Recent daily affirmations

Something I picked up to add to my daily journaling from the Tim Ferriss book Tools of the Titans: Starting off with some daily questions and affirmations. Asking myself to write down things I’m grateful for, ways to make today a good day, and then answering the prompt “I am ______.”

Today’s response felt like one worth sharing:

Excuse my handwriting. I’ve given up working on it.

It ties in a little to a recent thought I shared on Twitter:

I feel like if you only work to be great, you’ll miss opportunities or miss the mark. If you try to always be good, occasionally you’ll stumble on to something greater.

Kind of like not getting so caught up thinking about the grade that you miss the lesson of the assignment.

You can only win the game you’re playing

Sprout’s soccer season is over. We made it!

She was playing on an Under-8 team: 4-on-4 with no goalies. It was her first team of any kind, and the first time I ever coached a sport.

My qualifications? Glad you asked:

  • I was a parent of a child in the league
  • I have successfully directed one youth theater production
  • I played more than one full season of FIFA 64 when I was in high school
  • I was willing to do it

So I did some homework on drills and strategy. Asked other parents for advice. Quickly watched Ted Lasso. Bought some colorful cones for practices.

Then we lost every game.

Don’t act surprised.

After those first few losses, I felt like I was doing them a disservice. The other teams were punishing. And some of the coaches encouraged their kids to rub it in our faces.

I wasn’t about to go down that road and try to respond in kind. The world has too many toxic sports parents already, thanks.

I stopped attaching my sense of success from the win-loss record, and it got easier to focus on what could help them.

If I only pushed them to win, it would’ve meant the only way to have fun would be to win.

There was no Gordon Bombay moment coming. I stopped looking for it.

Instead, I motivated them to get back up when they fell. To line back up as fast as they can if the other team scores a goal. To care more about the next point than the final score.

Here’s how we ended the season:

  • The team had fun
  • The parents told me they were glad their kids had a nice coach this year who kept things positive instead of the jerks they saw coaching other teams
  • Several players had their best performances in the final games, even when we were losing
  • Sprout actually wants to play again next season

So no, I’m not going to get any offers from the Premier League. I played the game that made sense to me, and it turned out pretty well.

I try to remind myself to always be willing to chuck out what I’ve written, but not refer to my writing as garbage.

Deleting something removes it from view, but it doesn’t erase the work I did or what I learned from it.

Don’t burn your bagel

We have a finicky toaster oven. The done-ness indicators on the dial are basically meaningless. I have a suspicion it’s collecting data on our use and reactions for a psychological experiment.

So when I put a bagel in the other morning, I knew I had to keep an eye on it. It’s also the moment Sprout decided she needed a refill on her Rice Krispies. And more banana.

And we had the radio on, which I was semi-paying attention to, since they were doing a news update.

Then Button decided to drop his teething chew thingamajig. This displeased him.

With these competing demands and draws for my attention, it would be very easy to forget the need to watch my bagel. The more I paid attention to these other inputs, the more likely it was that I’d be spreading cream cheese on a charcoal-tinged disc.

I won’t belabor the metaphor: This is all about avoiding burnout.

The repeated mantra somebody sent me that I’m keeping close to heart right now is “You’re not working from home. You’re at home trying to work.”

My job teaching at a university is not one designed to be done from the corner of my house over a webcam. Even if it was, the added complications of schools being closed, needing to be socially distant from our primary child care providers (aka, Sprout & Button’s grandparents), and losing just about every pressure release valve getting out of the house can provide… It can be easy to take your eye off the bagel.

Honestly, it got to the point where I wasn’t even sure where the bagel was, or what the bagel was.

P.S. “The Trip” is one I’m rewatching as mental comfort food right now.

But in this case, the bagel is what sustains you. It keeps you going. It gives you energy and pleasure and a reason to get up in the morning.

And right now, that bagel is jammed in an unpredictable toaster oven of a world. There’s no telling from moment-to-moment what the day or the week will try to do to that bagel.

You’ll miss the signs that something is going wrong if you get distracted.

And right now, it is very easy to get distracted.

Maybe it can help to use a timer, like the one on the toaster oven. To tell yourself that for X amount of minutes, this next thing is your bagel, and it’s going to have your complete attention. It’s one step I’m trying.

For me, it feels like my focus is an important tool to sharpen right now. Maybe you feel it, too.