Today marks my 23rd birthday - and I have had quite an interesting year. There have been many changes to the external environment I'm in, but this year also confirmed the validity of the internal motivations and strategies that keep me moving forward. In the last few years, some things have stuck with me, and this year I really started to understand that these traits are a huge part of my identity. In other words, I realized that I am always able to lay the smackdown no matter who jumps in the cage to fight me.
How Do I Keep My Groove?
This year, I faced a particularly unsettling situation: I lost my grants to finish my computer science degree. This forced a dramatic change in my lifestyle, from which I have learned a primary lesson: Keep that damned groove going, and everything around you will keep dancing. Here are the things that keep my groove in the pocket.
Keeping a regular routine allows me to develop my skills in an optimized way. When I know where and when I will be doing things - every day - I can arrange my time to maximize my effectiveness. Rather than working 10 hours on a computer on Monday, sitting behind the drum set for 8 hours on Tuesday, and lifting weights for 9 hours on Wednesday, I instead integrate all of these activities into a daily routine. This is especially important while developing skill - anybody who has tried to study chemistry for more than two or three hours knows how ineffective cramming is.
Right now, my routine is daily, give or take a few hours on each task: 1-2 hours of drumming in the morning, 4-6 hours of web development work, 3 hours of Olympic weightlifting. Meditations are completed between activities, again in a routine fashion. On weekends, I spend time working on my own web projects rather than on my formal job.
Maintaining Inner Silence
Inner silence is tricky to describe, but is a consequence of my Transcendental Meditation practice. When the nervous system defaults to a state of zero stress - and of zero thought - focusing on the task at hand becomes much easier. I am also aware of the content of my thoughts and can evaluate their usefulness.
Stressful thoughts are never useful. Instead, I confront problems by coming to conclusions confidently, and never compromising in moving forward with the best solution I can think of. No matter how serious a problem is, when I know that I am taking the best action I know of, I never give the problem any additional thought. Instead, I work on something, flirt with a stranger at the bus stop, or watch an episode of Ali G Indahouse.
The reason I emphasize routine is because it allows me to work on each skill as efficiently as possible. My learning process requires daily practice, and I have deliberately created a lifestyle which supports that.
But, none of this means anything if I don't see any results. Here are some results from this year.
- I became a better programmer, especially after leaving college. I started a career and have launched several web sites (including this one).
- My drumming is the best it's ever been
- I'm getting stronger.
- I'm really, really happy.
Mega Chill Time
I do a lot of stuff. That means that I have to rest a lot, too. Otherwise I would die. After all, I do spend a lot of time working the snatch - and that's no easy task.