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I’ve basically done jack shit the past week, and left a bunch of posts to be published unfinished, because of some general chaos in my life.
Now, it was at the very least good chaos – the shipment of some equipment necessary to rework my entire business operation, the unexpected arrival of my kids to stay for an entire week instead of just the weekend, the sale of a few extra things that allowed me to buy food I can’t normally afford. Like, you know, actual meat.
Today is my parent’s forty-third wedding anniversary. (Yes, if you look that up, my parents were married on Friday the 13th. And yes, this is five months before I was born.) And in considering this, I realised a number of things.
Mainly that I’m never going to have one of those.
There’s all kinds of stuff that, at this point in my life, is almost certainly never going to happen. I’m never going to get married again, because honestly there’s just no point to it – from my perspective, marriage is for family and children, but I’m rapidly approaching “too old for more kids” at which point marriage becomes completely irrelevant.
The “too old for more kids” isn’t because of capability. Hell, guys in their seventies are capable. But I do not want to be raising teenagers when I’m over 65, which means I have to have had all my children before I’m 46. Which, in turn, means they all need to be conceived by February of 2015.
This is where my personal morals and beliefs come into play. I don’t believe in having children out of wedlock, and I don’t believe in getting married without at least a year of engagement, and I don’t believe in getting engaged less than a year into the relationship. Which is a simple matter of mathematics: I would need to be married by the end of 2015, which in turn means being engaged by the end of 2013, which means I need to be in a serious relationship by the end of this year.
Which means I have six months to meet the mother of my last child.
And if she wants more than one, I have to have already met her. That’s basically Heather Bierlink – she’s the only woman on the planet with whom I could conceivably (no pun intended) have two children. If we get married within the next six months, which is simply not happening.
So I will have at most one more child. And I currently know a grand total of three women who might conceivably be in the running to have that child. No, I’m not saying who they are, except that one of them is Heather. And two of those three want more than one child, which leaves exactly one serious possibility… and anyone new I might happen to meet in the next six months.
But after that, I’m just plain done having kids. And if I’m done having kids, it’s pointless to get married.
It also means I’ll never have a daughter. Well, unless one of my existing kids goes M-F transgender, but that’s an extremely personal decision that should certainly never be made because your dad always wanted a daughter. It’s not the same thing, anyway; I don’t want to “have a daughter” so much as to “raise a little girl,” which leaves fostering and adoption and single mothers in the running, but only for a three-year window – following which that door closes forever and the ship has sailed.
In addition, this means it’s pointless to get civilly divorced, but at some point in my life I’ll probably meet someone who doesn’t want to be in a serious relationship with a married man for one reason or another. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it; for the moment, it’s convenient in a legal sense to remain married until Logan and Conor are in their teens… just in case, God forbid, something drastic should happen. Drastic things do happen, after all, and they’re difficult enough for all concerned without also involving a massive battle over custody and guardianship. So long as their mother and I remain married, there’s no battle to be had if a situation arises – the kids go to dad, end of story.
There’s also the very real perception in the tech industry that an engineer looking for a job in his forties is probably incompetent or obsolete, if not both. So my twenty-year career in software development is basically worth jack shit.
More or less the same way my fourteen years of building a family to the exclusion of everything else is worth fuck all at this point.
This isn’t some weepy whinging post about how awful things are. They are what they are. And if you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, sitting there in your early twenties with the world at your feet… look, reality is what it is. You think you’ve got time. You think what you’re doing now will last forever. But at my age, when you’re rapidly coming up on the part where more of your life is behind you than there is ahead of you, that present-focus lifestyle where you think what you have is what you’ll always have… well, you start to realise just what a crock of shit that was.
Understand your past, present, and future. Everything I am and everything I do needs to change now, because my life is not what I imagined it was going to be. Understand your past, so you grasp what has changed and why. Understand your present, so you grasp what needs to be changed in response. And understand your future, so you grasp how it needs to change.
The first forty years of my life was primarily about fitting in. Fitting into an industry, a career path, a family, a lifestyle. And in the end, what I fit into did not serve me well or get me where I was headed. I compromised my plans and my desires for the good of others, and when it came time for those others to return the favour, they effectively told me to piss off because it was inconvenient to keep their promises and honour their commitments.
That was a bad investment. I won’t make one like it again.
I queue up posts several days in advance to be published between nine and ten AM.
Initially, these posts are just “talk about X” and then I go in and actually talk about that subject.
This week, my children have been here unexpectedly. Nobody ever tells me when the kids are coming or how long they will be here, so I’ve had to play dad as much as possible – I don’t get much time for that, so I take all I can get – and I didn’t have an opportunity to plan ahead for it and make sure the posts were queued up.
It’s easy to keep up with social media like Facebook over the course of the day. That’s scanning a feed, clicking some links, and rattling off a quick thought. But I put a bit more than that into my blog posts, which makes them more of a commitment. So a lot of the posts this week have been getting published as “discuss this thing” and then edited into final format hours later.
And right now, I need to go edit two posts into final format because one was supposed to be done yesterday and the other is being published within the hour. But I thought I’d dash off a quick note explaining, just in case anyone was going “WTF” about their RSS feed or something.
Rounding out Brendon Burchard’s five baseline drives in The Charge, we now come to connection.
This one’s been difficult for me to write about, which is why I sort of dropped the ball on getting it out by 10 AM like I try to do with all my blog posts.
If you’ll recall, yesterday I covered caring, and took a diametrically opposed position from Brendon’s – that we don’t have a drive to care for others.
But he’s spot-on with this one, because we most definitely have a drive to be cared for by others. This is one of the most difficult parts of my life, because I’m constantly surrounded by people who simply don’t give a shit.
This is primarily because I don’t normally have people in my life who do the things I do or enjoy the things I enjoy. Because, you know, those things are fucking weird. And people lie to you. They pretend they’re into the stuff you’re into, but when the relationship gets serious, you discover that they were kind of never into that and just wanted to hang out with you.
So when you wanted to sit around watching horror movies all day, they sat there with you even though they hate horror movies. And when you spent days playing Fallout 3, they simply didn’t say anything about all the blood and violence because they figured it was just a phase you’d get over.
But then you get serious, and suddenly it’s an issue. You watch too many horror movies and most of them suck and why don’t we watch more romantic comedies or children’s movies? And those violent video games have got to go because they simply do not belong in a house where children are going to be raised.
So Burchard’s right. We all want to feel connected to the people in our lives, and we always want those connections to be deeper and more meaningful. But this is a private, intimate kind of thing. Brendon recommends four to twelve “growth friends,” people that are really, truly important to you. He also recommends that you define your ideal relationships and deliberately pursue them.
But what I do have to take issue with is the notion of “positive projection,” which is a form of self-delusion. This is what bites me in the arse every time. The disintegration of my marriage came about explicitly because my wife was a lying, cheating, thieving bitch who simply played stupid every time I caught her fucking everything up. And “positive projection” says that you forgive people their faults and have patience.
When your wife spends all your money on bullshit so you’ve got no savings and the end of your contract leaves you dead broke and you have to scramble like hell to make the rent, and you say “what the FUCK happened?” only to be told that she “had no choice” because of collections agencies and bills and traffic tickets and whatever, you’re supposed to say “well, that was a mistake, and you should have done this, but it’s okay and we’ll be fine and PARDON ME WHILE I GO GIVE MYSELF A FUCKING ULCER RACING TO FIND A NEW CONTRACT.”
And then, in September of 2009, she finally admitted that she did this explicitly to prevent me from ever having the money or the time to start my own business again. If we had the ten thousand dollars in the bank I wanted to have by the end of my contract, I was just going to spend most of it trying to build something that nobody could ever build because it’s stupid. So instead, she spent all of it on nothing trying to force me into giving up those ambitions.
And “positive projection” is why this went on for over five years. I made excuses for her, and told her it was okay, and gave her all the time in the world to completely destroy everything. But it wasn’t until she went batshit insane in June of 2009 that I finally said “okay, we had the rent money when it was due, but three days later there’s an eviction notice on our window and the bank account is overdrawn and the bills still haven’t been paid and what the fuck.”
Because in May of 2009, I told her outright: I am not going back to work. I have put off building my business for five years, and I will not do it any more. I had my own business when we met, I have never been happier or more successful than when I was running my own business, and I absolutely detest not being able to watch my children grow up because I am out of the house 12 to 14 hours a day. If you absolutely cannot accept my own business being our primary source of income, then you can go get a job, because I will not do it.
So she got us evicted. At which point I said “this is unacceptable and you shall not control our finances anymore.” That’s when she delivered the ultimatum that if I would just give up this “run my own business” bullshit, she would stop deliberately spending all our money to stop me from doing it. At which point I said “that is even more unacceptable, and you shall not have any access to our finances whatsoever – give me the cheque book and all your bank cards, and when you need money you will ask me for it and I will get you cash.”
So she left me and took the children, then went and lied to the government about what happened so they’d take all my money and give it to her for child support. She literally gave them a figure for my monthly income which resulted in a child support payment that exceeded my unemployment cheques, so they’d take all my money. Except they can’t take more than half of it. Meanwhile, in the “did not think that one through” department, she claimed that she wasn’t getting any of the money and didn’t understand why they were taking it… because, you know, it’s not like the government keeps records or anything. Or like there would eventually be a hearing with full accounting for who got paid what when and by whom.
Or like this was, you know, evil.
All of that happened because I was with someone I loved – and still love, no matter how evil she may have become; the woman I fell in love with is still in there, and still my best friend, and sometimes I can spend entire hours not seeing the evil bitch that has grown around her – and I practiced “positive projection.” Whenever she was less than perfect, I insistently maintained that she was a wonderful person who had simply made a little mistake.
For three years after that, I practiced the same “positive projection” on my girlfriend and my parents and my colleagues and my friends. But you know what? They’re all arseholes. Not one of them gives a leaping shit in a glass Buick about me. All they care about is the mental image in their heads of who I am supposed to be, and when I pursue a different path, they quite deliberately fuck it up to try and make me follow the path they want me to follow.
Oh, but they mean well, because… wait, no they fucking don’t. They are trying to control other people’s lives through violence. Seriously, lying and cheating and stealing are forms of violence. When your friend lies to you, or cheats you, or steals from you, how many times have you said “it was like being punched in the gut” or something similar? That’s because it is. Deep down, you know that these things are violence. And the people who use them to try and control you are just bullies and terrorists.
So “positive projection” is the shittiest fucking advice on the planet. It’s pie in the sky bullshit that only works if you set the line properly and don’t let people fuck you over. But Burchard’s only failure in this is that he’s too fucking young to know how bad it can get, and that’s a good problem to have.
You know what really pisses me off?
I keep wanting to say “Hey, all those other people do that shit, but not me! I don’t do that! I’d never do that! You can trust me!”
But that’s exactly what one of those fuckers would say, so there’s no way in hell you could ever actually trust me to mean that. If I was going to rip you off and rob you blind and tell you to go fuck yourself, the first thing I would need to do is get you to trust me. And the fastest, easiest way to do that is to just tell you to fucking trust me.
And if you were a complete fucking idiot, you’d say “OKAY!” and start throwing money at me.
But if I actually want you as a customer, you’re not a complete fucking idiot. Do the math on that; if you’re completely fucking stupid and will trust someone just because they say “trust me!” – I don’t want you as a customer.
Seriously. Don’t trust me. Don’t believe whatever I tell you. Expect me to prove it. Demand that I prove it. When I tell you “my product will help you do this and that,” I mean three things.
First, if you don’t need to do this and that, don’t fucking buy it.
Honestly, don’t buy shit that doesn’t apply to you. If you have a thriving CPA business, and you’ve never wanted or needed to make your own products, why the fuck would you buy anything about making your own products? That’s just stupid. If you’re buying something to improve your business, buy shit about, you know – your business. Not whatever somebody told you is “the only way to make real money” or some such bullshit. There are thousands of business models out there. Find one that works for you, and stick to it.
Second, if you’re not going to do this and that, don’t fucking buy it.
Honestly, it is not my fucking problem if you’re too Goddamn lazy to get off your arse and do what I tell you in the product. I’m pretty up-front about the fact that my shit needs you to go do some fucking work, and if you don’t care enough to put in the time, just shut the fuck up and go away.
Finally, if you actually use the product to do this and that, expect it to fucking work.
Don’t make excuses. If you took a product I sold you and used it, but you didn’t get the results I promised… open your Goddamn mouth and say something about it. Because that basically means my product wasn’t good enough for you, and if it’s because you’re an overly demanding fuckhead I won’t be shy about telling you that… but if it’s because I fucked up, I want to fix it. Product development is a long and difficult process, and I’m constantly balancing “this problem needs more research” with “people need this now.” If you’ve found a problem with the product, bring me the problem and let me fix it.
There are a lot of people out there who will give you different instructions, because their instructions add up to them getting to take and keep your money more often. They’ll tell you their products are for “everyone” or that it’s an “autopilot” system or the product “needs a certain commitment.” They’ll tell you that you should try it to see if it’s for you, and ask for a refund if it isn’t. Because there’s no risk!
But that’s bullshit. That’s a waste of your fucking time. Real business owners are ruthless with their time. They don’t have thirty days to work full-time on some stupid new SEO strategy; they have a couple hours a day, at most, and if they don’t know whether SEO is for them or not… they aren’t going to waste over a hundred hours on it.
And you want a real business, right? Because that’s the shit I’m talking about here, not fucking around being entertained by the dog and pony show of “automatic ninja push button sniper autopilot panda assassin” bullshit.