Wednesday, April 1, 2020

How do you know when it's time to move on?

The answer is different for everybody, but you'll know when it hits you. For me, it was on June 3, 2019. I was on a soccer field in Rossford, Ohio - refereeing a high school girls club game. Coincidentally, this was also my last scheduled game of the spring season. Funny how that worked out so well.

About 20 minutes into the match, a powerful thought came over me that I couldn't shake.

This has to be my last match!

This wasn't the first time I had thought this, but in this instance, the feelings were different. It was an easy game. Nothing crazy happened (ie, no parents or coaches were yelling) which is why I knew to listen to the thoughts and take them seriously.

It was really a calming thought. I immediately felt peace, knowing that this would be the final match. I was excited - so much so that I had a really hard time keeping focus during the game. Once the final whistle blew, there would be no more sacrificing my weekends or running all over town to cover a game.

Once the match was over, I stuck around to take a few pictures. I wanted to document this day as the last time I would referee soccer. That's how sure I was that this was it! I have thought about it many times before, but never with this much clarity and peace.

Tournaments come calling

As you already know, it's never as easy as it sounds to quit something, especially when you've been a part of it for over 20 years. The tournaments (and easy paydays) came calling in August, and I couldn't resist.

I worked two tournaments, and had an awful last match at the second event. So much so that the coach was still screaming at me while I was in the referee tent - 20 minutes after the match had ended.

In that moment, I knew I needed to be done with it. As I sat there writing up my final game report, I wished I had let that calm day in June be my last game. It would have been more dignified. Looking back though, having the coach screaming at me as I rode off into the sunset is much more fitting of my time as a soccer official.

I haven't officiated a match since that U-12 Final at the Bowling Green Soccer Challenge in August, and did not recertify over the winter. What that means is that I've finally made it official. I am no longer a soccer referee.

On to the next adventure!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Now is the time to test new ideas

Is there a project or goal that you've been wanting to accomplish (or try) but your busy schedule gets in the way? If so, now is the perfect time to get it going! We've been at home in our self-quarantine for two weeks now, and it looks like it's going to continue for at least another month. Honestly, I think it will be May or even June before life starts to get back to normal.

One of the goals I've had for a while is to write. I never know what to write about though, so usually I'll write 2-4 posts, decide they suck, and not write again for 6 months.

Part of that is because I care too much what others think, and part of that is because writing is time-consuming. This coronavirus has helped teach me that neither of those excuses are acceptable anymore. (Actually, they never were acceptable, but I tolerated them anyway.)

Whatever your goal is, you will never have a better opportunity to make progress on it than you have right now. Even if you're not working from home (I am, by the way) life has slowed down and is different now. Public places aren't open. You can't go out to dinner. You're pretty much working and at home.

Don't let this opportunity pass you by. You'll never see this kind of uninterrupted time, where we're all going through this at the same time, ever again.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Two Simple Steps to Always Keeping Your Word

Being a person who stands by their word seems pretty basic right? In essence, if you say you're going to do something, you need to deliver the goodies. Since this is so basic, I thought we'd start here...being the first post of this blog and all.

First confession of this blog right out of the gate. I am terrible at this. Like really, REALLY, awful. I can't tell you how many times I've said something to my wife, and months later, she's still waiting for it to get done. I've actually done this so many times that she doesn't even believe me when I say I'm going to accomplish my next great plan.

Whether you're a husband or a wife, that's a scary place to be with your spouse.

It's not that we don't have good intentions when we say we're going to get the garage cleaned up, start a side business, get out of debt, or spend more time at home. Honestly, I think we all have good intentions to do what we say. The problem is that in some ways, when we deliver these proclamations, we're really just trying to pump ourselves up to do the work that's necessary.

So, if you want to be a man or woman of your word, every single time, try these two simple steps.

Promise Less

I know this is going to be a hard habit to break, but if we want to get out of our over promising and under delivering, the first step is clear. Stop saying what you're "gonna" do. Remember, we were all taught as kids that actions speak louder than words. So, instead of saying "you're gonna", just do it, and let the results happen.

Have a Plan before you Give your Word

This goes back to the idea of pumping ourselves up to do what we say. Be diligent and make a plan for how you're going to get your business off the ground before you announce to your wife that you'll be debt free in 6 months. The words in the previous statement sound great, but without daily action and real results, they just lead to disappointment, then ultimately, distrust.

This is something that I'm working on as well, starting today. Let's commit to one month of no promises, and instead put that energy into real action toward our goals. I wonder how much further we would all be on the pursuit of our goals if we just worked and didn't talk about the work.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What if Social Media wasn't free?

You and I both know that social media networks will always be free to register an account. I mean really, who would pay money to sign up to use a service where they read angry messages or have the ability to be criticized by people they don't even know? This article isn't about advocating for TikTok, Facebook, or Twitter to start charging every user a month fee.

Today, I'm challenging you to change your mindset about your use of the social media platforms. This is a thought I had a few weeks back, and it's my hope that it changes the way I use social media going forward. Hopefully, it will do the same for you.

Imagine that every one of your followers on each platform had to pay a monthly fee of $10 to follow and get access to your posts. How do you suppose that would change your content?

For me, I know what would happen to mine. I would instantly begin posting at least once per day on every social platform. If each of my 62 Instagram followers are paying me $10 per month, the very least that they deserve is a post per day, right?

In addition, the content posted would be much more niche and way more informative. It doesn't matter whether your content is more geared toward information or entertainment, because both play very well on social media. The point is that if you have someone paying money to access your account, you would want to triple down on providing as much value to each of your subscribers as possible. After all, they are providing you with value (income) by paying for access to your posts.

OK, so this was all hypothetical, right? You and I both know that the social media platforms earn money through advertising, so they're never going to charge us to have an account. However, I hope you caught the point of this post. People don't follow you if you're just posting random crap. They follow for a very specific reason, and the more niche (I hate that word, and I don't even know why) you become, the more dedicated of a follower you will have.

Here's a fun exercise for this weekend that will help you evaluate your content. Go to Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, or whatever other social sites you use. Look at your last 9 posts on each site and ask yourself two questions.

  • Would you pay $10 per month to read what you posted?
  • How could you restructure your post to provide more value to the people reading it?
By the way, the answer to the first question for probably all of us is going to be a resounding 'NO'. That's definitely the answer I got by looking at my posts. That's OK though, because the first step to any change is to acknowledge that there is a problem, or that you could be doing better, in the first place.

Think about what you really want to share about your life experiences. Do you want to teach people a skill you have? Are you just looking to document your life? (By the way, the documenting approach is super powerful if you go about it the right way. I did this with my training for a half-marathon in 2017, and was amazed at all the positive feedback I received.)

Take your followers on a journey. Tell them a great story that they are bound to get very invested in. Never pretend to know more about a topic than you actually do - that's one way to not only lose the respect of others, but you'll also be called out by someone who does know about the topic. 

One of the most important pieces of advice I've received was from GaryVee. Recently, he said to treat every follower like they're the only one. I've got to admit, I do a terrible job at this. Many times, I'm amazed I have any followers at all. Who would want to be updated on all my random nonsense?

Engage with your followers and take an interest in what they're doing too. Reach out and message them (something I don't do enough of), and be authentic when you do. Show a genuine interest in each person who follows you, and you'll be surprised at how many more people show up for your content.

This was a fun story to write, but the truth is, I don't currently do any of this. I'm going to work at this for a month, and on the first Friday of February, I'll write a complimentary piece to this one detailing what has changed.

Friday, January 24, 2020

For Massive Improvement, Force Yourself to Take Daily Action

When is the last time you achieved one of your big goals - something you really had to work for? For me, it was completing the 2017 Glass City Half Marathon. In just 3 months, I went from not being a runner at all, to finishing a half marathon in just over 2 hours.

When you have a big goal, you have to put in the work toward it every day, whether you like it or not. There is an old saying that says "find something you love to do, and you'll never work another day in your life". I heard that all the time from my Dad growing up. It's a nice thought, but there is a fundamental problem with it - there is no truth to that statement.

Whatever you're trying to achieve, there will be work involved. The bigger the goal, the harder that you're going to have to work. Even if you really love what you're doing, there are going to be certain parts of it (or even days) that you just don't feel like working on your goal. In those times, it will most definitely feel like work.

The fastest way to improvement

When your goal gets hard (and it will), the fastest way to improvement is to power through. From my experience in training for the half marathon, the biggest gains were earned on the days when I didn't feel like running. That's because there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that you pushed through and got it done, even when you didn't feel like it. 

You proved to yourself that you can accomplish hard tasks, even when you didn't want to work at all. It's a mental victory, and those are far more important than the physical victories.

Whatever you're trying to accomplish in life, make it a goal - force yourself if you have to - to take specific action toward that goal every day.

For example, this is probably the 97th time I've restarted this blog. Typically, I will write for about 2-4 days, and then just quit. In fact, the last time I restarted, I wrote a welcome post and then apparently just quit. I want to write, but don't know what to say. Instead of writing until I figure it out, I've given up.

Forcing yourself to take action will turn it into a habit. So, until the end of September, I'm going to write a blog post every single day. At that time, I'll re-evaluate to see if that's still the frequency that I want to post, but until then, I'll be taking that action every single day. It's the only way the writing will every improve.

I challenge you to figure out what your goals are, and then find a way to take action on them every single day. 

Let me know in the comments what you're going to be working on. I'd love to hear about it.