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It All Works Out

Michelle Carvo : September 16, 2017 5:12 am : Blog

There have been many moments in my life where I was not sure how things would work out.

My freshman year of college I fretted over a $1000 tuition balance left over after scholarships and loans kicked in. I had no job at that point and hadn’t heard back from any of the work study jobs I had applied to on campus.

Suddenly I received word that a $1000 scholarship would be given to me from the junior golf association I had played in for several years in my teens. I had always hoped for it, but it was far from a sure thing. Then the next month I was hired as a website developer for a department on campus and this paid more than I expected to earn with a work study job.

It all worked out.

When that job eventually ended I again fretted about tuition costs for the next semester. I was then unexpectedly called about a job I hadn’t even applied for on campus but somehow my name was in the system (from applying to other jobs). A quick interview later and I was hired. Enough money to pay for costs that semester.

It all worked out.

When THAT job ended I again worried about tuition costs for the next semester. I was lucky enough to find freelance work and several months later was brought on board to the university’s tech department–it was a gig I had hoped for and I was able to parlay it into 2.5 years of technology support experience which was pivotal in establishing my IT career after school.

It all worked out.

I worried at various times how I would graduate from college in under 3.5 years, how I’d pay for extra classes during the spring/summer months to accomplish this, and how I’d manage a 20-30 hour per week job with 14-18 credit hours semester.

Somehow it all worked out.

You’d think by this point I would be able to trust more easily that things would work out and, you know, worry a little less. Of course, I kept worrying.

Post-college I was thrust into an economy that was still recovering from our generation’s great recession. Jobs nearby in my field were not so plentiful and I decided at some point that I really didn’t want to commute, that I really didn’t even want to work outside a home office.

I had no idea how I’d pay the bills and even more importantly, how I’d pay those pesky student loans that came from college.

Then I was hired for a remote work gig. Then another. Then another. I strung together 3 gigs working 50-60 hours per week and was soon earning far more than what a local company had offered me to be their traveling tech support person.

It all worked out.

In time I scaled back to one job but eventually decided that I needed to further my career. I had no idea how, but then it happened. I found a great job with a great growing company.

I moved into a different area of web development–SEO–and absorbed a lot of information in the 3 years I spent with that company. I went from basic SEO knowledge to advanced.

It all worked out.

And now 3 years later I’m again at a stage where I worry about the next step of starting my own business. I worry that I’m making a mistake and I worry about how it’s all going to work out. Which is ridiculous because if my past shows anything, it’s that in some strange way, it all works out.

Worry less, trust more. It will all work out.

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R.I.P. Chris Cornell: Gone But Never Forgotten In Rock Music

Michelle Carvo : May 22, 2017 6:52 am : Blog

Growing up, I had a pretty poor taste in music. I enjoyed whatever pop drivel was popular right around 2000/2001. Music didn’t play a huge role in my life at the time; it was more or less just another form of entertainment, much like TV.

That all changed, though. When I was a teenager I decided to learn to play guitar. I was admittedly terrible at it but enjoyed it all the same (yet, I still ended up eventually switching over to the bass, but I digress). Learning an instrument lead me to decide that I needed to listen to more music to become a better “aspiring” musician.

I gradually discovered different genres of rock, from the classics (Zeppelin, Floyd, The Beatles, the Stones) to alternative (U2, Coldplay, Radiohead) to everything in between. Grunge was probably one of my favorites as a teenager. Something about it just appealed to me—maybe the lyrics as I was a typical moody teenager?

Teenage Me Loved Grunge And 90’s Alt

Whenever someone thinks grunge, they think Nirvana. They were the biggest band of the era and probably one of the most popular bands ever. Now, I listened to Nirvana plenty, but I just didn’t connect with them on the same level I did with two other bands from that era: Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

Soundgarden fascinated me because the things that Chris Cornell could do vocally was just insane—I had never before heard someone with such crazy range. Pearl Jam’s lyrical and musical qualities astounded me–and Eddie Vedder’s interesting vocals certainly helped things. Both bands stayed in my CD player for weeks at a time in 2005/2006. Pearl Jam’s self-titled 2006 album might not have received the acclaim their earlier albums did, but 17 year old me LOVED that album. I decided that I needed to see those bands in concert at least once–they were on my bucket list.

Of course, Soundgarden at the time had long since broken up. But then they got back together in 2010 and suddenly I had the chance to see them live in concert. I also wanted to see Stone Temple Pilots when I heard that they, too, had finally reunited.

I never got to see STP before Scott Weiland’s death in 2015 and I definitely regret that. But I did get to see Pearl Jam on my 26th birthday in 2014, which was a special experience. Despite being way up in the stands, they put on an incredible show and it was awesome to take in that experience with my oldest brother.

I still hadn’t seen Soundgarden, though–and despite no longer being “into” them, I still wanted to. Then I heard a few months ago that Soundgarden was playing Detroit in May. My niece had recently started listening to Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, Chris Cornell’s solo stuff and Soundgarden, and she, too, immediately connected with Chris and his music, much in the same way I did all those years ago. My niece and I excitedly purchased tickets and already thought ahead to seeing Chris the next time he toured solo.

May 17, 2017 – The Day I Finally Saw Soundgarden Live

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 finally arrived. Soundgarden’s sold out show at Fox Theatre in Detroit was the first concert of our “summer” of concerts. I listened to Soundgarden’s albums for most of the day, for the first time in probably a decade. My niece and I were both incredibly excited about the show to come.

Wednesday night’s show reminded me why I loved Soundgarden’s music so much. I hadn’t listened to them extensively for many years, but that concert, that music, it was so electric. I go to a lot of concerts, but very few move me in the way that theirs did–especially considering I was way up in the stands and not in the Pit. That’s how magnetic Chris Cornell was as a singer, songwriter, and rock frontman. His energy transcended from the Pit all the way up to the balcony seats and electrified the building.

Picture taken during the May 17, 2017 Soundgarden show at Fox Theatre in Detroit.

Soundgarden played a roughly 2 hour set of 19 songs—more than previous shows, from what I could tell. Chris himself praised the Detroit crowd multiple times. When he wasn’t playing guitar, he was all over the stage, going to the front of the stage and high fiving or fist bumping fans. He never slurred his words, didn’t screw up lyrics (that I could tell) and genuinely seemed very into the show.

Chris high fiving some fans in the audience.

I mention all of this to disagree with some accounts I’ve heard from other fans at the show. These fans claimed that there were “signs” that something was wrong. I saw none and I’ve been at concerts with impaired singers before, so I know the signs. Many other fans at the show didn’t see any signs, either. I think it may be a case of people looking for signs after the fact to try and justify/come to terms with what happened. I don’t think there were any.

My niece and I were ridiculously happy after the show and excited for the next time we could see Chris or Soundgarden in concert. We drove home and didn’t get back until around 1:20am—which I now know that Chris died before we even got home from seeing his last concert, less than 2 hours earlier. Unbelievable.

May 18, 2017 – The Day The Music Died

I stayed up that night until 3am, riding a post-concert buzz and thinking ahead to our next concert in a few weeks in Pittsburgh. My mom called me at 6:15am and told me she saw a breaking news alert from CNN on her phone that Chris Cornell had died. I thought it was a case of her simply being mistaken, maybe seeing news of someone else and thinking it was the same singer we had just seen perform live.

Still, I wanted to make sure. I quickly went to TMZ’s website and saw nothing. Relief washed over me. TMZ always tends to be first in reporting celebrity deaths, so I figured that if Chris had really passed away it would be on TMZ. Just to be safe, I headed to CNN’s website and didn’t see it in their top headlines, either. Then I scrolled down the page and saw the article about his passing.

At first, when I saw that news, I still didn’t believe it and briefly thought it was a celebrity death hoax. We had just seen him play a show less than 7 hours earlier! It didn’t seem possible. I went on Twitter and quickly saw the flood of posts and realized that he really did pass away.

Days later, it still doesn’t seem real. I know this sounds crazy to some, but Chris’ music actually touched me on a personal level, so losing him is unbelievably sad. People were sad when David Bowie died, when Prince died, when George Michael died, and as a music fan I sympathized with them but wasn’t effected on a personal level by those deaths because I wasn’t a huge fan of their music (great as it was).

Chris Cornell’s death, however, did effect me on a personal level. There’s an excellent quote someone posted on one of the many tribute posts to Chris that perfectly explains why fans grieve when a famous musician that they technically didn’t “know” passes away:

Chris Cornell not only made great music with Soundgarden, but also with Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, and in his solo career. I listened to his music in each of these projects and really connected with it on many levels. His second solo album, “Carry On”, in particular, was a constant in my CD player and on my iPod during my freshman year of college—a year that was a huge adjustment for me coming from being privately homeschooled to being around hundreds of adults every day. Lyrically and vocally he resonated with me in a way that few artists do.

Appreciate The Music And Artists While They’re Still Here

Even if you didn’t connect with Chris Cornell’s music, there’s still something to take away from this tragedy. This tragedy should serve as a reminder of the fragility of life and how you should make every effort to see your favorite artists in concert while they are still touring. You never know when something might happen and you don’t want to have that regret of not seeing them in concert that I’m sure fans of Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Lemmy, and now Chris, have.

The other thing to take away is to appreciate what you have while you still have it. I see many fans going online complaining about once great acts not playing their live shows as well as they used to. Heck, some people outside of the Soundgarden concert Wednesday night were complaining about the band (not Chris) not being “into” it and how it wasn’t as good as their shows during the 90s. I was annoyed about those complaints at the time and am even more annoyed now. At least Soundgarden got back together and were still touring. At least these other artists are still around to tour and appreciate. I’m going to venture a guess that Bowie fans would do anything to have him even play one more “lackluster” concert.

There’s two things these “fans” need to realize: 1) You shouldn’t compare the concert you’re experiencing to past experiences. You should live in the present moment and enjoy it for what it is. And 2) Artists age and sometimes they can’t do what they used to do. Accept it and just appreciate the fact that you can still see them in concert.

I know one thing, though: even though the last concert ended up being historic for a tragic reason, I am grateful to have seen two of the best grunge bands ever, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, in concert.

R.I.P. Chris Cornell and thank you for your contributions to the music business and for inspiring millions of people. You’ve been a voice, a rock, a teacher, a leader, and we’re all luckier for having experienced the gift of your music.

Framed tickets from two of my favorite concerts I’ve attended.

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The Vinyl Listening Experience Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

Michelle Carvo : April 10, 2017 5:28 am : Blog

It’s 2017 as of the writing of this blog post and we currently enjoy technology that most would not have dreamed possible 15 or even 10 years ago. TV shows and movies can be quickly streamed over services like Netflix and Hulu, video games can be downloaded over Steam or the Xbox store, apps that do just about anything can be downloaded to our iPhones, iPads, and Androids in mere seconds, and nearly any song or album imaginable can be downloaded or streamed from iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or *insert streaming service here*. It would seem that the physical medium is dying….except it’s not.

While services like Spotify have continued to grow more popular, physical mediums like the vinyl record and CD have made a resurgence. This is partly due to the obvious loss of audio quality from streaming music vs. listening to it in a lossless or near lossless format, and it’s partly due to the nostalgia of collecting CDs or records.

Even as a child of the late 80s, I can fondly remember buying my first CD and quickly expanding my collection. I can also remember that funny looking bulky gadget in the dining room of our up north cabin which spun records–I had no idea how to operate it, but it looked cool. I feel nostalgia for these things so I can only imagine what it feels like for people who grew up with vinyl, then saw that overtaken by cassette and then again by CD and then by MP3s and now by streaming.

The Younger Generation Embraces Old Technology

What’s crazy is that even those who grew up exclusively surrounded by digital music are now embracing the physical medium. My niece (15 at the time) is a great example of this. She and her siblings decided to purchase an all-in-one vinyl, cassette and CD player which is now enjoyed by the kids and their parents alike. They’ve since built up a nice collection of vinyl records and CDs.

By the time my niece had gotten into vinyl records and CDs, I had long since abandoned my CD collection. I used my iPhone and iPod exclusively for music listening. CDs were just too bulky to carry around in the house or car, and when my iPhone could do everything I needed, why would I deal with the clutter of the CD? I didn’t want to totally get rid of my CDs, though (sentimental value and all), so I packaged them up and put them in storage. Once my niece started getting into the sort of music I enjoyed as a teenager, I offered to give her some of my old CDs. She found quite a few of them to her liking.

A Longing For Musical Nostalgia

Sometime late last year I started to get back into music in a major way. It started with a new found interest in the bass guitar, followed by months spent learning how to play the instrument, and culminating in listening to lots of new music that inspired my bass guitar playing. At some point I pulled out one of the few CDs I still had in my closet (U2’s “Achtung Baby”), listened to it in the car, and was quickly brought back to my teenage years. The listening experience was so much better, so much more immersive than merely listening to individual songs on a playlist on my iPhone. I longed for the music listening experience of my teens. I wanted to get a CD player and listen to music that way again.

After also listening to vinyl records on my niece’s player, I quickly realized that I wanted to get a vinyl player, too. So with those things in mind, I set out trying to find a gadget that give me high quality play of vinyl records and CDs.

A Quality All-In-One Doesn’t Exist

Unfortunately several hours of research lead me to one conclusion: a good all-in-one solution doesn’t exist. While all-in-one vinyl/CD/cassette players have been flooding the market in recent years, none are particularly good. All have flaws (whether it’s subpar audio quality, an inadequate vinyl player or a combination of both), all aren’t really aesthetically pleasing, and most are well over $100…which seems absurdly expensive considering how old the technology itself is.

I quickly decided that my best bet was to purchase the individual components themselves.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. CD players aren’t found all over Walmart, Best Buy etc. as easily as they were even 10 years ago when you could find numerous portable CD players or stereos in the electronics section. Even Amazon has a small selection of CD players and those that they do have are either overpriced (due to their scarcity) or poorly reviewed.

After lots of research, I went with the GPX HM3817DTBK micro system. It came with a pair of speakers, AM/FM capability, AUX input, and a CD player. I bought it knowing that I only wanted the CD player functionality–the speakers were considered to be junk and I had no need for the other features. It was $31.99 at the time of purchase but has since gone up to $38.99 which is a little more than I’d be willing to pay for it.

Despite some reviews to the contrary, this has actually been a very solid CD player for me. Nearly 5 months later, it still plays CDs flawlessly. Even my old burned mixtape CDs play well. Although the unit itself is a little bulky, it can be wall mounted and has a sliding deck, so it looks a little sleek:

Once I found the CD player, I set out trying to find a vinyl record player….and quickly fell into a trap that I presume many aspiring beginner vinyl record collectors fall into.

Your Record Player Is Junk Unless It’s a Technics Or Pioneer Or *Insert Highly Regarded Turntable Here*

Here’s the unfortunate reality of the vinyl record collecting world of today: many collectors are snobs. They’re audiophiles who laugh at beginners who pick up a Crosley record player. They scoff at those who use inferior speakers. And they constantly recommend searching high and low for a vintage player like a Technics or Pioneer. Oh, and these must be paired with a great vintage receiver and stereo speakers.

All of that is fine. They make a great point and if it’s at all possible, you should follow their advice. However, what works for one person might not work well for another and it’s important to not let their advice scare you away from the vinyl record world. It almost scared me away because I could not afford to spend hundreds on my setup and I did not have space for a big, bulky old school setup.

After nearly giving up, I decided to purchase a record player that received good reviews on average but was pooh-poohed by vinyl snobs: the Audio Technica LP-60. It was said that this record player was meant for beginners and that the needle was barely adequate and may wear/tear your records in ways that a more expensive player wouldn’t.

This hasn’t been my experience at all. The LP-60 hasn’t harmed any of my records and does a good job of playing most records. The only records it has struggled to play have been those from my dad’s collection which are all scratched/slightly warped due to years of staying in a moist basement. I would say for $80, the LP-60 is a great deal and is far above the quality of any all-in-one player on the market.

But What About The Speakers?

There was just one more part of the equation: the speakers. Here, too, I ran into the struggle of trying to find decent speakers for a reasonable price. By this point, I was already out $110ish between the CD player and vinyl player.

Of course, music snobs have a lot of opinions about speakers, as mentioned above. Every option I found seemed inadequate. The options that I did find which were recommended were passive speakers which required an amplifier. Here, too, presented a problem: good amplifiers aren’t cheap, and the cheap ones are very hit or miss.

After lots of research/frustration I went with the simplest option available: repurposing my Logitech Z200 stereo sound speakers for my CD/vinyl player setup.

Surprisingly, these speakers are more than adequate for my bedroom music listening space. If you don’t have a ton of money to spare, then I’d definitely recommend these:

 

I now had a perfectly decent vinyl/CD player setup for just $130, less than the cost of an all-in-one but arguably of superior quality to any Crosley on the market.

How Does It Sound?

The answer to this is: surprisingly good. Obviously, it’s got nothing on more expensive setups, but it’s far, far better than listening to music through a bluetooth speaker or even in the car. The first album I played on my CD player (“Achtung Baby”) sounded absolutely incredible–the vocals, the guitar, the drums, the bass, all of it was totally crisp sounding. My niece’s copy of “The Last Hero” by Alter Bridge sounded amazing on the vinyl player. I quickly realized that I had made the right call with the minimalist, fairly inexpensive setup.

Now several months later, I’ve since invested in a Spin Clean and have begun cleaning up my dad’s old records. It’s already worth it because listening to “Purple Rain” the other night on vinyl was incredible.

But Yes, I’m Upgrading

Although I love the current setup, I am upgrading…sort of. I’m currently planning a modified setup with a homemade record player wall mount, mounting the CD player on the wall, and putting up a couple small shelves for the speakers to sit on. I’ve also picked up a 3-way audio switch box so that I don’t have to unplug/plug in cables every time I want to switch listening devices. I plan to get better speakers, but am still figuring out which ones to buy since I don’t want to spend a lot, but I also want to get a pair that will last a while.

Once the setup is complete, I’ll be doing another blog post with pictures and more of an in-depth explanation on how I put it together.

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Pro-Tip: Don’t Steal From A Kid

Michelle Carvo : July 18, 2016 10:03 pm : Blog

There’s something that is known as the cardinal fan rule in sports: when a ball is coming toward a child and they clearly want it, you–as the adult–let them have it. Yet again and again we’ve seen YouTube videos and news reports of grown adults stealing a baseball from a child. In almost all cases they step RIGHT in front of the kid and take the ball.

This is inexcusable and the adults who break this rule are understandably lambasted for it afterwards. You don’t act selfishly and break a kid’s heart by taking something that the player wanted them to have and that they wanted desperately themselves. The kid, understandably, begins crying and just doesn’t understand how an adult can be so cruel.

I wish this only happened at sporting events–heck, I wish it didn’t even happen at all. However, some people are cruel and only care about themselves. Unfortunately, it is also a problem at concerts.

Picture this: you’re a 5, 10, 15 year old kid at your first concert. You’ve stood in line for hours and manage to secure a spot in the first row or two. You’re so excited to see your favorite band for the first time. They make some eye contact with you during the show and smile at you–it is, after all, pretty cute to see a young fan having the time of their life and rocking out to your songs. As a kid, it just makes your day and possibly your week/month to have this small interaction with a band you really, really like.

At the end of the show, you stand around hoping for a pick or a setlist or a drumstick to remember your first concert by. The singer or guitarist notices you–a young fan–hoping eagerly for a pick or a setlist. They decide to toss one or put one in your direction. Obviously they can’t come right up to you to give it to you–security protocols and all–but they try their hardest to make sure it lands in your hands.

Then an adult reaches over you and grabs it right out of your hands. Rather than doing the right thing and giving you something that you were meant to have, they keep it for themselves. It’s not very important to them, but it’s cool to have and dammit it, they don’t care if it breaks some kid’s heart.

My niece experienced this situation for herself last Friday. As her aunt and an adult, it hurt me to see a fellow adult (considerably older than I) behave in such a way. Below is a short post I wrote up and plan to share with fellow fans and the band themselves via social media:

“My 16yo niece and I were at the Alter Bridge concert in Grand Rapids Friday. It was her first AB concert ever and she had an incredible time being among other AB fans—except for one fan at the end of the night.

My niece and I were a few people apart from one another—she purchased a VIP ticket while I did not, so she had first row right in front of Myles. I was on my knee scooter a few people away (broken foot w/ cast, but still wanted to be on the floor at the concert). I was worried about not being right next to her, but all the fans surrounding her were incredibly nice so that set my mind at ease.

After the encore, Myles Kennedy (lead singer of AB) threw out picks and handed out setlists to fans. During the concert Myles kept looking in my niece’s direction and smiling at her—probably because it was cute to see such a young kid rocking out and having the time of her life.

Myles looked right at my niece and threw a pick in her direction—it bounced off her hand but the lady behind her was nice enough to give it to her. Then Myles began handing out setlists. Again, he looked right at my niece and tried to reach out to hand the setlist to her—there was probably a 5 foot distance between them. My niece is an itty, bitty 5’0 but was trying with all her might to reach that setlist.

A lady to her right began reaching out for the setlist. My niece finally grabbed it and was about to bring it in when the other lady grabbed it OUT OF MY NIECE’S HANDS. I witnessed this from a 6 feet away and was shocked that a grown woman who is a VIP for life and already has 10+ setlists (she bragged about this before the show) would steal a setlist from a young fan who was at her first show. I know who this lady is but won’t publicly say her name–I do not want to stoop to her level.

There were 4-5 other younger kids at the show that this could have happened to. It’s not right to steal a pick or setlist or any other item from a young fan. Every other AB fan I’ve spoken to has said how wrong this was.

Behavior like this has no place at a concert, especially not this one. The AB fan community as a whole is full of great, kind people. People like this lady shine a bad light on the community.

To the lady who did this, I hope it was worth it to bring down a young fan’s first AB concert experience. I also wonder how many other setlists you’ve stolen out of other fans’ hands, considering you have so many. It is sad that you resorted to this behavior even once. Shame on you.

Despite this, my niece cannot wait to see AB live again. We know that one selfish fan does not represent a whole community of awesome fans—we met so many great ones at the concert and Alter Bridge put on an amazing concert.

Next time I’ll be right next to her and will make sure she gets any setlist that comes her way. And if I ever see a young fan at a concert reaching for a setlist or pick or drumstick, I will do everything I can to make sure they get it.”

What I wrote above won’t change what happened to my niece. As it was, my niece took this well, didn’t cry or get angry, but was disappointed that another “fan” would do this.

But I hope my post prevents this from happening to any other youngster at a concert or baseball game.

When we see a child at sporting event or concert, we need to behave better. We shouldn’t do anything that makes the concert experience unpleasant for anyone–especially a child.

If a child is behind us and desperately wants front row, we should let them have it.

If a child is in the pit with with us, we should be careful not to knock them down (luckily not an issue at our concert).

And if a child is reaching desperately for a pick or setlist that the band member tried to give to them, we should let them have it.

It’s the right thing to do. It’s the mature thing to do. And most importantly, it’s the adult thing to do.

We need to set a better example for our kids and stop being so selfish.

Alter Bridge In Grand Rapids

My niece enjoying her first Alter Bridge concert. She is to the right of the nice Tremonti shirt wearing fan in the middle.

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What Are Your Shortcomings?

Michelle Carvo : February 3, 2016 4:28 pm : Blog, Productivity

In a world full of incredibly successful people–the Zuckerbergs, the Gates’, the Jobs’–it can sometimes be hard to remember that we all have shortcomings. Yes, even the super successful have things that they struggle with. Human beings are all flawed.

What Makes The Successful Different From Everyone Else?

This is a question I recently asked myself. What separates me from being more successful in my life and career? What can I do to accomplish more of my goals?

I quickly realized that the most successful people aren’t better than everyone else, per se. They’re not smarter, they’re not more creative, and they’re not luckier.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that anyone could do what they’ve done. Just that they’ve got one characteristic that separates them from other ambitious, creative individuals who aren’t as successful as they could or should be.

They Recognize Their Shortcomings

This is what separates the super successful smart people from the smart people who aren’t as successful.

We’re conditioned to believe that if we’re smart, we have no flaws. We have no excuse to not accomplish all of our goals. If we don’t accomplish our goals and achieve success, then we must not be very smart.

Here’s the thing: all of us have at least one thing we’re good at. Even if we’re told that we don’t and that’s why we’re not achieving more in our lives.

It’s important to continue to nurture what we’re good at while also working on what we’re not so good at.

That means recognizing our shortcomings.

Seek Out What You’re Not Good At

For years, I’ve struggled with time and task management. I’ve been late to things. I’ve missed or just narrowly met due dates. In college, I left papers til the last minute. I often lost track of time. Keeping a day to day schedule was a massive struggle.

As an adult, I finally realized that this was a flaw of mine. That despite my creativity and overall success, it was keeping me from reaching my full potential. I wasn’t getting as much done as I wanted to.

Recently I decided to figure out why I had this flaw and how I could correct it.

Determine Your Shortcomings And How To Overcome It

My why ended up being ADHD. For years I had no idea that this was the source of my time and task management woes. I thought it was just something inherent in me, something that I could not do anything about, so I might as well just focus on what I’m good at. Needless to say, my diagnosis surprised me.

My how to correct it ended up being a combination of medication, new habits, and a conscious effort to be better. The thing with ADHD is that medication is not a cure. Medication is merely a tool that, when combined with others, can help you to correct your flaws (or symptoms).

For me, that meant taking a light dose of a stimulant, evaluating all of my shortcomings, and taking action to correct them.

My Shortcomings

My shortcomings can best be summarized as:

  • Not listening attentively.
  • Forgetting things I am told (because of not listening attentively).
  • Not having a clear idea of what’s due and when it’s due.
  • Not properly managing my time.
  • Not following through on items that require more thought/patience.
  • Buying stuff to compensate for my productivity issues (like new gadgets….seriously).
  • Multitasking too much (a tendency of ADHD people who are constantly switching from thought to thought).

To overcome these shortcomings, I’ve taken the following action:

  1. Began taking a stimulant (a light dose).
  2. Force myself to listen attentively when others are talking to me and note down what they’re saying, mentally. This is usually quickly added to a note on my computer or smartphone so that I can reference it later.
  3. Employed the use of a to-do app (TickTick) to input work items and their due date. I now look at TickTick first thing everyday to see what I need to accomplish.
  4. Setup reminders to tell me when items are due and to remind me of appointments, things to be done around the house, bills to be paid etc.
  5. Create lists when shopping, rather than trying to remember everything I need. I sit down for 5 minutes and simply write down what I need. This gets it off my brain and onto paper (or a digital document, in this case 😉 ). Then I reference the list when I go shopping and check things off it.
  6. Focusing on one task at a time, rather than multiple ones. This is admittedly one of the toughest things for me as I’ve been multitasking for as long as I can remember. Still, I make a conscious effort to do just one thing at a time.
  7. Use timers to keep track of time spent during tasks or to keep me from forgetting to do something. My Pebble smartwatch is perfect for this as it vibrates to let me know when the timer is up.
  8. Taking a calming breath when feeling overwhelmed with something. If that does not work, I’ll take a step back before I come back to the issue. In doing so, I usually gain a new perspective of the issue and a renewed sense of being able to handle it.
  9. Seriously question every single non-essential purchase I make. Do I really need this new computer? This new phone? This new app? Why am I purchasing it? Is there another, cheaper (or free!) way to accomplish the same thing?

I won’t lie and say I’ve excelled at all of the above, but I do pretty well with each. I get way more done at work, I feel less stressed, I spend less money on stuff I don’t really need, I keep better track of time, and I ultimately feel better.

2016 is exciting me because I am finally getting things done. I am finally accomplishing things I’ve wanted to for a while. I have a lot of things planned and with my new found acknowledgement of my shortcomings and conscious effort to overcome these, I’m confident that I’ll be able to accomplish anything I want to.

So What Are Your Shortcomings? And How Will You Overcome Them?

Take a few minutes today to write out what your shortcomings are. Then, think about how to overcome them. Follow through on your solutions. In time, your shortcomings will be overcome and you will be more successful.

 

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