Gary Bacon

Pushing the Needle Forward

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my life is to be authentic, not fill the void with a sense of false self-worth. Not to say, “Look at me. I do good things. See I’m great at what I do! Right? Tell me how wonderful I am, please.”

Instead, I say: “I’m enjoying this journey, right now. I’m putting my heart and soul into this. I take the initiative. I care.”

As Seth Godin says, “Initiative is scarce.”

Overachievers place so much stress on themselves. I know, I am one. I continue to work on it.

There are times when I forget, and then I have to remind myself to be present, mindful of what’s going on, and not let the worry of pleasing others consume the happiness in me.

Instead, acknowledge that drive and use it as motivation to keep pushing the needle forward. One step at a time.

Tribes or the Inspiration of Life

The Internet has made it so much easier to find people just like us. The slightly odd, wonderful, and a taste that is as unique as our fingerprint.

Before, media dictated the standard in preferences: music, fashion, culture, food, etc; People followed in step. There was an illusion of choice, but it was dictated by a few.

That world tries to hang on to its heritage. The shadow of it still exists.

We live in truly special time.

Create. Share your art. Express yourself. Find others that spark your interest. Collaborate. Be inspired. Inspire others. It is a beautiful cycle.

Holding a firm grip onto information, your ideas, and insights only hurt you. Set them free. Share. Only by letting go, can something grow.

Many times it will grow bigger than yourself.

Creating New Mental Pathways

Early On

When I was young, my parents bought me a book about Abraham Lincoln. The intended audience was geared towards kids. I remember being impressed that Abraham Lincoln taught himself how to read and write. He had a love of reading and read whatever he could get his hands on.

This impressed me so much. I thought to myself, “If he can teach himself how to read then I can teach myself to do anything.”

That started my love of reading. I’ve been self-educated my entire life. Any interest that crossed my mind would have me burrowed at the local library in a mound of books. Many memories of my childhood were spent in libraries. I love it.

Once the Internet became mainstream, I was amazed at the amount of information one could absorb. At age 13, I taught myself HTML. At age 15, I was working on learning CSS and Javascript. By age 16, I had created my first e-commerce client website. It was for a local trophy shop.

Mental Fatigue

There are times that I feel worn out after a long day’s work. Why? It is emotional labor. When you boil down what I do for a living to it’s simplest form, it is “problem-solving”. When crafting a user experience, you take the business goal and provide the simplest way possible for the user to achieve said goal.

That takes a lot of iteration, refining, and thoughtful consideration.

Travel and New Experiences

There are a few sub-themes to which I follow in order to maintain happiness. However, my overarching theme is this:

Happiness is sustained fulfillment.
Fulfillment is born out of creating art.

What does that mean? How do I achieve this baseline?

  1. Create art.
  2. Be authentic.
  3. Travel and have new experiences.
  4. Solid relationships: friends/family.
  5. Peace where I live.

Travel

Much of my best reading gets done on airplanes. In my experience, zero reading gets done in the actual airport. Too much background noise, gate changes, and the constant distractions of awaiting the boarding process. However, once I’m in my distraction-free bubble in the air, I can power through books with ease.

To try and recreate this distraction-free environment, as best as possible at home, I put on my noise canceling headphones and set the iPhone to airplane mode.

Booking airline tickets 2-4 months in advance gives me the freedom to fly. With that much planning in advance, most ticket prices are in the $200-300 range for roundtrip; even west coast trips.

Budgeting for this is of upmost importance to me. I try and keep them to weekend trips, even if it is a 3-day weekend, as to not disrupt the day job. However, I find the inspiration that I gather from traveling to new places fuels my creativity and only enhances my work.

Authenticity

There are a few sub-themes to which I follow in order to maintain happiness. However, my overarching theme is this:

Happiness is sustained fulfillment.
Fulfillment is born out of creating art.

What does that mean? How do I achieve this baseline?

  1. Create art.
  2. Be authentic.
  3. Travel and have new experiences.
  4. Solid relationships: friends/family.
  5. Peace where I live.

Being authentic.

I believe in being 100% authentic. The person that I am at work is who I am at home and amongst my friends. What you see is what you get.

After observation, some folks in life learn to conceal genuine thoughts and feelings, which can be an aspect of insecurity. A breakdown in communication sure, but they are trying to protect themselves. When encountering someone who is authentic, it can be intimidating. They hide behind a veil and this exposes them.

Trying to be someone who we are not, trying to “make the right moves”, or the fear of making the wrong decision: all of those reasons hinder us from being truly authentic.

Keep Your Freedom

There are a few sub-themes to which I follow in order to maintain happiness. However, my overarching theme is this:

Happiness is sustained fulfillment.
Fulfillment is born out of creating art.

What does that mean? How do I achieve this baseline?

  1. Create art.
  2. Be authentic.
  3. Travel and have new experiences.
  4. Solid relationships: friends/family.
  5. Peace where I live.

Give yourself options.

Will saying yes to _______ give up my freedom?

Everything in life is about having as many options as possible so you can maximize your freedom.

— James Altucher
The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth

Keeping your options open is paramount in making decisions. Be patient, think it through, and do not act out of emotion nor haste.

It’s not always about money either. Will that “dream job” paying $400,000 a year also absorb all extra free time that you have? If so, not worth it. It goes against theme No. 1, “Create art.”

Sure, there are always bills to pay. Having that day job, which pays the bills, allows you the freedom to work on your art for a couple hours every morning. But it’s a balancing act. Eventually, the art will start to pay the bills. ( Just don’t chase after it. ) Being mindful and adjusting the calibration of that combination comes with practice and assessment of self.

Be able to create art.

The freedom to create art. That’s what I love.

The IKEA Effect

When you build something yourself, the IKEA effect, you place more importance on it even if the resulting quality is less than buying something preassembled.

When someone gives you a gift, you place more importance on it than if you purchased the object on a whim.

It’s harder to part with something or someone when there are memories attached.

Create more memories.

Working Way Too Much

The Cult of Work You Never Meant to Join by Jason Lengstorf is a fantastic piece about working too much.

These are a few bits that jumped out at me.

The work is still fun, but you don’t feel the same passion anymore. Whole days slip by sometimes and you have no idea what happened; you certainly don’t have much to show for it.

Your goals outside of work are on hold. You’d love to find out if the Belgians have anything to be cocky about waffle-wise, but you don’t have time for a big trip right now.

This is something I try to keep in memory. It is why I started a goals whiteboard with: finances, life, health on the corners. One area that I’m working on adding to one of the corners are relationships.

Despite over 100 years of research supporting shorter work weeks, many companies still push for long hours, under the claims of a “sprint” or “crunch time” period.

The irony comes in when we look at productivity over time. After just two months of 60-hour weeks, productivity goes negative compared to what a 40 hour week would have produced.

New Years Resolutions

Really, the goals we set for New Years shouldn’t be something new altogether. They should be an incremental progression of existing goals.

I categorize my goals: career, financial, and health. This year, I’m adding a new category: relationships. Each of these categories, by nature, overlap with each other. By creating the “buckets” to hold our goals it spawns new goal ideas that we may have not thought of before.

Once measurable goals are set then we can continue to refine them through the year; not just at the first of January. Setting regular personal check-ins on the calendar is a great way to keep the ball rolling. Personally, I do this at the start of every month. In my bedroom, I have a whiteboard set up with each category as a daily reminder. Each corner of the board has a bulleted list of goals and any related metric beside it.

Dream big. Quantify. Maintain. Repeat. Day after day, week after week, month after month, it all adds up.

Self-love isn’t selfish.

This morning as I meditated in the shower, I kept thinking, “Self-love isn’t selfish.” What is selfishness? When we expect others to give themselves up for us, we are being selfish. When we insist that others prove their love by doing what we want them to do for us: selfishness.

Putting your needs first allows you to give to others fully. Taking care of yourself, allows you to focus on your goals. Focusing on and achieving your goals with fearlessness allows you to be generous with no expectations of anything in return. You aren’t giving out of a depleted, tired, soul but sharing as a whole complete individual.