Finding Different Gears

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” 

―Steve Jobs

Although I never felt like anything in my life was going right, when I look back things make a lot more sense. This piece is about my journey of finding different gears.

My life and many of my accomplishments revolve around a theme; when I find something that I love, I become obsessed. It never gets to the point of being dangerous, but it has definitely gotten out of control a few times.

When I was really into gaming, some days I would play for 12 hours. Early in my poker career, I was averaging 70-80 hour weeks for months at a time at some points. I become so enveloped in the competition and trying to become better that I lose all sense of balance. I would grind and grind because I wanted to win and I loved it. Wanting to be great was part of my motivation. But at the end of the day, I loved it. You couldn’t have paid me to stop playing at that point.

The tipping point

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” 

Joseph Campbell

All great things must come to an end. There were times in my life where I thought that I would never be done with gaming. Knowing how passionate I was and how much of my life revolved around it, I couldn’t see it happening.

That being said, in my late teens, I got to this point where I realized that I was playing out of habit. I used to have that fire inside to compete and somewhere along the way I lost it. The fire faded. I was still playing a lot, but I wasn’t even enjoying it – I was kind of addicted.

The real problem was that it was the only thing I was good at. It was my routine and its familiarity was comforting to me.

But in reality, it was a shield. It was my way of getting away from the realities of daily life. It allowed me to forget about life for a while. 

But once you’ve neglected reality for long enough, returning can be… Difficult.

Discovering old gears

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” 

―Carl Jung

A few years later, I rediscovered poker. I played a little with friends and family growing up. Sometimes in high school, I would play online in the micro stakes. Something about poker and the strategy behind it always intrigued me. Yet I had forgotten about it for years. 

Then one day in 2014, I came across a Twitch stream called RunItUp, hosted by the one and only Jason Somerville. I watched as Jason discussed his hands, thought process, and how he came to his counter-intuitive conclusions. After watching Jason make some crazy decisions that ended up being correct, I fell in love. The complexity and counter-intuitive nature of this game and his thought process breathed new life into me. I wanted more.

I thought, “You can make money playing a game? Sign me up!”

My Poker Journey

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 

Lao Tzu

So I started once again in the micros. I’d look around for Youtube videos, articles, or recommendations for books. But when they would inevitably lose my attention, I’d go right back to playing. 

Playing eight tables at a time of a game I’m not even very good at. Rapid clicking and decision making. It’s intense! The level of stimulation was palpable. My mind was on overdrive trying to keep up. But for reason, that’s exactly how I liked it.

Well, after repeatedly losing my $20 and $50 deposits, I realized that my game needed some adjustments. I learned that I needed to bring the number of tables way down. When I played too many tables, the quality of my decisions were inversely correlated to the number of tables that I had open. Go figure. My sweet spot now is between six and eight tables. Back then I should have been on four.

The fewer tables I had open, the more focused I was, and the better I played.

Long story short, after years as a professional poker player, I found myself in a similar position to video games all those years earlier. I was burnt out, unmotivated, and bored. I had my fun. I played a couple of million hands over a relatively short time-span, but I’m searching for more.

Poker was good to me and I thank it for everything it’s done for me. But it was time to move on.

Expectations

Let’s talk about blogging.

As you may have gathered from this post, when I find something that I enjoy, I go all in. 

If you tell someone that you plan to post blogs every day for 30 days, there’s a decent chance that they’ll think or say one of the following: 

  • “That’s unsustainable.” 
  • “You’re going to run out of content or ideas.”
  • “Your quality will start deteriorating and you won’t be able to keep up with the demand.” 

While there can be some validity to these criticisms, at the end of the day, it’s just someone else’s opinion. They’re the ones who think it’s unsustainable, you’re going to run out ideas, or lose quality. That’s their opinion and they’re entitled to it. Just as you are entitled to yours. Don’t let them deter you from trying.

When you set lofty goals, there will always be skeptics. There will be people telling you how it’s impossible or how you’re only going to fail. Sometimes they’ll be right, but more often they’re just projecting their insecurities and beliefs onto you. You’re over here trying to better yourself and they’re in the peanut gallery casting judgment from the safety of their comfort zone. Don’t take advice from people who are unwilling to enter the arena themselves.

It’s easy to bet someone else’s money.

Examining sustainability

hi haters scrabble tiles on white surface
Photo by Shamia Casiano on Pexels.com

Let’s focus on the first critique. “That’s unsustainable.” 

You hear this term thrown around, what does that really mean though? That you won’t be able to post a blog every single day for the rest of your life? Well, that’s fine, that wasn’t the goal anyway…

Or maybe they’re trying to tell you that they don’t think that you can write 30 blogs in 30 days. It’s possible that their comment about it being unsustainable is a thinly veiled lack of confidence in your ability to accomplish it. This ties back in to my earlier point. People will try to tear your down to make them feel better about themselves. 

They don’t believe that you can do it because they don’t believe that they can do it. And if you can do it, what does that say about them? About the fact that they won’t even try?

Interesting.

No sense in over-thinking it

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” 

E.L. Doctorow

Writing a novel, writing a blog, starting a business… This applies to most pursuits. Having a plan, goal, or direction is great. You’ll need at least one of those things if you want to go far. However, there’s a fine line between under-thinking and over-thinking and there isn’t much of a middle ground. 

I’ve always been an over-thinker. Analysis paralysis, death by perfection, etc. I wanted to plan my entire journey before I even started. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about trying things, it’s this: If it’s low-risk, go for it. 

  • The lower the risk, the more acceptable minimal planning and rapid execution becomes. 
  • The higher the risk, the more reasonable diligent planning and careful execution becomes. 

But most things in life simply aren’t that high risk. 

A couple of questions that you could ask yourself to determine the level of risk are: 

  1. How big of a deal would it be if things went wrong?
  2. If it does go wrong, how difficult would it be to fix?*

Turns out for me, the majority of the time, most things aren’t a big deal.

Which means it’s time to execute.

The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” 

Mark Zuckerberg

Finding new gears

Balance is something that I struggle with to this day, but I’ve made great progress.

Exercise has been a great hobby that I’ve added. I’m doing that about 10 hours a week and that helps with not being so one dimensional. I still play games a bit, poker a bit, and I’ve been exploring other avenues of investing my time. 

Recently, my focus has shifted to this blog. Learning, experimenting, finding new ideas, and resources. It’s a whole new world for me to explore and the challenge motivates me. That being said, I’m making a concerted effort not to get too carried away with it. 

The driving factor and purpose of my blog is to improve my writing and spread motivation and positivity. But it’s been interesting to learn about everything else that comes with it and how it all works together. I look forward to continuing to grow and being able to interact with even more people.

It took me way too long to get started. It took me years of thinking to myself, “Oh I’ll probably like it, I should give blogging a shot..” But I never went for it. I never even tried it. And it’s funny because yea, for the first 10 days or so I had no engagement. No readers or viewers and I had to push myself. I’d tell myself, “Oh well, just finish the challenge because you committed to it.” But by staying consistent and continuing to learn and post, I started making noticeable progress within just a couple weeks.

It all influences each other. I’ve started putting more and more time into my blog because I’m trying to build it into a valuable resource. I’ve continued to exercise, learn, and push my limits because I’ve committed to growth. I write about mindset, motivation, growth, and self-improvement. It took me far longer than I hoped to get started, but I’m trying to live out those ideals for myself.

The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll fail, the more you can grow.

It’s never too late to start.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”  

Carl Jung


That’s all for this one. What did you think? Are you in the process of switching or finding new gears yourself? Let me know how it’s going!

If you enjoyed this piece, please consider liking, commenting, or sharing.

To keep up to date with what I’m doing, follow me on Twitter @evanPoker and Medium @evanwolfson33.

Thanks for reading!

13 comments

  1. One of my favourite lecturers at university used to say, “I hope you fail, early and often.” If we do we are trying new things, we are leaving ourselves, and we are learning.

    There is a balance of course. If we are always trying new things and not taking the time to improve some we feel more connected with, there is a risk we may end up drifting without a sense of purpose.

    We will never know the end point of any particular section of our journey at its beginning, but we can know the rough direction we’re heading and set out that way.

    Thank you for your words.

    1. Hi Hamish.

      I totally agree with the sentiment of failing early and often. Everything is a matter of perspective and failing is valuable in that it provide an opportunity to learn from it. It also highlights weak points in your abilities.

      Another one I like is something like “It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it. Otherwise it’s a learning experience.”

      You’re welcome and thank you for sharing your thoughts and engaging! 🙂

  2. I liked your most recent blog. I started a writing group, well I took it over. It is a Meetup group would you like to join I think a blogger would be an excellent addition to my group.

    1. You’re very welcome!

      And thank you for all of the kind words and encouragement. I really appreciate it and I hope that you have a great day too, Meg!

  3. I am always changing gears. At first I perceived it as a problem but now I see it as a blessing. I realized all my passions have been connected to the essence of who I really am.

    1. Hi Anaya!

      I find myself in a similar position. But once we stop being so critical of ourselves for doing it and just accept it, everything seems to makes more sense.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

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