| Angie Counios
Last week, someone told me I made a wrong choice.
This isn't a new experience; people like to tell me how I'm wrong all the time. I also expect the more Ang and I write and post and publish things, the more often that will happen.
The trouble is that when people point out your mistakes, it's hard to know whether they are being sincere or spiteful and whether it's true or not. Especially when it's an attack or an attempt to shame you, you react unconciously, feeling it emotionally and physiologically. It catches you unguarded, diluting the truth, the reasons for your decision that often occured ages ago.
Making a Choice
A while back, Ang and I made a choice about what we wanted as writers. We made a gamble on the future we wanted versus the future that might happen.
As you know, we aren't really anyone. We don't have a book out (yet!) and you can't find us on IMDB for scriptwriting. Yet, we've been writing together for a while and we believe in who we are and in the work we do. We believe we know how to build a story, how to get it done quickly, and we really enjoy doing it.
When we defined who we are and what we were doing, it wasn't about the present or the past but where we saw ourselves in the future. This sort of thinking makes a lot of our decisions not about immediate results but long term sustainability.
When I was told last week that I was wrong, it made me question my choices.
Did I make the wrong choice? Did we give up an important opportunity? Did we give up a financially significant opportunity? Did we doom ourselves and our future?
My reactive brain kicked in and the answer was, "Yes. Yup. Crap, shit, crap—yes. Shit, shit, shit... crap..."
Then I went home and talked to the brain trust (Ang and my wife) and was reminded about the choices we had made in December and why we had made them. And, I realized how much I had forgotten.
Sign above the desk
Last week, Seth Godin talked about measuring what you care about. He said "its worth taking a minute to look at the big sign hanging over your desk (you do have a big sign, right?) that says what you're actually seeking to do, the change you're working to make." I didn't have a sign and so I forgot what I was up to.
Of course, I made one afterwards. Not a simple statement but a nice long list of plans and values for the future:
- Tell stories.
- Be self-sufficient.
- Look long term
- Don't wait for others to give me permission to do what I love.
- Do what you can be proud of.
- Avoid the jobs that drive me crazy.
- Avoid people I don't trust.
- Hang out with the family.
- Connect with the audience.
- Make money from writing.
- Go back for another degree.
- Be genuine.
- Be honest.
- Be hardworking.
- Be charitable.
- Contribute positively to the world.
- Travel and write.
- Sit on sunny beaches and swim in warm waters.
- Help others to do what they love.
- Never quit.
I know it's at times redundant and not an amazing list that's crazy meaningful, but it's why I made the choices that got me here and why I'll continue to make certain choices. I also know the list will develop as I continue to define what the vision of my end goal is. Since I first wrote it, I have changed it three times, then changed it more when I put it into the blog post, and know I have a few more additions still.
What I find as the most interesting aspect of the list is that it truly defines my earlier problem. When I was told I had made a bad choice, the person made strong and solid points—but I only considered some of these points for my list.
From the other person's perspective, I had made the wrong choice because I gave up on certain opportunities. Yet according to my list, those opportunities weren't even a part of my horizon. They used to be but at some point in the past few years, my tastes changed and I quit caring for them.
More importantly, some of my points completely eclipsed points the other person made. I may want some goal (e.g. money) but I'm not willing to achieve with work that I'm not proud of doing or that I can't define a long term benefit.
Being aware of this difference in perspective helped me view this argument more objectively and less emotionally. It no longer became an attack but helped redefine my initial goals.
And now I'll be reminded of them every time I look at my wall.