Hard and easy things 2018-08-10T13:09:15+00:00

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Hard and easy things

Published: February 28, 2018

A few weeks ago I published my 30 before 30 list. It’s like a short-term bucket list, 30 things I want to do before I turn 30, blah blah blah. Check out that other post if you want a more in-depth refresher.

Since I’m just getting started on this project, I thought it’d be fun to make some guesses about which things will be the most difficult and least difficult for me to accomplish in the years ahead. I want to draw some lines in the sand today so that at the end of this thing when I look back, I’ll have something to measure against.

What did I underestimate? What did I overestimate? What scared me before starting vs. what was actually scary in practice? That kind of stuff. It’ll be fun to look back and be reminded of all the things 27-year-old me didn’t know. So young. So foolish and naive.

So from someone standing at the bottom of a mountain looking up at the footholds and drop-offs that lie ahead, here are some predictions.

But first a quick update on my progress so far…

I got a massage!

“The older I get the tighter my neck and shoulders feel. I’ve got pretty terrible posture, especially when sitting down, which probably contributes. These tiny aches have been around long enough now that they’ve become my default state of being. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have a totally relaxed upper body.

“Getting a professional massage seems like a good reset button. Reset my defaults. Remember what a healthy neck and healthy shoulders are supposed to feel like.

“And even if none of that proves true, getting a massage will just feel good, and that’s reason enough to include it on my list.”

–Me, like a month ago

I was right, it did feel good.

It didn’t fix all of my achey bits though unfortunately. But, duh. Of course a one-hour massage didn’t fix years of poor posture, mild stress, and minimal stretching. That’s like expecting a single session with a personal trainer to offset a year’s worth of crappy eating and no exercise. Shortcuts like these don’t exist for most people. I guess I’ll have to change my habits and actually do work to improve myself instead. Oh darn.

But the massage did feel really good, and those good feelings followed me home and stuck around for quite a few hours after the massage itself.

One thing that surprised me was the “spa-like experience” that bookended it all. I wasn’t surprised the spa stuff existed, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. There was relaxing music and warm tea and soft voices and scented lotions and these warm sandbag neck thingies–I liked getting pampered. More than I thought I would. It was a new experience for me.

I’m pretty confident this first massage won’t be my last. They’re expensive, but they seem worth it once or twice a year. Treat yo self, ya know? If money weren’t a concern, I’d honestly probably try to make massages a weekly thing. Massages and sensory deprivation tanks. My body is a temple after all.

Did I ever mention I spent an hour inside a sensory deprivation tank one time? That was a wild experience.

Health / Fitness

Back to business. Let’s recap. Here’s all the health and fitness stuff I put on my 30 before 30 list:

  • Learn how to do a press handstand
  • Prioritize sleep for 30 days straight
  • Take a gymnastics class
  • Go rock climbing outside
  • Keep my balance while walking across a slackline
  • Squat 205 lbs
  • Try surfing
  • Do one month of CrossFit and commit

Hardest thing: Learn how to do a press handstand

Runner-up: Do one month of CrossFit and commit

I think I’ll really struggle with a few of the things on this list. Prioritizing sleep and learning to slackline seem like obvious culprits. They’ll be hard for me. I’ll get angry a few times probably. Fall down a lot. Maybe get annoyed at my early new bedtime. But at the end of it all, I know I’ll accomplish what I set out to achieve. Nothing on this list feels unattainable. Except for press handstands.

Press handstands are this huge unknown quantity. I don’t know what muscles need to be strong or which parts of me need to be flexible. I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like when things look good, or how I’ll know when I’m on the verge of hurting myself.

It’s all a black hole of uncertainty right now, and that worries me.

Easiest thing: Go rock climbing outside

Runner-up: Try surfing

Unlike everything else on this list, rock climbing and surfing are one and done things. Pick a date, make a plan, and then just go out and do it. Try something new. Have fun with friends. Embarrass myself a little. Laugh a lot. Try not to hurt myself too much. Easy.

Writing

  • Publish a new blog post every week for 3 months
  • Enter and compete in a screenwriting or other creative writing competition
  • Complete a NaNoWriMo
  • Finish a piece of creative writing that’s 10,000 words or longer

Hardest thing: Complete a NaNoWriMo

Runner-up: Finish a piece of creative writing that’s 10,000 words or longer

Creative writing scares the shit out of me. The pace of NaNoWriMo also scares the shit out of me.

Given my track record with this website, I think trying to publish a new blog post every week will be really difficult too, but at least with those I can control the pace. I can write the blog posts ahead of time if I want to. I can choose short topics if I want to. I won’t have to constantly sprint to write 1667 words every single day.

Writing blog posts, even a lot of blog posts, seems way less stressful than NaNoWriMo, which I imagine to be a spooky shadow monster looming over all who participate in the challenge.

Easiest thing: Enter and compete in a screenwriting or other creative writing competition

Creative writing scares me, so entering myself into a creative writing competition definitely won’t be easy, but compared to the other stuff on this list, it’ll probably feel like a walk in a park. The park might be on fire a little bit, and I might have to fight off a few rabid raccoons along the way, but hey, still a park.

Personal Projects

  • Release an iOS app in the App Store
  • Make at least $1 of revenue from a personal project
  • Generate 1000 business/app ideas

Hardest thing: Release an iOS app in the App Store

Runner-up: Generate 1000 business/app ideas

No easy things here.

Building and launching an iOS app from scratch seems hard. Even if it’s a small, crappy app.

There’s just a lot of work that goes into making software that works. Especially user-facing software that includes any kind of UI. There are programming languages to learn, development tools to master, user experiences to design, touch controls to implement. Push notifications. Accessibility. Localization. Icon design. Database management. User authentication. Code optimization. The list goes on.

It’s a lot. And developers are pushing the bar higher every day. It’s insane how little mobile apps cost compared to how polished, beautiful, and genuinely useful so many of them are.

Travel

  • Watch a rocket launch in person
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Get scuba certified and go scuba diving somewhere tropical
  • Go on a solo, multi-day backpacking trip
  • Ride a train across the country

Hardest thing: Get scuba certified and go scuba diving somewhere tropical

Runner-up: Ride a train across the country

Sure scuba diving involves traveling to a tropical paradise and lounging around on a beautiful, soft beach long enough for me to finish the book I’d been saving for just this occasion, but there’s still a lot of work I’ll have to do before all that. Before anyone even lets me get my spit onto one of those underwater breathing apparatuses.

I’ve got to take a class to learn the basics and pass a test. Then I’ve got to take another class to get open water certified because I want to dive into oceans, not swimming pools. Then I’ve got to rent gear and hire a guide probably.

And the whole point is to do all of this somewhere tropical. Palm trees and white sand beaches and infinite ocean that’s deep blue from afar but crystal clear from within. That’s the movie playing inside my head, and you can’t make that movie anywhere near New York.

Easiest thing: Watch a rocket launch in person

This seems like a cheap flight to Florida and a quick visit to Cape Canaveral. I think I can just buy tickets to any launch that’s open for public viewing. I don’t think it’s a lottery system or anything. Seems simple enough.

Misc

  • Read 26 books in a single calendar year
  • Work through the Marie Kondo method
  • Catalog every single one of my possessions to learn more about my life’s footprint
  • Give a talk as an expert in something in front of at least 100 people
  • Write an original song on guitar
  • Get a professional massage
  • Go on a silent retreat
  • Pick a recipe book and make every recipe inside of it
  • Eat at an Iron Chef’s restaurant
  • Spend a weekend inside a tiny house

Hardest thing: Give a talk as an expert in something in front of at least 100 people

Runner-up: Pick a recipe book and make every recipe inside of it

Public speaking is scary. Plus, if I want to give a talk in front of a big room of people, then I’m at the mercy of people who organize big rooms of people. I can’t complete this in a vacuum. I’ve got to go out and make some connections. Prove I’m worthy of speaking. Communicate my worth to people running conferences.

And then on top of all that, I need to actually organize and present my thoughts on a topic without saying “um” or “like” too many times.

Easiest thing: Eat at an Iron Chef’s restaurant

Runners-up: Spend a weekend inside a tiny house, Go on a silent retreat

I know how to eat. I know how to relax inside of other people’s property. I know how to be quiet. Honestly, the hardest thing about eating at a fancy restaurant will be figuring out what’s okay to wear and what’s too casual. It might be time for me to finally buy myself a suit jacket.

In summary

Hard things

  • Learn how to do a press handstand
  • Complete a NaNoWriMo
  • Release an iOS app in the App Store
  • Generate 1000 business/app ideas
  • Finish a piece of creative writing that’s 10,000 words or longer
  • Give a talk as an expert in something in front of at least 100 people
  • Do one month of Crossfit and commit
  • Pick a recipe book and make every recipe inside of it
  • Get scuba certified and go scuba diving somewhere tropical
  • Ride a train across the country

Easy things

  • Eat at an Iron Chef’s restaurant
  • Spend a weekend inside a tiny house
  • Go rock climbing outside
  • Go on a silent retreat
  • Try surfing
  • Enter and compete in a screenwriting or other creative writing competition
  • Watch a rocket launch in person

I didn’t make myself an easy list, but I think I’m up to the challenge.

Cheers

***

Image credit: Lucas Zanon

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