Little Things are Big Things

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important. 

~ Arthur Conan DoyleThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #4)

When we talk about being successful we like to talk about our big goals and our dreams. Things like publishing a book, getting that promotion or making a certain amount of money. This type of thinking is not bad in and of itself, but it often makes us feel like the small things we do are worthless.

This is simply not true.

The little things are equally, if not more, important than the big things.

If we do not do the little things correctly our whole project will likely fall apart. For example, if you’re writing a book, taking time to edit every chapter may seem like a chore. It may even feel like a waste of time. It’s not really helping you make money and it might even be pushing back your release date.

In the long run, however, having a well-edited book will help you be more successful. If your book is full of errors, you will lose trust with you readers and they will likely not purchase the next book that you write. As an author, the trust of your readers is one of your greatest assets, if you lose their trust it will be hard to get it back.

The little things, like editing a book, are often boring and tiresome. They can even seem pointless. But in the end game, they may be the difference between your project being a success or a failure.

Let’s look at another example.

I’m an avid fan of hip hop music. I even occasionally make beats on my laptop.

If you were to sit down and talk to any popular music producer like Mike Dean or Noah “40” Shebib, they would likely stress how important the little things are when producing music. Music producers take great pride in their craft and pay great attention to the littlest of details.

If you only listen to music on iPhone headphones you may not have experienced this as much as the rest of us. Try listening to music on a good pair of studio headphones. There’s so much more to a musical piece than what you might be hearing.

Producers spend so much time perfecting every bass line and making sure the timing of every snare is on point. We should do the same for our respective crafts.

Everything you do that has to do with your craft should be taken seriously. You should never look at part of a project as just some simple or menial task. Every little thing is important. The little things are the big things.

Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of carelessness. Do not get to the point where you are treating your work like a chore. Everything you do is important to your success.

Strive for excellence in all things that you do even some aspects seem pointless. Take your work seriously, even the parts of it that annoy you or stress you out. Care about your craft, care about every detail.

Do your best work, even if you’re not making an abundance of money or getting notoriety. Have the humility and awareness to treat your work as more important than your reputation. Do the things that will go unnoticed with the same care as the things you do on stage. Only then will your work flourish.

Care about the little things. Care about the nuisances. Care about details.

Because, in the end, little things are big things.

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The Path Towards Authenticity and Finding my Artistic Voice

For the bulk of my blogging “career” I’ve found myself writing the type of articles I think other people want to read. I’ve been writing the sorts of blog posts that seem to get good amounts of traffic.

I have stolen (in an artistic sense) from other articles and writers that I respect or emulate. That is part of the writing process, gathering information and using the work of others to inspire yours. But I am at a point where I want to do this less. Now I want to find my own voice.

I’ve found myself trying so hard to be like other self-improvement writers. I just wanted to “make it.” Desiring to get a certain amount of views on my website or get a certain amount of shares on social media. Now I’ve realized that “making it” is pointless if you do so in an inauthentic way.

Allow me to explain myself.

I consider writing, even of the non-fiction genre, to be an art. Just as much of an art as painting, sculpting, or poetry.

Art is best done in an authentic and free flowing way, as an extension of the artist. Art is at its worst when it is mended based on market value or the attention-seeking of the artist.

Much of my writing in the last year or so has, in my current opinion, been driven by ego and/or insecurity.

I wanted to see my name on websites. 

I wanted to get click bait shares on social media.

I wanted to feel and look successful.

My writing was coming from this place of ego and validation-seeking, rather than a place of honest creativity and advice-giving.

This is probably a result of my maturity when it comes to blogging. I am still very new to the craft and have not yet found my artistic voice. I don’t really know who I am as a writer.

Despite this fact, the direction of this blog is going to change. I will be spending more time really finding topics that are more engaging and helpful. I’m going to put in the time and effort necessary to create a good product.

I ,in no way, regret anything I have written over the last few months, I do, however, feel like I’m in a new place as a person. I no longer think that an article about “5 Apps for College Students” is really helpful or needed on the internet anymore. If you want to find articles about helpful apps, just Google it, don’t waste your time on this site.

I’m no longer going to force content onto this blog. I probably won’t be posting every week anymore. I’ll only be posting when I write something I think is actually constructive.

If I’m honest, I’m not sure if I’m even qualified to give any of the advice I give. I still live with my parents, I don’t have a job, I’m in college (but my parents are paying for it), and I’m by no standard successful.

At the same time, I’ve experienced things most people my age have not. I’ve been to eight countries, I’ve read a good amount of books about a wide range of subjects, and I’ve experienced and worked through depression and anxiety for the bulk of my young life.

I’m not a self-help guru, a millionaire, or even a college graduate, I’m just some kid trying to find his way through life. Trying to find himself in a world that never fails to be baffling, for both good and bad reasons.

So, my dear reader, how is this article helpful to you at all?

Well, maybe it isn’t. Or maybe it is. I’m not going to let my insecurity about whether or not you like what I write to control me.

Maybe it would be helpful to ask yourself, as I have, am I being authentic in what I create? Am I doing what I do (blogging, business, school, etc.) because I want to or because I’m seeking some sort of validation?

Let’s, for a moment,  shift this conversation about authenticity out of the blogging world and into something more relatable.

I’ve been going to the gym off and on for about a year. When I do go, it’s often because I feel social pressure.

All my friends go to the gym.  

If I go I’ll be considered cool.

If someone asks if I work out, I can actually say yes. That should earn me some points, right?

If I decided that I wanted to go to the gym because I actually wanted to get in shape because I care about my health I’d probably go more consistently.

Point being: anything done for the sake of validation or attention is often done badly or falls apart when you fail to feel validated or receive attention from doing said thing.

Validation is vain. It is only when you begin to get it that you realize how empty it is.

People might like what you’re doing, people might praise you for what you’ve done, but if your heart and soul are not into what you’re doing you won’t feel good about it, at least not for a very long.

Validation works at first. Your ego grows and you begin to feel good about yourself. But eventually, you will realize that the good words of others don’t mean as much as you thought they did. You will come to a place where your conscious will tear apart everything that you do.

When you’re living in a non-authentic way, you often know it but you seldom admit it.

Admittance is the first step, and probably the hardest one. It hurts to admit your faultiness. To admit that you might not be doing things for the right reasons.

If you’re still struggling with this idea that authenticity might not be for you, let’s look at a few more examples.

When someone who is gay and decides to come out of the closet, they say that they feel free. They feel free because they can be who they are. They don’t have to hide or wear a mask anymore.

The same is to be said about people who come out about their mental illness. I have social anxiety. Although I haven’t explained it to my parents, I have had conversations about it with a friend and written about it on the Internet.

The more I’m open about my internal struggle with anxiety and depression, the more liberated I feel.

The more open and authentic we are, the easier it is for us to grow. Authenticity brings progress, in business and in relationships.

In recent memory, businesses have begun to become more transparent and public about their finances and business interactions in general.

Why?

Generally, it is because it makes companies more trustworthy. Customers can actually see where their money is going and what it is being used for.

Transparency always allows for a great level of trust. This is why I have written this blog post, I want to give my readers more trust towards me. I want to show them that I am doing what I think is right and that I will continue to write this way.

Maybe this blog post isn’t helpful to you. Maybe what I’m saying doesn’t really make any sense. And I’m totally okay with that.

My goal is to write well and write righteously. By that, I mean that I wish to write in a way that is both well formulated and with a backbone. Writing that comes from both my mind of mind’s and my soul of soul’s.

I’m on a mission to find my authentic voice. I am not there yet, and that’s fine. I don’t know what kind of writer I want to be, and I’m okay with that, and I hope you are too.

My hope is that this article was helpful to you. If it was, please keep the discussion going in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

4 Benefits of Journaling

There is often a sort of negative stigma when people say that they keep a journal. Many will make jokes about how you write in your “dairy” about the girl you like. In truth, most people that journal don’t write about their crush and probably wouldn’t care if you called their journal a diary (because, sadly, they are pretty much the same thing).

In reality, journaling is not just for super sensitive people who write about their feelings. Journaling has been proven to have positive effects that we all should take into account.

Below I have listed a few of those benefits that I think are relevant to this blog and to you, my readers:

1. Helps Improve your Writing and Communication Skills

As a writer, I often write in my journal as a means to practice my craft. Journaling is fun because it is a carefree form of writing, there is no pressure to share or publish the things that I write. It all stays within my journal.

Most writers keep journals and write in them every day. This is a great practice for anyone who wants to improve their skills with words.

Journaling has not only been linked to better writing skills but also to better communication skills in general. According to the Huffington Post , improving your writing has a direct correlation to improving your vocal communication.

So with journaling, you can kill two birds with one stone (or in this case, one notebook).

2. Increases Creativity

When we journal we are writing down our thoughts without a filter, this allows for creativity and new ideas to spring up.

Journaling is extremely helpful when trying to beat writer’s block. As a writer, I often put too much pressure on myself to write well. Journaling allows me the freedom to write exactly what I want the way that I want.

This is freeing and can lead to me feeling inspired and ready to write on my computer. It is also a helpful way for me to generate ideas for blog posts.

3. Reduces Stress

Laying out our emotions on a page can be very therapeutic. Writing about negative experiences can often help us further discover why a certain event hurt us so much. Journaling can help us grasp these negative experiences and turn them around for good.

Expressing yourself is often the best way to let go of negativity. When we let our negative emotions just sit inside of us they often destroy us, but when we share or express them we get relief.

Think of journaling as a type of conversation with yourself. You are explaining to yourself why you feel a certain way. It’s basically a form of therapy without the actual therapist.

4. Helps You Know Yourself Better

By far the biggest benefit of journaling is that it allows you to know yourself better.

Like I alluded to in my previous point, journaling can help us identify negative thought patterns. In short, journaling can teach us about the way we think.

After you journal, look back and read what you wrote. Here you can see exactly what you were thinking at that moment (this is why it is important to journal without a filter).

Journaling can also help you learn about your dreams, ambitions, and desires.

People often say that whatever it is that your mind wonders to when you are alone is the thing you want most in life. This is true and you can figure out what this thing is by writing in your journal.

When we express ourselves through writing, we often like to tell about the things we want. This is helpful because many of us don’t actually know what we want, but we can learn through journaling.

What Should you Write About?

Now that you know that there are several benefits to journaling, the next logical thing to ask is: what should I write about?

The simple answer is anything.

Anything that comes to your mind, whether it’s about a memory, a person you just met, or a movie you want to see.

Most people like to reflect on their day when they journal. This is a helpful way to evaluate your way of living and generate gratitude for the things you have.

When I journal, I just write anything and everything that comes to my mind. Often times I find myself jumping around to several different thoughts. This is not a bad thing because journaling is simply a way for us to express what we are thinking and feeling at that moment.

I have been journaling for about two years and have seen these benefits show themselves in my life. For this reason, I recommend journaling for everyone no matter your age, gender, or occupation.

There you have it, several of the best benefits of journaling.

Have you noticed any other benefits from keeping your own journal?

If so, let me know in the comments!

Why Inspiration is Overrated

I procrastinated a lot before I wrote this blog post, mainly because I didn’t feel like it. I never really feel like writing unless I’m in the process of reading a really good book or watch some sort of motivational video. Because of this I don’t get much writing done, I spend more time waiting to feel like writing.

A lot of people say things like “I’ll wait to be inspired, then I’ll do it.” But if you wait for inspiration to come, you’ll never accomplish anything. Inspiration comes and goes and is not worth relying on. Great people don’t wait for inspiration, they just do. Inspiration is great when you’re starting something new, but it fades quickly. Rather than constantly looking for inspiration, we should learn to develop discipline. Discipline is not based on feelings but on habits. Habits are stable unlike inspiration.

Strangely enough, the key to being inspired is actually doing the task you are waiting to be inspired to do.  Once you start the task, you’ll begin to feel more motivated to finish it.

Here’s an example. When I decide I’m going to write a blog post I tend to procrastinate. I’ll sit around and think “oh I can do it later,” or “I have too many other things to do right now.” With this mindset I never get any writing done. But when I open up Evernote and actually start writing I begin to feel more inspired. Once I start it actually becomes hard for me to stop.

This same sort of thing happened to me back in high school when I played basketball. I would sit in my house and play video games rather than going outside to practice. But once I went outside and began to shoot or do ball handling drills I would find myself enjoying it more than the video games I was playing. This principle has helped me be successful in college as well.

Habits are far more important than inspiration. If you get into the habit of going to the gym you no longer need to “feel like” going. You just go. It becomes natural. The same is to be said about anything.

If I decided that I was going to write a book I should set a daily goal. I could write 700 words a day. This would help me meet my goal of writing a book as long as I stay consistent. I definitely won’t feel inspired to write 700 words a day, but if I build the habit I am bound to do it. Then in a matter of months I’ll have a completed book! I wouldn’t have finished my hypothetical book because I was inspired to write it, but rather because I learned to be a disciplined and habitual writer.

I am not trying to say that inspiration is worthless, it certainly has its place, but it is definitely overrated. We should not elevate inspiration to a place where it overshadows more important things such as habit building, discipline, and goal setting. When you learn to practice these, inspiration becomes your servant rather than your master.