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E-books: The Death of the English Language?

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Let’s face it: many e-books out there are of very low quality. This is not always apparent with paid e-books, but can be seen in low-price, say, 99 cents, and free e-books, notably in the free section of the Amazon e-book store. The market is flooded with a glut of novellas, serials, self-help, memoirs, full-length works and other writings abounding in countless misspellings, comma splices, periods that are meant to be question marks, incorrectly used homophones, strange capitalization, odd instances of grammar, among many, many other mistakes, clogging what is supposed to be a, if not perfectly smooth, at least readable experience. This is not a trivial affair. This has serious consequences for the readers of such e-books.

First, a disclaimer: I am not trying to bash any e-book authors, regardless of their experience, preferred genre, set book price, or citizenship (i.e. authors who are not native English speakers). To sit down and actually write a book to its completion, a seemingly simple action, is actually a momentous and difficult task, and I commend anyone who succeeds in doing so. The blogging sphere occupies the same arena as e-books, so we’re all in the same boat. I am merely discussing this already-present trend and the very real effects of its continuation.

The main problem arising from reading such e-books is the erosion of what should be a firmly ingrained set of intuitive rules for writing and communicating in English. From grade school on teachers teach students in the U.S. proper rules for grammar and punctuation. However, many people gain their literary know-how from reading books (this author included). This usually consists of physical paper books, but in today’s world, the electronic format has become widely available and accessible to any age group with an Internet connection. The important thing is – and hear me out for a moment, I think this is really important – the reader takes the words he or she reads and adds them to his or her own unconscious knowledge of how to write. Thus, writing style develops unique to the individual and the environment of books they grow up in. This is how the process of creativity works in reality: synthesizing what you already know into a new and individual product. In essence, what you read and how it’s written becomes how you write.

You can scratch this theory off as bogus if you’d like, but I have endured this from personal experience. And it was not pleasant. It was torturous, filled with anguish and misery, and the effects are clearly in effect today. I used to consider myself a, if not excellent, at least decent writer. I had spelling and grammar pretty well in order. I knew how to construct sentences, to strive for synonyms and proper vocabulary usage. I knew how to write. Reading poor quality e-books devastated that. When I browsed through the free section of Amazon’s Kindle Store for e-books and began downloading some – just for fun, you understand, as I am currently a pretty voracious reader – I had no idea what I was getting into. I came upon some books with misspellings and improper capitalization or homophones, but, like most of you reading this, I assumed it was no big deal. Then I began to download more, and it approached a habit. The troubles began, innocuous at first. Small, but constant. There were strange Capitals. There were simply oddly placed sentences. There were hyphens where there weren’t supposed to be hyphens and no hyphens where there should be hyphens. And there was the dreaded comma splice. Sentences would go, like this. At first I resisted. My former readings of hundreds, likely thousands, of published hardcover and paperback books, as well as my tendency to be a stickler for spelling and a grammar Nazi, informed me of what was wrong and what was right. Bad plot, I could accept. Bad characters, I could steam at a bit or even commend their creator for their lack of likability. Badly structured sentences, I could tolerate. But this? This was the deep black hole out to ruin my life. As I read more e-books and less “real” books, my self-knowledge of what was right and proper waned. Then it broke down. My own writing suffered drastically. I could no longer decide what was right or wrong. I would struggle with a sentence for long stretches of time, just trying to see if the structure was acceptable. Was this right? Or this? I would halt at the placement of a single comma, question whether every seemingly compound word was to have a hyphen or not, internally debate multiple synonyms for a word in a sentence, every single blasted sentence I would wonder if it was too long or short or just didn’t “feel” right. And as of now recovery is not anywhere in sight.

The only solution, as I can see it, is to cover up the damage wrought. The wreck cannot be reversed or undone. That is, the answer is to lay off e-books and to stick to “real” books, books that have been scrutinized by big publishers where quality is assured and small details are nit-picked and even the smallest, subtlest, and most ambiguous errors are almost always squashed. Read those books, read, read, until the electronic novel in all its variations is forgotten in the digitally dusty realms of cyberspace. Then, perhaps, the store of proper knowledge will build up again. Although the level of skill acquired therein will never be as before, and doubts will inevitably reign from time to time.

But why resort to such drastic measures? Surely there is another solution, one which lies not with the reader but with the writer. Maybe some of you reading this will say, “You get what you pay for”, and scapegoat cost as the basis for the drop in quality. However, as authors in a realm of unprecedented freedom, both in expression and transfer of ideas, I believe e-book authors hold a responsibility to make a decent book. That’s common sense. Authors should have pride in their work, especially with published work. This means not simply relying on or blindly ignoring Microsoft’s spellcheck.  This means multiple peer reviews. This means poring over your pages to find even the smallest detail that detracts from the reading experience and eliminating it. This means, after publishing, if errors are found you fix them. This means proper knowledge and proper application of proper English. Am I being clear?

This does not mean e-book authors need to be subject to the wildest standards of big-name publishers. I am not advocating an ironclad regulation agency to descend upon the Internet and stamp out independent and eccentric thought. I am also not asking writers to be rejected multiple times from both online and brick-and-mortar publishers for a perfectly good work of literature. But standards are needed, and I am raising the bar to a level that should have been raised long ago. When writing a book, write a book that’s properly written in the English language.

If this disturbing trend and acceptance of it continues, this unseen problem will only gain traction. Consider how people, in their own writings, will be affected by this. Consider how e-books are accessible as well to children, and there is no regulation of how to properly format and spell words in a children’s e-book. Won’t at least some portion of them be affected in the future? Consider, even if the effect is not as prevalent, how this can interfere with common speech. And consider how posters, memos, billboards, journals, magazines, and other widely seen mediums will affect us down the line if its writers are influenced by this trend. The power of e-books only grows. Action for something as straightforward and sensible as this needs to be done now.

The psychological destruction of poor quality e-books has already been felt. The issue looks, on the surface, unimportant – silly, even – but it must be addressed and met. E-books should not be the death of the English language. It should be an extension of it, a revival of it, able to bring a variety of views and ideas that cannot be as easily spread, or even exist, elsewhere.

Now, as an aspiring author myself, how should I end this.

 

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Me and My Childhood “Bully”

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This is going to be a tough post, but here goes. The reason why I call him a “bully”, with quotation marks, is because, even in middle school, I couldn’t tell whether he was my enemy or my friend.

The taunts would come unexpectedly. Usually, at the beginning of P.E. in the locker room. At first I thought he was joking with me. But as the days spiraled down I felt annoyed, then uncomfortable, then angry, then even a little scared. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I thought, maybe this is his way of making friends. Which, by the way, is a horrible tactic. But he didn’t stop, and I didn’t have a clue why in the world he would be mean to a guy he didn’t even know very well. Adding to the confusion would be times he would act as a friend. I vividly remember one time, he asked to be my partner in a sport. I felt a bit grateful because it’s always hard for me to find a group or partner up in classes. Then, when P.E. was over, he immediately told his friends (loudly and in earshot since I was right next to them) how bad I was at playing that sport.  Needless to say, that stung.

The insults also came randomly outside class. Once or twice at lunch, as he walked by with his friends and saw me sitting there by myself, he made a remark about me sitting all alone. What he said exactly was not what made me furious, but the way he said it did.

I know what you’re thinking: Why didn’t you ask him to stop? How could you let this behavior stretch on for weeks? And here’s my reply. If it was that easy, wouldn’t I have not had this problem in the first place? I was a shy, introverted kid. I took everything personally. I am emotionally sensitive. Standing up to him – walking over to the source of so much fear and rage and telling him, right to his face, to stop – that was terrifying beyond words. I was afraid of people because I was afraid of what they might say to me. That they’d be mean to me. In fact I was too chicken to even raise my hand in class, and cursed my cowardice when I trembled slightly on approaching teachers for mistaken zeroes on homework assignments.

The way I see it, people are not all bad, but they’re not all good, either. And you get scared because they’re both. They might want to help you. But they could hurt you anyways, sometimes without even realizing it, with their tone of voice, with a careless word, with laughing at you with their friends and you overhearing them.

Now, let me be clear. I have read writing by my past self and I am honestly embarrassed by all the self-pity I’ve heaped on the pages. This post is not supposed to be about self-pity. I just want to let all those feelings out and make myself understood.

I did manage to get enough guts to tell him to stop, by the way.

It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.

“Stop,” I told him. I stepped over. Everyone else was waiting for school to end.

He laughed. Backed a few steps. “Go away.” Like it was all some sort of joke.

In high school I encountered him again. He had been suspended in middle school for one day, and I felt this wasn’t adequate punishment for what he’d inflicted on me. I wanted him to apologize. For months I simmered, thoughts consumed by wild revenge scenarios, but on the surface I probably looked normal. Seeing him as he passed by, or laughing it up with his friends, smiling, was enough to get me worked up in a wildfire. Holding so much in was like a ticking time bomb. And, one day, I exploded. For the second time in my life I confronted him.

That didn’t go well either.

At first, he was mad at me. “What are you talking about?”

If I was in his position, I’d get defensive too. Picture this: a random guy marches over to you, fists clenched, making accusations, demanding an apology. You bet I’d be caught off guard and ticked off.

All I wanted was a real, heartfelt apology. An “I’m sorry” with meaning behind it. At the same time, I wanted to punch him in the stomach. I was so consumed with emotion, mostly rage, shaking, literally shaking violently, that the right words couldn’t come out. I couldn’t think straight, and as a result, I couldn’t get him to understand my point of view. How was he possibly supposed to be able to feel all the misery he’d put me through, when he was this funny, outspoken guy with a gaggle of friends who was definitely not insecure about himself? I went nuts, I’ll admit that, and even demanded an apology from his friends because they’d simply stood and watched as he treated me like trash three, four years ago. In the end, he said sorry. But it wasn’t real. He wanted to shake hands, and even had the audacity to quote Gandhi’s “eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Then he said this was a lesson for the both of us. For the both of us. When all I wanted was for him to learn his and move on. The bell rang and, in tears, I turned to the science building for my next class. For the rest of the year, I ignored him.

If you’ve read this far, congrats! You’ve finally gotten to the heart of what’s weighing me down. It was bad enough tolerating him in middle school, ignoring him in high school and various high school classes, but now he’s going to the same university as me. That’s freakin’ absurd. There’s some cosmic joke behind this, I swear. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up dorm mates with me.

If you pieced together the bits of dialogue, info, and events I’ve assembled, you could probably figure out who he is. Anonymity aside, he’s not a bad person. Seriously. Like I said, he’s outspoken, got a lot of personality. He’s funny. He can even make me laugh. I’ve tried to forgive him. I want to forgive him, I tell myself I forgive him, because all I want is for him to get out of my life and for me to move on. I don’t hold a grudge against him anymore, but those feelings remain. Having him pass by me at campus could easily make me feel uncomfortable, maybe afraid. And if I think about him too much, I’ll get mad, so I don’t. College is supposed to be a time to grow up, make new friends, and, for me, to start anew, turn a new leaf, get closer to my dreams. Ignoring him as I’ve done in high school doesn’t seem very mature – more of an easy way out. I know I shouldn’t let this one person put a damper on an amazing college experience, like some dark cloud hanging overhead. I’m not going to go to a different university just because he’s there, and there’s no point convincing him to not go for my sake. After all, you wouldn’t give up your place in higher ed for some stranger who hated you simply because he’d feel awkward around you. I should enjoy myself, right?

What I want is to walk over to him and say just what I’ve said here. “Hey, I don’t hold a grudge against you. I don’t think it’ll be easy for me to ever accept you as a friend, but we’re good now.” And we’ll shake hands.

But of course, life never goes the way you want it to. Who knows? Maybe I won’t see him much, maybe I’ll see him often, maybe something will happen and I won’t go to college at all. Let’s end this long, drawn-out, sober story on a sober note. Some questions for whoever’s still reading. Have you ever had a situation like this? How did you approach it? How did it turn out? Or, if you can’t relate to any of this, how was your college experience?


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I Can Cut In the Lunch Line Because I Have Friends: A School Travesty

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It’s senior year in high school, and I know what to expect. Teachers, friends, acquaintances, homework, projects. And people butting their way in front of me at the lunch line.

Now, I don’t know about any other high schools, but this trend is absolutely unacceptable. Here you are, waiting for your food, and someone sees one of their friends in front of you or way ahead of you and just walks right over, cutting in and talking cheerfully like there’s no problem at all. It’s ridiculous. Some students walk right into the middle of the line and get away with it. Why? Because they have friends? I literally hear people near me saying, “Oh, [insert person’s name here] is over there. I think we should go to him.”

First off, this is impolite to the students behind you. When someone cuts in line it’s obviously disrespectful. That person is telling everyone else, “I’m more important than you. I can violate school rules and I don’t care about your time and I don’t have much common decency (YOLO!).” Other students, with homework and relationships and angst already on their minds, simply don’t have time to bother about this problem and if they do, they regard it as a mere nuisance that can’t be helped.

This would never happen in the real world. If this were to occur at, say, a supermarket line, no one would stand it. But in the academic environment, in a 45-minute period, this slight seems rather artificial and inconsequential.

Now, I hear you saying, “This is just a petty issue. There are bigger problems in society today. Maybe you should just let it go.” However, I see this as part of something bigger. This complete lack of respect tells me there’s something disturbingly wrong with some of this growing generation. Does a cutter embody the pillars of character that stand around my school library: respect, caring, honesty, trustworthiness, and citizenship? Absolutely not. Though most students treat each other courteously most of the time, this action of line cutting tells me they don’t really put much thought to what they’re doing.

It’s not like everyone’s rushing to eat cafeteria food either. In fact, my school newspaper made an article in which many students complained about what they were eating. And my school is by no means a derelict campus or an institution in a violent area. Think suburban, peaceful, nothing like the race and social ruptures plaguing the Ferguson riots.

I really can’t think of any valid reason to do this. Just because one has friends doesn’t give one the ability to ignore others and budge in. What about students who don’t have friends waiting for them in the lunch line? Isn’t that unfair to them? Won’t they be alienated by this act and at a disadvantage? Why are students with friends in line allowed to cut, but students who don’t relegated to the back? Maybe some people think having a friend there gives them an excuse to join into the line. That’s inexcusable and, quite honestly, a stupid way to deal with life. That’s just arbitrary selfishness in the form of undeserved privilege.

Lately it seems everyone’s lost hope. And by that, I mean no one really cares. In the great 12:00 multitude there used to be a girl who would stand her ground and yell at anyone passing ahead of her, “Back of the line!” Now I don’t see her anymore. This never happened in freshman or sophomore year, but now it’s morphed into this big, unseen mess. Adding to the confusion are people who join their friends in line to talk to them, then abruptly leave when it’s time to pay for the meal because they aren’t buying anything and don’t have money. Shouldn’t those people simply wait until their friend is out of the lunch line before talking to them? The cutters and dilly-dallers are wasting everyone’s time and space.

The usual lunch line moves in a big, sluggish single file that never seems to end. When it does move, though, a cutter shoves in and everyone has to wait even longer for their food. Some people have adopted methods of dealing with this rudeness, but they’re only short-term solutions. Some students step past the cutter. Some wait. And some go somewhere else when the line is too full.

In my opinion, it’s a school travesty. When something that should be as simple as waiting your turn and being decent can’t be done, it’s hard to believe the students of today can end up being much better as adults in the future. Being in a low-risk school environment that prepares you for the “real world” doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want at the expense of others.

Who cares anymore?

It’s not the little things I’m griping about. It’s the big ideas that stand behind them.


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You Are Your Own CEO

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It’s 9 a.m. Coffee. The doldrums. You’re dreading another day’s work: meeting up with the boss, putting up with those less-than-stellar coworkers, slogging through another pile of papers and e-mail in your corporate office. You’ll get cracking on a team project, with maybe some fun aspects besides socializing and a paycheck. And you know when you get home again you’ll be exhausted, but safe in a job you don’t hate but you don’t like either.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Really, it doesn’t.

You Are Your Own CEO

We live not for the days or the years, but for the moments. It doesn’t matter what part of life you’re in now – whether you’re a student at school, a middle-aged employee, or a retired person working to enjoy the golden years – this is a lesson too often forgotten in the ups and downs of daily living.

Whose life are you living? Yours, of course. You run your own life – and, by extension, your own business of sorts. Let’s pretend, as an example, that you’ve just gone to a job interview for your first job and they (the company, restaurant, whatever) announce you’ve been hired. Now, why were you hired? Your employer must obviously see something in you that is of interest to them. There is some talent or personal quality you possess that is valuable to them. Conventional thinking tells us you will exchange your services for the employer’s pay and security. But let’s turn the tables around a bit. Who’s the one in power here? You. Who made the choice to apply for the employer’s job? You. Who is selling their ability and time to a consumer? You. You’re your own product, your own salesman/woman, and your own boss. So doesn’t it make sense to pursue a job you like to do, one that perfectly fits with your interests and your ideas of yourself?

The Business of You

Have you ever seen those people walking along the street wearing expensive Nike shirts that merely display the company’s famous “swoosh” logo? Maybe you’re one of them yourself. This is a great example of companies using consumers as walking billboards – in other words, as products used to advertise and generate awareness about other products.

When you apply for a job, you’re usually selling yourself to the employer. You act a little bit like a potential product offer. But you’re not a business commodity; you’re a human being. What most people want is a fulfilling career built around their passions and their inner values. So what are your interests? It’s very possible that your interests don’t fit neatly into a categorized niche like a race car driver, surgeon, or lawyer. This is perfectly fine. The question is whether you’re willing to actually go out and make what you like to do into “work”.

Well then, should you go ahead and make a business out of your passion? For most people, the answer is a resounding “yes.” But first, maybe you should look into yourself first. Maybe you should see what the Business of You is up to.

You see, the problem most people seem to have in finding their dream job is balancing between skills, interests, and a steady income stream. A reasonable question to ask yourself is, what skills do I possess? What am I good at? What can I do that makes me stand out from everyone else? Don’t tell me you don’t have any skills. What you may find completely ordinary may be outstanding to someone else.

Besides talent, you need to satisfy both interests. Both. Not only your interest, but your consumer’s interest. Turn your passion into a product, and find markets to reach out to. Think in terms of what the other person wants. That’s how you make your income stream.

So, say you have a passion (of course you do – everyone does). And say you have a willing audience to pitch your ideas to (there’s a whole wide world sitting out there…at least one or two people should listen to you). But what if you don’t have the skills to turn what you like into a full-time job?

Teamwork and Excuses

You can’t do it alone. That goes for every aspect of life, not simply in a business sense. Everyone needs some sort of network or support structure. The best businesses work as a team. Granted, other people will have differing interests from you. But that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing what you want to do with your life. If you can meet other people’s wants and needs, they’re likely to respond favorably to yours. A team doesn’t even need to be that big. It can consist of a spouse, or a few friends, or even parents and siblings. The point is to use your team to not only work faster, expand the business, and reach your goals, but to help everyone else reach their desires as well. Because they’re CEOs of their own lives too.

Even if you take nothing else away from this, you should remember this: It’s your life. You’re in control of your own actions. There are a lot of excuses that can be made. Here’s a common one: “I don’t have time!” To which I respectfully respond, “That’s a lie.” You don’t have five minutes of free time out of the twenty you spend on lunch? Or three minutes right before you wake up in the morning? Or two before you go to sleep at night? Do something. Anything is a start. Of course you have time. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to read what I’m writing right now. Here’s another common excuse: “I’m too old!/I have a family to raise!/I’ve already got a major job!” In other words, you’re already too established. You’ve stuck in your roots and now you’re loathe to move elsewhere. True, leaving your current safety position is a risk. But life entails risk. Without taking that one step forward, without facing danger and fear, you’re never going to get anywhere. Don’t fill yourself up with regret and misery. You’ve only got about 70 years to live, maybe less. Make the most of it.

Here’s a final doubt that may come your way. Some might think, “Oh, that’s great food for thought, but there’s no way I can turn my interests into a perfectly well-paying career.” There’s no easy reply to that kind of pessimism. But if you assess yourself, you will find that there are some things that you will never lose. And that, in and of itself, means you, the CEO of your own life, will never go out of business. You’re on equal footing with everyone else. That should give you plenty of confidence. There should be nothing stopping you. Absolutely nothing. Some people might say, “But I’m really unlucky. A lot of factors are still out of my control. Only really lucky people make it big in life.” That’s only partially true. My own definition of luck is this: the random interaction between people and nature with different interests. The more you just go out there and do your best, the more likely it is something good will come up and you will seize the opportunity and grab it. Yes, there are obstacles. Yes, there are challenges. But you can’t spend all your life going, “The time isn’t right. Maybe later. I don’t have enough experience. I don’t have enough supplies. I’m not good enough. What I have isn’t good enough to share with the world. I only need more time. I only need…” You only need nothing. “But – ” No buts. If you don’t start today, you may never start. One day the future will become the present. One should live in the moment, learn from the past, and prepare for the future.

So hop into your executive chair and start making decisions. It’s not about what you don’t have. It’s what you do with what you’ve got.

 


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The Common Principles in Success Self-Help Books

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Lately I have been reading a number of self-help books concerned with financial success and success in general. It struck me one day that all success books seem to have some ideas that always remain the same. Now, you may have different opinions or think this is common sense but to me these simple principles are fundamental to the fulfilled life everyone wants to have.
1. Dream Big

Since when has dreaming small ever helped anyone accomplish anything? Dreaming big is beneficial because it gives us inspiration, which in turn increases motivation to tackle that dream. And even if you fail to make your dream come true, it’s likely you’ve come farther than you had when you thought small or were content to let life pass you by. As a saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” However, a big dreamer must remember to have more than an idea, which brings me to the next principle…

2. Specific Steps

It’s all well and good to have an enormous goal, but how do you go about achieving it when its sheer size can be daunting and it seems nearly impossible to reach? The answer: Be specific. Also, don’t be stupid. Stick to a target you can reasonably accomplish. If you earn $5 an hour and want to be a billionaire within a month, good luck. But if you want to triple your earnings and lessen the time you have to work, that’s at least a little more plausible. Start small and build your way up. As a personal example, I am 16 and I am contemplating a career as a game programmer or an engineer. I can’t expect to be a bona-fide big-money tech genius within a year (I learned this the hard way when I jumped into Java without any preparation), so what can I do, right now? I take beginner online courses in programming languages, like HTML and Python, that are easier to learn. I start small, with the basics. You can start too. Take a paper, write down three small steps which can help you make your way to your big dream. It doesn’t matter what you put down, as long as you start. Right now. No procrastination.

3. Create a “Checklist” – Go, Go, Go!

The dreams you have should embody your idea of “success.” Since success is a personal term and can be hard to define, I’ll simplify and say success is being well-off in all aspects of life, doing what you want to do, having healthy relationships and a healthy self in body and mind, having the cash you want, etc. To be successful is to accomplish your dreams in life. Most of us feel we aren’t successful at the moment. Now start someplace, somewhere.  Where? How? Well, we can make an outline. We have our clearly defined, small goals leading to our big goals. Writing a checklist is a good example. Some people may not use an actual checklist, but I believe it’s the best mental illustration for what you’re doing. You are preparing thoughts to action and simplifying along the way. You want a small checklist – you want to prioritize. Prioritize – that’s important. A checklist has everything important you have to do; everything else is what you don’t need and is not even on the page.

Here’s the thing that throws most people off. They make their checklist and set out to do what they aim to do. The problem is, when they go home, they check off the things they did. What’s wrong with that? Some things are checked off…but what about the unchecked ones? More likely than not, you will think, “Oh no, I didn’t do those things, I failed…” To remedy that problem, don’t check things off the checklist. Highlight them. Make them nice and bright and yellow (or green if you have a green highlighter, or pink if you’ve got a pink one). This way you are focusing on what you did, rather than what you didn’t do.

4. TAKE ACTION

In my mind, this is the most important of all success principles. Initiative, moving forward, taking action, whatever you want to call it. What prevents us from undertaking the long journey to our deepest desires? In most cases, it is fear. We are paralyzed by our fear and worry, we make up excuses (“I’m too busy, I don’t have the time!”), we think up terrible scenarios (What if it doesn’t work? What if I get laughed at?) and we never get it done. To be successful, you have to conquer your fears. Take a deep breath. Think, what’s the worst thing that can happen? And I’ll tell you what is always the worst that can happen: doing nothing. If you try and it doesn’t work out, at least you tried. Pat yourself on the back, rein in your emotions. Learn what you did wrong. Try again. Fail, fail again, fail better until you’ve done what you set out to do. Personally, whenever I get that creeping sense of dread on a big school project, I decide if I fail, I might as well fail in the most spectacular way imaginable.

That’s the mindset you need. No excuses. Face the music. And I know it’s difficult – it’s hard for me, you, everybody. For example, I am terrified of interacting with other people (yes, I really am. I’m not normally very social). My dream, my idea of success, is to have great, real, close friends and a girlfriend (don’t laugh – I can hear you snickering in the background). What can I do? I don’t multitask, because doing one thing at a time allows you to do your very best. What I do is, I do what I can do at the present moment. I expand my social circle. I go online and develop some relationships there, I talk to my friend at school to further a real-life situation, and I write a blog (yup, this blog, my first post) out of my horizon for anyone to see. All of these actions are me stepping out of my comfort zone. Is it scary? Yes. Embarrassing? You bet. But it must be done. Taking action is necessary, because without action your dream sits on a motionless wheel and can never roll over to reality.

Things almost never go according to plan. There is no such thing as the “perfect” time – the time is now. Rather than having many long-term goals, go for more goals you can take on immediately or in a relatively short time frame, because the future will one day become the present. Adjust as you go along, don’t worry about what “might happen.” You don’t know unless you try. I know this might seem a little contradictory to people, but just shooting forward and overcoming obstacles, focusing on opportunity instead of challenges,  is what’s best. TAKE ACTION.

5. Balance: Don’t Forget Free Time

Doing is undoubtedly important, but we all need time to relax and refresh our body and spirit. So don’t be afraid to sit down for a while and just close your eyes. Overwork can be as harmful as no work at all. Balance your schedule. When you set time for a break, you can clear your mind and usually see answers to problems you haven’t seen before. If you make a day-to-day schedule, ensure you have enough free time to weigh against your work hours.

6. Awareness: Strengths and Weaknesses

You should realize that everyone has many, many things they’re bad at and a few things they’re good at. If you’re horrendous at something, it’s hard to be more than mediocre at it even if you improve. So you can focus on your strengths and push to fix the weaknesses that are truly debilitating to you (my example is lack of social skills/shyness). If you’re strong at something, use that to your advantage. Makes sense, right? You have to be aware of what you’re great at and what you’re not-so-great at, but this requires a little bit of self-reflection. That’s where some free time comes in. Self-awareness doesn’t always come naturally so people often have to sit down and ponder their thoughts in silence and solace, when their emotions aren’t high.

7. (Miscellaneous) A Financial Principle: Measure by Net Worth, not Income

While this isn’t exactly related to the other six common principles, I thought I’d put it down because it’s interesting. In Secrets of the Millionare Mind by T. Harv Eker, one idea that supposedly differentiates rich people from poor and middle class ones is the rich measure their wealth by net worth, not by working income. Working income, that is, the money you earn when you work, is only a part of net worth. Other parts include passive income, “making your money work for you”, and what you already own (because you can sell those objects for money).

8. Connections, Tooting Your Own Horn

Wealthy and successful people often associate with other successful people, instead of poor downers with nowhere to go. They also don’t resent the rich and well-off but admire them. They market themselves to the world, since no one else will do it for them. This is “tooting your own horn”, but you want everyone to know about your abilities because you can show how good you are, attain wealth, forge more connections, and be successful. This is, in my mind, very important.

So I want to share this first post with other people and see what they think.