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Goals… Set and Do Not Forget.

People wander.  I’m referring to the nomads, the ancient jews, and the attention deficit disorder junkies.  I don’t put myself in any of those categories, so I guess I’m referring to the rest of us as well… Read all the self help books you’d like, outside of the need for a spirirtual component in your life, you’ll find that if you want to improve an aspect of yourself, set a goal and stick to it.  Full disclosure, I don’t read self help books…

Some of us were taught to set goals in schools, some were taught by their family, some just learned it themselves.  The weight that goal setting is given in education (at least in the US public schools today) is not nearly enough.  There are examples of it… Task lists, weekly assignments and due dates.  But emphasizing the act of goal setting and completion and how to achieve them, not so much.

And that’s what I am trying to do here now.  I’ve set so many life goals in my past.  Write novels, become a teacher, visit all 50 US states, etc.  Some I’ve met and some I haven’t.  The ones I’ve met have two things in common compared to the ones I haven’t acheived.

They are specific.

There is an end date.

“Write a novel” is ridiculously generic with no end date.  I had no real direction.  I have started many novels (I’m actually surprised at how many I’ve started) and finished none.  I have had no end date, I have had no specific reason to finish them.  I haven’t been driven to work on them during those days (that inevitably come) where working on a novel is not only drudgery but drudgery that prevents me from enjoying pleasure in other activities.

But I’m done with a flag football coaching book…  I await the illustrations from a local artist to complete and publish it.  If those don’t come by my end date, I will publish it without them.  The difference between this book on coaching and the “novels” is the specificity and the timeline.

I’ve coached youth sports for over 20 years.  I decided that I should write a book about how to do it effectively not just for the sport in general but how to interact with the parents and players and other coaches and refs.  It was a detailed and specific concept.  One that, once I started filling in the details, started to complete itself.

I also have a deadline that I created for myself.  One that is still looming.  I want it to be published prior to the spring flag football season…  So I need to have it completed (fully completed) in August.  And magically I have a reason to work on it even when I’d rather be focusing on listening to a podcast in a hammock…

The same applies to this blog.  This is my journey to podcasting and monetizing that podcast/blog.  I have a specific goal, create a podcast, create a book about the process of creating it (this blog), and monetize both.  The monetization of the blog into a book is self explanatory.  The monetization of the podcast is something that I’m still determining the best approach.  And I have created a date to have accomplished the first two.  Podcast will be starting in or before July.  It will be about teaching a single Dad how to cook for himself and his children (incidentally, I plan on writing a book about THAT too, but I’ve not set that goal yet).  The podcast “journey” book will come after that but by no later than November…

I have specifics and an end date, I will make them happen.  And they will not be perfect!  I don’t expect them to be.  Every writer, every podcaster, every creator knows that their creation could be better.  But if I was seeking perfection I would never finish anything…

And one other thing, there can’t be any other things.  The third and possibly most important aspect of setting goals, at least for me, is to not set too many.  Sure, there can be the vague no time goals that don’t have specifics, but those are dreams, not goals.  I’m not going to stop dreaming.  But I’m also not going to set other goals until I’m done and am living within THESE goals.  If I do then I might have to sacrifice these goals in order to meet the next and I will never have accomplished/finished anything.  A goal without a plan is just a dream…

On a side note, I’ve been to 48 of the 50 states, two more to go!

Why I Fail (and why it’s alright)

Vacations, I tell you what!  They have a way of making me want to retire early and also interfere with my schedules.  Yes, the podcast and other personal goals I’ve had were delayed.  Yes, I’ve missed the dates I was trying to hit.  And yes, it will take a bit for my momentum to get rolling again and edit and produce what I have.

But it was worth it.  Watching my son gain confidence in his swimming ability, watching him get closer to both me and his Mom, and bonding with him in a way that will last much longer than just two weeks in a summer… I could never put a price on that.  Failing to meet some arbitrary personal goals I set for myself though is a cheap cost.  I love my liberty, I love the freedoms that I have, and I LOVE the fact that they give me free reign to be with and develop my family.

So, sure, the podcast isn’t here yet.  I’ll get re-motivated and get it out and it will be better than if I hurried it through.  Knowing my son and wife love me and each other (and that he can swim underwater now just as well as his Dad) makes it all alright.  Any personal goal time that I was going to spend this weekend will be pushed aside as well while I teach my oldest how to change the oil in his car.  That’ll be worth it too…

Intros and Outros

I love Audacity…  I didn’t think I would.  Editing the intro and outro for my podcast was actually quite fun.  Learning Autoduck and grabbing public domain music that suits my style were both…  fulfilling.

I know that I shouldn’t be excited nor surprised by this, I absolutely love to learn.  I’m learning podcasting, blogging, patreon, hosting, and marketing.  All while I’m learning DMARC, DKIM, Cloud SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and DaaS.  the only thing I would want to add is the time to sit down and have a good read.

There are several books I’ve been holding off on starting because I’ve got so much to learn.  That’s all going to change today though as I start on a week long vacation and will be able to step away from some of my responsibilities and plan to focus on things like catching up on some reading and doing some drawing and writing and playing with my son and apparently putt-putt and kayaking and tennis…

Come to think of it, I might not have enough time to read those books…  Thankfully, I finished the Podcast’s intro and outro already…  Sadly, I think the intro and outro are much better quality than what I recorded for Episode 1…

In other words, the books are outshined by the bookends.

So the dilemma now is whether I create a new episode 1 or create an episode 2 and never have an episode 1.  The latter would give me the ability to have a mystery surrounding the podcast…  “Why was there no Episode 1?”  “Was there an Episode 1 once and it disappeared?”  See… mystery…

Since I haven’t fully produced any podcast episodes yet, I’ll take the first complete one as Episode One and we’ll go from there…  I’d rather the books have more value than the bookends.

First Podcast Recorded

It’s funny that recording the first podcast was as easy as it was…  It’s NOT funny how much work it’s going to take to make it sound even remotely professional.

That said, it was also fun to sit down and talk food with Bob.  To learn that his kid’s hate ketchup and to realize that when you’ve known someone for so long and talk to them daily that having a good conversation is easy to do.

It wasn’t without it’s hiccups.  We had a dropped call, halfway through, part of the recording had video, part of it didn’t, but I fixed all of that.  The microphone needed two other pieces of equipment to work correctly (taken care of) and I’m not happy with the video quality…  The important thing is that we did it.

And of course then Bob leaves for vacation, so I have to get a guest host for Episode #2.  I’ve already gotten a friend who I’ve known almost as long to volunteer to replace my “permanent guest” so I’m not too concerned…

I might not make my July deadline, but it was a deadline that I pulled not only out of thin air but also with no true knowledge of how much work would be involved.  I’m excited about getting the blog started for the podcast, https://cookingpodcast.wordpress.com as well as the patreon page https://www.patreon.com/CookingPodcast.  I’ll probably be spending more time on those two blogs than on this one for the near term.

But I won’t be neglecting this.  This is my outlet, don’t forget.

Game Night

I don’t want to spread myself too thin.  I understand that I’m taking on a lot of projects right now and some of them may not work out.  I’m fine with those failures (as I’ve said in a previous blog post) and won’t let them stop me.

But as thin as I spread myself at work and home, I don’t spread myself so thin that I neglect my family nor my friends.  The family gets the lion share of my time.  Rightly so, I mean I live with these guys, they can’t escape me.  The friends, I am lucky, are for the most part the people I work with.  Even those that have moved to different companies, different internal jobs, etc.  We still keep in touch.  And that’s a thing to marvel at seeing as I work from home and not a single one of them lives in the same city as I do (well maybe a few live here).

I have friends from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Aurora, Illinois, Portland, Maine, and others in various spots around the country.  And these are friends that I hang out with weekly outside of work.

All thanks to the internet and console gaming.  One night out of the week I take a night where I sit down in front of the Xbox and get on party chats with my buddies while we play games.  We have been known to discuss work, but we talk politics, family happenings and just general guy things.  My wife accepts the fact that I get some guy time with my buddies (and secretly is happy that I’m 1. in the same house as her while I’m doing it and 2. doesn’t have me discussing the finer points of her Lifetime movies that she can watch by herself).

Just once a week, but I’ve developed some crazy good friendships over that time.  My longest friend (outside of my wife) is starting a podcast with me…  As much as I love my hectic schedule, I love the breaks as well…  Now, I’ve got to go, because…  It’s game night!

My Favorite Dad…

My Mom taught me so much.  Cooking, creativity, kindness, caring, empathy, and how to properly vacuum a floor and make a bed.  I owe her more than I could ever repay.

My Dad, he taught me everything else.

Dad taught me how to never quit.  He taught me that working at something was work.  And working at something always paid off.  Sometimes it paid off in areas that I wasn’t working towards but it always paid off.

He taught me how to fight for what I want, to sacrifice one thing to earn something else.  He taught me that dreams and goals matter and are achievable.  In teaching me that, he taught me that some teachers and people who speak from authority are liars or ignorant.  Don’t tell me things aren’t possible when I’ve seen my Dad DO THEM…

My Dad coached my brother, my sisters, and his grandchildren in a sport he knew nothing about because he wanted to be in contact with us constantly.  He wasn’t a helicopter parent (nor was my Mom).  We wouldn’t have been able to ride our 3 inch wide skateboards down the sharp inclined sidewalks into what I recall was shards of glass had he been a helicopter parent.  But he sacrificed his time for his children.

My Dad taught me how to be a father and a husband and how to respect myself and care for my family regardless of what happens.

My Dad, made me awesome.

(If you know me, you obviously saw that coming…).

One of my favorite expressions of love towards my wife is this:

You are my favorite…  (person).

I whisper the person part after a short pause.  And, yeah, it’s true, she’s my favorite person, my best friend, etc.

But Dad…  You are my favorite Dad…  Bar none..

Tidal Movements

Ebb and flow.  Pendulum.  Up and down.  Call it what you want but life is full of momentum swings and I love feeling the flow of it.  Discovering the number of swings that are moving at the same time is … adventurous.  I’m swinging up with health, love, energy while I’m swinging down with patience, calm, understanding and I’m mid-swing with research, reading, and faith.

These are not actual metrics, I wish I was that self aware.  And isn’t that the point of it all?  The complexity that we surround ourselves in keeps us moving forward or moving backwards depending on our situation and reaction to it.  Do you distress on the down swings?  Do you use the stress of the down swings to help shift your inertia (eustress)?  Do you, as I do, stop and contemplate what’s happening?  And I mean what’s happening right now.  Not the past that got you to your present.  Not the potential future…  The actual breaths that you are taking, the sounds that surround you, the people right next to you (even the e-friends that you have).

It’s in those times of

meditation

prayer

silence

rest

stillness

that we feel the movements.  That we can start to control them.  Focus them.  That we can, at the very least, feel blessed by the up swings and appreciate the down swings for what they are.

It’s the stillness and silence (even if that silence is a headset full of music or the nighttime song of the crickets) that we need more and more.  It’s that moment in the pool/ocean/bathtub/water where you are underneath the surface and feel the sound around you.

It’s always then when I know that, in my stillness, I have no control of the pendulum swings.  Oh, I can push here and there, use my inertia, etc…  But I’m not in control of those tidal movements in my life anymore than you are in yours.

I absolutely love the ride though…

Transformation

It might not be what you expect, but when does life always go your way?  I have been writing this blog for several reasons.  Quite honestly, too many.  I am not even sure I can label all of the reasons why I started to commit myself to writing here three times a week, and I’m not going to try.  There’s no reason to because the more I write in here the more I realize that most of the reasons aren’t legitimate.  There are only a small subset that matter.

I’m writing this to improve my writing.  Back in the day, I wrote constantly.  In college I had a notebook in my back pocket and a pen with me at all times.  I would write while I waited in lines.  I had completely lost track of that and this three times a week blog has rekindled a little of that.

I have felt guilty for the past decade or two when I spent time on something that didn’t involve my wife or sons and engaging with them.

Don’t make me out to be a saint here…  I spent plenty of time on video games.  But if I wasn’t coaching, or cooking, or being directly involved in supporting the family, I typically didn’t do it.  Even the video gaming initially was to become more socially connected with people I work with.

So writing fell to the wayside.  It meant that I would have to step away from the intteractions with the family and it wouldn’t be adding to the money intake.  So, I stopped.  And nobody made me, nor was it a conscious decision (other than wanting to devote time to my wife and sons.  NOR DO I REGRET IT!  You might not have expected that bit after the pity party I just threw!

I wouldn’t change anything about the last 2 decades of my life.  I’ve spent them with the woman I love and my best friend, my two boys, my extended family, and all the friends I’ve met along the way.  I wouldn’t change a thing about that.

But, I stopped writing and I’ve realized that I miss it.  I also realize that me spending some time on things away from my responsibilities to focus on things that make me…  whole…  matter.  Doing that makes me a better husband, a better father, a better friend.  At least I hope it does because that’s what I’ve been doing with this blog and I have enjoyed it.

So this blog is transforming.  It’s my writing outlet.  Not enough people read it to make a bold statement, but I will tell you that you shouldn’t expect a specific topic to be focused on here.  If there are websites that need to be created for cookbooks or what not, I’ll link to them and write about those things there.  And as I do that and those demand more time, I might dwindle down the amount of entries here.  But we’re not there yet and I’m still getting my fix…

For those few who have been reading, I applaud you.  I welcome your comments.  I expect that you will be happy with some of the changes that will be coming here.  I expect to really enjoy them myself as well…

I Absolutely Love My Wife

Self explanatory, I know, but she has consistently refined my rough edges and delivered the blunt truth to me for 17 years.  I would not be me, if it weren’t for her.  The most recent example of her meddling came yesterday as I prattled on about something I had just researched on podcasting.

She stopped me and asked me why I was focusing on monetizing it when, in reality, I was initially interested in podcasting because it was a fun idea that I was passionate about…

Well, of course she’s right.  And, of course, it hit me like a ton of bricks that  my focus had shifted.  She knows me too well, obviously…

So, I’m refocusing and making certain that she gets all the credit.  I’m not sure what a modern feminist would think of her, but she is exactly what a powerful woman looks like to me, and I love her for it.

If, eventually, I get to a point where I have a following and can make some dough off of it, then great.  That’s not going to be my focus initially though, and I think that will lead to a better product as I learn to edit audio, to present myself on video, and perfect my interviewing skills.

My new gauge will be whether or not my wife thinks I’m enjoying doing it and approves.  If I can impress her, then I’ve done a pretty good job.

 

 

Sitting or Quitting versus Doing

I wrote last time about waiting and it driving me crazy.  I’m not sure I fully understood even then what I was trying to communicate.  I have spent my entire life not finishing those books.  I’ve been sitting and thinking and not DOING.  I’ve never met anyone who would deem themselves successful without initially doing something.

So just as I’m about to stand up and really actually follow through with it.  Researching, planning, writing, getting things together…  Any delay…  Every delay.  Is difficult.

I don’t want to fall back down the hole of not having accomplished something creative that I’ve been wanting to do.  Sure, I can accomplish work related tasks and projects.  It’s my bread and butter.  And I’ve accomplished creative tasks, but not at this scale.

And this scale is the scale I’ve dreamed about since i was a kid.

I also, like this blog, do not expect to quit.  Once I start, even if it’s god-awful, I plan on working until it’s complete.

It might be god-awful initially… I’m not scared of that anymore.  I will be doing it though, rather than just consuming others.  And if I fail, I’ve learned how to modify and post edit audio tracks in Audacity.  I’ve helped my buddy become a better cook for his kids.  I’ve created something concrete that others might enjoy/participate in.  I’ve improved my self and gave myself a creative outlet…

I’ve sat too long…

I Hate Waiting… and Doubt…

I’m at a standstill… I want to move forward, I want to create content, but I’m unable to do so because of shipping…  Well, because of shipping and an 8 year old laptop that can barely have two apps open simultaneously, let alone record audio/video and edit it effectively.  So, I’ve ordered a long overdue laptop replacement and am impatiently waiting it’s delivery.

I know, I know, poor me, waiting on a brand new laptop…  I’m not frustrated with the actual laptop delay, I’m frustrated with the delay itself.  The delay has made me think of all the things I should be doing while I’m waiting.  I should have the Cooking Dad blog up and running, with affiliate advertising hooked in and ready to go so that when the pocast gets published it can direct people to the blog page…  I should be writing down episode ideas (I’m totally doing that…) and start writing some of the shownotes in advance (I’m totally not doing that…).  I should be, I should be…  The more I think about what I should be the more discouraged I am that I’m NOT…

What am I missing?  What should I research and learn?  How badly am I going to fail?  Basically, the waiting has taken advantage of some of my early confidence in doing this regardless of failure…  Now I’m wondering if I should even start until I’ve (insert your favorite excuse here).

But I will…  I will start (and it will fail) and I will start the next (and it might fail too, but it might not), etc…  I will not let the waiting discourage me.  I will not let a delay cause me to question myself.  I will continue on attempting this because I love the idea of attempting this and learning how to do it and make money off of it.  Even if I don’t make money I love the idea of learning how.

Or, I guess, how NOT to, which might be the name of my book when it’s all said and done, How to fail at making money with podcasts.  I think people would be interested in a failure story as well, if done right.

Either way, I fully expected delays, I’m still on the right track/date, and I am actively trying not to overthink things while i wait.

(I’m also excited about the new laptop!  That should be enjoyable to say the least.)