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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Staying the Course and Pursuing Your Dreams

Robert Manni - Monday, July 24, 2017


The great Charles Bukowski once wrote, “Slavery was never abolished. It was expanded to include everyone.”

One of the toughest challenges we face is remaining steadfast in pursuit of our aspirations while living in a dysfunctional culture built on the back on the common man and his debt and servitude. Here’s a typical scenario: It’s mid-July, it’s a sunny ninety degrees outside and you’re trapped in a high-rise office toiling away as usual. You emerge from your cubicle and stare out the window down to the street below, wondering where everyone is going and why you’re chained to your desk grinding away on another post-buy analysis spreadsheet coupled with an unrealistic timetable from your boss.

Welcome to the junior-level work life in New York. You want to follow your passion and be a rock star, a writer, or an actor and create something that will hold value and have meaning, but right now it feels like the core of your existence revolves around that lengthy report on a bathroom cleaner that smells like bleach. You ask yourself, “How do I find the time to pursue my dream while I’m working like a drone in bee colony?” On top of this challenge is how easily distracted we get, especially when living in a massive city filled with…lots of distractions. So, despite how focused you are, staying the course is not always easy.

But take heart. There is good news. First, you are not alone. There are thousands of other young bucks just like you in the big bad city putting their dreams on hold while toiling away at junior level positions. But I’m hear to tell you that if you play your cards right you can find the time to stay the course and make your mark on the world.

In over three decades fighting the good fight at corporations and agencies across the city, I often felt that I did not have enough time to pursue dreams that were slowly fading away. But because of my passion and belief in my message and myself, I found time to keep that dream train rolling down the tracks no matter how much day-to-day business needed my attention.

Your Guy’s Guy wants to share a few tricks he’s learned about staying focused on one’s passions in the face of an omnipresence clock and the realities of survival in the big city. So here are my tips for staying the course, surviving and thriving while following your dreams. That’s the idea, right?

1. Become an early riser – I recently read an article about the success secrets of a number of well-known entrepreneurs and successes in business including Elon Musk and Warren Buffet. They all shared one trait. They all got up every day at 4:45am. That’s pretty early if you ask me, but these visionaries know the importance of carving out time each day to focus on their passion, dreams, and some me-time to gather their thoughts before tackling the day. I’ve found getting up earlier has become easier with each passing year and I whole-heartedly endorse this practice. I use these early hours for affirmations, creatively, and to map out the day and how I’ll allocate the ensuing hours to my passions, my work, and all the usual day-to-day tasks.

2. Burn the midnight oil – If you can’t handle getting up early then consider staying up later to focus on your passions. And by your passions I don’t mean the blonde next to you in bed. My mind is clearer in the morning, but I have come up with a number of out-of-the-box ideas while burning the midnight oil. Whether you make time early or late in the day, the goal is to use these precious hours to stay on course and move your personal projects along. Write a song, map out a “what if” idea for a book or screenplay, or focus an hour or two on whatever inspires you to dream.

3. Meditate to keep your mind fresh – Speaking of keeping your mind clear and open to your creative passions, there is no better way to stay mentally and spiritually fresh than a brief meditation. I do my best to put at least fifteen minutes aside for the sole purpose of quieting my mind and allowing it to empty all my garbage thoughts and monkey chatter, like what team Kylie Irving should play for next year or when will the Rolling Stones will drop a new album. All this mental small talk chatter results in wasting valuable time that could be use to focus on what you really want to focus on.

4. Use your workouts creatively – If there was ever a reason for multitasking it’s using your workouts to think creatively and solve problems. I realize that pushing iron and playing golf require a tight focus, but cardio sessions are great for zoning out and getting in touch with your inner voice. I mapped out and mentally constructed most of my novel, The Guys Guy’s Guide to Love, during my long runs. Now I also use the time on the road to come up with ideas for blog posts, memes, book ideas, and tweaks to my screenplay and adapted TV series. I get my workout in and figure things out at the same time. That’s a win-win.

5. Find work relative to your true passion – Although my background is in marketing and brand management, I always held an interest in advertising because I wanted to be close to the creative process during my work. I choose account management because I did not want to use up all of my psychic energy coming up with ads for canned ravioli or cooking spray. But, I wanted to be surrounded by creative people and use my creativity to solve brand issues without having to write the ads. It turned out pretty well. I learned the creative process and cleared a wide path for my teams to excel. And the things I’m most proud from my advertising career are the great campaigns I’ve been part of that bolstered the sales of mega brands I worked on including Bacardi rum, Stolichnaya vodka and 1800 tequila to name a few. Of course it doesn’t hurt when you’re working on image brands. But during this time I never lost sight of my own projects and creative goals and used my free time to pursue my passions.

6. Learn to prioritize – Finding the time to stay the course for your long term goals and creative projects is a balancing act. The best way to keep all the balls in the air is by prioritizing your projects within the amount of time you can allocate for them throughout the day. Time flashes by but if you are mentally organized you can identify those tasks most important to your survival and can still set enough time aside to take care of business and your goals. Don’t forget, you almost always have the weekends to carve out some time for your personal projects.

Life is short, but there are lots of hours, days, weeks and years available to us if we take care of ourselves and stay organized. Of course, if you want to follow your dreams and you have a dismal job, make sure you keep your spirits up, think creatively, and find the time to follow your dreams. It’s up to you amigo, and I know you can do it.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is the great writer Charles Bukowski whom I mentioned in the opening of this post. Bukowski worked for years in a series of menial odd jobs before becoming a professional writer at the age of forty-nine. In fact, one of his most successful novels is Post Office a hilarious, sad and poignant chronicle about his twelve-year stint at the USPS.

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