Self-Help: Spoiler Alert — You Die At The End

It’s one thing to ask people to write down their goals.

This is helpful and common advice. But the truth is, this advice is not always useful on its own.

It’s sort of like if I ask you to write down the end of a story you’re writing, without then sharing how you’re going to get there.

If you’re Stephen King or George R. R. Martin, this is easy. “LOL. Everyone dies!” But let’s assume you’re not them.

If you want to write a good story, you should start with the end in mind. This is also great life advice. But. You have to know where you’re going and how you’re getting there too. I think that’s most important. Knowing the end is excellent, but it won’t matter on its own.

Part of this is because life has no conclusion to its many stories. Sure, you die at the end (we all do), but few things in life have a definite beginning, middle, and end.

Sometimes things just taper off. Sometimes things never have a chance to get started.

I once met a girl in Chicago that I instantly knew I could treat like a queen everywhere (except the bedroom) and happily spend the rest of my life with. But after a couple of meetings, I left the city and never had the chance to pursue things with her.

(And this was before I realized that I’d have to travel if I want to date. That realization only came late last year.)

So you had this perfect beginning, but no middle and no end.

That’s life. Stuff just sort of happens, and it’s only in hindsight that we try to put it all into neat little boxes to make sense because we’re constantly looking for meaning in a world that doesn’t often provide you with one.

The other part of why I think outlines are the key to everything, as true in fiction as it is with life, is because you could easily be dead tomorrow.

I don’t mean to sound morbid. But take it from me. I turned 30 in Wales, suffered what was apparently a heart attack after my presentation over there the following night, flew back to the states, and had two massive heart surgeries; With me briefly flatlining between two surgeries and having to be revived with shock paddles.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try anything in life because you’re just going to die, but what I am saying is, sometimes the journey is all you get. The destination is not guaranteed. So you damn sure better know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

For that reason, it’s equally, if not more important, to know why and how you want to achieve your goals in the first place beside knowing what those goals are.

I’ll give you another example of what I mean.

There’s a zombie house across the street from where my family lives.

For those of you who missed a little something called THE GREAT RECESSION, a zombie house is an abandoned house that’s owned by the bank.

And until recently in New York State, the bank was under no obligation to maintain those homes. Meaning my neighborhood (and many others across America) are littered with these increasingly weathered and dilapidated homes.

Since this particular zombie home is in decent shape, and right next door, I’d like to buy it. That’s one of my goals.

Hooray. I wrote a goal down and shared it with someone. This too is important. Writing your goals down and leaving them somewhere to rot away without ever being seen by another person is pointless. You need to share your goals with others so they can help hold you accountable. That’s why if you go to the gym with a friend, you’re more likely to keep going then if you were to go by yourself.

This is where most people stop. They write their goal down and move on. Don’t do that. You’re not most people, and you need to show your work.

You have to explain why you want to achieve that goal in the first place. Otherwise, what the fuck are you doing with your life? Time is the most valuable thing you have, so why waste it chasing shit you don’t want in the first place?

Don’t ever waste your time.

Act with purpose, or don’t act at all

Why Do I Want This Zombie House?

Now that you know my goal let me share with you why I want to achieve it.

The zombie house is next door, meaning I can continue my duties of taking care of my aging parents (one of whom is not well) and two mentally disabled brothers without feeling guilty about leaving them.

My health is also not great and the cardiologist’s office is just down the road.

I’ve mentioned this tidbit about my family before, so you might be wondering why taking care of them is so important to me in the first place.

It’s simple.

As an Atheist, I have two fundamental things I need to do with my time on Earth.

The first is to treat everyone I meet with love and respect, because that’s how I’d like to be treated, but also …

The second is that I believe my sole obligations as a member of the human race is to make the world as good as I can for the next generation and taking care of my tribe.

(In this case, my tribe is my friends and family, but you may find in life you have other tribes you’re a part of that you want to help take care of as well.)

I also want to achieve this goal because I want kids. A bunch of them.

This is not likely for me in the next five years, but neither is buying the zombie house. I need to have a plan to get there now that I know what I want and why I want it.

Lewis Black once said that he didn’t start making real money until he was forty, and so I feel like I’m on the same trajectory barring any surprises

“Social Media Is Bullshit” was in a documentary Martin Scorsese did for HBO. No joke.

But I have yet to break through and have consistent mainstream television coverage, which is another one of my goals.

To me, the coverage is the last part of the puzzle that I haven’t been able to figure out just yet. Once I do, I’ll be making real money because, if you’ve learned anything from me over the years, it is that it’s difficult to make a living using just the Internet. You have to have something else working for you, and that something is almost always found offline.

But let’s stick with the zombie house.

I’ve told you the goal and why I want to accomplish it. Now the next step is to break down how I’m going to get that house into smaller actionable steps that I can take over the next five years.

I’m out of space, so I’ll be back soon with how you can do that with your own goals.

Until then, take some time today to write down what you want and why you want it. And put it in a notebook too. I try to get away from the computer and my phone as much as I can, so writing things down in the ‘ol notebook is not only a great way to do that, but you’re more likely to retain what you’re writing in the first place.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Lawton/Flickr