Before I moved out to San Francisco, I wrote a post titled Unemployment Never Sounded so Sweet.
I did a follow-up post in August where I checked in to see how I was doing in terms of meeting these goals.
I’m planning on doing this self-evaluation on a regular basis.
A lot has happened in the past three months, including:
- book projects
- building a private teaching studio in the Bay Area
- growing the podcast
- figuring out how to get to the grocery store without GPS
Here are my seven goals:
- my wife
- growing and developing
- making a contribution
There’s something about this list that feels right to me. It still feels right eight months later.
So… how well am I meeting these goals here at the end of the year?
Goal No. 1 – spending time with my wife
Obviously, living together in the same town is a huge improvement in terms of meeting this goal. My wife works a lot of hours and has a stressful job. Lots of overnight shifts, weeks of 12-hour night float shifts, and continual life-or-death decisions.
Pretty different from my easy-going music blogger lifestyle, right?
Our weekends consist of awesome adventures. We hike through prehistoric redwood forests overlooking craggy mountains and white sand beaches.
We explore the amazing breweries of Northern California.
Every weekend brings a new adventure. We could do something different every day and never run out of new adventures!
Like Chicago, San Francisco is a great town for walking.
There are countless parks spread out all over town. Hiking along the Pacific Ocean or through Golden Gate Park is time well-spent for sure!
Outside of San Francisco, we’ve explored:
- Mt Tamalpais
- Mt Diablo
- Monterey and Carmel
- Lake Anza
- Muir Woods
- Muir Beach
- Stinson Beach
- Samuel Taylor State Park
- Point Reyes
- Redwood Regional Park
- Annadel State Park
- Pacifica and Devil’s Slide
- Half Moon Bay and Mavericks
- Crystal Springs reservoir (along the San Andreas fault!)
We still need to get out to Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Big Sur, and countless locations in Southern California.
We’ve barely driven on Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast.
Lots of weekend adventures coming up!
Goal No. 2 – walking
I do a run or a long walk pretty much every day in San Francisco.
My school job consumed the hours of 6 am – 6 pm, meaning that I’d be leaving my home and arriving back in the dark.
While I can certainly run before or after dark, the idea of putting on my running gear to hit the icy predawn Chicago streets held little appeal.
The flatness of Chicago, combined with its excellent public transit options, opened up countless interesting walking possibilities. I’d usually head out for at least one 12-15 mile walk each weekend.
In San Francisco, running has become a part of my daily life.
I find these runs critical for my productivity. They get the ideas flowing and keep me balanced.
Trying to “get into trouble”
I tend to over-plan things in my life. I waste a lot of time and energy making intricate plans farthings that really don’t need it. Sometimes this tendency serves me well. Often it doesn’t.
Once a week, I try to take an entire day and head out with absolutely no plan in mind.
I bring my laptop, my iPhone, and some headphones. The goal is to have no plan and let the day develop organically.
I have literally no idea where I’ll end up or how I’ll get back home.
This has led to some really cool experiences. I find myself in some random neighborhood that I’ve never explored.
Maybe a particular coffeeshop beckons. I’ll stop in.
I’ll write. I might read. Maybe I’ll just people-watch for 20 minutes.
I head back to the street. If a noodle shop looks interesting, I’ll stop in.
If I see a cool-looking hill, I’ll climb it.
This “getting into trouble” philosophy has led to interesting conversations with strangers and hidden-away gems of San Francisco.
It’s also a way to celebrate the journey of life and not get bogged down in the day-to-day nature of things. Even though I’ve got the luxury of a flexible schedule, I still get wrapped up in whatever I’m working on and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Life’s short and then you die.
Sad, but true.
I’m trying to enjoy the small things in life and give myself permission to be happy.
Goal No. 3 – writing
I have a love/hate relationship with writing. It’s creatively satisfying, and the more I do it, the more I want to do it.
Writing is such a solitary activity, though. It feels a bit narcissistic, even.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really know what I think about a particular subject until I write about it.
Honestly, I’ve fallen way short on my writing goal. I actually think that I spent more time writing while I was still at the full-time job. Much more of my time has been spent developing other skills and growing the podcast. Writing has become an occasional rather than a regular thing.
I don’t know if this is good or bad.
It’s just the way things have developed.
For me, podcasting is more social.
It connects me to other human beings. It’s a way for me to contribute something of value.
That’s why I’ve been focusing on it more.
Goal No. 4 – traveling
I’m crushing my traveling goal this year.
Here’s food for thought:
If you look at the schedule of a public school teacher, you might think that it’s a sweet set-up:
- Weekends off.
- All major holidays off.
- Two weeks off in December.
- Spring break off.
- All of summer off.
If I look back at my calendar from last year, however, I’d see a far different reality:
- Weekends consumed by musicals, festivals, and contests.
- Evenings eaten up by rehearsals and concerts from other ensembles.
- Spring break taken up by traveling with school groups.
- Orchestra camp in the summer.
- Planning for the following year.
A high school ensemble director spends a solid 60 hours a week at work. Easily.
Sure, there’s time off.
But you don’t get to pick the time that you get off.
For example, even though I was a board member of the International Society of Bassists, I could never go to the ISB convention because it happened during finals week.
Having the ability to pick when I take time off has been huge for me.
So far, I spent a week in Prague and part of another week in Los Angeles.
Next week, my wife and I head to Chicago.
I’ll be in New Orleans for a week in early 2017.
I’m planning a cross-country podcast tour in May on my way to the ISB convention in Ithaca.
Having a set-up that isn’t locked to a specific location opens up a lot of interesting possibilities!
Goal No. 5 – reading
I’m definitely reading, but not as much as I thought I’d be doing. This is something that I want to incorporate more of in my life.
Reading books is more powerful for me than following along with blogs, news, television, social media, and podcasts.
The act of creating a book forces the author to coalesce and organize one particular idea.
I know that all too well from writing Winning the Audition!
Consuming complete ideas is a different experience than the endless stream of content from other channels.
A few favorite books I’ve read this fall:
- Seriously?!: Ruminations, Affirmations, and Observations About Music Education by Scott Lang
- Winning the Audition by Jason Heath (shameless plug!)
- Break into the Scene by Seth Hanes
- Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
- Choose Yourself by James Altucher
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
- The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5 by Taylor Pearson
Goal No. 6 – growing and developing
My days are radically different now than when I was teaching public school.
I spend much more time dreaming up creative ideas. I wake up, make coffee, and start writing.
I’m usually typing furiously by 7 am.
Then I make breakfast. Maybe work on a podcast. Flesh out a new idea that popped into my mind recently.
After that, I go for a run.
That physical change gets me out of my head and connects me with this beautiful place in which I live. I finish my run clear-headed and energized.
After lunch, I tend to do the less creative tasks, like answering email, engaging on social media, and scheduling interviews. I also teach lessons in the afternoon.
For me, mornings are my best time to create.
Afternoons are time to take care of business.
Dream in the mornings.
Work in the afternoons.
I used to spend a huge percentage of my days as a public school teacher doing administrative work:
- lesson planning
- field trip requests
- ordering buses
- faculty training videos (blood borne pathogens were a particular favorite of mine)
- taking attendance
- setting up stands and chairs
Actually, I think that I work more hours now.
Entrepreneurial work is harder in so many ways than a traditional job because there’s no clear path. There are days when I wish that I could shut off my monkey mind and just do what someone was telling me to do.
I’ve tried my best to work when my wife is working and be “off the clock” when she’s not.
When she’s a work, I’m doing one of the following activities:
- doing interviews
- teaching lessons
- reaching out to various organizations
- fleshing out new ideas
- developing my business skills
- email marketing
- sales funnels
- writing copy
- membership sites
- course creation
- affiliate marketing
- guest blogging
- content opt-ins
- future products and services
Growing these new skills is a lot of fun, actually.
I feel like I’m doing a science experiment with my life.
That might not be a bad philosophy for life in general!
Goal No. 7 – making a contribution
I do feel like I’m making a contribution.
I feel that every time I put out a new podcast.
Putting out Winning the Audition felt like a contribution.
Teaching bass lessons feels like a contribution.
Honestly, I think that I’m contributing more than I did the past seven years.
My life is much less hectic now.
I miss a lot about my old life for sure.
I loved my high school job.
Much more of my day is spent in solitude now. There are positive aspects to this solitude, but I’m a social person and I loved being around those hundreds of students.
If I focus on my tangible contributions, I do think that I’m doing more now than I had been in the past.
The future feels way less clear now than it did when I had the school job.
Nowadays, I don’t know what I’ll be doing in three months.
I used to know exactly what I’d be doing at any point during the year at the school job.
Life for me now is like swimming in a mysterious muddy lake.
I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going, and I’m getting extremely dirty in the process, but I’m embracing the messiness and trying to enjoy the journey!
Thanks for reading!
I hope you enjoyed this semi-regular self-scrutiny!
Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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