Follow my progress…

Behind the scenes of writing a weekly letter.

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Letter VIII Published – The Master vs The Slave

Letter VIII published on 2nd June 2019.

Here’s an excerpt:

Epictetus said that “no man is free if someone else has the power to obstruct and compel him”. In other words, as soon as we place the control of our happiness into things we do not control, those things become our master, and we become the slave.

Letter VII published – Debts & Lessons

Letter VII was published on 25th May 2019.

Here’s an excerpt:

I’m grateful to understand the importance of this deeper level of gratitude at this time in my life, while most of the people I love and care about are still alive.

Your words have more meaning than any gift you can buy.

The problem with communication today…

The more self-aware I become about my own communication, the more aware I become of how much work there is to be done.

The work is never done.

I truly believe that the one factor that changes communication is true empathy; being able to see what they see and feel what they feel.

Most people don’t have the ability to communicate effectively because they are too preoccupied with protecting their own ego.

The result is emotional unavailability and in turn zero chance of a meaningful conversation and connection taking place.

Unfortunately, most people are going through their life not only blind to this, but blame others for the problems that happen because of poor communication.

If we want more meaningful relationships and conversations, it’s up to each one us to improve the way we communicate; work on and improve how we listen, the words we use and the questions we ask.

Letter VI Published – Stop giving people advice

Letter VI was published on 17th May 2019.

Here’s an excerpt:

When someone asks for help we default to giving advice.

We bring our bias, or experience, our perspectives, our ideals and our expectations to the table. You may have your own desires for that person, but it’s not about you. It’s not your life.

If we want to truly help the people we love, we need to stop telling people what to do. Instead, we must listen deeply to what they are saying, understand how they feel and ask more questions.

25 lessons for living a good life

I have been wanting to start this process for a while now.

To document life lessons for my children, similar to what Marcus Aurelius has done for us in Meditations. Something that’s available for my children even if I’m not around for them.

I wasn’t originally going to publish this, but I thought that it may inspire you to do something similar.

Read the full article over on Medium.

I never replied to your email…

You signed up for my letter, I sent you an automated ‘welcome’ email, you took the time to reply and I’ve never bothered my ass to get back to you.

Sorry for being a dick.

I’m replying to you now.

Not writing the letters really put a mental block on everything to do with the project, and now that I’m writing again I feel completely liberated.

Chris.

Letter V Published

It feels so good to be writing again, and even better to hit ‘send’ on Letter V.

Excerpt:

Gratitude is like a tiny hammer tapping away this black rock inside me, and I’m starting to see the light creeping through the cracks.

Understanding who I am is helping me to be a better dad, a better friend and a better partner. It’s helping me to be more emotionally available to the important people in my life, and without it I’m not sure where I would be.

New writing schedule

Today I start a new writing schedule – something more realistic that I’ll have more chance of being successful with.

I really want to write in the morning, which means I’ve moved the start of my ‘working day’ to 10am on a Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

Even if I get up at 5am, I still can’t really do any work between 6am and 8:15am – this is the time when everyone is getting ready for school and work.

I’ll spend the early morning writing an entry in my journal, and then spend time with my family up until everyone goes to work/school.

From 8:15am I will write, have a short break and then start my ‘job’ at 10am.

This already feels better and more manageable.

Let’s see how it goes.

What the fuck is going on, Chris?

I’m embarrassed to say that’s it’s been almost two whole months since I visited this website.

What started off as a very passionate project, somehow quickly became a lot of hard work.

No surprises there, right?

Launching a project is easy, keeping a project going is hard. Well, it’s not hard, it’s just work.

After a few drinks last night, I confided in Cara to help me figure out why I’ve not made any progress on this project in the past few months.

What the fuck is going on with me?

A few things:

  • I knew the first few letters would be easy compared to the rest, because they were my most concrete ideas at the time. It started off easy, and every week it got harder. Writing isn’t the hardest part, it’s making the ideas I write about make sense. What I’ve figured out is that there’s a lot more work required than just the ‘writing’.
  • I’ve put too much pressure on myself. Not just a weekly schedule, but my expectations of myself are too high. In terms of the quality of writing, I’m expecting every letter I write to be a hit, to be the best yet. But that’s not how it works. I know that to become a better writer I have to write, and that not everything I write will be my best writing.
  • I haven’t been writing enough. Why? It’s related to all the other points I’ve made here. As time has passed over this few months, with no movement, I’ve lost my confidence and I’ve been getting in my own way.
  • I forgot why I started this project in the first place. The big picture: I want to push myself to write more, so I can find new ideas, explore new topics, and eventually find a thread for a book. The reality is that I fell off my horse at the first hurdle (after 4 letters I stopped), and now I need to get back on. More about that here.
  • Every day that passed I felt more and more guilty that I wasn’t serving you, the reader. And every day that passed felt like I was moving further and further away from every getting back to this project. This is a classic case of overthinking and getting in my own way. I just need to open up my laptop and start writing again. I need to ‘reboot’ and start fresh.
  • I haven’t made the project a priority. Yip, I’ve got time scheduled in my diary for writing every week, I’ve even got a project schedule in Basecamp, with reminders and deadlines. But that’s not enough. I need to make it a priority in my life, and up until now I’ve let other less important things take that time instead. You can have all the productivity tools in the world, but they don’t do the work for you.

So what am I going to do about it?

Today is Sunday 5th May. I’ve cleared my whiteboard in my office to develop a new schedule for this project. I’m going to pretend this is a newspaper and I have to submit my column at the same time each week.

I’m going to plan out the next 6 topics for the letter and start the writing process. I know that I must do this. I want to write more, I want to write and publish books, and in order to do that I have to explore the ideas I have and find my way through this.

I also know that I need to push through this barrier – it’s exactly why I started this project in the first place. I’ve got no idea what it feels like to write a book, or to be a writer, and I’m not prepared to fail just because it got a little harder than I expected. Pushing through this challenge is what I need to get better.

So, here it is…my confession to you.

I hope you’ll stick with me and I’ll see you back in your inbox in a week with something new to think about.

DFTBA!

Chris.