Oct 112014
 

Last summer I went on vacation with a group of friends. We took a plane to Dublin, got ourselves transported a hundred-something kilometers south and then over the span of a few days we walked back.

200.000 paces, that way. Enjoy!

200.000 paces, that way. Enjoy!

At the end of each day everybody was very glad to be off of their feet. Gently rolling hills can be quite unforgiving if you have to traverse them by foot. And every evening we were very glad to be there. To have reached the goal!

But, then what?

Sure, there is the sense of victory (and the enjoyment of putting your feet up), but trust me, the moment is fleeting. So you go for the next goal? The next hostel the following day – the next vacation next year?

Yes of course that is what you do. A new dot on the horizon, preferably slightly more difficult and challenging than the previous one; slightly less rolling hills, maybe add another day of hiking. The next (big) thing! To reach another goal!

For a vacation it should be clear that this is not what it’s about. Taking one step at a time, taking in the surroundings, the conversation or the solitude. Being there, seeing, feeling, enjoying.

It’s not about the goal. It’s about the path.

I write because I enjoy writing. I play saxophone because I enjoy playing saxophone. The fact that at some point I might have a blog post (or a book?!), or that I will have become a “good” saxophone player are nice and perhaps even important. But in the end they are secondary.

As far as I know nobody ever found the goal of life (if someone did, please let me know!) So here there really is nothing better to do than to enjoy the ride!
Don’t get me wrong, a goal can be extremely helpful. It’s good to have something to aim for so that you can break up the task in its smaller components; to get to Dublin, you have to put one foot in front of the other and you have to do that give-or-take 200,000 times. But if you don’t like putting one foot in front of the other, don’t make it your goal to walk to Dublin!

Goals are endless. You can always have bigger or better or faster. There is always something else (more!) to do.

But remember: 99(.9999)% of the time you’re working on getting there and not on being there. Make sure you enjoy the trip!


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Oct 062014
 

A few years back I was a bit tired of my first job. And like anybody else in that situation, I was applying for a new one.

You want make remark about tie?!?

You want make remark about tie?!?

Now, this was my second round of interviews I had done in my life (the first was for my first job of course) and as such I was a bit more confident about my abilities, but I was still quite nervous.

At one point I had an interview a bit further away from home. Was pre-occupied, rushing to make my train, thinking about the answers to the standard questions (“Well ma’am, one of my weaknesses is that I tend to bite the head off of anybody asking me un-original questions…”) and about the really smart questions I would ask in turn (“So, uh, you’re like, the boss around here?”). In my commotion it took me until the moment I stepped off of the train to realize that my pants and my jacket didn’t match!

I stood nailed to the ground (not very smart if you’re getting out of a train). My blood was pumping, heart was racing, sweat was pouring out of every pore. I felt I’d rather die than go on with the interview…

That was a few years back. In that time I feel I’ve gotten to be just a tad more confident. Yet still I care a lot about what they might think (for a certain value of they of course).

In those years I also did a tad of reading and one of the things that stayed with me was some research in how self-absorbed people tend to be, focusing only on what is important to them and basically ignoring everything else.

I’m considering a follow-up experiment: Wearing the exact same suit for another month-and-a-half. I’m just afraid that I would start reprimanding myself for being a filthy pig…
Combining my new-found confidence and my bookish wisdom I decided upon an experiment. After carefully selecteing the test population (the people at my office) I formed my hypothesis: “People really don’t notice they way you look”. And to test this I did the following ingenious (if I may say so myself) experiment: I wore the same tie to work every day, for 45 days straight.

The outcomes were quite a surprise:

  • Number of reprimands by the boss for being a filthy pig because of wearing the same item of clothing every day: 0
  • Number of remarks on the consistency of my wardrobe: 0
  • Number of careful and well-hidden questions to casually find out whether I indeed wore the same tie as yesterday: 0
  • Number of moments where there might have been the hint of someone having an inkling of an idea that what I was wearing was in fact the same piece of clothing as I had worn for the past month-and-a-half: 0

My conclusions are fully in line with previous research: People pay way more attention to themselves and what is important to them right here and right now than to anything that you might worry about!

Oh and in case you wondered, the interview I started off with went very well indeed and I worked for four years there.


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Oct 012014
 

Most of my monthly challenges have been failures, more or less. Sure, most times I would do something, but it was haphazard, inconsistent, unorganized.

Too bad I'm usually too busy wheezing my lungs out to mind the surroundings much...

Too bad I’m usually too busy wheezing my lungs out to mind the surroundings much…

Last month was different. Last month was a great success! It was at the same time a great failure.

My challenge was to run every day. And to really push myself I decided to make a little bet with myself / the universe, at the value of a thousand Euros.

Last blog post I already mentioned that I cheated. And though I did do what my intention was (to exercise), I didn’t do what I said I would (to run!). I had been doing a very good job of talking myself out of that, but luckily I have some very observant reader(s) who kindly reminded me to “put my money where my mouth was”. Which is absolutely correct of course and to be frank I’m very happy that there are people out there keeping me honest, so thanks! Before the year is over I will have donated a thousand Euro to a worthy cause (suggestions are welcome).

So far the first part of my failure.

The second part was something I could’ve thought of as well: Running every day is a lot for your body. Especially if you’re not used to running and when your knees aren’t an 18-year-old’s anymore. The first week-and-a-half gave muscles-ages. The last week-and-a-half gave not quite painful, but not entirely ok knees either.

Kids: When doing sports, you also need time to recuperate!

And then the success: I did run (ok, exercise) every day!

To keep into the spirit (but not over-tax myself) I’ll keep on running (exercising!), but I’ll tone down the frequency. SMART: I will run (exercise!) twice per week, on Monday and Thursday. I’ll review this by the end of the month.
Knowing that this was something I would need to do made me plan my day around it (sortof); if I knew that I wouldn’t be able to run right out of work, then I just had to get up a bit earlier and do it in the morning. Every day means there is no forgetting (I’m sure putting some money on it helped with that as well. Too bad it wasn’t enough…) and whether you run or don’t is also very easy to measure.

Lessons learned from this:

  • A SMART challenge really helps to do it
  • It’s very important to think about exactly what it is that I’m getting myself into, whether it really is attainable in the form I write it down
  • Going for a run is really nice, once it gets to the point where it is something that you just do (instead of forcing yourself to it)

Despite the failure(s), I consider this challenge a success!

And of course I need a new challenge. I’ve been thinking about wanting to write more, but I never make the time for it. I know that my biggest hurdle is starting. So as an experiment I’m not going to make my challenge to write, but instead I’m going to make it my challenge to open the file of my book, six days per week. I don’t have to work on it, but my expectation is that once I’m over the very first hurdle I’ll get to it anyway. Let’s see what happens…


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Sep 272014
 

My challenge for this month is to run every day. The challenge has been going pretty well, but more about that some other time.

However: "The scenery only changes for the lead rat"

However: “The scenery only changes for the lead rat”

Because a few days the challenge did not go so well. It’s not that I didn’t do it. It’s that I cheated.

On one of my first few days I ran to the bus. 100 meters, if that. Not really what I had in mind, though technically it counted (I never specified how far or long I would run). Then there were the days I didn’t run at all, but I did do something else quite strenuous (hike for an hour, bike for an hour). Technically I didn’t do what I said I would, but in spirit this was perfectly ok.

I like to keep my word. Especially if I made it in (semi) public.

Is it ok to re-interpret my challenge to allow technical compliance and compliance in spirit?! Tough question!

“He who dies with the most toys, still dies”
In the end I came to this: I’m doing this for myself. I feel happy with what I accomplished. I think what I did was maybe not in line with the letter of my challenge, but life is not about the fine print anyway (or even the large print)! Conclusion: Challenge still going strong!

Thinking about this triggered a whole new train of thought: What do I measure myself by in general. How do I know I’m doing what I should be doing? How do I know I’m successful?

If you don’t set your own goals, don’t decide for yourself what is important, there are lots of other places to look. People will deem you to have “made it” if you become rich, if you have a “career”, if you’re famous.

But: ”Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat!”

I desperately do not want to be famous. I said goodbye to the traditional career when I became a freelancer. Having money still is nice, but it’s only an enabler, not a goal in itself.

What then? What makes me successful? How do you measure that? And perhaps more importantly, when do you measure that? On your death bed, looking back? When you’ve “made it” (and afterwards you can stop – living, trying?)? Or minute by minute, day by day, month by month? I don’t believe in the second one, but both the first and last have a certain ring to it. A balance between the short term and the long term.

I don’t know exactly what success means for me. But I’m one step closer in figuring it out!


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Sep 242014
 

This past weekend I was in the Netherlands to celebrate two very good friends getting married. And I didn’t just get to celebrate, I got to be a very intimate part of it, as they had asked me to be master of ceremonies (luckily together with four other lovely people)!

I'm not really the marrying kind, but throwing a party like that must be awesome!

I’m not really the marrying kind, but throwing a party like that must be awesome!

Seeing a wedding “from the inside” is definitely something! So far I’ve only had to enjoy the occasion, drink my beer, have some cake, congratulate the bride and groom, hand over some gifts (and get them handed back, to be dropped at the ubiquitous “presents table”) and then go back to drinking beer, talking to old friends and having a dance.

Don’t worry, I got to do all of the above. But in between I was helping to drag big flower pots back and forth, hanging decoration, greeting guests that were early to arrive, directing guests to the right location when they were late to arrive, making sure that people knew they got to go on a picture with the happy couple, announcing speeches, announcing funny songs, helping to set up dinner, getting the bride a glass to drink, pointing, directing, helping.

At the end of the day I was feeling just a tad tired. But when I finally got to crash down on my air mattress (because why wouldn’t you go camping after a nice wedding?!), I couldn’t sleep. Too many things still dripping through my subconscious to let my consciousness get the rest it deserved.

One of the things that came to me was: “I’m happy!”

Happy that my friends had a beautiful day and that they had announced to the world that they loved each other. Happy to have been a part of it, to have helped with it. Even if it’s not your turn in the limelight, it’s still awesome to be directing the beam!

And something that had been at the back of my head for some time came to the fore: To be happy you have to do something.

The downside of never getting married: You don’t get a bachelor party either!
Helping to organize a wedding is a lot of work and especially at the moment you have to start it, it feels like a burden. Yet during all the time I was busy with it, I enjoyed myself immensely. Afterwards I felt very good indeed.

I have a tendency to be tired after a long day (like everybody?) and I make the easy choices; to surf the web or watch a series, instead of doing something that may cost some energy but in the end will make me feel so much better. To go out for a walk (however small). Or to write. And I find that when I do do something, energy comes flowing back very quickly.

I’m not sure whether I’m going to be helping anybody organize their wedding anytime soon though… :-)


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!