I’m an ambitious Ares. Essentially that means I have tendencies built into my personality that I have to be cognizant of, or else those tendencies get me into trouble.
Being an ambitious Ares means I exhibit a considerable amount of intensity as well as a desire to attain greatness and achievement.
Inversely, that tremendous energy can also fizzle out just as quickly. I can become distracted by the next shiny new thing. This may be a goal, a desire, or an interest.
When I was younger I used to just chalk these tendencies up to it just being my personality. I relinquished control to the idea that I had no control over myself.
Today my mentality and sense of presence are different. I now know that just stating “That’s just my personality” is a cop-out. It is not coming from the accountable perspective I hope to hold.
I am now well aware that predisposition is just a false construct people have about themselves. It becomes ingrained and self-fulfilled, despite it being pliable and within our control.
Yet still, sometimes I lose sight. My perspective of myself becomes askew and I am doomed to failure. This is the story of my most recent failure. I’ve dubbed it my Nano-failure.
My writing and my relationship with my wife are two wonderful examples of exceptions to my predisposition of being an ambitious Ares.
In terms of my writing I decided earlier this year to make it a regular practice. I conditioned myself to make it a daily habit.
I made that decision more than six months ago and I’ve written nearly every day since. The night before the first draft of this article was written I wrote a 2600 word piece. The long-term continuation of my daily writing habit disproves the perspective my twenty-something year old self held.
My relationship with my wife, Kodid, is another example that invalidates my self-labeling of being an ambitious Ares.
Kodid and I began dating in January of 2002. I beguiled her into marrying me in August of 2007. We still have an engaging and fun relationship. To this day we still manage to keep things fresh and exciting.
The spark hasn’t dulled. If anything, we have both become better communicators. We have even grown closer as we have matured over the past decade and a half.
Please don’t misunderstand; having a long-term relationship, or a positive productive habit like consistently writing, is hard work.
They both require an immense amount of effort, time, and emotional energy. Both require an understanding of what love means in its verb form. And finally, both require honesty and a vulnerable openness.
Internally I know the payoff of both are worth it. Regardless of what I need to invest, I know what I will withdraw is of exponentially greater value.
Even while maintaining this awareness of being an ambitious Ares, sometimes distractions occur. Occasionally I detour from the path of production, growth, and improvement.
These days I’m more organized, focused, and diligent than I have ever been before, but recently I went quite some distance down the wrong road. Enter Nanowrimo.
Nanowrimo is a online writing challenge that occurs every November. Would-be novelists and fiction writers set out to write fifty thousand words before the month comes to a close. Mathematically it requires an average of 1,667 words per day.
I became aware of Nanowrimo several years ago. I always though it sounded like a wonderful endeavor. This was to be the year I would take on the contest.
It is quite a lofty goal though. Writing fifty thousand words requires consistence and resilience. I thought I was in a perfect place in my writing and in the universe to meet the challenge this month. Boy, was I wrong.
I entered the month committing to myself to participate and beat Nanowrimo. I even went as far as publicly announcing my goal and intentions on my various social media platforms. I doubled down within one-on-one conversations I held with friends and family members.
These actions were deliberate. I knew they would serve to reinforce my internal drive and desire. I also knew they would set up a faux system of additional external accountability.
I succeeded on both accounts, but there was massive incongruity lurking.
Balancing consistently creating content for a blog, penning a weekly column for another website, and maintaining a search for my next career are more than the equivalent of a full time job as it is. On top of that, I am responsible for producing an income and being present for my aforementioned wife and our daughter.
When setting out to take on the challenge that is Nanowrimo, I hadn’t realized that I had zero capacity for an undertaking of such immense proportion. Adding a fifty thousand word fiction story to my already busy calendar was out of the question. Something had to give.
November started out well enough. My Nanowrimo story began smoothly. The first few days I managed to produce over two thousand words each day.
However, my blog and article writing took an immediate backseat. I was beginning to dig a hole for myself as I fell behind in those other tasks.
Additionally, I was making less time than I should have for my loving, fun, and understanding wife. I was not aware I was doing this while within the blinders of my intensity, but I was.
This continued similarly for a week., then the situation worsened.
I got sick. What started as a scratchy throat quickly turned into a full blown cold. My scratchy throat continued to exacerbate until I had trouble eating and it was excruciating to cough. I coughed often and hard.
Inevitably the house of cards I had been building collapsed and I ended up on bed rest with my voice gone.
At first I was in denial of what it meant and what I was doing. After reflection and stern analysis from wife, I realized I needed to reflect and reevaluate. Most of all, I needed a break.
For almost two days I didn’t worry about my crowded schedule. I didn’t write. I didn’t work out. I rested.
Next I reengaged with my wife. I even took a little time to myself to lay on the couch and watch some Netflix. Netflix used to be one of my past-time enjoyable distractions, but I rarely allow myself to partake these days.
These were all things I hadn’t allowed myself to do for the week prior.
Additionally, while I was on my self-imposed respite, I assessed my abundant workload. What was important? What was secondary? What could be eliminated altogether?
And perhaps, most importantly, where did my family fall on my daily list of priorities?
I had over thirty pages written in my Nanowrimo story. This was no small feat. However, I recognized that regardless of how much I desired the completion of the challenge and no matter how much I enjoyed creating the world within that story, it was truly a non-essential task.
I would not achieve my current business and financial goals by writing the first draft of a fiction novel. Quite possibly the story will never even see revisions. Most likely I would never publish it.
Despite the relative ease with which the story was coming to life and the short term fulfilling feelings of accomplishment, the challenge of Nanowrimo did not serve me.
I stepped away from the project entirely. I even came to the realization that another daily task I had previously deemed of high importance could be significantly deprioritized.
Before my illness and my break I was completing Spanish lessons on a daily basis. I had been doing this for nearly a year out of an internal desire to learn a second language. After reflecting I realized I had created urgency around the habit, but it was of low actual importance.
All I was really getting from my Spanish lessons was that dopamine hit derived from completing and crossing the task off my daily to-do list. The Spanish lessons were just another distraction from the tasks on my plate that were of true importance and high long term value.
I began to have clarity on what I truly needed to be doing and in what order I should be doing it in.
I quickly caught back up on my blog and column writing. I even added ‘doing something my wife wants to do’, ‘doing something my daughter wants to do’, and ‘having physical connection with my wife’ to my scheduled daily tasks.
It may seem silly to have to put these items on my daily planner as tasks to be completed, but to an ambitious Ares such as myself it is necessary.
Seeing these important tasks everyday serves as a reminder of what is truly important in my life. It makes it impossible to forget and neglect those I love.
Even though I tend toward workaholism, sometimes at the detriment of my own well-being, my family is a primary reason I drive toward business, financial, and personal success.
I am definitely disappointed that I will not hit fifty thousand words before December first. I am also somewhat embarrassed that I made such a big deal out of something at which I ended up failing, but I am happier with a small failure then losing momentum and perspective on my overall goals.
As an ambitious Ares, systems of organization are necessary to prevent the all-too-common distractions that arise in my life. Like a week long, thirty-something page Nanowrimo lesson in failure, I need to remain cognizant of when I am just chasing that shiny new thing and get myself back on the correct path.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my most recent failure and the key learnings I took from it. I’d love to hear if you experienced anything similar in your own life or at work. Please feel free to comment anytime with your own story of failure and growth. I look forward to reading it.
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