Changing Courses and the Drive to Succeed

At the beginning of this year, I set  out to chart a course for myself that would take me closer to my dreams and what I deemed to be success.  I got my SelfJournal and wrote down not only my goals, but also the small, individual steps that I needed to get myself there.

January was great. I checked in weekly and added new steps for each goal with the hopes of getting me closer to each. And for a time I felt great.  I was making progress, too. Then February came. After a few weeks, I hit a wall. I started to feel meh and  while overall, I was still hitting those individual steps, I started to question some of goals that I'd been moving toward. Then, I became disillusioned with it all and stopped. Cold.

A few days ago, I read a post that made me rethink my approach. The post was about changing your goals when they no longer serve you. What I realized, was that I was forcing the proverbial square peg into a round hole. My goals were not longer serving me. It was time to reassess. I was feeling like a failure, but I wasn't one. I just needed to re-examine my goals. Things change from month to month and even day to day. It's important to be flexible when they do and here I was, clinging to this idea of success, when it just wasn't going to work out for me this way.  But, I was so reluctant to let go of it. I clung to it until it made me unhappy.  Sometimes, it is necessary to change plans mid-stream. I thought to myself, "Clients do this all the time, why not me"?

So, I said down that began to think through each goal. What it meant to me and why I was pursuing them. Sure enough, the things that I thought were so important to me just two months ago, no longer seemed that important while others had moved up. And so, I moved things around. After sleeping on it for a day and revisiting the list, I  made a few more tweaks and now, I feel better than ever about my new list of goals.

It's possible for anyone to do. Even Type-A perfectionists like us!

If your list of goals, are no longer appealing to you, you're the only one who can change it. And until you do, you won't feel that drive to succeed. In the words of Marshawn Lynch, you won't feel that drive to run through a motherfucker over and over and over and over again. Despite the strong language, he has a point, doesn't he? I sure think so.

Podcasts I love

Doesn't it seem like podcasts are everywhere? Well, that's because they are. There are so many to choose from that sometimes the sheer number can be overwhelming. Indeed, Pew Research stated that 21% of Americans reported having listened to a podcast in the past month, up from 12% in 2013.

Recently though, I read an article that seemed to be ushering in a backlash for podcasts. Despite their growth, though, there's really no accounting for taste -- or quality for that matter. In my exploration of the medium I've heard no shortage of low quality recordings, hosts with annoying verbal ticks and grating speech impediments. Many times, I've had to stop mid-cast and move on.

But eventually, I inched my way back to the podcasting trough and have finally settled on a few that listen to very week.  The bad ones, I won't mention but I will share the good ones with you. Very good.  They run the gamut from politics to tech, music and culture. Check out my list of favorite podcasts below and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Still Processing :: hosted by Jenna Wortham & Wesley Morris

By far my favorite podcast. In my head, Jenna  and Wesley are my buds and we chat weekly about politics, music and everything in between. I'm the lady navigating Lake Merritt laughing to myself as I listen to Still Processing on my morning runs. This is a refreshing podcast. Its still kinda new (with only 24 eps so you can catch up). At once, smart and very funny. Wortham and Lowry live at the intersection of culture, queerness and technology. It makes for fascinating conversation and deep discussions. They've brought in  colleagues from the NYT  as guests to help move some discussions along, but I prefer it when the two riff off each other. They have a great chemistry and I'm always super bummed when the hour has ended and look forward to the following Thursday when there is a new episode to share.

Favorite episode: The Kanye-Thon

Recode Decode :: hosted by Kara Swisher

Kara Swisher is old school. She does not bullshit and she doesn't kiss ass. Not  Peter Thiel's and certainly not Trumpelthinskin. You may know her as the former WSJ tech reporter who moved on to found Recode with Walt Mossberg.  Here she interviews Silicon Valley founders and technorati as well as some of the top names and companies in the business with her usual  biting wit and sarcasm. And through all that,  she manages to get to the meat of the issues by being herself. There really is no one like Kara Swisher in the Valley anymore. She has deep knowledge of  the evolution of technology from her days at AOL and weaves the funniest stories into her interviews. Without question, there is no one in tech like Kara Swisher. Every week she brings it. Everyone in tech should listen to this podcast.

Favorite episode: Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail

PopCast :: hosted by John Caramanica

This one is new to me.  I am a huge fan of music and have so much respect for those really appreciate it.  To say John Caramanica is a fan of music is an understatement. His knowledge is almost encyclopedic especially hip-hop. And despite his recent tussle with Solange, I took a chance on this podcast. I admit, it took some time to get over John's constant overuse of hip-hop vernacular, but the show began to grow on me. If you're a fan of music, here's where  you can hear some of the best minds in popular music break down current happenings. From the Grammy's pop, punk, hip-hop and everything in between.

Favorite episode: Hip Hop's Elders and Youth go to battle (Again)

Heroine:Women's Creative Leadership, Confidence, Wisdom :: hosted by Majo Molfino

For those of you who do the woo-woo, Heroine is a great podcast hosted by Majo (Maria Jose) Milfino where she interviews some of the top creative women of our time. She talks to them as a good old friend and asks questions about their creative journeys that are both inspiring and interesting. Majo is a creative herself and in each interview, she aims to get to the root of what each woman was like as a child and their journey into creativity specifically as a woman.

Revision Path :: hosted by Maurice Cherry

There are lots of Design podcasts but Maurice Cherry, an Atlanta native, has been recording Revision Path for quite some time now. What's unique about Revision Path, is that it focuses on designers of color. Maurice has talked with over 150 designers from all over the world to bring a different perspective to the field. With all that talk about diversity in technology, he has amassed quite the collection of interviews with creatives of color from all over the globe. Its rare to hear a decidedly Black view on design and creativity and Maurice does a great job of bringing these issues to the fore without it being repetitive or trite. In fact, I think a few years back, I recall him reaching out to interview me when he was starting out. Not sure what happened but nevertheless, Revision Path is a refreshing take on an old industry.

Favorite Episode: Anne H. Berry Asst Professor of Graphic Design at Cleveland State Universty


Books I read in January

Last year 2016, I read tons of articles and lots of books as well. Some of my favorites were Dark Money, Weapons of Math Destruction and one by my good friend Kelly Hoey, Build Your Dream Network.

I've got an ambitious list of books to read for this year. I've broken them out month by month to help me manage everything and I  thought that I would share them. At the end of every month, I'll write a post outlining and providing a brief overview of the books that I've read for the previous month and write a brief review here. My goal for 2017 is to read at minimum 3 books per month. I'm sure that I can do it and I've actually already started.

So far for the month of February, I've started 2 books by Tim Ferris: Tools of Titans and The Four Hour Work-week.  There are others of course and I'll share more about those next month once I finish.

Here are the books I read last month in January. There were only two, but I'm just getting started!

They are: Writing Down the Bones and Big Magic. These two books were the perfect ones to start off the year with because my goal is to write more. So, I am sharing here on my blog, but also working on my first screenplay in years (since film school) and possibly a new book. Trying to feed the flame, as it were.

Writing Down the Bones; freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

This is the perfect book for those of us who have a fear of writing, or who think way too much about it. And really, who doesn't? Even though I've written two books, one of which is a best seller, I still feel that old resistance when I sit down to write. To put it mildly, its a struggle.

Written in a conversational tone by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones (which for the rest of this post I will refer to as WDTB) offers the reader a Zen Buddhist approach to writing along with helpful tips and tools. It really helps the reader to shed fear and overthinking that prevents so many of us from  just writing. I appreciate this book too, because it aligns perfectly with my Bhuddist practice. Goldberg offers a healthy dose of quotes from Zenmaster  Katagari Roshi that helped her to see past the usual blocks and get to the core of writing.

Plainly written and peppered with great stories, anecdotes and quotes, WDTB helps writers to break down their work to its bare essence -- the meat if you will. There is no pretense here at all. It's an easy read and I found myself reading this mostly before bed and then waking up ready to write. Highly recommended.

I save lots of articles as I browse the web so Pocket has been a lifesaver for me. Once when I complained (via Twitter) that the number of articles that I'd saved had become overwhelming and almost impossible to read, the company's Twitter account mentioned listening to the articles. This has helped immensely. Now, I listen to articles while walking or running and even doing the dishes. For some reason, too, audiobooks had never appealed to me. But, after this newly-discovered love to listening I decided to give it a try. My next book, Big Love was one of the first.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

My experience with this book is quite fragmented as I  started while in my car. But, it was so good that I brought it home with me.  The book is read as most books are, by the author and is, honestly, like having a long chat (a 4 hour chat ) with a good friend. As with those conversations, you jump right in and all concept of time seems to fade away. So too, it is with Big Magic.

Elizabeth Gilbert brings so much character and individuality to her reading of this book, that it makes it a joy to listen to. As I struggle with writing more, (on this blog and elsewhere) listening to Big Magic was like writing therapy for those who have experienced the dreaded blocks with which we are all too familiar. Gilbert isn't shy about baring her soul and sharing her highest highs and lowest of lows.

She easily moves from anecdote to lesson throughout the book and throws in some hilarious encounters for good measure. One of my favorites, is a story she tells that illustrates her belief the stories choose writers and moves on if action isn't taken. She speaks of an idea she had that seemed to have moved on to the writer Anne Pachet when circumstances beyond Gilbert's control caused the story to stall.

In closing

For those of you who like a bit of spirituality with your writing, Gibson offers up a nice balance of that. But there are no guided meditations here. The crux of the book is that the only way to get better, is to, again just write. A theme echoed, albeit in a totally different way than Natalie Goldberg in WDTB.

Have you read any interesting books this month? Let me know in the comments below.