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Do Not Be Afraid Of Work That Has No End

While attending World Domination Summit today, Scott Harrison, the ceo and founder of charity: water, said this quote. Originally stated by Avot de Rabbi Natan, it struck me as an important message across the board.

In his context, he was talking about doing charity work that works on a problem that may never be fully eradicated. If he’s able to bring water to every person on earth, there will always be another problem to solve after that.

“Once everyone has fresh drinking water, it’s not like I’m going to go get a job at a bank.” – Scott Harrison

I think too often we focus on the next stage of life or imagining ourselves after the work is done. Seeing ourselves as having been changed or somehow different once we’ve reached the end of the work. Our life’s work really has no end, at least until we die. That’s the only true end I know.

While we’ll complete various things over our lifetimes, really the growth can continue onward forever.

In addition, I think there is a general fear around attempting to tackle a problem with no end. We want to strive for completion, for impact, and to finish the work that we do in a substantial way.

The truth is, the most impactful work likely has no end. According to Scott, 662 million people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Over the last 10 years, his organization has helped about 7 million people gain access to fresh water through community wells and other strategies.

So in 10 years, his organization has raised over a quarter of a billion dollars and helped 1/100th of the people in need across the globe. It seems like such a small dent, but the impact is significant for so many people.

This situation reminds me of the story of the young boy walking down the beach, digging up starfish as he went. There were thousands of them, stranded all over the beach but he’d pick up one at a time and throw them back into the water.

Eventually, someone noticed what the boy was doing, looked over, and said, “Don’t you realize that you can’t help all of these starfish? You’re not really making much difference, there are thousands of them stranded here!” and as the boy throws yet another starfish into the ocean he responds, “It made a difference to that one.”

This is why we need people to step up and do work that potentially has no end, as intimidating as it can be. We can make a difference in the lives of individuals across the globe by doing important work.

I’m feeling particularly inspired, seeing the link between The Hope Effect and Charity:Water and the opportunity  to create change through those organizations. As Break the Twitch grows, I’d like to explore my own giving opportunities to see what causes I want to work on bettering the world with.

I would greatly regret living my life without seizing the opportunity to make a meaningful impact when I’ve been given so much in this life already.

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Wisdom

I’ve heard that having wisdom is being able to take your own advice. It must be why consultants often get paid so much money, it’s usually much easier to see problems from an outside perspective. Once you’ve been in a project, living with it, breathing it, it all becomes a big bowl of spaghetti.

You can’t tell where one noodle starts and another one ends.

After two years of implementing aspects of physical minimalism into my life, I’m struggling to implement it into my own creative endeavors.

Between YouTube comments, tweets, facebook notifications, emails, and the demands of producing video and written content, I’ve found myself completely overwhelmed. This is despite the fact that I’m so incredibly grateful for the comments and interactions I have through these mediums. Add that on top of managing the business side of things, writing a book, preparing a talk, and eghem.. a new puppy, and things really feel like they’re boiling over.

It’s very easy for me to get sucked into a continuous cycle of small, quick tasks that add up to a full day of work but don’t seem to actually make meaningful progress on much. The way my schedule currently is, I’ve realized that I could spend an entire day on something each day of the week and still come out ahead.

For example:

Monday: Respond to all YouTube comments and outline a new YouTube video and corresponding blog post.
Tuesday: Schedule all Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts for the week.
Wednesday: Write 2,000-3,000 words on the book.
Thursday: Film & Edit YouTube Video and create blog post for it.
Friday: Respond to all emails and clear inbox

Truly, the problem is that I worry about all of these things all at the same time. I can’t seem to segment them out in a meaningful way so that I can actually get single tasks done consistently. The world of online entrepreneurship is such a blob of possibility and opportunity.

The work will never be done and the prioritization of what aspects need to be done is what I’ve sort of always found difficult. I know that I can get this by using the same principles that have created space in my physical life, but it’s much easier said than done.

I’ll attempt to be wise and take my own advice here and see where it gets me.

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Change What You Can

There are so many things in life that simply cannot be changed, why not focus on changing the things we can? It’s a simple question, but not necessarily a simple answer. Firstly, we’re not necessarily aware of the things that we can change.

Either because they have slipped into our lives or we simply don’t notice them. Our tolerance builds slowly as small distractions become prevalent in our lives eventually leading to what seems like a normal life.

Despite not noticing, it’s there. The constant smartphone notifications interrupting our day is something we adjust to–but what is it actually doing? We must consider how our brains are adapting to be able to handle these recurring disruptions.

As humans, we were built to notice things that move off in the distance. To catch the small environmental changes for our own survival–it might be a predator in those bushes.

The tech we use full takes advantage of this, in moving, beeping, buzzing, and popping to capture any amount of our attention that it can. And they’re all competing for that small slice of attention.

So, why not take control of the things that we can control? We can turn off our unnecessary notifications.

We can remove the excess from our homes and take back our spaces. We can actively work to do the small things that matter to us every day.

There are many things in life that we simply cannot control, many outcomes that we might not have liked. But we are empowered to change so much of what can influence those results.

Change what you can, and flow with the rest.