Category Archives: Creating Freedom

Cascading Goals and Nasty Sandwiches

Let’s talk about cascading goals.

But first, I think real freedom is:
1) Deciding to be happy right now, in spite of anxiety or chaos or drama in your life. Focus on gratitude and abundance.

2) Establishing habits, routines, and cascading goals that empower you. More on “cascading goals” in a moment.

3) Dream lining and long term goal setting to help reduce anxiety.

OK so let’s break down “cascading goals.”

One example for me would be daily exercise. It has empowered me in a way that I never could have predicted. Being in good shape gives me confidence, better sleep, the drive to take on bigger projects, more energy, better health overall, and so on.

In other words, daily exercise and being fit doesn’t just affect one area of your life–it affects nearly every area. And when you add up all of those different benefits, it makes pretty big impact overall.

And then there are the “second order benefits” of exercise. This the cascading idea. So because I set an ambitious exercise goal (i.e., run a marathon) and I eventually met that goal, it gave me the confidence to set more lofty goals in other areas of my life. And so I aimed much higher than I ever would have as a result of meeting an exercise goal and feeling that boost of confidence that comes from being in good shape.

Difficult to explain but the effect is real. I had to experience it first hand to really grasp it.

So what are some other examples of cascading goals? Things such as:

* Quality sleep.
* Quality nutrition.
* Frugality/healthy finances.
* Assertiveness.

I cannot actually vouch for the nutrition idea. I only suggest that based on what I have heard from others.

But the other 3 on that list, the sleep, frugality, and assertiveness–those all have a huge impact on my life.

I think it is worth noting the idea that you can frame any of those “cascading goals” in terms of the negative as well. For example

Sleep = poor sleep habits become a drag on all parts of your life.
Finances = poor finances will become a drag on you in many different ways.
Assertiveness = being passive or overly aggressive can lead to unhappiness and toxic relationships.

Which brings up another good point: If you want to know which “cascading goal” may have the biggest impact on your life, just take a look at your current pain points.

What is causing you grief, anxiety, stress, or negativity lately? What are your pain points?

Some examples of these might include:

* Addictions of any kind. Drugs, booze, sex, food, gambling, etc.
* Anxiety or depression.
* Physical illness or debilitating injuries.

You can probably think of other pain points as well that might affect several areas of your life.

The bottom line is, if you suffer from any of these major pain points, then getting help and fixing the problem would be your biggest impact goal the moment. Nothing else could give you more value for your effort, because these “negative cascading goals” have such a negative impact on so many different areas of your life.

I currently keep a note file on my phone that is separated by day of the week. Each day I have tasks penciled in such as “3 minute plank” or “10 minute meditation session” and so on.

Since I am constantly glancing at my phone anyway (bad habit?), I quickly review this task list periodically and make sure I am ticking off the boxes. This is habit creation in the digital era.

Check your list, complete your tasks. Periodically review them and when things come up, add them on to your list. It’s nice because you may know that you will not have time for a new idea until Thursday, so you just put the new idea under “Thursday” on your task list. Anyway that is my current productivity system and it is working great so far. It is helping me to knock out tasks that I am not always motivated for in the moment (like 3 minute planks!).

My major remaining pain point is being passive/not assertive enough. Honestly I have addressed most of my other pain points in life and so I really need to focus on assertiveness training. Luckily my work allows for that right now if I am willing to rise to the challenges that are presented.

Sometimes I get….not sure of the right word here, selfish maybe? It’s anxiety, lack of gratitude, and being passive. I get mad at the universe or at my situation because I am being passive, I am afraid to assert myself, and I am not recognizing the abundance I already have. This is madness, and the first step is in recognizing that it is madness to be unhappy because I think that I lack something.

The reality is that I want for nothing really, I have health, fitness, good relationships, a decent job, purpose, and plenty of resources to create whatever I may choose. But because I am passive at times and I fail to choose anything, I get restless and discontent. That is madness. This is why, for some people, the solution to anxiety is to dream line. Figure out what you want and strive for it, brushing off drama and anxiety on your way there.

Imagine Bill Gates at home with his wife Melinda. She says “Oh by the way Bill, my family is invading your home next week, I hope that is not a problem.”

Now let’s assume that for Bill Gates, having his in-laws stay over is the equivalent of eating a shit sandwich. How does he cope with that stress? Does his billions of dollars somehow buy him relief from this invasion into his personal life?

No, being rich does not get you out of every shit sandwich. The solution is dream lining….Bill Gates has a few exciting projects on the back burner, and so his solution is to dive into that exciting and rewarding work. He cannot say to every shit sandwich that shows up in his life “here, take a million dollars and go away.” Instead, he has to create excitement and positive feelings in some other way. So dream lining is the solution to the loss of personal freedom. It gives you something positive to focus on when a shit sandwich shows up in life.


* Productivity system. Simple task list, knock out daily to-dos. Form habits, etc.
* A focus on long term goals, cascading goals. Pay big dividends in the long run. Build these new goals and habits into your daily task list.
* Decide to be happy today, with abundance and gratitude.
* Dream line to overcome shit sandwiches.

That is where I am at lately and what I am focusing on. What about you?

Creation and the Paradox of Total Freedom

Let me give you a piece of chocolate.

Let it melt in your mouth for a moment. The name of this chocolate is creation.

According to Albert Camus, there are really only 3 basic choices in this world.

In a seemingly uncaring and hostile universe where we are searching for some sort of meaning…..

The 3 choices are:

1) Suicide. (yikes, really?)
2) Philosophical suicide (subvert your beliefs to religious dogma).
3) Create your own meaning.

I have given it an honest effort and I am simply not wired for the first two options. I have tried, tried again.

And I always end up coming back to option number 3. That is the only thing that works for me.

I cannot accept someone else’s dogma. I just can’t do it. The people who “write the rules” (so to speak) don’t have special knowledge. My mind simply refuses to believe it.

And so I just can’t subvert my beliefs to religious dogma. I have tried.

Freedom comes with a price.

In “The Paradox of Choice” we learn that most people are actually happier with LESS choice.

And yet we all believe that we will be happier if we have more options, more freedom, more power.

Those who subvert their beliefs for dogma have accepted a set of constraints in their life. That is what dogma is….at the core it is a set of constraints. It is a set of limits.

And strangely enough, this generally leads to more happiness.

And yet I cannot “get there.” I can’t seem to accept the constraints.

It is not necessarily a lack of faith. I don’t know what it is exactly. But I can’t accept dogma being preached to me. I can’t just accept it, believe it, and be happy with it. I can’t let that become my purpose.

So it is my responsibility to create my own meaning, my own purpose.

It is so much easier to define what we are not.

I quit smoking, quit drinking, etc. Defined by things I am not.

So then later: “I am a runner.” That is a start on creating meaning.

But it can’t stop there, can it? We need more than that.

And then: I am a writer. I create on the blank page, without fear, heck….without even stopping to think. I write like a madman most times.

And later on: I am an entrepreneur. I have created one successful business. Now I sell my time to the highest bidder, which I deem to be more profitable than creating another business.

I have reduced the waste in my life to nearly nothing. That means I am frugal and spend money very consciously and carefully.

It also means that I have a lot more power in terms of cash flow, investment income, even retirement options. I am not exactly a slave to the workplace at this point.

And this leads to choices. I have choices today. Lots of choice. Power, even.

But perhaps what I really need are constraints.

I need a better problem to solve.

A puzzle that will entertain and delight.

I need to reinvent myself. Again. And become that better version of myself by creating something new.

Complacency is a lack of creation. What are you creating in your life?

If you are not making anything then you are complacent.

In this sense you are no different than your higher power.

Look around at all of this stuff that God made. And I am going to sit here and complain about Facebook? Really?

Personal growth is not an act of elimination. You have to create something; make something. Build something. Build yourself. Reinvent yourself.

Today I am creating my own meaning, my own purpose. Because I have rejected all other forms of dogma. I can’t help it.

Not because I am awesome. I simply can’t accept the programming. My mind rejects dogma. Tell me how to think, and my mind rebels.

I have plenty of choices and plenty of power at my disposal.

Is freedom the path to happiness?

Chuck Palahniuk said:

“All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.”

The opposite of boring is…..creating. Creation. We become exciting when we are creating. When we are thrashing about, trying to make something happen.

I cannot afford to be idle. I have to make. If I don’t do this the universe will step in and impose constraints on me. Then I have to create.

So I may as well do it now. Unprovoked. Find a point of passion and run with it.

If you are going to create your own meaning and your own purpose, then don’t just browse Facebook all day and watch TV. That is a recipe for misery.

Build. Make. Create.


That’s what God wants for you, after all.

He wants you to create. He wants you to play in his sandbox.

Now go eat some chocolate, and be happy….

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