Guest post by Samer.
I was talking with my roommate the other night as I cooked dinner in our cramped apartment, reflecting over the memories and lessons that 2011 conferred upon us. We will soon be parting ways – I to the bachelor’s haven of Uptown Dallas and he to the settled life of marriage – but he had a front row seat to the dizzying experiences of my life the past 12 months, an era known to me as ‘Year of the Woman.’ It’s a fitting name to the period’s focal point, and what a journey it was.
Two years ago, I’d never been on a date nor had my first kiss. Six months passed before I took a girl out for dinner and drinks at the ripe age of 24. A year ago, I had a brief two-month relationship and exactly zero approaches to my credit. I remember enviously watching other guys effortlessly talk to girls, quietly wondering if something was fundamentally wrong with me. I remember wondering how easy they made it look. I remember trading a wrinkled $1 bill for a worn copy of How to Succeed with Women at a library book sale, nervously stuttering to the cashier that “I could use it as a prop in the company talent show.” He rolled his eyes. I drove straight home and finished it the next day. Its material was comparatively basic, but it opened the door to dating insights my academically-inclined social circle decidedly lacked. Hungry for more, I searched the authors’ names online and stumbled upon entire forums of guys posting about how to pick up girls. The forums gave way to eBooks, interviews with gurus, and finally real-life approaches.
I was pretty bad. My first opener, employed on New Year’s Day: “Hey, can I get your opinion on something? A gay guy at J. Crew dressed me like this. Do you think I should keep it, or is it pretty lame?” I was terrified. I let them carry the conversation. Most of them fell flat. But I would spend the following week reading and planning for the upcoming weekend. I would approach, get a little further, and bury myself in the curriculum until Friday. And so it continued, going out and reading and going out; there was so much to learn! Teasing, touching, and takeaways. Role plays, routines, and rules. Models, mindsets, and memorization. Sound familiar? It was addicting, and I became obsessed. What began as an innocent curiosity mutated into a fixation; I was reading instead of sleeping, text messaging instead of working, posting in forums instead of going to the gym. My success with women surreptitiously became a growing part of my identity. Drunk for the next 11 months on my own laughable ambition to be a Ladies’ Man – as if it were the highest calling one could achieve – my career, family, and faith faded into the background. As long as girls desired me, I was happy. This improvement had come at a heavy cost. My emotional health, based on the external validation of women who hardly knew me, became a house of cards set to topple at the slightest crosswind.
Karma soon caught up. In a span of two weeks, I was dumped by the most attractive girl I’d ever dated and was silently transferred a lower ranking team at work. I was blindsided. Life cracked the smelling salts under my nose, and I came to. I recounted the year’s greatest regret to my roommate: “My life was off course. I needed to get my shit together.” And mid-sentence, in saying it out loud, something hit me. It was no surprise that my performance at work and relationship imploded almost simultaneously. There was an imbalance in the priorities of my life, and both the relationship and the job reacted accordingly. The girl saw she was getting too much attention and grew bored of it and my boss noticed I wasn’t as proactive as I used to be. Something needed to change.
Borne of that painful experience was the year’s most important lesson: plan how you will spend each day and stick to it. I’m convinced the proper allocation of time and effort – into work, social life, or anything that develops you – is the most important decision you can make each day. Left unexamined, you implicitly rely on your emotions and previous habits to guide you. For some, this is not a problem. They have the career and social life they want and are satisfied with the balance of their lives. For people like me, it requires self-regulation and regular correcting. The purpose isn’t to overbook my schedule and burn me out; it’s to remind me to refocus my attention. When I’m at work, I focus on work. If I allocate 7 hours of attention to the workday, that’s not 7 hours of physical presence at the office. Those are 7 productive hours of completing assigned tasks and proactively finding new projects if I finish my duties. I’m not anxious about text messages, reading forums, or staring at my desk. My social life receives similar respect. When I’m with my friends, I’m in the moment having fun. Every day, I schedule a time to relax and mediate or pray to clear my mind.
Think of a leader you admire. As you remember their achievements, try to imagine what their daily process was like. What did they spend most of their time doing? What activities were they mentally engaged in? Although the exact allocation of hours likely differed by person, the order of priorities probably mirrors something like this:
Once that proper balance is struck, however, it feeds on itself to produce a more attractive lifestyle. When an attractive girl comes into your life, she’ll notice you focused and dedicated at work. Instead of LOOKING busy, you’ll BECOME busy. As you dedicate time to personal development, you can start picking up hobbies. You can learn how to shoot a gun, fix a car, sky dive, try a new sport, hit the batting cages, or go volunteering. As you become more interesting and active, your time becomes more valuable to you. With so much to do, you probably won’t tolerate flakes. You’ll naturally develop healthy boundaries and eliminate the source of neediness instead of learning tactics to hide it. Others’ approval will lose its power over you. And it all starts with allocating your time. It feeds the choices you make, and the choices you make shape the quality of your life.
When I check on my progress, I pull out a blank sheet of paper and fill out two sections:
On an ideal workday, I would invest:
____ hours focused on in work, school, or studying
____ hours focused on in personal development (e.g. reading, writing, working out, spiritual activities, etc.)
____ hours focused on building relationships
____ hours focused on yesterday on getting better with girls
____ hours focused on yesterday relaxing
Yesterday I estimate I invested:
____ hours focused on work, school, or studying
____ hours focused on personal development (e.g. reading, writing, working out, spiritual activities, etc.)
____ hours focused on building relationships
____ hours focused on getting better with girls
____ hours focused on relaxing
If you did this exercise, what would your results look like? Would you be surprised at the differences? As most of us aspire to achieve greatly in our careers, I look forward to sharing more about success in the workplace and hearing your experiences. Thanks for staying engaged.