Are you a night owl or do you like jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn?
For most of my life the evenings were the time I read, watched television and socialized. Reading a book sometimes took me into the small hours. That’s the time when the clock numbers are starting with one’s and two’s. The books were novels, self help and business. I was consuming and learning but not creating.
When I discovered Twitter it was fun to see the other side of the world wake up while I was contemplating sleep. But the immediacy of Twitter conversations when there were only a few of us tweeting (a couple of million), was intoxicating, exciting and compelling.
Then the blog was created. I hit the publish button for the first time.
Creating posts then were still part of my late night habit. After a good night out and sharing a wine or two with some friends over a kangaroo steak there were still some tasks to do. The blog post still had to be written, polished and shared. That was a struggle.
Distraction and diversion were now a constant battle in my new writing pursuit.
Then something changed
There was a random event.
One very early morning I needed to drop my son off to catch a train. I had some time on my hands and I was awake and the rest of the world was still asleep. So I sat down and wrote. The quietness was welcome, the coffee tasted good and the phones weren’t ringing.
I also had muted the social media networks and the email was ignored.
I discovered something
Mornings were distraction free and precious. It was my time and there was no one to intrude.
Because they were asleep.
I had discovered that old habits can be changed and that new discoveries were possible. Despite being on the wrong side of 40. The night owl had become the early bird.
The habit continued.
Another revelation..or two
Creating, publishing and sharing in that distraction free zone was invigorating. I wrote blog posts before my day job. It meant getting up at 4.30 am and wrestling and wrangling content into a shape that I was proud enough to share. At 9.00 am it was employer time.
I was living in two parallel universes. The day job and the passion project.
The day job was fun at times and rewarding. But it was an investment in someone else’s dream. The 5 day work week routine stretched to years. But in “my time” I was creating a personal investment that was building a digital house one brick at a time. It was incremental but so satisfying that it distracted me from my employers goals. We came to a mutual understanding and we parted ways.
I was free.
The passion project
That passion project involved writing one article a day 5 days a week for years. It was on topics that tickled and touched my innate curiosity. Along the way I discovered that I loved the art of word wrangling. Putting one word after the other was also producing a body of work.
One step at a time produces an epic journey that can leave a dent in the universe.
1,500 blog posts and over 1 million words later the passion project is now a serious online investment and asset. That bootstrapped passion project became my life and my work. In fact, it became my life.
Work and life were not separate but one.
Those one word investments had added up to something much greater. Stephen King was once asked how he wrote.
“One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time“.
The artist creates a masterpiece one brush stroke after the other.
We are all artists and creators but some don’t know it.
Investing in you
We all have to make a living.
Paying the bills, putting food on the table and caring for the family. It sometimes means working for the man. But if that is all you do…reach 65, get the gold watch and buy those nice slippers, you may feel cheated. That you gave the best of your life to the corporation.
With little left to show that is just you.
This modern digital world has opened up global opportunities to create, publish and share. You need to take those innate abilities and passions and find that intersection and start the journey of creating. Sharing on the social web will allow you to get feedback in real time.
You will discover that your online publishing will change others and they will change you. It becomes collaborative creation.
But you will need to set aside the time to invest in you.
That may mean getting up early.
I don’t care if you are a late nighter or early riser. The reality is that a dedicated slice of the day that is just yours can turn into a legacy and a life that may surprise you.
Do you want that possibility or are you happy to settle for today’s life?
If you just start you will be surprised by what that will produce in terms of motivation, self-worth and also the impact of creation will have on your long term future.
The magic is in the motion.
How is the time commitment to invest in yourself going? Are you dedicating a couple of hours a day?
Are you brave enough to leave a legacy that is just you?