What I can do

One day last week, after wrapping up some end-of-the day work tasks, I sat down, put my feet up and flicked on MSNBC while waiting for Mary to come home. I’m comfortable saying that I lean leftward, so MSNBC is often a mainstream news choice. If you tilt rightward, you most likely prefer your talking heads, Fox-flavored.

Left or right, much of what now passes as “news” is nothing more than a bunch of people screaming back and forth, or engaging in some form of fear-fogging. During this particular dinner hour, the topic was gun control. On another day, or week, it could have been the fiscal cliff, why Republicans (or Democrats) are such idiots, or some other item from a list of meaningless topic fodder that runs like a tape loop on all the networks, lacking intellectual girth, and not much variation, depth, or nuance.

Watching and listening, the thought occurred to me that “the world had finally come loose from its moorings.” I flicked the Tee Vee off very discouraged. I spouted on a bit about this when my lovely wife came home after her 12-hour work day and she kindly said, “Jim, enough!” When Mary talks, I listen.

The next morning, I woke up prior to the 4:55 am alarm. Lying in bed, I had what I’d call a bit of an epiphany when I realized that the only person I can change is me. Here’s what I can’t do.

  • I can’t frame a perfect argument in order to “win people over” to my side (because we always think we are in the right).

  • I can’t make the president act more courageously, or get the people on the other side of most issues to be more “rational.” (of course, “rational” is subjective and flavored by our own ideological blind spots)

  • I’m powerless to do much of anything bigger than improve my own little corner of the world.

I don’t like to limit myself to a list of things I can’t do. By settling for this flawed approach, I believe it improperly frames an issue in the negative, which is a lousy way to move towards success, excellence, or being extraordinary. Unlike integers, adding together negatives never equals a positive.

Here’s the short list of positive things that I’m committed to making central for me in 2013.

  • Invest passion in my primary income source and make the first quarter memorable–I have to if the “gig I’m not allowed to talk about on my blog” is to survive and become sustainable.

  • Continue writing and “bringing the noise” here at the JBE. I have some big goals for this coming year on the publishing side, also.

  • Continue leveraging my existing skills and work to enhance them, while learning some new skills, making myself more marketable via what I call the University of Autodidactica, a DIY approach to growth and education. Be looking for a blog post about that soon.

  • Get back on track with diet/exercise and take off the 20 pounds I packed on during the last three months of 2012–I’m already rolling with that.

  • Cultivate and strengthen relationships with the people that matter in my life and let go of many people on the periphery that never have my back, if they ever did at all.

There are many benefits to this new plan, which isn’t new or unique, although it’s an important new focus for me. Being positive and not succumbing to negative self-fulfilling prophecies puts you in rarefied company.

Here’s what I know from experience. I can change my reality. I’ve been doing it for more than 10 years now. Each stage along my own personal journey teaches me new things and I continue to adapt, have a better sense of who I am, and recognize my strengths, as well as my shortcomings.

I’m excited to see where my focused approach takes me this year.

2 thoughts on “What I can do

    • I’m really focused on what I can do. A motto for 2013 might be, “more doing, less hand-wringing,” or something like that.

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