In the spirit of giving things 79%, I’m going on one of my longest blog vacations since starting Medium Rare over five years ago. It pains me to do because, for me, writing and posting this blog is one of the highlights of each week.
But I’m heading into a really busy six weeks and need to balance the different time commitments. Ultimately, I want this post to serve as a more peaceful alternative to all of the posts on the internet that glorify “digging deeper,” getting up an extra hour early, hopping in an ice-cold shower, going on 72-hour fasts.
But first I’m gonna sleep in and ride a bike
We were up in Traverse City, Michigan last week visiting my parents. Four out of the seven mornings, I went on a bike ride. We rode to Sutton’s Bay. Pedaled into downtown Traverse. Journeyed to the lighthouse at the tip of Old Mission Peninsula.
What I realized: I love riding a bike. It’s the type of exercise that’s actually enjoyable to do. Anyone who argues for jogging over cycling, I have two simple rebuttals: 1) You can travel much further on a bike 2) Can you sit down while jogging?
A few of the mornings I chose cycling instead of writing, which was a tough decision to make. What it came down to was thinking about five, six months from now, when it’s 10 degrees outside and there’s snow on the ground; will I be happier to say, “I’m glad I wrote on those 70 degree mornings” or, “I’m glad I took a week to bike along Lake Michigan.”
So, step 1, sleep in an hour later. Go on a bike ride in Chicago. See things like this, moments that hardly look like a big city.
And then there’s a basketball tournament
Two or three years ago, I moved all of the basketball content over from Medium Rare on ChicagoNow to a new site called Medium Rare Basketball.
I’ve never hosted a basketball tournament before and what I’ve realized is I love the new idea part, I love the promoting part, I love putting together the field of teams, but I hate doing all of the little details. And the final two weeks is nothing but details. Did a schedule go out to the players? Does everyone know the rules of the games? Do I have the right liability insurance for any potentially twisted ankles? Insert 15 more questions.
The problem with all of the little details or, maybe better put, having a non-detail guy trying to cover the little details is you get to this point where you’re not even looking forward to the event anymore. As the stress has increased, I’ve started to think, “I just want this to be over.”
This was when I decided to start shedding a few things in the weekly schedule. Any time something that should be a really exciting event or moment drifts into, “I just want this to be over,” that’s a good sign I’m overbooked. The fun things should just be fun. Like riding a bike.
Same thing with Here or There
Originally, I targetted a July 23rd release of my new book Here or There. But similar to the basketball tournament, it’s all of the little details that are standing in the way.
Are the pages formatted correctly? Will the color cartoons print okay? What should the price of the book be?
Having the date of July 23rd was good stress. A date, even when it’s a random one circled on the calendar, pushes the project to get done. Or at least reach the 95% mark. For the final five percent of the project, I want to say a due date by end of August or mid-September, but that doesn’t give enough slack. That’s a give it 100% plan, not 79%. So I’m going with October 15th. Enough time to not feel rushed, but not too far out that I push it off.
Last but certainly not least, Long Overdue
I’m really pumped up about what’s coming in the latter part of the year with Long Overdue. For anyone new to the idea, our focus is on helping in two key areas:
- For people who have always wanted to write a book or have started one and not sure what to do next.
- For families who have stories they want to record. Could be a mom/dad/grandma/granddad, turning their stories into a book. Or recording stories (written, audio, film) for their children, grandchildren, and future generations to have.
It’s a weird spot to be in because everything listed above is work that I love, but there’s this overwhelming feeling of no end in sight. When the basketball tournament ends, when Here or There is finished, there will be a new book to write, new projects to build at Long Overdue, and still the pressures of a day job. New commitments will always keep filling in the open space.
But as I reach the end of a busy season, or the quick break in between busy seasons, what’s interesting and kind of surprising is I don’t find myself wanting to take on anything more. There isn’t this energy of, “Alright, what’s next? Let’s go. Go. Go! Next big thing. Next milestone.” I reached the finish line and it ended up looking like the beginning of a bike ride. Sure, there’s always more stuff to take on, always ways to try harder, but when it gets to the point where there’s not enough slack left to both write and ride a bike, walk and chew gum, it’s time to make some adjustments.
The nice part is all of these things — writing, working on Long Overdue, basketball, riding a bike — I want to do these for the next 30 years. There’s no rush and there’s no finish line because I don’t want any of those things to be finished. I want to enjoy the ride with Ashley and my family and close friends, never letting the work replace the people.
So I’m shifting gears and settling in at a 30-year pace. It won’t be as fast as I can go, won’t be a sprint, but it’s a speed where I can actually enjoy the ride. I forget which comedian it was but he was saying the first time he was on Carson or Letterman and he was backstage pacing around, stressed out about his upcoming set, he took a second to stop and say, “Hey, you need to actually enjoy this moment or you’ll regret it the rest of your life.” I feel the same thing, I want to look back when there’s some snow on the ground and say, “I’m glad I went on that ride,” not look back and say I missed it. I was there, but I missed it.
In the wise words of King Solomon, “Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” For the next six weeks, six months, six years I have just one slight modification.
“Even better to have two hands on the handlebars with the wind chasing after you.”
I’ll be back on September 16th with a new Medium Rare. The plan is to have posts up every Monday from then to Thanksgiving before the next month break. If you’re interested in articles focused on the process of writing, editing, and publishing, check out the new-ish blog over on Long Overdue.
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