The most difficult part in my life at the moment is staying productive all day. The very worst part of my life, and by far the most difficult to manage, is keeping my brain strong enough to side gig. My side gig is music composition mostly in the publishing world. The issue here is that my mind is the most creative in the morning up to afternoon, and this line of work is so unpredictable, volatile, and inconsistent that it’s smart to have a consistent day job. Obviously, you see the conundrum here. Thankfully during the day I’m still in the music industry, but once I’m home from the office, there’s nothing worse than the after meal crash. I manage to do okay with this, but I couldn’t imagine what I could get done if my jobs were reversed. Studio in the morning and afternoon and then company work at night…
An acquaintance asked me the other day how old I was and my response was that I stretch to play video games. The fact is, it has nothing to do with age. It’s mental and some would say spiritual. The body, just like the mind, needs warming up. It needs to be worked out and stretched. The catch is that the mind needs motivation to stretch. The worse part is that you need optimism, or the belief something positive can come from motivation. The tragedy is that, if you go long enough without a victory, the mind will cloud optimism and confuse the lack of it with thoughts of what’s not possible. Call it hope, faith, drive, or ambition, whatever it is, it’s uniquely human and without it, we’re broken.
This is a daily struggle for me. My list of daily goals is a mile longer than my mental ability allows. My eyes are bigger than my stomach, sort of saying. Full disclosure, I’m a bit of a drinker, always have been, and I have fat tongue (one of the hundreds of versions of sleep apnea.) The combination of being a drinker with a sleep problem, creates a round robin of temporary solutions that make the larger problem worse over time. For example, I wake up everyday of my life at 6:00 am tired and uninspired. I throw back 3-5 cups of coffee, several miles of cardio, and somehow knock out a remarkably productive work day. I seriously don’t know how I’ve done this for so long. What’s really crazy to think about is what would’ve been possible if well rested. Maybe once a week or so I’ll get, what feels like, decent sleep and my cognitive level and general productivity is absolutely inhuman. I regularly contemplate where my life would be if I was like that daily.
By the end of the work day, I fall into what most people struggle with and that’s post workday productivity. If this goes on regularly, it turns you into a rat in a cage. Living to work and going home to rest up for the next work day. This is particularly problematic for me because I have no choice. I need to be productive as I have several other projects going on that are outside of my company. So here I am, crashed from literally having every job title in running a small business all day, it’s too late to drink coffee and get to bed by 12, so I have a drink. After a few, I get a burst of energy. Inspiration and ambition is shooting through my body, which is actually what I learn later to be a sugar high from the alcohol, as I start working on my after hours life. In this situation, the problem of motivation is now solved, the next problem is competently working on the task at hand without the work coming off as drink induced. I will say, sometimes the words flow or the music is actually more creative than it would be otherwise, but there’s a bigger picture here and that’s consistency. Having one crazy creative night isn’t worth sacrificing several consistent productive nights in a week. Before you know it it’s late and you undoubtedly rationalize going to bed early, because it’s easier to rationalize bad ideas when your mind is even slightly altered. Then wouldn’t you know it, alcohol crashes you but it stops the brain from going into that really deep REM sleep where your mind and body heal the most. Wake at at 6 and start it over again.
How do you start a change?
First, I wanted to test myself, so I began with going 30 days without a drink and without carbs. I just wanted to challenge myself to see if I had the will power. I need to know I can do it. I finished that couple months ago and ever since I’ve been able to regulate my moods a little better. STILL remarkably difficult to stay creative and energetic 15 hours a day though. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears! I’ve tried vitamin B, working out after work instead of before, time restricted fasting, which has been amazing for other reasons, but an after work nap seems to have been the most effective, so far.
Some people are dreamers with no routine and that sets yourself up to fail and become disgruntled with trying. Some people have drive and work ethic but see their dreams as too lofty to be realistic, as well. I’d rather have that problem, to be honest.
(If you dream of pursuing a personal project, that you wish was your full time job, read this book.)
“The only difference between a goal and a dream is a plan.” – Dave Ramsey