Friday, January 25, 2013

7 things that changed my life in 2012

Blue belt – This probably created the biggest change in my life. Basically I got married to Jiu Jitsu on July 1st when Bob Bass gave me my blue belt. Now I have all these responsibilities I didn’t have when I was just a white belt. For starters, I’m instructing a kids class once a week. This is actually a lot of fun, but keeping track of 20+ kids and making sure they don’t choke each other out and/or break each others' limbs can have its moments. If kids weren’t enough, I’m often “in charge” of the adult class as well. Thankfully there are some other, more experienced guys that share these responsibilities with me. Lastly, I’m expected to stay in shape now that I’m a blue belt. Getting fat and out of shape when you’re a blue belt is a bit like not financially providing for my real life wife.

Using the Left Shift Key - This is still a work in progress. I’m a pretty quick typist, but for some reason, I have only ever used the right shift key when typing. That means when I need to capitalize a “P” or use “()” I hold the shift key with my right hand pinky and stretch to reach the buttons with my right hand index finger. It’s suited me well thus far, but when I started learning how to code, using the left shift key became a necessity. Now it’s pretty easy to use the left shift key when I’m coding, but when I’m straight up typing something like this blog, I have to work hard not to fall back into bad habits.

Speed Reading – I read an interview where they asked Warren Buffett what he would go back and do differently with his life. Buffett stated that since he reads so much for his job that he would have learned to read faster. I actually learned how to speed read several years ago but only used it occasionally. Now that I’m taking 4 college classes, this has become an amazing tool for me. Reading that would take a normal student 3 hours, takes me about an hour. Most people smirk when I tell them I can speed read, thinking it’s some type of party trick or that I’m just skimming, but this is not the case. I actually comprehend better when speed reading because I have to concentrate so much on what I’m reading. The downside is that it’s not a really a relaxing way to read, which is why I don’t use it when I’m reading for enjoyment.

Becoming a Landlord – We moved out of our old house on New Year’s Eve of 2011. It took several months, but in June, after all the construction was done, we got tenants into our rental property. So far it’s been awesome. They paid 6 months up front and now pay their rent on time. Most days I forget I even have a rental property, but when they drop off their rent, I remember, and it feels pretty good.

Vitamins in the Cupboard – This one I didn’t implement until late 2012, but it’s been pretty useful. With all the training I’ve been doing, I need to take certain supplements to help with my recovery and for general fitness. The problem is that it’s hard to remember to take your vitamins. On a whim I made one simple adjustment and now I hardly ever forget. I just moved my vitamins from the kitchen counter to the bathroom cupboard. I always start and end the day in the bathroom and so it’s real easy to remember to take them when they’re right there next to my toothbrush and deodorant.

Harnessing Time – Going back to school has helped me realize how much time I was wasting, and how my concept of time was a bit skewed. I remember sitting at a dinner with some friends several years back and talking about going back to school. I remember thinking in my head how much time it would take to finish school and mostly giving up on the idea. Now it’s several years later and I still haven’t finished. If I would have started then and stuck it out, I’d be done right now. Time keeps marching on and we have to fill it up with something. What else am I going to do with my time that’s more productive? Probably not much. Beyond this broad paradigm shift, I’ve also found the value of smaller blocks of time. In times past, if I had 15 minutes free, I’d surf the internet and watch silly videos. Now that I have to make use of my time, 15 minutes can get me several pages read, and several of these 15 minutes blocks can be the difference between getting an assignment done on time or not. I still think it’s important to take some time to do nothing, but utilizing my time more effectively has really made a difference in my life.

Growing a beard – I’ve wanted a beard for a long time but never thought mine was full enough to grow out. I tried growing it out once a couple years ago and it just itched and bothered me. This year I made a resolution to grow it for a month and see how it went. Now I’ve had it for quite some time and don’t really like the way I look without it. It’s still not as full and glorious as I would like it to be, but it gets the job done. Right now it seems like I’ll have a beard for the rest of my life, but we’ll see.

Stay tuned for my next post, 7 things I think will change my life in 2013.