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Forest Road Top View - Moving Forward

29 Rapid Fire Lessons Learned: February 2018

Two months down, ten to go. So far, I’m making progress on both my annual and monthly goals but with the expectation of child number five, this fall with some unexpected events will require adjustments going forward.

Let’s start this monthly reflection point by sharing the lessons I’ve learned. 

29 Lessons Learned (Rapid Fire)

As I traverse through each month, I make note of lessons learned along the way. This section gives me the opportunity to memorialize them for sharing and future reference. Here's a quick list of wisdom nuggets.

  1. “He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself; and if you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you.”  - Friedrich Nietzsche
  2. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” - Sun Tzu
  3. "Discipline equals freedom." - Jocko Willink
  4. Freedom is fueled by the margin.
  5. We can alienate people who want to listen and understand when we vilify and attack with emotion instead of reason. 
  6. "The fiery furnaces are there by God’s direct permission. It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of our circumstances; we are developed because of them. It is mastery in circumstances that is needed, not mastery over them." -Oswald Chambers
  7. People are inconsistent with how they criticize.
  8. Success for me when working with my clients is like the end of Max Max Fury Road where Furiosa (my client) rises to the top of the city and Max (me) slowly fades away in the crowd.
  9. People have a hard time facing reality. Instead, we try and avoid or run away from it.
  10. In the 80/20 rule, the 20% matters when we want to go from surviving to thriving.
  11. If how you've been running your business isn't working, it's time to explore another option
  12. Since children are a reflection of parent's beliefs and behaviors, we should strive to become the best version of ourselves possible.
  13. There are two ways to approach content creation. 1, Find what people are looking for and what's out there and create something better. 2, Create something new that provides value even when people are not actively seeking it.
  14. Knowing your product well allows you the opportunity to easily wow your customers.
  15. My appearance represents an old painting of a Spanish Grande.
  16. For us to provide a fair critique, we should wait until the work is completed (excluding collaborative works).
  17. Our goal is to empty ourselves each day, not to try and fill other people up. (insight by Andy Stanley)
  18. "Do not regret loving someone." - Sarek, Star Trek Discovery
  19. Persistence hunting is a now a rare activity, where hunters chase their prey for hours until the animal gives up.
  20. My primary temperament is sanguine with a secondary in phlegmatic.
  21. I'm more anxious about the unknown than the difficult known. I don't like being caught off guard.
  22. Gun freedom and restrictions are a complex issue. There are not simple or broad answers. We should seek to understand the situation and how best to solve the actual problem while also preserving rights.
  23. "A great leader knows when to stop." - Madison, Fear the Walking Dead
  24. We can create or consume. Are you participating in both?
  25. It's extremely challenging to be an inside change agent. Most people buckle under the pressure.
  26. When animals are in a troublesome situation and can see, they can panic. When their eyes are covered, they don't.
  27. Go with the flow. Take advantage of what life throws at us to make it easier to accomplish our goals.
  28. I used to dread email, now that I'm in control and appreciate the craft of writing, I value it.
  29. Sometimes we can't get out of our own way.

February 2018 Goals: Status Updates

With four February goals to accomplish, let’s check in and see how well I fared. 

  • Adjusting to my color zone system: I’ve adjusted my Habitica daily from logging 6 hours per day to 5.75 billable hours. Weekly goes from 30 to 28.11, both are the result of increasing my hourly rate to ninety dollars per hours. While I was under my 2017 goal hour count for January I hit my target in February. As I look forward to March, I expect a window of hours. If you’re interested in working together, this is a good time to talk. 
  • Populating my book's pre-written content: After completing my book outline, I assigned multiple previous writings to different parts of the book. After doing so, I copied over those writings into the book. I’ve now got a list of potential writings that can go inside the book, but I’m not yet sure where they belong. My next step is finding out if and where these potential writings could land. My intent was to finish both of these tasks for the month so this action was only half completed. The other half will rollover into March. 
  • Finish taxes: I’m grateful to announce that we’ve completed our 2017 personal and business tax returns. I’m also happy to report that the tax legislation will make filing 2018's tax returns even better. 
  • Update service offering page: Well, I almost dropped the ball on this one, but yesterday I added two new customer case study stories. I've got two more short-term goals for the page including adding a popup clarifier on the business services section and creating a thank you display with resource links once a small business owner prospect fills out the form.

Completing three of these four items and half of the fourth gives me an 87.5% completion, a B+ on the goals. As a freelancer with a full workload, it's always hard to make time for the important nonurgent items, but writing them down, sharing them for accountability and actually making progress helped move me forward.

Unexpected Events

While we can set goals and move towards them, things happen along the way to slow us down or change our course. This month, we had some pleasant and unpleasant surprises, and unfortunately, all them led to unexpected financial expenditures.

Baby Number 5 On The Way & An Injured Child

It was planned and now it’s real. My wife is now pregnant with our fifth child with an expected due date this September. It's exciting news, but also a reminder that the first year with a newborn and four other kiddos is going to be challenging. It's time to start preparing for this upcoming change.
A few weeks ago, my oldest daughter and second youngest son were goofing around leading to his fall and collision and a trip to the emergency room. This resulted in a large gash on his forehead and 3 stitches. This was his fourth injury incident in the previous twelve months, so Judah's quite injury prone.

My Neck Went Rogue

In the middle of the month, I had an instance of Torticollis. My neck and right shoulder muscle had a sudden and intense muscle spasm. It pulled my neck, locked the muscles and wouldn't let go. It took several days for my neck muscles to rest. The next day when it didn't get any better, my neck was crooked, and I couldn't move my head to the right laterally, I drove on down to Precision Pain Relief Center (one of my clients and preferred chiropractor).

After arrival, they ran some tests and x-ray. My neck and spine were a bit jumbled and the neck area was shaped like a C where the muscle was pulling it. With this type of incident, there's not much that can be done other to wait until the muscle relaxes and let's go. The one supporting activity they could do was run ultrasound across my neck and shoulder to help accelerate the relaxing of the muscles. 

In my followup appointment, my new X-ray showed a much straighter neck. Some leftover and previous misalignment issues needed correction. My left shoulder was bothering me the month prior to this event and it turns out its related to the rotation of one of my neck vertebrae. It also turns out I have a baby bone spur on one of my neck vertebrae. The spur caused me random pain over the last year or two. With laser therapy, they'll reduce the spur's size by 50%, but will have to come back in every several years as the spur comes back.

So why did this happen? The doctor had two theories. The body seeks to protect our brain first and spinal cord second because of how important they are to our body functions. As a result of the bone spur causing pain and issues, it's possible the muscles spasmed as a way to protect my spine. The other possibility is that my neck was out of whack for awhile beforehand and it finally couldn't take it anymore and spasmed. There's not an easy way to understand the cause, but now that the muscles are relaxed, the doctor is running computer-aided chiropractic adjustments to realign my neck back to how it ought to be.

Unfortunately, one of the downsides of our health sharing coverage is that it does not include chiropractic care expenses, so we'll be paying for the treatment ourselves. Thankfully Precision is generous with their fees for self-paying folks and the alignment has a set end date. At the end of March, we'll run another exam and x-ray to see if my neck is back to factory settings.

2018 Goals: Progress Report

Here's the monthly update on my goals set for 2018
  • Daily Utmost Read: Woohoo! There was not a day missed reading the daily Bible verse and My Utmost For His Highest.
  • Read Hidden Treasures In The Book Of Job With Wife: I've finished reading the book, and my wife and I have discussed the first three chapters.
  • Kiddo Snuggle Time: I'd call it mostly a success as I only missed three times during the month of February. 
  • Small Group Engagement With Men: Utterly failed on this one. I invited and arranged a breakfast meeting. Reminders went out the day before but I forgot to change my alarm for the early meeting and everyone except me showed up! Thankfully they all had a good time without me. We'll try this again. 
  • Kia Sedona Loan Eliminated: $15,127.54 Paid
  • 2nd Book: I made progress populating the book with preexisting content and was happily surprised to realized I'm further along on this project than I knew.
  • 400 Blogs Post in 2018
    • 287 = End of 2017
    • 10 = January 2018
    • 12 = February 2018
    • 22 = 2018 Total
    • -1 = Archived Blogs
    • 308 = All-Time Total
    • 92 = Remaining For Nine 2018 Months (to hit 400 goal)
  • Sustain 2017 Income With Few Hours in 2018
    • January Hours: 128.25/122 (+6.5)
    • February: 122.25/122 (+0.25)
    • YTD Total: 250.50 (+6.5 overage)
  • One Mile Eight Times/Month
    • January = 2
    • February = 3
  • Gwinnett Church Volunteering: I asked a friend who volunteers what his suggestions were, but no other progress was made.
  • Habitica (Habit management game tool) Report: I started the month out strong, but ended up dying halfway through. Since then, I've been using a lot of health potions to keep from dying with a mix of success and failure maintaining my habits.

This Month's New Blog Articles

If you missed any new blog posts for the months, here's my monthly recap and links to each. Enjoy!

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

My Quora Answers

In my multiple Quora experiments, I'm still active on the knowledge social media portal. Here are my two February answers.

Monthly Reflection Point

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