Becoming a Habitual Action-Taker.

Just over a month ago I received a text from my friend Noah.

“I know you’ve been saying you want to rock climb. I’ve got a guest pass valid for the rest of November. Do you want to go?”

My brain immediately started listing off reasons I couldn’t go rock climbing, something been talking about wanting to do for the past few months, without me realizing it until it happened. I started typing with some inactive part of my brain as the active section continued with its diatribe of things I could do instead.

“I’m available on Wednesday at 5. Let’s do it.” I replied.

On Wednesday I arrived home from work and worked on a blog post for a client. After I submitted the post at 4:45 my brain suddenly began to invent excuses as to why I couldn’t go rock climbing again.

You’ve got another assignment. You could play video games instead. You’re tired. You don’t have time.

I fought back against the endless stream of thoughts pelting me. I stood up from my desk and walked to my room to change. That inactive part of my brain perked up again.

But this is something you’ve wanted to do for months.

The Reality of My Climbing Experience

I climbed in college with friends who loved to head out to Joshua Tree and scale the spectacular rock formations there, or to the local gym when we were too hungover for the two-hour drive. I could scramble my way up a wall alright so I imagined myself scaling the 15-foot bouldering walls of the local gym with only a minor struggle.

Boy, was I mistaken. I’d never been bouldering before, much less climbed in years, and I was out of my element. So much for my expectations (as always).

I realized how out of shape I’ve gotten after three climbs up the wall. My forearms burned, my legs screamed, and my hands were numb. And it was exhilarating. I missed the welcome ache of sore muscles during a workout, the inner turmoil my body and brain fight out as I push through the pain. I tore my palms in four places, taped each up, and continued to climb.

I climbed until I reached the top of the wall and realized I could hardly hold on. Scared I’d hurt myself on the way down I finally tapped out. I could hardly move and my hands were bleeding, but I had the most fun hour and a half I’ve had in months. I’ve gone back three more times, taped up my skin “flappers”, and climbed for as long as my weakened muscles would let me.

Rock climbing was even more incredible than I spent months imagining it would be. I’m grateful Noah asked me to go with him.

How Much Time Do I Actually Have?

There are 168 hours in a week. Currently, the only things occupying my time are 40 hours a week at my job, a two-hour engagement on Monday night, and a three-hour engagement on Tuesday night. I spend 7 hours per night sleeping Monday through Friday, so that’s another 35 hours. I spend about 12 hours sleeping on Saturdays and Sundays; 24 hours.

That leaves me with 64 hours of free time to do as I please. 64 whole hours! Before I continue on this train of thought, let me step back momentarily to my 12 hours of sleep on Saturdays and Sundays.

In my two weekend days, I get two-thirds of the total sleep I get spread out over five days during the week. An unnecessary 10 extra hours are spent on extra sleep, or 6.25% of my week. That’s insane. If I were to sleep my regular 7 hours, that would bring my total weekly free time up to 74 hours!

I now possess 74 hours a week to do with as I please. Looking at the fact that I have 74 hours in a week, free for the taking, changes my perspective on my free time.

How much more time do you have than you realize?

Time as a Commodity

I read somewhere recently that time is the only true commodity in life. We may lose money but we can get it back. When I lose track of time, there’s no getting that time back.

Currently, the most important things in my life are:

  • My higher power
  • My fiancee
  • My family

The most important activities to me are:

  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Blogging
  • Freelancing
  • Rock climbing

If I’m selective about how to spend my time, it’s important that each activity I do contribute to one of the seven things above. Otherwise, it’s not pertinent to my progression. The way I can determine that is by asking, “Will this activity move me closer towards or further away from my ideal self?”

I spend a fair amount of my free time scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. I spend mindless hours on these social media channels before bed, during downtime in the car, or waiting for appointments. I look picture after picture at people going places I want to go or doing things I want to do. Instead of watching other people, I’m going to work towards going the places I want to go or doing the things I want to do.

Sure, I can play a round of a video game or scroll through Instagram for a few minutes, but as soon as I start to sink hours into these activities the problem rears its head.

Additionally, I’ve started to take on more freelance work, resulting in less time for activities I enjoy doing. I’m generally at my day job, at home freelancing, rock climbing, or spending off time with Kate. I’ve had priorities other than my blog resulting in their neglect. For example, this post has been sitting in my Google Drive for over a month. I’ve tweaked it occasionally but it’s been left mostly untouched. I’ve had to adjust the first line multiple times, as it originally started, “Last Sunday…”

I want to win. I want to better myself. I want to achieve my goals and be happy along the way. I won’t do that if I spend 6 hours on a Sunday afternoon playing League of Legends. I’ve got other things I want to do with my life! If I instead invest that time into submitting proposals and completing current projects, taking Kate out to the beach for an afternoon of reading, or meeting up with my mom for coffee, that’s what will help me achieve what I want from my life.

Not League of Legends.

Habitual Dreamers vs. Habitual Action-Takers

Darren Rowse talks about two groups of people in the first episode of his ProBlogger podcast: “habitual dreamers” and “habitual action-takers”. The habitual dreamers, he says, rarely follow through on their dreams. But the habitual action-takers regularly follow through with what they say they’ll do to see where their dreams will lead them. Habitual action-takers find success while habitual dreamers are left with just their dreams.

Habitual action-takers perform minute, daily actions that move them closer towards their plans and goals. Habitual dreamers wish for things they’ll never achieve because they don’t do the work to achieve them.

Currently, I’m a habitual dreamer. I have all these plans and hopes for things that I want to do with my work life. Right now it’s:

  • Hold down a full-time job
  • Freelance write
  • Run two blogs

All simultaneously. But when the time comes to work on those personal projects like freelancing and blogging, things I slide back into video games or scrolling through my phone. I dream of doing them but don’t put in the time or effort to actually get them done.

I have an overwhelming tendency to hang around wishing instead of working for what I want. If I want to achieve the things I dream of, I need to become a habitual action-taker. I need to follow through on the things I say I want to do. I need to push away the laziness and aim for my success. Sure, material success is not the most important thing in the world, but success in the goals I set for myself is absolutely important.

How I Plan to Move Forward

In my last post I overviewed my goals for the past month and explained how I’ve worked towards achieving each of them. I’ve worked towards a few of them, but I could try so much harder. Time management is an important aspect in all of this.

Now that I’ve waited so long to post this it’s the New Year. I’ve never liked New Years Resolutions because they seem to always slip away so I wanted to avoid making this post about that. Instead of resolutions, I want to make changes daily in the choices I make to move myself closer to the person I want to become.

For example, I haven’t been getting up early. If I were to wake up early, I could utilize that time to work on my blog or build a freelancing website. I hate waking up in the morning but I continually press snooze, inadvertently causing myself to wake up over and over again. Counterproductive! Starting tomorrow, I will stop pressing snooze. Also, if I wake up earlier, I’ll have more than 74 hours a week to do things.

I plan to have top surgery by July so I’d like to lose at least 30 pounds before then. I’ve been climbing at least two to three times a week since I originally. I invested in a three-month pass and a pair of my own shoes (that I found on sale for $40 off!) so I wouldn’t have to spend money on rentals every time I go. It’s a great way for me to get a workout since I don’t enjoy running, but I do need to find some type of cardio that I enjoy.

I can also start using a few of those 74 hours to cook food instead of purchase it from a window. It doesn’t take very much time to put together a meal and I actually enjoy cooking! My laziness results in me doing it less often. My habitual dreaming, rather than habitual action-taking.

Ultimately, I could either waste my time watching other people do the stuff I want to do or I can spend that time working towards it and then experiencing it myself.

I want to be in Colorado by April of 2018. I’ve got a lot of work to do before then.