Category Archives: life

Procrastination Motivation

Tick, tock.

I started reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything recently. In the introduction, one paragraph in particular made me realize that the next 500 pages are going to be an eye opening, mouth dropping, pants pooping journey:

The bad news is that atoms are fickle and their time of devotion is fleeting – fleeting indeed. Even a long human life adds up to only about 650,000 hours. And when that modest milestone flashes past, or at some other point thereabouts, for reasons unknown your atoms will shut you down, silently disassemble, and go off to be other things. And that’s it for you.

When you break it down like that, it really puts life into perspective. 650,000 hours. That’s roughly 27,083 days. Add in the fact that you’ve already been living, and if you’re reading this you’re likely (at the very least) 21 years old, that gives you 466,032 hours, or 19,418 days. Even less for me. And probably you too.

That’s scary. And inspiring. If anything, it makes me want to start getting things done. It makes every sentence that starts with “Someday I want to…” or “When I get some time I really need to…” irrelevant. Someday will be today. I don’t need to “get time.” I need to use what I’ve already been given.

Nothing motivates me like a deadline. And in this case, that deadline is literal.

When you put a tanglible value on the amount of time you have to live, every hour counts. Sure, these numbers are pretty high – nearly meaningless – for someone in their 20s. However:

Say I decide to watch Breaking Bad starting tomorrow. There are 5 seasons with 62 episodes total. At 48 minutes an episode, that’s 52 hours of my life devoted to passively watching the best show that was or ever will be.

Now, let’s say I decide to watch every episode of Game of Thrones, Homeland, Weeds, The Office, 30 Rock, and The Simpsons as well. I mean, it’s just 20 minutes or an hour here or there, right? I’ve been watching these show my whole life.

Well, if I add the time it takes to watch every episode of every season of those shows to my Breaking Bad bingefest, that’s 489 hours of my life. And that’s just TV. Add in movies, commuting, reading pointless things on the internet, Candy Crush, and showering, and that number grows immensely.

I don’t mean to rag on TV and film – they’re amazing mediums that I hope to day one contribute to. But when it comes down to it, we waste a lot of the limited time we have. It’s easy to zone out after work for 2 hours in front of the TV or your phone or whatever it is you choose to use to destress. Sometimes it’s needed. However it’s easy to let it get out of control.

When I struggle with the decision of watching another episode of House of Cards or working on something meaningful to me, I remember that my atoms plan on mutinying me. Even though I’m still growing, my time is fading. It always will be, so it’s best not to waste what’s left.

The clock ticks incessantly. I’m not going to drown it out with southern twang of Frank Underwood. I’m going to let it fill the room, poke it’s way into my brain, and force me to finish that screenplay I’ve been meaning to write.

This is the most fun I’ve ever had writing a cover letter.

I recently applied for a job writing the WeekENDER at Chubbies. Like any job, the application calls for a cover letter. Rather than putting the reader to sleep with a standard “here are my qualifications here’s what I do this is what I’ve done” cover letter to be thrown in the trash and vomited on, I decided to spice things up a bit.

It was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a cover letter. So much fun, in fact, that I’ve decided to share it. It’s below, and I’d love your feedback in the comments.

(Note: if you’re unfamiliar with Chubbies, take 2 minutes to browse their site. Watch a video and read a WeekENDER. Then this cover letter will make much more sense.)

To whom the Chubster it may concern:

I have the same thing for breakfast every morning. Three eggs. Three strips of bacon. Why? Because THIS IS AMURICA.

And in Amurica, we can do whatever we damn well please.

But with freedom comes poor choices. Specifically, the choice to wear cargo shorts. I made this fatal mistake for many years. Little did I know that what I was experiencing was in fact not comfort, but restraint. My thighs, in all their glory, went sight unseen, hidden from the world behind a thick layer of pockets and misery.

I don’t want anyone to have to go through that. Ever. Enter: thigh liberation.

You’re looking for the best writer and visual communicator on the planet? Well look no further, amigo. (Can I call you that? I feel like I can call you that.) I’m here to help spread the good word.

Why me? Well, Chubberino, let me break down a few relevant projects I’m working on:

  • I created and run DailyCreative, which puts a creative writing prompt in users’ inboxes three times a week. I’ve been testing subject lines, email timing, and the like to increase my open rates. And when it comes to the WeekENDER, isn’t getting Chubsters to read the email what it’s all about? (Let’s be honest, there are some janky emails out there that get ignored and deleted. The WeekENDER shouldn’t be one of them.)
  • I’ve been blogging consistently for a year and a half. I’ve grown as a writer and developed an audience that’s loyal as all hell. They get antsy if I go too long between posts. I’d be stoked to generate that kind of loyalty for the WeekENDER. (Here are my some of my popular posts. Everything’s going to be all right and Stand clear of the closing doors.)
  • I’ve got Photoshop skills. Back in my high school days I was Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook (no autographs, please). Now I work in advertising where I use that beast to manipulate ads we’re working on.

How could I rock this job?
Other than crushing it so hard with the written word that you’ll need the jaws of life to pry your eyes away from the page, I’ll provide Chubster Nation with content they won’t be able to share fast enough (because sharing is caring, and it’s also great for business). I want Chubsters to talk about the WeekENDER while they’re enjoying a brewskerdo, grillin’ some righteous BBQ, and getting pumped to kill it on Friday night.

Plus, I’m versatile. Want a knee slapper? I can write it. A tale that brings a tear to your eye? I’m your man. Time to get pumped up? Call me Seamless ‘CAUSE I’M HERE TO DELIVER. (Need proof? Check out these posts: 9 Things I’ve Learned Since CollegeIn the end, it all evens out., and Leaper)

So why do I want to work here?
Easy. Three reasons in no particular order:

  1. Chubbies has a clear, unwavering, fear no evil mission and will do everything in its power to make it happen. (Unless that thing is wearing boardshorts. Then it’s a no-go.)
  2. The Chubbies brand feels like an extension of myself. Why yes, I would love a beer with my bacon.
  3. Chubbies makes a bodacious, double-take worthy, who-knew-it-was-possible-to-look-that-good-in-shorts-dear-god-where-do-I-buy-a-pair? product.

Working for Chubbies would fulfill some of my wildest dreams. I would have the opportunity to work in a position that forces me to think to my fullest capacity. I’d grow and be challenged everyday. I will utilize the skills that I went thousands of dollars into debt to learn, with coworkers equally as passionate and understanding as I am about the work-play balance. I’d be kicking ass and taking names. And my legs would look great doing it.

Still not convinced?
I didn’t want to do this, but I think I have to. Below are pictures of my Dad, who’s been thigh liberated since the 1970s.

Dad Picture 1There’s a guy who knows the Sky’s Out.

Dad Picture 2

Sure, the hair is questionable, but DAYUM those are some radical shorts.

So you see, it’s in my blood. I come from an original Chubster. I have an innate understanding that thighs are meant to be prominently displayed like the trophies of the body that they are.

It’s time to get men’s legs out of the riDONKulous garments they choose to wear and into some Chubbies. And I can be the legxact guy to do it.

Sky’s Out, Thighs Out.

Dan “Leg pun nickname pending” Whitman

P.S. – I wrote a WeekENDER. You can read it here.

My goals for 2014

I’m hoping to make 2014 my best year yet (just like every other person on the planet). To make that happen, I’ve created a list of goals to have completed by the end of the year, if not sooner. Why am I sharing them here? To make myself accountable. Enjoy! And hey, why not make some of your own? You’ve got nothing to lose.

  1. Reach 150 blog subscribers (if you still haven’t, sign up for my mailing list)
  2. Get DailyCreative email open rate average to increase 15% by year end
  3. Land a copywriting contract
  4. Find a way to earn $500/mo extra by June 30
  5. Have a meeting or call with three bloggers/writers a month
  6. Take an improv class
  7. Write a post that gets 2500 unique views
  8. Have a meeting or call with one person in advertising or marketing per month
  9. Express my emotions more freely and confidently
  10. Cook with one new ingredient every two weeks
  11. Complete the first draft of a screenplay
  12. Visit two states I’ve never been to
  13. Visit 10 museums (preferably in NYC)
  14. Get published in Metropolitan Diary
  15. Read 26 books
  16. Join a spring/summer sports league
  17. Grow DailyCreative to 250 users
  18. Follow through with at least one business idea (instead of letting every idea peddle around in my head and get lost in oblivion)
  19. Guest post on three reputable blogs
  20. Pay 10k towards student debt
  21. Be more present in one on one conversations by actively listening and avoiding close ended questions
  22. Go 30 days paleo/gluten free (wanna take the challenge with me? let me know)
  23. Naturally eliminate my anxiety
  24. Recognize my achievements and allow myself to be proud of them
  25. Run a marathon
  26. Determine my opinion on issues before reaching to others for their thoughts
  27. Complete a weight training circuit three times a week for three consecutive months
  28. Go to a music festival (any suggestions?)
  29. Visit friends in other cities once every three months and do something we haven’t done before
  30. Write 5 short stories of 5000+ words
  31. Stay true to self in new groups of people
  32. Publish a Kindle Single (hoping for Leaper)

Throughout the year I’ll be adjusting and adding any goals as I understand what I’m doing better. You’ll find the most updated list in my 2014 Goals tab.

If you want to set some goals of your own (and you should), check out Chris Guillibeau’s and Scott Britton’s tools. They’ve been extremely helpful for me.

Thanks to Justin Mares for looking over these with a comb of the finest teeth.

It’s Easy To Let Self-Doubt Ruin Your Plans. Don’t.

I’m curled up in a ball on my bed. My eyes are open, but I don’t look at anything in particular. My brain feels like it’s being pulled from both sides in opposite directions. I can’t form a single coherent thought. Focusing is out of the question. I close my eyes and let them roll back into my head. Gray.

Twenty minutes later I wake up exhausted, no closer to a solution. I get out of bed and continue doing whatever I was doing before all of this started.

These onslaughts of self-doubt hit me more often than I’d like. They grow from a small, seemingly meaningless question – “should I write something?” or “what should I do with my next two hours?” – to a full-blown panic attack.

I’ve experienced many bouts of self-doubt since I moved to New York. When I moved here I knew only a few people, ended a two and a half year relationship within the first three months, and have since been rubbing pennies together so vigorously the copper is melting. “Why am I putting myself through this?” I often ask myself. “Is being here worth it?”

I could be living back at home in Central Pennsylvania. Or I could be living in Pittsburgh, where I went to college. If I were in either area, I would spend less, know more people, and be somewhere I feel entirely in my comfort zone.

But I’ve done that. I’ve lived in my comfort zone and I fought like hell to get out of it.

So now that I’m six months into living in the Big Apple, why has this wave of self-doubt taken over me? I’m constantly reevaluating my decision to live here. I find myself more and more often feeling like my goals are lofty and unattainable, and that moving here was a mistake. Am I wasting my time?

The frustration I feel when I realize I’m doubting myself, however, is as bad, if not worse, than the self-doubt alone. I get frustrated that I discount my abilities. I get frustrated because I know it’s a waste of time to doubt myself, yet I keep doing it. I get frustrated because I let my emotions overpower logic.

Most of all, though, I get frustrated that, in that moment, I have lost all confidence in myself.

An hour later I pop in my headphones and walk out of my apartment. I feel glum. My self-doubt panic attack has exhausted me. I need to get out of the house and find a place to relax.

I head down the familiar subway entrance and find myself cracking a little smile. Something about taking the train makes me feel good. Like driving down the roads of your hometown years after you’ve moved away.

I power my way onto the train with the crowd, grabbing a pole before we start moving again. I transfer at Union Square and ride up to Rockefeller Center. It started snowing when I was underground. I leave the station and head towards the skating rink.

The tree is lit. I haven’t seen it yet this year. The lights reflecting off the rink and statue makes me feel like I’m in a movie. I grab a seat on a bench and watch the tourists take pictures and get in each other’s way. The smile I cracked earlier gets a little bigger.

I think back to the day I was told I got the job. “I’m moving to New York!!” I yelled into the phone. My eyes teared up with happiness. My head was swimming with excitement. It was my dream city. It was even more than that. It was opportunity. It was hope. It was new experiences and new people and a new life. It was a huge leap that I couldn’t have been more excited to take.

Reflecting on the feelings I had in that moment strengthened a part of me that was absent earlier. The part that knows this is the right choice for me. That this is where I belong.

Confidence. It’s the antidote to self-doubt’s poison. While self-doubt deters me from my goals, confidence allows me to achieve them. Beating myself up is worthless.

I looked up at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and a wave of emotion swept over me.

I walked home with my head held high.

—–

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In the end, it all evens out.

Few things give me more anxiety than trying to hold on to the empty seat beside me during the 20 minutes it takes the rest of the passengers to board a Greyhound. A half second of eye contact with a passerby can easily be mistaken for an invitation to take the aisle seat, turning my La-Z-Boy into a church pew.

Luckily on this particular trip my anxiety was curbed by that fact that I would be seeing nearly all of my best friends when the bus stopped seven hours later and I stepped out into the familiar streets of downtown Pittsburgh.

We planned weeks ahead to have a reunion, and it was all I could think about since. I’d been counting down to this moment – waiting in line for the overnight bus from New York to Pittsburgh. I chose the overnight bus because tickets were only $10 and I love waking up with back problems from using a metal bar as a mattress and a vibrating window as a pillow.

As the first person to board the bus, I enacted my five-step strategy to get both seats to myself:

  1. Pick a seat in the first four rows.
  2. Pile luggage haphazardly on the empty seat beside me.
  3. Put headphones in ears (music optional).
  4. Open a magazine (reading optional).
  5. Look as pissed off as possible (emotions optional).

The bus was fuller than I expected it to be. With each new passenger my nerves escalated. I looked out the window. Three people left. Although I was curious, I didn’t dare compromise my operation by sitting up and looking back to see how many seats were still open.

One person passed. Then the second. I felt the bus move as the third and final person walked up the steps. I faced away from the aisle and looked as angry as possible. He stopped by my seat. My stomach dropped. I felt him looking at me, contemplating his next move. I didn’t budge. Five seconds of stillness. Then I heard his footsteps shuffling down the aisle.

When we started moving, I looked back. Just one other person had both seats to herself.

I nodded a “job well done” to my silent companion and settled in for the night.

There are certain people who are extremely important in your life. People who have shaped your views and personality nearly as much as your family has. People who you can go months without seeing only to pick up exactly where you left off when you’re back together.

These people remember everything – good and bad. That time you pooped your pants in the car? They’ll remind you about it. Or when you barfed on Forbes Avenue like nobody’s business. They remember that awful haircut you had in 9th grade and that one night at the casino where you became a chain-smoking Blackjack fiend. They remember the water bottle of theirs that you lost 4 years ago and didn’t replace. And that dreadfully ugly person you hooked up with on more than one occasion.

They also stick with you when things are crazy. And when you are crazy. They’re the people who know when you’re happy, when you’re sad, and how to deal with it. They disagree with you, but support you anyway. They’re the people whom you never owe money, because “in the long run, it all evens out.” They carry you through break ups, hangovers, and lost basketball games.

Few things in life feel better than sitting around and collectively doing nothing with them, because even though you’re doing nothing, you’re doing it together.

Friends. Amigos. Assholes. Whatever you call them, they’re irreplaceable.

I settled into my seat for the long trip. Ten hours this time – via Philly – until I’d be back in New York. I used my five-step strategy as the bus filled. The familiar anxiety returned. Passengers scuttled by, taking seats alone, then with the people who took seats by themselves. The last person to enter the bus – a huge, 6’6” man – did not look the ideal bus buddy. I concentrated as hard as I could on the magazine I was pretending to read.

“Can I – “ he points to the seat beside me.

“Oh. Yea sure.” I fumbled my things, placing my enormous book bag at my feet and my pillow and jacket on my lap. He took the aisle seat and made himself comfortable.

His left leg protruded into my space, giving me approximately two thirds of a bus seat to call home. Once situated, he immediately fell asleep. Two minutes later, I had to pee.

In this situation, I’d normally get angrier than a Texan outside an abortion clinic. Today, though, it didn’t bother me. Instead, I got lost in thought looking out the window as we cruised through the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania.

I reflected on the weekend and felt a pinch of sadness that it was over. The time, although only a short three days, was exactly what I needed. I began thinking about my friends – not just the ones I’d seen this weekend, but all of them. The ones I don’t live near or see as often as I’d like. College friends. High school friends. And the ones I see everyday. New friends. I felt a ball of emotion well up inside me that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

It was there, squished against the window, that I realized the emotion I was feeling was blessed. Blessed to have some of the best friends I could have ever asked for.

——

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