. It turned out, at the time, that I wasn’t done with being busted. When this launched in December 2014, I thought my marriage was good. I thought my family was good. I thought I had a good place to rebuild my health and finances from. Instead: the rest of the cliff had to crumble. Since last year, my marriage ended; I began a life with a new partner; and my Mom died after an aggressive several months of cancer. My marriage had been doomed for some time and I just lived with the ruined state and the misery. My new partner arrived on the scene shortly before the close of my marriage. My Mom used to stoically prepare for the end and deny anything was wrong.

I thought I had a clean slate to build from last December. By December 2015, everything was different. Everything was reset. Everything that I held onto as a comfortable fixture was gone. Throughout 2015, despite the marriage break-up, the financial pressures of said break-up, and the sorrow of watching my Mom die– throughout all that, I kept trying to rebuild.

That didn’t work.

When I got the news of my Mom, I largely gave up on the rebuild. I didn’t care about diet or exercise. I drank whenever I wished. Having the month of August available to rattle apart meant I didn’t have to be on good behavior. My Mom died in October. By November, some of my lost weight had come back. By December, I tried to pull out of the dive, but Christmas can be a bitch– sweets, short hours of daylight and lots of grief for the lives lost (my Mom’s life, literally, and my way of life both died). I gave into those stressors and then took back my dedication to get The Rebuild going again.

To start, I am going to “walk it off.” When I was 19, I lost 100 pounds by walking 45 minutes per day. That was 28 years ago. Still: the concept is sound.

The Exercise Schedule

My exercise schedule looks like this:

  • Monday:
    • Walk 30 minutes at lunch.
    • Exercise at the gym on weeks when my daughter is with her Mom.
  • Tuesday:
    • Walk 55 minutes to work.
    • Walk 30 minutes at lunch.
    • Walk 90 minutes to get home (that may get interrupted by social events)
  • Wednesday:
    • Walk 55 minutes to work.
    • Walk 30 minutes at lunch.
    • Walk 90 minutes to get home
  • Thursday:
    • Walk 55 minutes to work.
    • Walk 30 minutes at lunch.
    • Walk 90 minutes to get home (that may get interrupted by social events)
  • Friday:
    • Walk 30 minutes at lunch.
  • Saturday:
    • Exercise at the gym (strength plus some bike time)
  • Sunday: rest

The Goals

My goals (in hard numbers):

  • To lose 100 lbs. by December 20th, 2016.
  • To get to 180 lbs. by December 20th, 2016. A 360 day diet. As a consolation prize, I would be okay were I 200 lbs. because of muscle.
  • To get to a waist size below 36 inches (ideally 34 inches).

I hope to post videos as I go. A side project will be to get my video production levels up to snuff. I want to talk about what I doing with diet, exercise, and vitamins. As The Rebuild is about a whole rebuild, I will also talk about finances and relationship work too.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

The Wish List

People spend so much time talking themselves out of achieving their goals. Next time you look at a wish list of things you want to do, consider it a to-do list of things you are going to do. Don’t fixate on the problems– those elements that keep you apart from your wish list. Make that wish list into a to-do list.

A Capacity To Long

People should never be afraid of feeling too much. People who love can experience crests of happiness, satisfaction and peace. Don’t be afraid of the downsides: longing, strain and discord. They give your life contrast.

What Is The Rebuild

See that photo? That was me in the Summer of 2014. I still have a long way to go, but that side view says it all about where I was back then.

The last few years have left me really ragged financially, physically, cognitively. When a start-up isn’t making it, the start-up will “pivot.” It will change the bearing of its assets and direct those energies elsewhere. I started a position that will last for eight or more months. I am setting on a new course of rebuilding and repair. The goal is to rebuild. Continue reading