Josh Monen

Sharing my journey through life.

Month: December 2016 (page 2 of 7)

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do: A Spiritual Solution to Analysis Paralysis

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. this morning to put the trash out and then went back to sleep until 9:45 a.m.

Well, to be honest I went back to “bed” until 9:45 a.m. It was one of those mornings where I felt like I didn’t want to face the day.

Lately I’ve felt depressed, exhausted and frustrated about my business. Most of this business stress has stemmed from not knowing what to do next. There are so many different projects, partnerships and areas I could give my time to but it all feels so overwhelming.

I’m afraid of making the “wrong” decision and wasting more time and money in the process.

I know what it’s like to give myself 100% to a new venture, only to fall flat on my face.

So I’ve placed a lot of pressure on myself to “focus on the one thing” I should be doing. The problem is, if I’m honest, I don’t know what that ONE thing is!

I feel like I’m stuck in a hallway lined with doors and only one of them is the right one. All the others will take me into a dark room where I just waste years of my life spinning my wheels.

And since I don’t know what’s behind the doors I end up just pacing the hallway, refusing to open any door. When I get like this I feel like a dark cloud starts to overshadow every thought I have and everything I do.

And when I get depressed I hear a little voice tell me stories of past failures. I hear things like:

  • “You suck at business. Why are you doing this? You should get a job.”
  • “You’re not an entrepreneur so stop pretending you are. Everybody else already knows this, you’re like the last one to find out.”
  • “What are you doing to your family? You’re taking risks that are hurting them. You’re so selfish.”

The more I listen, the more I feel like a complete failure.

This is the state of mind I was in this morning. Hiding from life under my blankets.

I eventually crawled out of bed and took a shower. Then I did 20 pushups to wake my body up and then walked out to my “office” in the RV.

I figured that meditating on the Word would probably be a good idea. So I turned to Psalm 1 which reads:

“Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.”

What hit me was verse 3 that says if you delight, and meditate, in His Word, then “whatever” you do shall prosper.

When I read that I realized an important truth:

“It’s less about making the right decision and more about what’s happening inside of me.”

This removed the pressure of opening the “right door” and provided a new metaphor for me to interpret my present situation.

No longer was I standing in that stupid narrow hallway in some dark building; instead I was out in nature, next to a river. And I was one of the trees planted next to the bank. A tree whose roots went deep and was able to receive life from the water, which was the Spirit of God!

As soon as I had this paradigm shift my mood changed. My circumstances didn’t. But who I was in that moment changed as I got better perspective on my life and business.

I now realize that it’s not my job to try and predict what’s “Behind Door #1.”

I can’t see around the corner. I don’t know what the future holds. So instead I’m free to spend that time and energy delighting myself in the Presence of God and meditating in His Word.

When I do that it may not seem like I’m doing much. When you look at a tree it doesn’t look like it’s working hard or doing anything productive. In fact, it doesn’t appear to be doing anything! And for a Type-A person like me the thought of doing nothing seems like a horrible idea. Especially when “something” needs to happen.

So there’s a tension there between my natural, earthly way of thinking and my spiritual, renewed mind. When I’m more spiritually-minded I know the act of “abiding” is one of the most important things I could do. It’s what allows my roots to stretch out and go deeper. It’s where “deep calls unto deep.”

But if I’m operating strictly from my natural mind I forget this and quickly dismiss it as a waste of time.

Something I’ll do later after focus on more “practical” things like hitting my sales goals, making payroll and launching a new marketing campaign.

It’s the difference between “heavenly wisdom” and “earthly wisdom.”

And so I’m faced with a choice. So are you. We can either continue to place the burden on our natural minds and get stuck in the hallway of indecision or we can be the tree planted by the river, sucking up the spiritual nutrients we need to live a healthy life.

There will still be decisions to make. But how we make those decisions changes because “who” we are has changed. Do you believe this?

3 Examples of How to Conduct a Personal Annual Review

I’m preparing to do an Annual Review this year. And so I’m reading and re-reading a few good articles about the subject.

Here they are:

The 21 Questions I’m Asking Myself This Week by Ed Gandia

I’ve been through Ed’s 2X coaching program and it was great! Ed is the real deal and so I pay attention to what he has to say about stuff like this. Some of his questions include:

  • What am I most proud of this year?
  • Where am I still feeling stuck?
  • What 1 big project/initiative, if deployed properly, would have a massive impact on my business next year?

Read more here.

 

How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review by Chris Guillebeau

This is a little more complex process but it’s good too. He starts out by asking two questions:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What did not go well this year?

Then he reviews the progress he made on his goals from last year, plans his goals for next year and also chooses a “theme” for his next year. I really like the “theme idea” and I plan to adopt that.

Read more here.

James Clear’s Annual Reviews

James doesn’t share much detail about his “annual review process” but he does share his actual reviews, which I find interesting. Sometimes reading other people’s reviews can spark some ideas you can adopt and practice.

He focuses on answering three main questions:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn’t go so well this year?
  3. What am I working toward?

Read more here.

Why Talking Politics Is Pointless Unless It Leads To Action

Today was Christmas Eve, so we spent the day at my in-law’s.

We had a great day. My wife comes from a big family (she’s one of eight kids) and most of her siblings are married with kids. So it’s fun when everyone gets together.

We enjoyed good food, the kids opened presents and I got to fly my drone for the first time (Phantom 2 Vision+)! And toward the end of the night I heard a few of the guys talking about politics at the kitchen table.

I thought about avoiding the discussion altogether and going into the other room. But my only other option was to watch cartoons with the kids in the TV room, and that sounded more boring.

So I sat down and listened for a while until the topic turned to national security and the question of whether we’ve given up too many of our rights and allowed the government to “watch us” too closely.

Everyone else was pretty much nodding their heads in agreement when I for some reason decided to disagree (I think sometimes I just disagree because I get bored complaining about the same things).

“So what is the actual downside of the government knowing too much?”

While I don’t like the idea of the government controlling people or telling people how to live their lives I don’t really have a problem with them “spying on bad guys” in an effort to combat evil.

I used the “Eye in the Sky” story as a good example of this.

I told them about how law enforcement could fly planes in the sky and zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes quickly (To learn more, listen to this podcast by RadioLab).

They’ve tested this out in cities like Juarez, Mexico and have used the “eye in the sky” to solve murders and bring down drug cartels who are responsible for hundreds of murders. Yet, they can’t use this in the U.S. because people are concerned that this would involve us “giving up our rights.”

So we bantered back and forth about this issue and several others. Each one of us arguing our points while the others respectfully listened.

For the next two hours we discussed everything from local issues, like the light-rail initiative to world events, like the Syrian refugee crisis.

Even though we’re talking politics we never really get into arguments or get too heated. Most of us have conservative or libertarian views so we don’t have huge disagreements. Maybe if one of us was really liberal it would cause some more intense arguments, but even then I feel like her family is mature enough that it wouldn’t get too bad.

So it’s not like it’s this horrible thing to talk politics with them. Nobody is getting mad at anyone in the room (although we get mad at people not in the room, like politicians we disagree with) and we all still like each other afterward.

But after the conversation ended it felt so pointless. It actually reminds me of a movie with a really bad plot line called Vantage Point.

Vantage Point is one of the worst movies I ever saw in a theater. If you haven’t seen it I’ll spare you the pain and just summarize it for you:

The movie is about an assassination attempt on the President. The movie shows eight different viewpoints of the assassination attempt and each time the eight events unfold from the beginning to apparently reveal a different aspect of the truth.

So in other words, you see the same scene play over and over eight times! It feels ridiculous. I remember people actually booing it in the theater the 6th, 7th and 8th time the movie essentially started over from the beginning.

And this is what these political conversations and rants feel like. It’s like we’re talking about the same thing 7,8 or 100 times! And apparently there’s some element of the truth that someone is bringing to light to help “solve the problem.”

But nothing ever gets solved. And I’m not pointing fingers at anyone else but myself. I’m partaking in these talks just as much as anyone else. So I have to decide if it’s worth it to get so worked up about an issue and then turn around and do absolutely NOTHING about it.

Honestly, I don’t mind the uncomfortable situations politics can put you in. I don’t mind debating, arguing or trying to understand another viewpoint.

What I have a problem with is “me.” The fact I claim to care about these issues yet I do nothing about them.

Therefore, I’m going to issue a challenge to all of us: if we’re not willing to get in the arena and get our hands dirty and do something about the issue let’s refrain from being critics in the stands.

I don’t want to live my life as a critic. I want to be in the arena. This doesn’t mean I’ll be a politician or hold any sort of governmental role. It just means that if I really care about an issue I’ll take action vs just talking about stuff and reading about stuff.

6 Lessons from Living in an RV for 3 Months

One of the highlights of 2016 was spending three months living in our 34’ motorhome with my wife and three kids.

It was a fun adventure and I’m glad we did it. And today I want to share six lessons I learned during our time in the RV.

1. You don’t need a lot of space to live: We have 3 kids, ages 4, 2, and 1. So you may think it feels a little cramped in a 34’ RV. But it’s not. I realized we really don’t need a huge space to be happy. Plus with kids so young it can be easier to have them all where you can see them so you don’t have to chase them through the house!

2. You can do it even if you’re an introvert: I’m a total introvert (INFJ). But I learned to adapt. One thing that helped me was to wake up really early in the mornings so I can have my solitude. I also worked from coffee shops or some other place in the RV park during the day when I needed to focus.

3. Too much heat is no fun: We stayed in Lakeside, CA for a month before we moved to the KOA campground in San Diego. And the weather in Lakeside was a good 10 degrees hotter than in San Diego. And those 10 degrees made a big difference. It’s hard to go outside and enjoy yourself when you’re drenched in sweat.

4. WiFi and unlimited data matter: I’m a freelancer so my livelihood depends on the internet. And the WiFi at RV campgrounds was pretty much worthless. So I’m so grateful we bought a Verizon Jetpack before we left. I had 100 GB of data each month and pay $120 for it. It’s so worth it!

5. Mishaps happen and it’s ok: Our 2 year-old daughter stepped on broken glass the day we originally planned to depart on our trip. We ended up at the ER all day and postponed our trip about 10 days until she could get the stitches out. Then we had a tire blow out on the way down. And then our bathroom flooded in the RV (I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to 2 inches of water in the hallway!). But since we were on an “adventure” it was all ok. It didn’t get us too stressed out.

6. I don’t want to be a nomad: After about 9 weeks into our trip I decided I didn’t want to do this full-time, which surprised me. I thought I’d love it and maybe perhaps we’d spend 1-year on the road. But I didn’t like the feeling of being nomadic. It made me feel like I was just a leaf blowing in the wind. No real purpose or footing. And for someone who wants to live a life of “purpose” I don’t think that was the life for me. I love traveling in the RV but I think I’d rather have a home base to launch out of.

Making Time to Cultivate Gratitude

You already know gratitude is important. But how often do you practice it?

Personally, I’ve taken gratitude for granted. I know I “should” cultivate it in my life but most the time it takes a backseat to my work, to-do list and projects. In other words I feel too busy to cultivate gratitude.

When I have a million things to do in the morning it feels like such a waste to spend time (even if it’s just 10 minutes) on gratitude stuff.

But lately I’ve decided it must be a priority. Why? Because I’ve felt unhappiness, discontent and frustration creep into my life and I don’t like it.

Somewhere along the way I decided that “getting things done” was more important than “being happy.” And I don’t want to continue down that path any longer.

I joke with my wife sometimes and tell her one of my love languages is “getting things done.” 🙂

Obviously that’s not true. Sure, I can feel a sense of satisfaction when I get a lot done in a day. But that feeling is temporary and shallow. And it’s not long before I’m adding more things to my list.

However, the feeling of true gratitude is different. When I’m really grateful it feels like everything is right with the world. Peace floods my heart and mind and I’m able to think more clearly about my work and about life in general.

Therefore, I’ve made a point to make “cultivating gratitude” a daily habit. “How” I do it and how you do it may look different. And that’s ok. The mechanics of it are not the most important part. The main thing to remember is to do whatever you need to do to get yourself into a state of true gratitude.

For example, there was a time where writing down three “wins” for my day was enough to make me feel gratitude. But after a few weeks of that it turned into a braindead activity, something I just checked off before I went to bed. It lost it’s power and I quit doing it.

These days I spend about 10 minutes listening to some “soaking music” (music designed to soak in the presence of God) while calming my mind down so I can engage my heart in gratitude. I love this because at the end I actually “feel” grateful and I notice a shift take place in me.

Talk to me in 3 months and my practice may look different. The point is to keep it fresh and real so that you can actually get into that state of gratitude.

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