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  • 12 Jul 2011
    Have you ever fallen off track while trying to install or maintain a not-quite-daily habit such as exercising 3-4 days a week or getting up at 5am on weekdays? This article will share some simple ideas to help you maintain such habits more easily. If you perform a certain task every day for weeks on end, it’s usually pretty easy to maintain. However, once you take a day or two off, it can be harder to start up again on your next “on” day. For example, if you get up early every weekday and then sleep in late on Saturday and Sunday, waking up Monday morning often feels harder, and you’re more likely to oversleep. Before you know it, you’ve blown your positive habit completely, and somehow every day has become an off day. 1. Make it daily anyway. The first solution is to turn almost-daily habits into daily habits. Sometimes it’s no big deal to continue the habit even when it isn’t necessary, and the upside is that you’ll have a stronger habit with less risk of losing ground. For example, I like to get up early 7 days a week. I find this much easier to maintain than getting up early 5-6 days per week. If I get up at 5am every single morning, it’s really no big deal. But if I stay out late one night and sleep in until 7am, it’s always harder to get up at 5am the following morning. Every once in a while I’ll stay out past midnight and sleep in late, but my default is to get up with the alarm at the same time every morning. Even though I don’t need to get up early every day, the habit is beneficial for me every day, so there’s no reason to limit it to weekdays. Although it might seem harder to do it 7 days instead of 5-6 days, it’s actually easier to be consistent. With close to 100% daily consistency, a habit will typically maintain itself on autopilot, so you don’t even have to think about it anymore. But with 80-90% consistency, the contrast between your on and off days is always in the back of your mind. Do I have to get up early tomorrow, or can I sleep in late? Do I need to exercise tomorrow, or can I skip it? If you have a lot of almost-daily habits, this can be a big cognitive burden and quite a distraction. Maintaining good habits becomes much more difficult than necessary. 2. Use placeholder habits. Another option is to create an alternative, placeholder habit for your off days. Suppose you want to exercise 5 days a week, and you really want to keep those off days. Instead of doing your regular exercise, you could schedule an an alternative activity for the same time. Instead of doing your usual workout, you could use your off days to go for a walk, read, meditate, write in your journal, etc. I recommend that you use placeholder habits that are similar in some way to the original habit. For example, on your off days for exercise, you could still do something physical like walking, stretching, or yoga. This turns your physical development into an everyday practice, even though you’re doing different activities each day. 3. Chain Habits. When you chain a series of habits together, they become easier to maintain. As soon as you begin the first habit in the chain, the rest of the sequence will tend to take care of itself. My usual morning routine involves getting up, hitting the gym, showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc. It’s a pretty stable pattern. But sometimes when I feel I’m at risk of overtraining, I’ll skip my workout without substituting anything. When this happens I can just jump to the next link in my morning habit chain, which means I’ll get up and then shower. I find that when I occasionally skip habits that are part of a longer daily chain, it’s fairly easy to put them back in again as long as I continue to maintain the first and last links in the chain. As long as I get up early and go to the gym or get up early and then shower, my not-quite-daily exercise habit remains pretty solid. But if I mess with the first link in the chain and don’t get up at my usual time, the whole sequence is more likely to be blown. So the idea is to put your not-quite-daily habits in the middle of a chain of daily habits. If you maintain the overall chain, you’ll probably find it easier to maintain the middle links as well, even though you sometimes skip them. 4. Make specific commitments. If there are certain habits you won’t perform every day, decide exactly when you will perform them. “I’m going to exercise 3-4 days per week” is too vague and wishy-washy. “I’ll do a 30-minute workout at the gym every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday morning at 6:30am, alternating between weight training and aerobic conditioning” is much better. The more specific your commitment, the better. Block out time on your schedule, and add these commitments to your calendar. Be sure not to schedule anything else for those times. It’s very easy to fail when you give yourself too many outs and don’t really commit. On any given day, there should be no question as to whether you will or won’t perform your habitual activity. Ditch the mights, maybes, and shoulds. Either you will or you won’t. Decide in advance what it will be. 5. Turn habits into appointments. If you have a hard time maintaining irregular habits, find a way to turn them into appointments that involve someone else. It’s easier to ditch a habit if you’re only accountable to yourself, but most people are less willing to skip appointments that would leave someone else hanging. Get a workout buddy. Schedule early AM phone calls with another early riser. Plan home organizing time with your roommate(s) at the same time every week. Schedule regular babysitting for date nights with your spouse. Your accountability will be greater when you involve others in your not-quite-daily habits. Theses are just some of the tactics you can use to improve your ability to maintain irregular habits. For a list of specific habits that will give you some ideas, see the article 10 Ways to Optimize Your Normal Days.
    115428 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Let’s say you’ve set some goals for yourself, and now you want to map out a basic plan for how you’ll achieve them.  How do you do this? Obviously there are many ways to plan your action steps, but as a generalization it seems intelligent to aim for a plan that you estimate will consume the least time and resources.  All else being equal, if Plan A takes three months and Plan B takes six months, you’ll go with Plan A.  This is just common sense, right?  You essentially look for the shortest path from your current position to your goal. It’s OK if your estimates aren’t accurate — the point is simply that most of us would consider a shorter path to be more intelligent than a longer path.  This is particularly true in business.  A direct path to an objective is considered more intelligent than a circuitous route.  Time is money, and delays can be costly. The myth of the shortest path As intelligent as this logic may seem, I happen to disagree with it (go figure!).  While I think such an approach to optimization is fine for machines, it’s suboptimal for human beings. Why? The problem appears during implementation of the plan.  What do you actually experience during the action phase?  Do you implement your plan like a machine, completing task after task in order?  Or does something entirely different occur? Personally I’ve never met a human being who worked like this, and I’ve never seen a business do it either.  Plans often fall by the wayside during the implementation stage.  Some would say it’s because people are bad at implementation, but is that really true?  Or was the plan flawed from the beginning because it failed to accurately account for human nature? I’ve produced some beautiful step-by-step plans on paper.  But my implementation has usually been less than stellar.  I’ll get off to an OK start for a little while, maybe a day or two.  Then I stumble.  Sometimes I get distracted.  Other times I feel the actions are just too tedious, and I find subtle ways to procrastinate.  And other times I feel lazy and unmotivated to work on them.  Even though I really want the results, I usually reach a point where I just don’t want to complete the next action.  Sometimes I find a way to push through my resistance.  Other times I rework the plan or move onto something else that seems more interesting (often repeating the cycle once again). Have you ever experienced this pattern yourself? Planning vs. implementation At first I figured I just needed to keep working on my self-discipline.  That did help, but it only encouraged me to set bigger goals, so I still eventually ran into the same problems on a larger scale.  After failing to get the results I wanted, I considered that the problem might be upstream.  Maybe my implementation was poor because my plans were flawed to begin with. That wasn’t an easy conclusion for me because planning is supposed to be one of my key psychological strengths.  According to the Myers-Briggs test, I’m an ENTJ, aka the Field Marshall (a good tactical and strategic thinker).  And the test from the book Now, Discover Your Strengths (which I highly recommend) showed that my #1 strength is strategic thinking.  So the last thing I would have suspected was that my planning was flawed.  But I wasn’t getting results by pushing myself to become better at implementing, so I figured I had nothing to lose by honing my planning skills. I bought fancy project management software, studied various planning methods, and learned how to break everything down into intelligently prioritized actionable steps.  But to my chagrin this investment didn’t pay off the way I wanted.  My plans looked better than ever, but I was still no better at implementing them. Of course some people are better doers while some people are better thinkers, and I definitely enjoy creating plans more than implementing them myself, but I’m not presently surrounded by a team of willing doers, and there are some projects that can’t be delegated easily, particularly in the realm of personal development.  I’m certainly capable of taking massive action under the right conditions — I just needed a way to create those conditions more frequently. Planning for optimal enjoyment I put this problem aside for a while, and one day when I was journaling, a different approach came to me.  Instead of trying to plan the most efficient path to my goal, what would happen if I tried to plan the most enjoyable path? My initial reaction was, “Nah, that wouldn’t work.  It would consume too much time and too many resources.  The most enjoyable path would probably be terribly slow.”  But as I gave it more thought, I had to admit my current approach was taking way longer than I’d planned anyway, so maybe an approach that appeared longer would actually take less time than the seemingly optimal one.  Hmmm…. This “most enjoyable path” began to reveal some interesting possibilities.  If I planned a very lengthy and resource-intensive route to my goal, a tediously slow path wouldn’t likely be the most enjoyable one.  So I figured the most enjoyable path couldn’t be too suboptimal. I wondered what such a plan would look like in comparison to its supposedly more efficient cousin.  I thought about some of the changes I’d make to craft a thoroughly enjoyable plan: Select interesting projects.  Favor projects I enjoy implementing vs. only looking to the end result. Add variety.  Break up long stretches of repetitive work.  Work in different locations.  Take field trips. Improve balance.  Blend solo time with social time.  Balance physical work with mental work. Create a pleasing work environment.  Relaxify my workspace so I enjoy spending time there. Involve others.  Find a way to get friends involved.  Form a mastermind group.  Involve my wife. Solve problems creatively.  Favor creative off-the-wall methods when the obvious solution is too dull or tedious. Enjoy plenty of downtime.  Keep motivation high by avoiding overwork.  Take vacations.  Enjoy rewards for achieving mini-milestones. Avoid the unpleasant.  If a step can’t be done enjoyably, find a way to delegate, outsource, or eliminate it. Use intention-manifestation.  Focus intentions to gain assistance from the Law of Attraction. Design for flexibility.  Allow daily choice making where order of task completion isn’t critical. As I began to understand what an enjoyable plan would look like in comparison with an efficient one, I realized it was a very different way of working.  It’s congruent with the Emotional Guidance System concept from the book Ask and It Is Given because the idea is to remain in a state of joy throughout the entire project.  So you still have a specific goal in mind, but along the way your focus is on enjoying the journey rather than reaching the destination quickly.  Instead of planning the steps that will allow you to achieve your goal as efficiently as possible, you plan the route that you’ll enjoy the most. Technically I began working with this paradigm in 2004 when I retired from the computer gaming industry and started this personal development site.  That immediately enabled me to begin selecting projects I enjoyed more.  Although I liked running my games business, I enjoy this personal development business a great deal more.  After working so long with the efficiency-based model, it’s been a real challenge to let it go.  I am getting there though because I find that the enjoyment-based model produces better results for me, both in terms of enjoyment and efficiency.  At least for me, the most enjoyable path may well be the most optimal one. Consider testing this planning model to see what results you get with it.  You spend your entire life in the present moment, so it makes sense to ensure that in this very moment, you’re in a state of joy.  Clearly you won’t accomplish that by planning to spend your life completing tasks that you find tedious, painful, boring, or pointless.  The switch to an enjoyment-based paradigm can fill your daily reality with creativity, joy, and fulfillment.  Ultimately all those present moments add up to your entire life.  If you enjoy your present moments, you’ll enjoy your life as a whole.
    5051 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 27 Jul 2011
    Some people mentioned that I seem to be doing two overlapping trials here. First, I’m doing 30 days of acting promptly on inspiration whenever it strikes. Second, I’m also delving more deeply into the subjective reality frame. So what’s that all about? I honestly don’t know, but I’ll try to make sense of it as I write. Could I separate these two trials? On the surface it sure seems like I could. My initial idea for this trial was just going to be the inspiration part. I wasn’t planning to do a subjective reality trial. But these two aspects got tied together in a strange way, and now they’re inextricably intertwined. I can no longer separate them out. Planning vs. Inspiration The subjective reality aspect actually started first. This goes back to Sunday, July 18th, the final day of the July Conscious Growth Workshop. The final segment on spirituality was from 2pm to 4pm. Dana, a local friend and one of our CGW staff, asked me during lunch what I was going to talk about during that final segment. I said, “I have no idea.” He laughed. I repeated, “No, really. I honestly don’t know.” For each CGW I’ve always gone in well-prepared. I live and breathe the topics I talk about, so I could seriously do the entire workshop off the cuff if I had to, and I’m sure it would still turn out well. But my mental side always likes to plan everything out, so I can know in advance how everything will fit together. I also like to create a good balance of different teaching modalities, including lecture, demonstration, interactive exercises, games, fieldwork, one-on-one sharing, group work, written exercises, Q&A, and more. Good planning is important for pacing too, so I don’t spend too much or too little time on any particular segment. That said, I’ve noticed that as I was delivering this past CGW, I was breaking from my plan a lot. For most segments I felt inspired in the moment to do things differently than what I’d originally planned. I’d change up the order of certain elements, tell different stories than I expected to, and swap in different exercises. And overall it worked really well when I went with the inspiration of the moment. I’m comfortable in front of an audience, so I don’t have to deal with nervousness or anything like that. I’m fine being in the moment, and I trust that I can speak well off the cuff, even for hours at a time. But I know that people come from far and wide to attend CGW, and I want to deliver the best value I can. I’d find it dishonorable to go into a CGW not feeling well-prepared with a solid plan for each segment. When I do a CGW, I commit to doing my best. I always assumed that careful planning and structure were necessary for me to deliver my best and for attendees to receive good value. Now I’m not so sure. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve reached the point where I may be able to deliver an even better experience if I set that plan aside and allow myself to be fully in the moment and go with the flow of inspiration. Can I Trust Inspiration When the Stakes Are High? This last CGW experience was beginning to challenge my notions of the best way to deliver value. Do I truly deliver more value when everything is pre-planned, or am I somehow able to do an even better job when I’m just being there in the moment, and I don’t know what I’ll say in advance? Well, at the end of that Saturday (Day 2 of CGW), I went home to plan out the final two hours of the workshop. I had delayed planning this part of the workshop because I wanted to see how this particular audience handled the first two days. I’d made a lot of changes for this CGW, and there were good reasons why it made sense to apply just-in-time planning for the final closing segment. I’d already delivered this segment three times before at previous workshops, so I had old templates I could have fallen back on, and I also figured it would only take about an hour to make the plan. That night, however, I couldn’t seem to bring myself to create the plan. I wrote something out that seemed reasonable, but it felt hollow to me… heartless. I didn’t understand why my intuition said, “This is stupid.” As I tuned into my intuition for more guidance, the message was loud and clear. Let go and forget the plan. Just get up and speak your truth. It’s already inside you. You don’t need a plan. It will only hold you back and cause you to get stuck in your head. So I left the plan behind and decided I was ready to allow inspiration to flow through me when I delivered that final segment. The morning segment that Sunday had already been planned out, but I broke from the plan a lot. The resulting mixture was probably 70% inspiration of the moment and 30% pre-planned. And it seemed to go really well. I noticed that my energy was shifting to a different place the more I was able to let go. More passion and enthusiasm — and fun — were flowing through me. I normally have a handout for each day of CGW, but for this final day I decided not to use one. That wasn’t due to laziness. The Day 3 handout was already designed since I’d used it for previous CGWs. But I felt we’d be better off without the written exercises that day, so we could do more interactive exercises and fieldwork that morning instead. I thought that worked well. Some people actually liked the fact that there were no written exercises that day. As we got closer to the afternoon segment, I had enough evidence to believe it would work out okay. I could say that I had to push myself with a bit of courage here, but it didn’t play out that way. I was at peace with the decision. The workshop had been going so well up to that point that I felt that even if I semi-flubbed that final segment, people had already received so much value, so I felt I had enough social capital to take a small risk without it being a big deal either way. I also believed that I could share plenty of insights and ideas without a structured plan, so I really wasn’t worried about screwing up. I felt competent and confident to do this segment without a plan. My main concern was that I’d open too many threads, and I’d have a hard time wrapping everything up on time. How was I going to pace myself? I felt it was okay to let go and trust in that area as well. If I opened a loop that I wasn’t able to close, I could always blog about it later. Speaking from Inspiration When I got up to speak, I didn’t even know what the first words out of my mouth would be. But the words were there. I ended up talking mainly about the question, “What is the true nature of this reality?” That led into a discussion of subjective reality vs. objective reality. I shared the details and results of some experiments I’d already done, going back to 2006. We didn’t do any special exercises, but the segment became very interactive. Lots of people asked questions and shared their own stories, and instead of holding Q&A till the end, I integrated all of that on the fly. It was like a dance where neither partner is trying to lead, but somehow they still synchronize their movements. The segment didn’t feel like a presentation. It was more like a conversation, almost like I was talking to myself. Would you pre-plan a conversation? Would that even make sense? I felt like I was listening a lot more. I was tuned in to what people in the audience were thinking and feeling. As I spoke, I was mainly addressing the energy I perceived in the room. I was constantly looking for eddies in the audience’s energy and seeking to smooth them out. If I sensed confusion, I simplified by offering up analogies people were already familiar with. If I sensed mental overwhelm, I shifted into story-telling mode. If I sensed curiosity, I shifted to Q&A. If I sense the pressure build-up of people wanting to say something, I invited them to share their experiences. If I sensed eagerness to hear more, I went back to exposition. These are the things we naturally do when we’re engaged in a compelling one-on-one conversation. The flow of that segment was very different from the previous times I’ve done it. So was the content. I felt that the audience was really with me. People were much more present — leaning forward, nodding in reaction to certain segments, asking questions, sharing their own insights. I loved every minute of it. It was such a wonderful experience to be fully present and to enjoy such a cool dialog with like-minded people. Of course we’re like-mindedsince we’re all projections of the same mind! I didn’t seem to be sharing answers or advice or solutions, not really. Mostly I was sharing questions, observations, experiments, and stories. It was like having a conversation with myself. Even as I spoke about subjective reality, I began to slip into a subjective mindset. If you want to have a really strange experience, try believing that you’re actually dreaming while you’re speaking in front of a live audience.  Subjective Blogging This is the same manner in which I’ve been blogging this past week. I’m sharing my observations as a fellow explorer, not as a teacher with answers to share. But perhaps that’s the best form of teaching anyway — to explore and share along the way. That’s what got me started with blogging in the first place, and it’s why my website’s URL is my own name instead of something more generic. This website is a chronicle of my personal journey. My best writing comes through when I’m writing for myself, fully living my life and using blogging to deepen my understanding along the way. I feel that, and others notice it too. What really fascinates me is that I’ve been getting tons of positive feedback about my blogging this week. It’s a major brain-pretzelizer to try to understand why subjective blogging generates more positive objective feedback than objective blogging does. Why the heck do you like it better when I blog just for myself and not for you? Perhaps it’s because the idea that you and I are separate is truly a delusion. When I blog for myself, I am in fact blogging for you because we’re the same self. When I try to blog for you as a separate person (or group of people), then I’m actually splintering myself, and my writing reflects that. I wonder if your experience of reading my articles is the same. When I blog for myself, do you feel like you’re reading your own thoughts and feelings? When I blog objectively, do you feel more distanced from me, like we’re just not on the same wavelength? Do you feel closer and more connected with me now than you did a month ago? If subjective reality is false, then why does it generate results that are objectively better than an objective mindset? In 2006 I increased my financial results dramatically through subjective experimentation, and I’ve always enjoyed an abundant flow in that area ever since. Now I’m seeing huge positive shifts in my relationships too, results that are way beyond what I was able to achieve with an objective lens. If subjective reality is bunk, then I’d expect a decline in my results. But I’m seeing the opposite. That gives me good cause to go further down this path, since I’m seeing more and more evidence that subjective reality is the more accurate lens of the two. When you realize that you’re dreaming, you have much more power to change the dream vs. when you’re unaware (or in denial) that you’re dreaming. You can’t launch a satellite into orbit if you believe the earth is flat. Perhaps we’re both projections of the same consciousness after all. Perhaps you’re also awakening to the possibility — no, the likelihood — that this is a dream world. This dream world blog you’re reading is reflecting back to you your own shifts in consciousness. As you awaken to the notion that you’re really dreaming, this blog is manifesting those shifts. I’m here to reflect back to you the truth that yes, you are indeed dreaming, and I’m a projection within your dream world. In the weeks ahead, many of your own thoughts and feelings are going to show up here in written form, in such synchronous ways that it will be harder and harder for you to deny what’s happening. You’ll be pushed further down the rabbit hole. But you’re ready to take that leap, aren’t you? It will take courage to leave your objective comfort zone, but by now you’ve already concluded that the old path is a dead end. You can’t go back. You can only press on. Silly Rabbit After that CGW, I began feeling it was time to go deeper down that rabbit hole myself. I almost couldn’t help it. After speaking about it for nearly two hours, my mind was already shifting into subjective mode. One thing I really like about CGW is that it’s such a flexible workshop, so as I learn and grow, the workshop and how I present it can continue to evolve. The core principles of Truth, Love, and Power all make sense whether you view them through the objective lens or the subjective one. For example, we can talk about objective Truth (science) or subjective Truth (awareness). We can talk about love objectively (relationships and social support) or subjectively (joy and sorrow). We can talk about power objectively (cause and effect) or subjectively (intention and manifestation). I think it would be an amazing experience to deliver CGW #5 in October from the subjective frame. Just thinking about that excites me and freaks me out at the same time. What the heck would it be like to deliver a 3-day workshop while believing I’m actually in a dream world the entire time? That would mean I’m actually doing an entirely internal workshop, talking to various parts of myself and seeking to elevate, expand, and integrate them into a more complete whole. It’s still 3 months away, but this does feel like an inspired idea to me. If people like my subjective blogging better, would they also prefer a subjective workshop? On one level, I regard this sort of thing as risky. What if it just turns out to be too strange for people? What if I don’t seem to be delivering enough value? What if people get upset with me because I don’t deliver the kind of experience they expected? On another level, what if it works? What if it delivers more value than I previously thought possible? What if it creates a much deeper level of connection and raises the energy of the room to higher highs? What if it leads me into a whole new experience of communicating? And what if every CGW afterwards benefits from this? What does value even mean in a subjective dream world? I can only be delivering value within myself. In that regard, value equals healing and re-integration. I think these risks are manageable, even in an objective sense. For starters, not many people have signed up for CGW #5 yet because it’s still 3 months away. I think we’re at 8 registrations so far, which is actually really good to see this far in advance. If any of those people think CGW #5 may turn out to be too strange after reading these recent blog posts, I’m happy to offer them a refund. However, one of those people already shared with me how excited she is about this new direction, so that’s a good sign. Objectively speaking, I have a solid structure for CGW already worked out, as it has evolved over the previous three workshops. So I know I always have that game plan to fall back on if I feel it’s wise to do so. I don’t have to take the risk of going into a 3-day workshop with no plan at all. I can actually play it safe in this case since the fallback plan is already there. I’m pretty good at gauging the audience’s experience, so if I start out delivering CGW #5 this way, and I see that by the morning break on Day 1, it isn’t quite working, I can always back off and switch modes. It’s a 3-day workshop, and there’s plenty of room to experiment without risking a serious degradation in the overall experience and the value people receive from it. I can solicit advanced feedback as well. So if you like this idea — if some aspect of it resonates with you and makes you more likely to attend CGW #5 — please tell me. If you don’t like it and you feel it would make you less likely to attend CGW #5, please let me know that too. If there’s a lot of support for this idea, I may update the CGW page to reflect that. If I’m really honest with myself, I have to admit to myself (and to you — what’s the difference anyway?) that deep down, I already know that this is the path I must take. But some part of me fears it, and so I project those fears onto you. I assume that you probably won’t like it, or you’ll think it’s crazy. At least that’s what I tell myself, so I can reject the idea in advance. After all, I have to give you what you want, and if you don’t want this, then who am I to argue with you? But I haven’t even asked you yet, so how can I really know? And what if the answer comes back that you’d really love to experience such a thing? And what if we do it that way and it works amazingly well? Will we ever be able to come back out of the rabbit hole again? Will we lose ourselves in that world for good? Will we finally swallow the red pill instead of just tucking it away in our cheek? The Connection Between Inspiration and Subjective Reality My inspiration trial is entangled with subjective reality because they both hit me at the same time. By following my inspiration at the previous CGW, at the point where I finally let go, I was inspired to talk about subjective reality. Then as I moved forward with a subjective perspective for the next few days, I began to receive an even greater flow of inspired ideas. I started seeing inspiration itself as a form of communication with the true dreamer of this world. That led to some intense curiosity, and by the middle of that week, I began thinking about doing a 30-day trial of acting on inspiration 24/7. I couldn’t escape the subjective lens though. By that time I was becoming too immersed in it. I don’t fully understand the link between subjective reality and inspiration, but I can see and feel that there’s definitely a connection, and it isn’t a trivial one. The more I act on inspiration, the more it’s shifting me to view reality subjectively. These inspired actions and their consequences make a lot more sense to me when viewed through the subjective lens. I can’t objectively explain where these inspirations are coming from. But subjectively something quite beautiful and amazing is unfolding. The dreamer and the dream world are becoming one. Likewise, the more I shift into the subjective reality mindset, the easier it is for me to receive and act on inspiration without hesitation. If I were on the objective side, I’d be too worried about the consequences. It would be much harder to let go and trust the flow of what’s happening. But if I know this is a dream world, I’m less freaked out by the strangeness of it all. If this is a dream, then anything is possible. If I know that reality is a dream, I’m inclined to give more weight to certain aspects of the dream world. For example, I consider the inhabitants of the world and my relationships with them to be of greater importance because they all represent parts of me. Interacting with the characters of this world becomes utterly wondrous and fascinating because it’s like I’m delving deeper into the contents of my own subconscious. I’m deeply invested in creating positive, loving relationships with the other characters in this dream world because to me, it is all self-love and inner harmony. If I see conflict anywhere, I’m motivated to gush love all over it to resolve it, since otherwise I’m neglecting an internal conflict within my own being, and it can’t be healthy to let that fester. Consequently, I’ve been spending a great deal of time on communication. Whenever a problem or conflict arises, I do my best to act immediately. I can’t ignore it and hope someone else will handle it. If I’m the dreamer, then I must be 100% responsible for it. Everything I see in the world… is me. My role then becomes that of a healer. By healing damaged relationships within the dream world, I’m healing myself. I’m becoming whole again. This is a huge shift in thinking, and very quickly I developed a backlog of relationships that I feel need to be cleansed and healed with love and forgiveness. I’m tending to them as best I can. I may not be able to heal everything overnight, but the progress within just this past week has been stunning. Money and possessions, on the other hand, become almost inconsequential. What does it mean to own something in a dream? You can still acquire dream stuff if you want, and most dream characters will respect your claims to dream property, but it’s still a bit silly to think of dream objects as something you can own. Even if you buy something with dream money, is it really yours? It’s just a dream object you associate with your avatar’s dream inventory. You can just as easily enjoy the physical aspects of the dream world without having to own any of it. You can use up your dream money or spend it too fast I suppose, but it can’t be all that hard to replenish it either. When you view reality through the subjective lens, your focus shifts a great deal, especially with regard to what you define as important. If your life isn’t quite working, if you aren’t happy or if you aren’t getting the results you desire, could it be that you’re focusing on the wrong things? Could it be that the objective lens has led you astray? Are you still asleep, unaware or unwilling to accept that you’re dreaming? What would your life be like if you did your own 30-day trial of inspired, subjective living? Is that part of your path with a heart? At present I’m feeling more inspired than ever. And I’m also viewing reality as a subjective experience more than ever. That cannot be a coincidence. You’re feeling more inspired too, aren’t you? 
    3262 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Yesterday I returned home from a 23-day road trip. It was an incredible experience, and I’m really glad I took the time to do it. I drove 4100 miles (6600 km) through 9 U.S. states (Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona) and 2 Canadian provinces (British Columbia and Alberta). Beginning in Las Vegas, I traveled through Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Ashland, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver (BC), Kelowna, Banff, and Calgary with Rachelle. Then Rachelle flew from Calgary to Winnipeg, and I drove solo from Calgary through Glacier Park, Columbia Falls & Kalispell (MT), Flathead Forest, Yellowstone Park, Grand Teton Park, Salt Lake City, and finally back to Vegas. Day 21 was the most memorable for me because I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone. On that day I got up at 4:45am in Columbia Falls, a small Montana mountain town west of Glacier Park. I packed up and hit the road at 5:50am and drove 400 miles to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, visiting Earthquake Lake along the way (this lake was formed in 1959 when a 7.5 earthquake caused a massive landslide that buried a campground and choked a river). During the first hour of the drive while I was driving through Flathead Forest in the dark before dawn, a large deer sprang out of the dense woods at full speed and darted in front of my car. I instinctively swerved to avoid it and missed it by a split second. It was fortunate that I didn’t lose control of the car or crash into a tree. My heart was racing for several minutes after that. Later on that same drive, another small deer ran onto the highway as well, although with enough distance that it was easy to avoid. I later learned that in Yellowstone Park, about 100 animals are killed each year by motorists. I don’t think they’re counting small rodents like squirrels and chipmunks. I made it to Yellowstone Park just before noon. I explored the west side of the park for 4 hours, visiting many interesting sites along the way including rivers, geysers (including witnessing a timely Old Faithful eruption), various hot springs, Yellowstone Lake, and seeing gorgeous terrain all around. I saw many deer and bison as well as a wolf and a small bear. At 4pm I drove south through Grand Teton Park, enjoying its amazing sights, especially the snowy mountains near the Snake River. Then I continued driving for several more hours down many single-lane Wyoming roads until I reached Salt Lake City at 10:30pm. I didn’t know where I was going to stay in advance, so I used my phone to find a hotel and booked a room at the counter when I got there. Fortunately there was a 24-hour grocery store across the street where I was able to procure a late dinner. I drove 790 miles that day, much of it on winding mountain roads at 45 mph. I probably spent 13-14 hours behind the wheel. That’s more than I’ve ever driven on a single day in my life. It was an amazing experience seeing all the magical natural beauty from Montana to Utah. When I finally collapsed into bed and closed my eyes, I still felt like I was speeding down the highway. I kept dreaming that I was driving. I can’t condense 23 days of travel into a single blog post, but I can say that this physical journey helped me see my life from a new perspective. It gave me more clarity about what’s important to me and what isn’t. In some ways I was reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert’s experiences in Eat Pray Love, although a more accurate descriptor for this trip would be Eat Play Drive. One realization I had is that I need to change the way I manage incoming communication. My current approach isn’t working for me, so as of today, I’m changing it. Years ago I realized that I can’t possibly respond to all of the feedback I get, but on this trip I had a further realization. People shouldn’t even be sending me so much email in the first place. I don’t even want to look at it anymore. I’m referring mainly to messages people send me through my contact form, but this applies to some other communication channels as well. For example, the last time I checked my voicemail, I had 22 messages: 2 were hang ups, 2 were fan feedback messages (both from the same person), and 18 were spam calls from solicitors. What was the point in listening to it? And how much of my life should I continue to devote to this? When I first started blogging in 2004, some of the feedback I received was useful and actionable. But somewhere along the way, after tens of thousands of messages, it became too much of the same — a “been there, done that” sort of thing. To the individual senders, it may seem like their messages are unique, but to me it has become nothing but re-runs. The routine of processing email has become pointless — and extremely boring. I think the road trip highlighted these feelings because I was away from my daily routine for so long. Set against the backdrop of adventurous travel, I was able to clearly grasp a waste of life it is to spend my time reading messages that I don’t need to read, regardless of how well-intentioned they may be from the sender’s perspective. I still value quality feedback, but these days the actionable items come from people who know me really well — normally people I see in person. People who only communicate with me via the Internet seldom provide actionable feedback; they’re almost always projecting some aspect of their psyches onto me, as a way of asking me to solve the problem within themselves that they aren’t ready to face yet. They don’t understand the details of my situation well enough to be of help. Another aspect is that many of the messages I receive are very needy. At one time I was glad to help anyone who requested it, but it’s become clear that the people who email me so casually are almost always seeking quick fixes rather than real growth. They contact me because it’s easy and because I’m accessible, but when I give them an honest reply, they take no direct action because they aren’t ready to change yet. A person who is ready to change will do a lot more than send a casual email to someone they’ve never met; by and large these people simply aren’t serious. They’re doing what’s easy because they’re hoping to avoid having to do what’s hard, such as quitting the meaningless job or leaving the unfulfilling relationship. They don’t like being told that the path of conscious growth requires them to face their fears, not hide from them. It’s a mistake for them to contact me. I don’t sell Band Aids. So I’m shutting the door on that kind of communication. I could hire an assistant to process all of this communication for me, but what would be the point? Most of those messages are directed to me personally, and they don’t serve any essential business purpose, so there’s no real basis for outsourcing to an assistant. Consequently, I realized the best solution is to simply put a brick in my mailbox, so to speak. Turn off the pathways that invite so many casual messages from being sent in the first place. So I’ve done exactly that. This morning I removed the contact formfrom my website. In its place is a message explaining that I’m no longer available to be contacted through this site. There are plenty of what-if scenarios that could make this seem like a bad idea. But in weighing the pros and cons, I feel that overall this is the right decision for me. It probably wouldn’t make sense for most other online businesses, but it’s a reasonable solution for my particular situation. It’s also easy enough to go back to the previous approach if I don’t like the results, but I doubt I will. I may tweak the solution over time, however, so that I can keep high-value, low-volume communication channels open while closing low-value, high-volume channels. I also unfollowed the 300+ people I’d been following on Twitter. It’s not because I don’t like them. It’s because when I follow someone, they can send me direct messages there, which creates yet another inbox for me. Twitter doesn’t seem to provide a way to disable DMs, so this is the only viable solution I can see. The small number of people who connected with me via DMs can contact me in other ways anyway, so all this really does is simplify my communication pathways. As for other channels like Facebook and the forums, I’m not sure what, if any, changes I may make there. Those are less problematic though because people have to be friends/members in order to send personal messages, so the direct communication volume is much lower. For now I’ll just maintain the status quo unless it becomes an issue. Does this mean I’m becoming anti-social and hiding behind a virtual wall? It’s really the opposite of that. I’d rather connect with interesting people face to face instead of receive messages via the Internet. And I’d rather spend more time traveling since I find it beneficial for my own path of growth. So if you’re reading this website, and you feel the urge to contact me with your feedback, question, proposal, etc., don’t do it. If that bothers you, well… I suppose you’ll have to get used to disappointment. I don’t even care to receive typo reports — people will still be able to figure out the message, despite the Typo Gremlin’s mischief. I could offer up an explanation for why this is a good thing for everyone, but it will save us all time if I fess up that I’m doing this purely for selfish reasons. That may not be entirely accurate, but the simplicity of this assumption will save me some typing. So what’s the growth lesson here? Perhaps it would be wise for you to do your own soul-searching. Are your communication channels adding tremendous value to your life, or are they simply wasting your precious life? What would happen if you bricked up some of those inboxes and made yourself less available? What if you did it as an experiment for a week or so? Would your whole world come crashing down? Or would it free up more time to do some of those crazy, adventurous things you’ve always wanted to do… like take a monstrous road trip to places you’ve said you’ll visitsomeday. Is all of that emailing and forum posting and Facebooking really helping, or would you rather be smooching someone beside a beautiful waterfall? You decide. There’s no right or wrong answer here per se — just decisions and consequences. In my case I’m willing to accept the consequences of being less accessible, so that I can direct more time, attention, and energy towards other pursuits. Here’s an extra travel tip: Do NOT eat the nachos made with 10 different kinds of beans in Banff an hour before driving to Calgary!
    2995 Posted by UniqueThis
Consciousness & Awareness 1,079 views Jul 27, 2011
Hacking Reality: Subjective Objectivity

As my 30-day subjective reality experiment concluded last month, I shifted to a different mode of living. I finally got used to seeing the world through a dream lens. It was seriously challenging to hold that perspective at first, but after a few weeks, my subconscious took over, and I no longer had to consciously remind myself that this is a dream. Eventually the dream perspective became my default way of thinking.

Freeing Mental RAM

Up until that point, holding that perspective was a major cognitive burden. My mind often felt fried at the end of the day. The experiment required a serious conscious effort, a lot of dedication, and perhaps a twist of fanaticism.

Holding the subjective perspective required a significant amount of mental RAM. Multiple times per hour, I had to keep refreshing that perspective. Otherwise I’d fall back into an objective mindset by default.

This was difficult to be sure. I don’t think I could have succeeded in making this shift if I hadn’t dedicated myself to 30 days of total immersion.

While it can be a fun experience to try holding this perspective for an hour or perhaps an afternoon, doing it as continuously as possible for a whole month is a whole different animal. It’s like the difference between having an idea for a new business and actually starting one. The first is easy and fun; the second can be fun too, but it requires a lot more work. One is dabbling; the other is doing. Most of the gains are only accessible on the doing side; dabbling only gives you a glimpse that something cool is there.

After the point of subconscious integration, everything became easier. Conscious effort was no longer required.

In a way this has been an eerie transition. It almost feels like I’ve shifted dimensions. It’s one thing to condition a new belief about financial abundance or eating healthier, but changing my beliefs about the very nature of reality has really turned my life inside out. This was not an easy transition.

In this article I want to document some of the ongoing effects of this experiment, now that I believe I have a clearer understanding of where this is leading long-term.

Beliefs Are Buried

First, this experiment really drove home how easy it is to take beliefs for granted and not even be aware of how they filter our experiences. Because I made such a big shift in my beliefs in a few weeks’ time, I was able to see the marked contrast between the old beliefs and the new ones. It felt like I went through a major reprogramming of my subconscious.

Most beliefs are subconscious. They run on autopilot. We don’t even notice them.

Installing a new belief is like putting on a Band Aid. At first you can’t help but notice that you have some foreign object sticking to your skin. But after a while, the sensory input patterns stop making impressions upon your conscious mind. You stop noticing the Band Aid. Essentially it becomes a part of you. Then later you see it again, or maybe someone else notices it, and you say to yourself, “Oh yeah… I’m wearing a Band Aid.”

The subconscious mind is very pliable and programmable. That makes it very powerful. But it has a downside as well. Once some programming is installed, it takes more effort to uninstall and reprogram it. A half-assed effort won’t get you very far; you’ll just solidify the old programming by piling more code on top of it.

One of the best ways to change your beliefs is through a process of immersion, which is what I used for making this shift. I consciously set the old beliefs aside and pushed myself to adopt the new beliefs 24/7. And I did it publicly, so other people would hold me accountable and help to push me. It isn’t easy but it works.

Hacking the Mind

As a result of this experiment, my mind seems to be running a different operating system. Instead of running an objective operating system, it’s now running a subjective one.

As with any good operating system, it takes some getting used to, but after a while your comfort level increases, and you don’t notice it so much. You run programs on top of it, but you take the underlying OS for granted much of the time. However, the OS is always running, and it dictates which programs you can and can’t run. You may not notice it, but it’s still doing a lot of work in the background.

What I didn’t realize before this experiment was that a mental OS has constraints that are similar to a computer’s OS.

Every OS has its strengths and weaknesses depending on its architecture. Even if the underlying hardware is the same, switching to a different OS can unlock new capabilities. Some things may be easier with a new OS, if only because you can gain access to new high-level software that’s written for that OS.

On my Macbook Pro, I’m running Mac OS X, but I also have Windows 7 installed. There’s some Windows software I really like, such as The Journal, that isn’t available for Mac OS. So I run Windows programs on my Mac using Parallels, which creates a virtual Windows machine that runs along with OS X.

Objective Subjectivity

When my mind was previously running an objective operating system, it’s strength was running programs that were built upon that architecture. But it wasn’t as good at running subjective programs.

In order to run subjective programs on my objective OS, I first had to run a subjective virtual machine. That allowed me to see reality through a subjective lens. Then I could run subjective programs on top of that.

This was very mentally burdensome though. It took a lot of mental RAM to load a subjective virtual machine into my conscious mind. And that didn’t leave much room for running subjective programs.

For example, suppose I want to try having a conversation with someone as if they’re a dream character, but my underlying subconscious belief is that reality is objective in nature. How can I make this interaction happen?

First, I have to load up my subjective virtual machine. In other words, I have to imagine that reality is a dream while suspending my belief that reality is objective. It takes some conscious mental effort to do that.

Then I have to imagine that other people are dream characters, and I have to retain that perspective while conversing with them. And finally, I have to pay attention to what I’m experiencing.

That’s a lot of mental work! It’s no wonder my brain felt fried at the end of the day.

Moreover, with an objective OS and a subjective virtual machine running on top of it, there wasn’t as much mental RAM available for subjective programs and their data. This turned out to be a serious limitation that prevented me from having the fullest experience of subjective reality. Ultimately it required too much mental effort. I needed to get the subjective OS running natively instead of as a virtual machine on top of an objective OS.

Installing a Subjective OS

My subjective reality experiment was basically a process of installing a subjective OS to replace my objective one. At first I had to run it as a virtual machine. But eventually I was able to get it running natively (i.e. subconsciously).

After this point the cognitive burden was greatly diminished. More mental RAM was freed up, as well as more CPU cycles. This meant that I could run more complex subjective programs. In practical terms, I could do more than have subjective conversations with friends or write subjective articles. Now I could see how to run my whole business subjectively and make plans for the long term, based on reality being a persistent yet flexible dream.

I had to rewrite a lot of code to add useful software to my subjective OS. I had to figure out how to eat, how to exercise, how to have relationships, and so on. I had good programs for these functions on my objective OS, but they couldn’t work the same way on the subjective side. The porting process required a lot of thought.

I’m still going through this process now, but at least I have the basics figured out. I’m able to function just fine, but so much has changed that I’m not living the same way I did before this experiment. It was very much like switching to a new OS on my computer and having to learn all different software. At first, productivity drops because so much is unfamiliar. Now I’m at the point where I have some good basic programs, and I’m able to be moderately productive again. This past week has been very productive for me.

I like the OS analogy since it helps me understand and explain what’s happening, but let’s not overplay it and get into dual booting and such. Dual booting may be a nice option for a computer, but I don’t yet see an equivalently easy way to do that with my brain. Then again, maybe that’s what happens when we go to sleep and have a dream. :)

Synchronistically, my relationship with my iPad (which I bought during my subjective trial) has been tracking the same relative progression. At first I couldn’t do much with it, and I was doubting whether it was an intelligent purchase. It took me a while to figure out how to use it productively.

Fast forward a month, and now I’m loving my iPad. I educated myself on how to use it effectively, tested lots of apps to find some good ones, and tweaked the settings to suit me better. Now I’m able to be very productive. Some days I’m using it more than my Macbook.

In a dream world, this all makes sense because my outer experience is a projection of my inner experience.

Subjective Objectivity

During my 30-day experiment, my sense of reality was all over the place. I often felt ungrounded and emotional. Some days were just so strange. But near the end of that trial, I began to reach a new place of stability and consistency, which has continued to this day. I’m really glad for that.

I realized that even though this reality may be a dream, this dream world contains its own form of objectivity. There’s a certain degree of persistence that’s predictable and reliable. It’s not completely random and chaotic.

From the dream world perspective, the world seems to be fairly stable because my beliefs are stable. If I don’t shift my beliefs around so much (like I did during my trial), then reality settles into semi-predictable patterns.

This stability means that I can still effectively apply objective-world skills. I can think and plan ahead. I can predict the likely consequences of my actions (or inactions) with reasonable accuracy. I can set and achieve goals. I can learn and grow. It’s very refreshing to know this.

For me this is an exciting place to be. It means I don’t have to completely abandon the objective OS software that was working well for me. With some tweaks here and there, I can port those apps over to the subjective side.

It’s not quite the same on the subjective side though. Every app runs a little differently. But I can still run them.

A New Sense of Possibility

A major benefit of perceiving life subjectively is that I’ve gained an incredible new sense of possibility. I’ve released many self-imposed limitations. I realized that the objective mindset was causing me to hold myself back too much, especially when it came to my career path.

From an objective frame, it’s too easy to fall into a pattern of playing it safe. Most of the time you don’t even realize you’re playing it safe because it’s a subconscious pattern. It’s the Band Aid you don’t even realize you’re wearing. Other people can see it more clearly than you can though.

I was aware of this pattern and would often push myself (and others) to be more courageous. But now I don’t feel that as much courage is required because the risks are less real. I’m willing to accept any outcome without feeling attached to it. It’s hard to get too attached to elements of a dream world. Change is inevitable.

From a subjective frame, I’m asking questions like, “If this really is a dream, what now becomes possible for me that I previously considered impossible?”


Initially when I asked questions like this, I thought about how cool it would be to do seemingly magical things like I might do in a lucid dream at night. Wouldn’t it be amazing to fly, perform telekinesis, etc?

But then I began to seriously ponder the implications of that. If I could actually create those things, would I really want to? At first I noticed some fear coming up about what that would do to my sense of reality. But once I had the subjective OS installed, I didn’t feel much fear about it. Instead I began thinking in terms of story.

A 15-minute lucid dream is a cool experience. Without much time to develop an interesting story, you go for spectacle instead. Fly. Do magic. Have sex. Fight. The experience is fleeting, like riding a roller coaster. If you only have 15 minutes to live, it’s perfectly fine to invest it in an intense emotional experience. Do whatever makes you scream in delight. Enjoy yourself!

But our waking dream world is a different beast altogether. It lasts much longer than 15 minutes. It’s more enduring and persistent. It doesn’t come undone so quickly.

We can still choose to center our lives around spectacle. We can overload ourselves with entertainment, thrill seeking, and drama. But after a while, those kinds of experiences become boring. They’re not very fulfilling in the long run.


Fortunately we aren’t limited to spectacle. We can move beyond spectacle into the realm of story. Story is much cooler than spectacle.

With my objective OS running, I didn’t think much about the story of my life. I thought about goals, projects, and tasks. I thought about life purpose. I even thought about vision. But I didn’t really think of my life in terms of an unfolding story with a plot, characters, settings, and so on.

A persistent subjective world is an ideal place for rich and vivid stories to be told. Such stories don’t have to be told in disjointed episodes like you might see on most fictional TV shows. We can create much grander and more expansive tales.

Isn’t it interesting that TV itself has been gradually evolving to give rise to more intricate stories that play out over a period of years, such as the show Lost? Perhaps the popularity of these shows is tracking our own shift in awareness. :)

Your life is a story. My life is a story. Humanity’s existence is a story.

What’s the story of your life? Is it a string of random episodes? Does it rely too much on spectacle as opposed to good storytelling technique? Is it boring? Is it compelling? Is it shallow? Is it deep?

What will be the next act in your story? The next scene? What would you like to create? What would advance the plot, the character development, the message?

Instead of thinking about my life purpose, lately I’ve been thinking about my life story and how it’s unfolding.

What story am I creating? What role is my avatar playing?

This shifted me away from thinking about creating a magical dream world because I realized that would rely too much on spectacle. With too much power concentrated at the avatar level, we wouldn’t have the right level of balance between the avatar and the environment. My character wouldn’t face worthy challenges. Life would become too easy, and the resulting story would be dull. It’s like playing a video game in God mode. It can be fun for 15 minutes, but in the absence of a worthy challenge, boredom ensues.

My life story has always been more compelling when I face big challenges. For example, my story became a lot more interesting (at least to me) when I went through a period of shoplifting addiction, and I risked being caught and arrested multiple times per week. My character had to grow from that experience in order for the story to progress. A story where I sat in prison for a few years wouldn’t have been interesting for me.

Another fun challenge was when I pushed myself to go through college in three semesters. At the time I took on that goal, I didn’t know how I’d pull it off. I did it because I wanted to push myself. Creating a story where I graduated college in four years would have bored me to tears, especially if I had to live it. A 3-semester graduation was a cool plot twist.

Getting a regular job would have seemed a very boring story to me. Becoming an entrepreneur has been much more exciting to experience, to watch, and to remember.

Good constraints give rise to worthy challenges, and worthy challenges give rise to good story.

This realization gives me a sense of deep gratitude for all the apparent constraints in this seemingly physical universe. I had to accept that I really want those constraints, not because I’m afraid to face the alternative, but because the alternative would inevitably bore me to tears if I were to experience it for a sufficient length of time.

In order to create a cool story, one that’s exciting and fulfilling and meaningful, I have to be subjected to constraints. So even though this may be a dream world, I want to continue to believe that it has structure and limitation.

In other words, to a certain extent, life has to be hard, or it isn’t worth living. The things that seem most nasty to us contain the seeds of our greatest joys. Every problem is a storytelling vehicle. Without problems there can be no story elements like triumph or heroism. This is, I believe, what Kahlil Gibran meant when he wrote, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.”

Subjective Living

Lately I’ve been asking myself, “Where do I want to take my life story from here? What kind of impact do I wish to have on the stories of others… or on the story of humanity itself?”

These have been supremely motivating questions to ask. I’ve been coming up with all kinds of cool answers.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a major life review, spending many hours journaling, thinking, and planning. First I tossed out all my old goals and started from scratch with a blank slate. Then I thought each part of my life from this new place of a subjective world that includes purposeful constraints. It took me days just to figure out how to interpret my career, finances, relationships, health, and so on from this new perspective of subjective objectivity. And the further I went with it, the more excited I became. All the pieces were coming together holistically, and some elegant next steps to take were revealed.

I’m looking at my life from the perspective that it’s an unfolding story in a dream world. The dream world has various constraints, and I need those constraints to exist because working within them (and sometimes overcoming them) serves as a vehicle for interesting and meaningful storytelling and character development. The alternative is long-term boredom.

I can be passive and let the story unfold haphazardly and chaotically. But it’s more fun and fulfilling to actively participate as the primary writer. It’s like being a game designer and a gamer at the same time. What game would I like to write that I’d most enjoy playing? What story would I most like to experience?

Dropping Boring Story Elements

As a side effect of these realizations, I’ve also been dropping elements from my life that don’t contribute much to the unfolding story element.

For example, this week I canceled my cable TV and DVR service. Aside from watching Star Trek reruns, I didn’t use it much anyway. The cable TV/DVR was part of a bundle I got with my cable modem service, auto-billed to my checking account.

I realized that having my character watch TV was a boring story element, and paying for a service I barely used was lame too. I checked my bill and saw that with all the taxes and fees, I was paying $93 per month ($1115 per year) for basic cable for one TV and with no premium channels like HBO. Easy decision to cancel. There are more interesting uses for dream world time and money.

Even though I love many of the stories within Star Trek, I realized that (1) I already know those stories by memory, (2) they’re too short and simplistic to be interesting to me anymore, and (3) continually exposing myself to those fictional stories causes me to pay less attention to the story of my own life and the world at large.

What I find most fascinating is that by thinking of my life as a story, it’s pushing me to do a better job of aligning myself with all the best principles and practices I’ve written about previously. Now I see all of that as character development. Having a kick-ass character doesn’t necessarily make for an interesting story. It’s the character’s growth over time that helps create a cool story arc.

Writing a Kick-Ass Story

I acknowledge that my life has become too easy. I know that many people are still struggling with challenges like figuring out what kind of work they’d enjoy, moving from scarcity to abundance, and cultivating loving relationships. But for me this stuff has become dirt simple. I don’t have to think about it because I’ve already integrated the required mindsets and behaviors into my subconscious.

I’ve invested years of effort writing millions of words to help people make similar gains. Information-wise, I’ve said what I’ve wanted to say about most of the topics I’ve written about. I’m sure I could keep coming up with new ideas for years to come. I still love writing, and I expect it will always be a part of my life, but if I make it my primary career outlet for another six years, the story of my life will become dull and boring, and it won’t fulfill me anymore.

I need to face more ambitious challenges to craft a better story from this point on, particularly in the area of my career. It’s time to begin a new act.

I’ve already worked out a plan for what I want to do next. I have a lot to wrap up this year, so I probably won’t be too far along with it till 2011, but it’s so inspiring to me that I’ve already been working hard on it. It’s the most kick-ass vision I’ve ever come up with.

So it’s safe to say that I’m at the beginning of another major career transition right now. This is like nothing I’ve ever done before, and like nothing I’ve planned before either. It’s not a traditional career that can be named or labeled in conventional terms. It’s something that’s uniquely me. I’m still not sure how I’ll pull it off. I just know that I must do it. No matter what happens, it will make for an interesting story. :)

I’m not going to share the details in advance for a few reasons. First, it would be premature. I still have many details to work out, so the core concept is still evolving. I need to spend more time working through this on my own.

Second, I don’t want to get a bunch of feedback about the new direction. If I were to publicly post what my plan is, I know from experience that my inboxes will fill up, and most of the feedback won’t be useful or actionable because it will come from people who’ve never met me and who are projecting their issues onto me. I’ve been through enough rounds of that already, so I hope you can understand why I’m not going to go there this time.

I don’t expect that people will dislike the idea — quite the contrary. They’re more likely to find it too ambitious. I’d expect that the public reactions would be similar to what happened when I told people I was going to graduate college in three semesters. Nothing I’d done up to that point suggested that it was an attainable goal for me. I just knew I had to do it. People didn’t believe I could do it, so they tried to talk me out of it, which I found annoying because I was committed. Even years after I did it, people I’d never met would publicly call me a liar for writing about it. One person even called my old university and got some administrator to verify that I did it. I was surprised the school did that since I figured student academic records were confidential, but at least the caller was able to validate my story. I told that story because I wanted to share how I did it, and I thought it would inspire people, and it certainly did that in many cases. But to talk about such things in advance, at least for me, seems to do more harm than good.

And thirdly, it makes for a better story if I don’t serve up any spoilers. It will be more fun to simply do it and watch people try to make sense of it afterwards. Over the next year, many people will probably figure it out because there will be a shift in my actions that will invariably drop some clues, but for the immediate future, it will probably seem like little has changed for the rest of 2010 at least. I’m not going to suddenly stop blogging this month or anything like that.

I am pretty sure, however, that the upcoming Conscious Growth Workshop will be the last one I deliver, so if you want to attend one ever, this October CGW will probably be your final opportunity. Sorry to those who were hoping for more, but I’m not planning to do CGWs in other cities. On the bright side, I’m going to make sure this is our best CGW ever, so we go out on a high note. That said, I’m a bit more concerned now that we could actually sell out, so if you’ve already made your hotel reservations and haven’t booked your ticket yet, I caution you not to wait till the last minute to register for it. CGW starts in less than 7 weeks.

I can at least say that unlike my 2004 transition from game development to personal development, this new transition is about building upon what I’ve already done. It’s definitely more of a forward step than a sidestep, and it has to do with expanding my contribution. I’ve never blogged about this before, so if you look to the blog for clues, I’m afraid you’ll come up empty handed.

In a way it feels like I’ve come full circle. You could say that my current mindset is more grounded, practical, and objective than ever. But it’s running on a subjective OS, and that unlocks new possibilities. I see that reality is a simulation, I see that it has a variety of constraints, and I see that those constraints are purposeful. I don’t feel limited by the constraints. I feel inspired by them. The constraints make it possible to create a kick-ass story.

I’m frakkin’ starving now, so I’m gonna go feed this avatar!

What’s your kick-ass story?