Tag Archives: lottery

What Would It Take To Get You To Move?

DSC_0390“I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question.” –Harun Yahya

Hello friend,

My wife came home from work a couple of days ago looking like she was deep in thought. I said hello, and she said—to me, but also seemingly to herself—“What would it take to get you to move away from here?” I could tell she had been pondering this all the way home on her long commute and was struggling for an answer. Silence ensued as I tried to think of some decent responses. The only two that jumped to mind immediately were the lottery and the super-duper dream job. As I was searching for something more reasonable, she said, “I just happened to hear about an opening for a job like mine, and it got me thinking about why people really leave one place for another and how often they regret it.” She mentioned some friends who had left for a few years and then came back, not aware at the time how much they would miss it and how the grass is not always greener on the other side. My mind was definitely churning for answers by that point, as she had hit a sensitive spot with me.

Her question made me think of my interview I did with my Mom last week in anticipation of her 70th birthday. We were doing a life review and talking about lessons she learned, things she was proud of, and things she would regret. In the middle of it, she casually mentioned—in a way that suggested that I have always known this—that she never really liked the town that she has lived in for the last 40 years (my hometown). My jaw dropped. HUH???? I was blown away. I never knew! In her casualness about it, she added, “But I can’t think of any other place I’d want to be, either.” She rattled off a few of the contenders in the area but none were appealing enough to make a change. Much like my wife’s question this week, I was really left wondering about my choice of town, the one that my kids will always know as their hometown. Just how great is this place? But, more specifically, how tied am I to it? How likely am I to leave in the next 20 or 30 years? What would it take to make me go? Hmmmm…..

When I was young, I moved all the time. I thought nothing of it. Between my 21st and 22nd birthdays, I lived—my definition of “living somewhere” is that I bought mustard at the grocery store there, a sign that I was somewhat settled in and not at a hotel—in five different cities: Grand Forks, ND; Minneapolis; Chicago; Washington, DC; and New York City. Shortly after that, I finally settled in Los Angeles and thought I was done.   A few years later, it turned out I was not done. Cities were then like jobs have always been for me: as soon as my heart wasn’t in it anymore, I had to move on. I moved a couple other times before finally settling here, where I have been—albeit in a few different houses—for the last 13 years. When we bought our current house almost five years ago, we thought of it as our forever house. And, despite the fact that my wife was looking on a real estate website today—old habits die hard–I think we both believe we are here for the long haul.

Or are we? Her question this week—and my Mom’s revelation last week—have me wondering why we are here and just what it would take to get me to leave.

I have never loved it here. I haven’t hated it, either. I just haven’t loved it. There is nothing particular about it that especially appeals to me, nothing that demands to be called Home. I live in a pleasant suburb of a fairly large city that has lots to do. However, I just don’t value the size, and I don’t take advantage of all the cool things about big city life. I can’t stand traffic; it seems like a waste of time to me. And Winter is very long here. It is gorgeous in the Summer—by far my favorite time of the year–but there is so little of it and so much nasty Winter.

In theory, I prefer to be in a relatively small town. I would like to know and trust more of the people around me, the way it seemed my parents did when I was a kid in my hometown of around 35,000 people. I would also, in theory at least, prefer to live either in the mountains or on the ocean, and somewhere with mild to warm temperatures most of the year. So, a smallish city on the beach or in the mountains with lots of active, outdoor options and open spaces. None of those qualities are even remotely close to my current situation! What the heck have I done?

The options certainly change when you get other people involved in the decision. Suffice it to say that I would probably not be living here right now if it weren’t for my wife and kids. And I DEFINITELY would not be living here right now if it were not for our extended families. They have shaped everything.

Living in a city this size is one of my wife’s ideals. Part of that is something we both desire, which is racial and ethnic diversity. We are a multi-racial family, and it is important to us to at least be in the same town as people whose ancestors do not all hail from Northern Europe. In most cases, with size comes diversity. So, here we are in the city! The reason it is this city, though, instead of one in a warmer climate or on an ocean—or even a more diverse one—is the reason that seems to trump all of the others: FAMILY. The proximity to both sides of our family and the ability to see them all frequently is the reason we came here, and it is the reason we have stayed. It means so, so much to me to be within a day’s drive of my parents and siblings, including both my childhood home and the lake cabin/family gathering place. I love that my kids’ favorite times of the year are when they gather with their cousins, and I so appreciate how well they know their grandparents. We just couldn’t pull off this combination anywhere else.

So, what would it take to get me to leave? Any old job opportunity wouldn’t do. It would have to be an absolute dream job—like writing or public speaking on topics of my choice—that also came with an obscene amount of money and time freedom to allow us to come back this way frequently to visit our families. Or, if my wife got a job that paid so well that I could work only on my passions at home and, again, we could easily and frequently visit family. Or, yes, the lottery would still be nice, I admit! All of the possibilities seem to involve 1) a dream job opportunity, 2) lots of money, and 3) the necessity of easy access to family. Short of that, I think I am a lifer. For better or for worse!

How about you? How tied are you to the place where you live? Open up your journal and share what it means to you to live where you do. What brought you there in the first place? How much choice did you have in the matter? What were the things that appealed to you when you first arrived? How have those things changed, and do you still value them the same way? What are the things about your home that you see as positives now that you didn’t think about when you first moved there? How much does proximity to family play a part in your choice of location? Is just knowing they are around enough, or do you really make the effort to see them often? If you took family out of the equation, what kinds of qualities matter most to you when you consider your ideal hometown? What kind of climate would you prefer? How about the landscape? Population? Diversity? Proximity to “culture”? Which of these carries the most weight? How long do you think you will live where you do now? Forever? Can you name one place in the world right now that you would definitely move to, even if it involved a very similar lifestyle to the one you lead now? What is it about that place? Why haven’t you gone there already? Leave me a reply and let me know, “What would it take to get you to move?”

Dream big,

William

If I Won The Lottery…..

DSC_0141“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, would answer you: I am here to live out loud.” –Emile Zola

Hello friend,

I have started to think that I am a hypocrite. Almost every week in this letter to you, I urge you to uncover your purpose—what makes your heart sing—and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I ask you to align your actions with your dreams, to take steps along the path of your Truth. I beseech you to not settle for less than what you believe you arrived here on Earth to do. I challenge you to be wholly authentic and to disregard the mega-dose of fear that is inherent in the activities of being so boldly you.

After all, finding your Truth requires a lot of experimentation, a lot of trial-and-error. You have to try on different versions of You and see how well they fit. People can be creative in a number of different ways. There are many ways to educate, many ways to heal, and many ways to serve. In your quest for authenticity, you have to jump head-first into a pond you have never swum in before, knowing that you may either fail miserably at the jump or simply decide that it was the wrong pond for you after all. When you have been brave enough to admit that, you then have to be even more courageous to jump right into the next pond that you think could be the one for you. It is like the hopeless romantic, willing to lay her heart on the line for the prospect of true love, even after the last prospect just ripped that same heart out and stomped on it.

Inherent in any life change, in any risk—whether that is a new career, learning a new skill, sharing your feelings, or cutting someone out of your life—is the very real likelihood of failure. What I have come to realize more and more as I study successful people is that the characteristic that they seem to have most in common is their extreme willingness to fail. In many cases, they have literally failed their way to success. In their quest to find their one true thing, they have put themselves out there, repeatedly taking a chance on themselves. And “failing” often. Yet that is what I ask of you in these posts. Lay your heart on the line. Try out a new you. Make bold moves in the spirit of your Truth. The level of courage it takes to be truly authentic in this conformist world is nothing short of heroic.

I have tried, in sharing my experiences with you, to be a real-life example of someone trying to know himself better in the service of living an authentic life. I believe that through journaling, I can better know who I really am. I can know what my purpose is, and that can only help me in following my Bliss. Most days, I like to think that I am doing a good job of listening to that inner voice. I hope that I am staying true to my dreams and taking chances where I can. I want to think that I can walk it, not just talk it. I don’t want to be an empty voice. I want to be someone worth admiring.

So why, over these last couple of weeks, have I started to believe that I am a hypocrite? I have, after all, been working diligently at getting my new businesses started so that I can pursue my dreams and serve people more effectively and more in line with my purpose. I have, at least on the surface, been staying true to my message.

In all of my busy-ness of late, I had the occasion a couple of weeks ago to stop and ask myself if it was all worth it (see “The Storm Before the Calm? Does BUSY Ever End?”). In ruminating on that topic, I had one of those “Calgon, take me away!!!” moments, and I began fantasizing about winning the lottery. I pictured myself with all of those millions at my disposal, and I wondered how it would change the way I pass the day. Sure, it is always fun to think about what you would buy with all that money—perhaps a post for a different day—but what I was interested in was which of my current pursuits would I still be doing if I had all the money I wanted and no need to work. Would I still be writing these letters to you every week? Would I keep my regular job? How about the two new businesses in skin care consulting and life coaching? If I won the lottery, which of these would stick?

In my lottery-winning mind, I quickly dismissed my regular job. Next went the skin care. I gave the Life Coaching longer consideration, because it is important enough to me to be of help to people in living their best lives. I would find a way to keep doing it in some form—even very part-time–as I rolled around in my bed full of dollar bills. As obvious as it was to dismiss my day job, it was equally obvious that, no matter what happened or how many millions I won, I would never quit writing. Never. The book ideas that I have—especially The Journal Project—would absolutely press on. I would bask in the newfound time that winning the lottery would offer me, and I would use that time to write. I would keep writing Journal of You to you every week, and I would spend the rest of the free time (that was once work time) writing my other stuff. Of course I would!

This is where I first caught a glimpse of my hypocrisy, and it has been eating at me ever since. Here is the crux of it: if writing is so important to me that I would pursue it even if I didn’t need any money from it, then why is it the one thing I have never tried to pursue as a profession? I have never looked in the classifieds. Never researched the job market or read one of those “Jobs In Writing” kind of books. Never sent out a query letter to a magazine, publishing company, or agent. Never pitched anyone with a sample of my work. NEVER! I am getting more and more annoyed with myself as I write this paragraph. For one, how could I never have even looked into this? And two, what kind of a fraud am I to prod people to be true to themselves and their dreams, to live authentically, and to be brave enough to fail, all the while I have not even fully chased my own most important dream? That is shameful!

The power of FEAR is amazing to me. In reading through all of my old journal entries from the last twenty years, I was shocked to find how frequently I mentioned the desire to write. I don’t think I was ever fully conscious, for most of that time, that I wanted to be a writer. I had things I wanted to write about, but I was seemingly always in the midst of doing other things and planning other career moves. In my times of uncertainty—when one life path seemed to be fizzling out–it never crossed my mind to go into writing. I guess I thought it would be too difficult of a career or that I didn’t have the experience or training. At bottom, though, I can see that it was FEAR that was keeping the thought from becoming conscious.

I will accept that excuse for most of my years, right up until the last few. Since then, I have definitely been conscious of the dream. The desire to do The Journal Project was the first step. Actually reading through twenty years of journal entries was a huge reminder, as scattered throughout the years of entries were hints at my dream. The next thing that kicked in was the realization that I wanted to share my thoughts with you immediately, rather than wait years for a book to be written and published. That realization spawned Journal of You and these words you are now reading. It has been a tremendous hobby and very fulfilling for me, a wonderful reminder of what puts wind in my sails.

So why haven’t I pursued it as a real, paying career yet? Why have I distracted myself with other avenues that also are meaningful to me but don’t quite light my fire the way writing does? The only conclusion I can see is FEAR and INSECURITY. I haven’t dared to put it out there to be judged. I haven’t believed in myself enough to risk it. Sure, I publish this for you every week and hope that I can make a difference in your life, but you get to take it or leave it in silence and anonymity. If I actually submit something for acceptance or rejection by a publisher or agent, I face an entirely different degree of vulnerability. I could be told that my work is poorly written, not marketable, or, worse, that it cannot be helpful to anyone. Am I prepared for that? My actions would say that I am not. I find that completely shameful. And worse: HYPOCRITICAL. I am not walking my talk, and that realization leaves me feeling disgusted with myself. I need to do better. I need to take a chance on myself and my dreams. After all, if I am sure that I would do it even if I won the big jackpot tomorrow, it must be my thing. It is time to cash in my winning ticket.

How about you? What would you DO if money was not an issue? Open up your journal and consider your current life. What things would you keep doing if you had the money to choose? Are you passionate enough about your job that you would keep doing it even if you didn’t need the money? Most people I know would walk away from their job on the spot the moment their number was called. Is that you? What about your hobbies? Is there something that you do now that you would keep doing? Would you make any of your hobbies into full-time pursuits if money were not an issue? If so, does that make you think that you ought to be looking into that right now? How much of a risk would it be for you to pursue your passion? Is it a risk more about finances or about your ego? How much do you fear failure? Usually when I have these discussions in my head, the question that clarifies the issue is this one: Do the temporary discomforts of taking a risk and failing at something that speaks to your soul outweigh spending the rest of your life with the knowledge that you never took a chance on your dreams? That is the one that I can’t sit with. That one makes my decision for me. What about you? Is there something brewing in you—or something that you are already doing—that must be pursued in order for you to live out your days in peace? Leave me a reply and let me know: What would you do if you won the lottery?

Dream big and start chasing,

William

Waiting For My Rocketship

DSC_0141“Too many people are waiting for Jesus to come along and cut your grass. And Jesus isn’t going to come along and cut your grass.” —Bill Cosby

Hello friend,

When I was a starving actor living in Los Angeles in my early 20s, I clung to the hope of that rare story of the star who is discovered while waiting tables or walking down the street. It is such a romantic tale, and it sucked me in completely. I was sure that would happen to me, too. That possibility served as an opiate, making me too passive when it came to pursuing my dream and really banging down people’s doors to make it happen.

It is true that dumb luck sometimes plays a major role in breaking in or “making it” in Hollywood—there are countless beautiful people out there, many of whom are talented—but I think falling for that idea of the random discovery is a bad idea. Not only does it placate you in the moment, but also, if you are like me and learning it in early adulthood, you can end up carrying that model with you for the rest of your life, even well after you re-enter “civilian life”. You can come to believe that if you are talented enough and just hanging around, success is bound to fall into your lap sooner or later. Your rocketship will come to pick you up, zooming you directly to stardom.

But then there is a lot of hanging around with an empty lap and a “Where the heck is that rocketship, anyway?” look on your face.

I think that I have spent a good portion of my life wearing that expression. I was probably not much different than most kids, dreaming about becoming a professional athlete, Nobel Prize winner, movie star, or the like. When I actually decided to become a movie star, I think that I probably believed that moving out to Hollywood and taking acting classes was all that it was going to take from my end. The rest would take care of itself when that producer or casting director walked into the restaurant where I was waiting tables and signed me to a deal on the spot, whisking me away from the drudgery of restaurant servitude and paycheck-to-paycheck living, to a life of creative freedom, affluence, and influence. At the very least, I hoped some wealthy patron of the arts would notice me in a play and agree to fund me while I work on my craft, freeing me from the “joe job” that was not at all my passion. “Every artist needs a patron,” I always said, and I assumed the Universe would see the wisdom in that idea and promptly reveal my deep-pocketed patron. I should have packed a lunch, because I waited a long time for a rescue that never came.

In the many years that have passed since those hopeful days in L.A., I have waited for other rocketships as well. One of my most frequent targets has been the lottery. That’s right, I have always suspected that it is my destiny to win the Powerball or MegaMillions or whatever other giant prize is out there. Not that I ever actually play the lottery! Well, I did play once. I had just finished reading The Secret, so I figured that I finally knew the trick (or rather, the secret). I focused my mind, divined the numbers, and bought the ticket. I was genuinely shocked when I didn’t win. I haven’t played since, but that does not diminish my expectations that I will one day win the lottery. (I didn’t say any of this was logical, did I?)

My latest rocketship is in the form of the powerful person who is going to read one of these blog posts—SOON, please—and realize that mine is a voice that needs to be heard the world over. This person will see to it that I have enough time and money to spend on my passion and will ensure that my work gets published and marketed globally. (I LOVE this rocketship!)

But still, it’s a rocketship. I feel better about this one than the others, though, because I am at least putting myself out there regularly, sharing these posts with you every week. You see, it is not lost on me that I haven’t won the lottery yet with my current method. I can also see now that I shouldn’t have waited until near the end of my time in Hollywood to start auditioning for things and start doing real acting, because that end period became the most rewarding of all (and the most likely of all to generate that producer or casting director meeting I had wished for). And I shouldn’t have hesitated when I was in my mid-20s and passionate about writing a book that I thought would save the world, thinking I was “too young” and “need to learn just a little bit more” before I could start writing such an ambitious project. When I look back at those journal entries from that time, I really was ready. My mind was ready to burst. But I didn’t write it. I waited for a rocketship instead.

So, after all of these years of writing in my journal and coming to see the tremendous impact it had on my mind and spirit, I decided to start “The Journal Project” to create the story of my life—or rather, the story of my mind’s evolution, one day at a time—in order that the people of the world might see the value in journaling and thus make it a habit for themselves and enjoy all of the countless benefits I have received from it. It seemed like I finally had returned to a project of real value and something I was passionate about, something that spoke to the ways I wanted to serve the world. I found my purpose.

When the first phase of the project—reading and taking notes on twenty years’ worth of entries—took me what felt like forever to complete, I realized that it could be many years before I could get this important message out to anyone. I was anxious to connect with you and couldn’t wait that long. But more than that, I knew that I needed to show the Universe that I meant it this time.   I was tired of feeling like a guy who has a lot of good intentions and good ideas but never actually does anything.

Yoga classes, meditation, studying philosophy and political theory, even journaling—all of these things are wonderful and can make you feel really good: clear and smart and energetic. But in the end, if they don’t lead to some really good doing, they become merely intellectual and spiritual masturbation. I don’t want to be that guy.

So, I wanted to announce my intention to the Universe by putting something out there, by doing something for people that could make a difference in the short term while I still kept my eyes on the long-range prizes that would be the outcome of The Journal Project and its offspring. Thus was born Journal of You and these very words you are reading now. Each of these posts is my current version of buying a lottery ticket every week, not just because I am hoping to find that one powerful reader who becomes my rocketship—I definitely am still guilty of that—but because, as my wife always reminds me whenever I joke about winning the lottery, “You have to play to win.”

I am playing every week now–buying the ticket–throwing my hat in the ring in the form of this writing and hoping to help you change your life for the better by seeing more clearly who you are and thus owning your life and your dreams. And if it helps you enough to want to share it with your friends, maybe one of your friends—or your friends’ friends, or your friends’ friends’ friends—is the one who can help me be as big as I dream to be. They will know where to find me this time. I’ll be right here, waiting for my rocketship–surrounded by journals and pens and notebooks–pecking away at my keyboard, sending love notes to the world.

How about you? What are you waiting to have dropped into your lap so that you can live your dreams? Open up your journal and ask yourself who you want to be. What is your Bliss? What is your dream life? How do you FEEL when you imagine yourself living that dream life? What kinds of things would your best self need to DO to create that feeling? How far away does that seem from your current world? Is there something in your life today that you can do to create that feeling, to get you moving in the right direction? Have you quietly known this for a long time and just not had the courage or energy to do it? How well do you listen to your intuition when it comes to understanding your purpose, and what small steps you can take to begin living it? Are you like me and often know what it is but still wait for someone to come along and make it easier and less scary for you to do it? Do you fantasize more about the lottery and the patron than you do about living your purpose? Leave me a reply and let me know: Are you waiting for your rocketship?

Be your own captain today,

William