Your Greatest Competitor Knows All Your Secrets

Total Read Time: 6 Minutes

A dear friend of mine is in the middle of a career change. They are an artist who’s making a giant pivot in their output. During this pivot, they’ve kind of gone MIA on social media. The most interesting thing they said about why they’ve been less present on those platforms is that,

“the competition on social media to be intriguing and share the process in a creative way is one that I’m very scared of. I haven’t the slightest clue how to make it interesting… in terms of sharing the process and giving a deeper insight to my audience, I’m sacred because I’m afraid it will come off as uninteresting, potentially leading to losing fans due to that.”

I’ve been empathizing with that internal battle.
It’s abysmal, thinking about all of the people who are better than you.


Every day I face you

Imprisoned in distractions

Contrived by your perfect design.

My focus is like a pinball

Redirected by chutes and levers

Dirty dishes and unorganized shoes

The way they pile up at the front door

“Wouldn’t it just feel better to line th…”

No, not today

Today you lose

I found my way into this chair

I opened up my notebook

I wielded this pen

And with a freight train of inertia

I… won

-A


Face the Toughest Competition First

There is someone who knows all of your moves before you make them.
Someone who is familiar with your work and makes you second guess your next project.
Someone who, despite all of the effort put in, you just can’t seem to please.

It’s YOU, you procrastinating perfectionist.

If You Are The Competition,
Then Everyone Else is Collaboration

An artist’s first obstacle seems to always be themselves.

How do you get over the fear of not being good enough?

Good enough for who?
Fear of who?
Get over what?

I’ll cover strategy in just a moment.
First, consider this:

Everyone is your collaboration.

What makes you think you have to be the best?

No one I’ve ever met listens to only one musician.
Or watches ONE tv show.
Or reads only one book.

There’s room for you in all of this.

Everyone is in flux. All of us artists are in this together. It’s not a competition with any one of us. It’s a competition with yourself. Your work will get seen if it’s good enough for YOU. You are making art for a reason. You have an eye for what YOU want to see.

“Be interesting by being interested.”
– Derek Sivers

The only reason your work won’t get seen, is if you won’t post it.

I really doubt your dream is to make the one best movie, or YouTube video, or album, and be done working for the rest of your life.

The whole reason you’re an artist is because you love making art right?

I love sitting down with my notebook and pen, not having a single clue what I’m going to write about, and somehow filling the page. It’s a process that just comes natural to me. I believe it comes natural to you too. It’s why you’re an artist.

You Have to Trust the Process

You know what you’re doing.

You know why you’re avoiding sitting down and getting to work.

You know what it’ll take to distract you over and over until you give up for the day.

That’s why you are your greatest competition.

So trust the process. Don’t talk yourself out of even trying. You love making art. Just sit down and try it. Every day.

Make art every day.

The world deserves it.
YOU
deserve it.

Strategy #1

Force Rough Drafts

Power through and pump out some art. Make a song. Write a poem. Take a photo and don’t edit it. Don’t edit any of it: the song, the poem, any of it.
Post it right when you have a tangible product.

The point here is to be imperfect on purpose.

The point is also to actually post your art.

You will see after you post something, there is absolutely no more writer’s block. You all of a sudden get a rush of external empathy and can see through all of your stubborn perfectionism.

You will see through the eyes of your audience and know exactly what you should edit next.

It’s worth mentioning… it will already be live, so urgency will force you to prioritize what’s worth your time. That way you’re not stuck for days like I’ve been before: staring at the same paragraphs, wondering how much longer until I delete this whole thing and start over.

It is truly hard enough as an artist to sit down and get to work. The world is ready for collaboration. There is no point in thinking of all your fellow artists as competition.

Follow Your Trauma to Find Your Dream Job

Total read time: 9 Minutes

I can’t stop thinking about wrong jobs.
Lately, with COVID-19 on everyone’s radar, job security is more important than ever.

I’m so sorry for everyone in hardship right now. I pray you have your health. I hope for the best support to find you. I wish they would have the cure for this strain of coronavirus and solution for all of this sooner. Remember to reach out and ask for help. You are not alone.

Contact your creditors for relief with monthly payments.
Fedloan announced they will defer all accruing interest during all of this.
Help finds it’s way out of the most unexpected places.
Don’t give up, Don’t ever give up.

I’m writing this out of the honesty of my heart. I believe everyone has
something they dream of,
something they could do with authenticity,
something that keeps them up at night,
something so terrifying and exciting at the same time,
It’s crippling.


If only The Sun and the Moon
Could with yearning hands
Outstretch their arms

Until then

The Sun will gleam
The Moon, a muse
And I, Your Earth

I enter the breadth of your tides
Knowing the safety of your arms
I inch my way atop arduous mountains
Feeling every step closer
I step into the abysmal night
Where You lead me to solely what is

Trustworthy

Only as much as I can handle
Slightly more than I ever

Before you

Could

-A


Changes Seem So Out of Reach

You think about it sometimes, don’t you? What it would take to get you out of this rut. You fantasize about having the gall to stand up straight, reach out your arm, exposing all of your scars.

What are you so complacent for? Why did you get so used to this? Why does it still sting to think about where you could be instead?

Derek Sivers, in his interview with Jeremy Ryan Slate said after your twenties, change is mostly rare. You spend so much time after high school moving, applying, meeting… changing. Eventually you find a job that pays enough money, you buy a house, and you slow the hell down to a screeching halt.

Maybe you’re like me and actually gave something a shot. I dove into photography for years. I started a business and got paid for my work. I emailed photographers, magazines, editors… I poured out my heart all over the world. Nothing happened. I gave up.

Do you remember how it felt? The vast emptiness. It doesn’t happen overnight… the abandonment.

You realize you’ve given up one day. That feeling is instantaneous. It’s felt in the pit of your stomach. That’s how it feels to let yourself down. I let myself down.

What now?

You Feel Stuck

Maybe you really are like me and after you gave up, you didn’t have anything else. You felt so stuck because you didn’t have anywhere else to go.

The only certain thing is that bills keep coming.

You have to pay them, don’t you?

I kept going to the restaurant, waiting on tables, pouring beers at the bar, eventually brewed the beer… until eventually that wasn’t enough and I just kept the trend going.

How do you know what to do next?

I Am Crippled By Trauma

Fortunately, I know you’re like me. I know you’re traumatized. I know you start feeling great and get stabbed in the gut by your past.

Have you ever had a moment of clarity?
It sounded something like, “YES, THIS IS IT!”
I was driving down a steep hill in St. Charles, Illinois on a sunny day. Not having anywhere to be, I could drive as slow as I wanted. I thought, maybe I should share some poetry with people.

It felt so good to realize.

Until it came time to open the computer. Thinking of all my friends and family judging me. The laughter on the other side; people will think I’m a joke. They saw me give up on photography. They’ll think I’ll just give up on this too. They think I give up on everything.

Trauma has a way of popping up when anything really matters.

The knife in my stomach is always here.
I hope it always will be.

Vulnerability is so taxing. It forces you to relive your memories. You imagine this thing you so care about will end up like things did in the past. Your past will continue to remind you.

Fear is debilitating. Judgment makes you feel like you’ll never belong; like you’ll never be accepted. Failure means disappointing someone. Forget about not paying the bills, failure means everyone who didn’t believe in you was right.

What are you supposed to do when you’re afraid of disappointing and failing the ones you love?

Love Can Be a Gift and a Curse

It can feel so much easier just doing “the right thing.” You know, the thing everyone tells you is safe.

It becomes easier to help (to love) others by doing the things they say instead of doing right by you, instead of loving yourself.

I’m certain that the best in people comes out when they are loved.

When you’re loved, you instinctively have good intentions. You do the right thing right back at that person. You take care of them.

You can do the same thing for yourself. You can love yourself.

The Truth is Right in Front of You

There is a litmus test when you’re doing the right thing.

The excitement is an unalienable light in your eyes every time you speak.
The feeling has clarity; it matches what people told you you’re gifted at.
Earth shaking trauma reappears to warn you, this is something that matters.
Love flows through you; you know you need this.

If You’re Anything Like Me

First of all, hang in there because it gets better. Secondly, think about what happened to me. All of this makes sense.

Giving up was the right thing because photography was not.
I gave up on photography because photography was not writing. Photography was not truly the pursuit for me.

I was stuck because I let the inertia die.
Not only did I come to a halt, but I went backwards to the restaurant industry. I started climbing up a ladder on the wrong wall. The climb only made sense because money had to be made and bills had to be paid.

I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Having abandoned the first thing that I cared for, I was lost. After reading enough books, I looked to the people around me and listened. They liked my writing. Even in my emails to all the photographers, I received compliments for my composition.

I couldn’t move forward without looking in the mirror.
Trauma punched me in the face every time. I have an avoidant personality, finding it easier to hide at my own expense. Standing up to myself was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I didn’t know how.

I learned to love myself.
This took a whole summer to even start believing. I read and studied Mastin Kipp’s work. That’s where I learned about the different personalities. I really delved into behavioral psychology.

I took the leap of faith.
Even armed with love for myself, previous experience with running a business, and all of the knowledge and motivation from the books I’ve read, it still felt like jumping off a cliff to put this writing out.

Taking the leap of faith doesn’t mean quitting your day job.
Derek Sivers says the happiest people he’s met have two jobs. The first job is your dream job. Even if you don’t get paid for it, you treat it seriously and truly give it your all during your free time. The second pays the bills. It’s consistent, its reliable, and it’s a break when trauma strikes and you feel vulnerable during the first job.

You just have to go for it.

Is it possible that the things you gave up on were necessary to give up on?
Is your ladder on the right wall?
Listen to the people around you, what are you gifted at?
Have you forgiven yourself?
Have you started loving yourself?

What do you have to lose?

The truth is, you have too much authenticity for anything you truly care about to fail.

Eventually, it will take off.

You owe it to yourself to fill your life with Love and Significance.

Thank you

I really do this for you. If I reach you somehow. If something sticks out and you’re touched, please don’t hesitate to contact me on whatever social platform feels comfortable to you. Connection feels amazing. We all grow stronger every time we add to our community.

Thank you for your time, and for your support.

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin


Recommended Reading

Help finding yourself when you’re stuck:
Designing Your Life

Mentioned above:

Derek Sivers

Jeremy Ryan Slate

Mastin Kipp

Moons & Moods: My Equilibrium Theory

Total Read Time: 7 Minutes

Over the past 3 days I have had the worst mood swings in months. The more people I talk to between work and home, the more I find consistencies in their emotional irregularities. Oxymoron, (consistent irregularities) I know, but mine were more than just environmentally related.

I had to go to the dentist, which I have an irrational fear of . The days leading up to my appointment were awful. Everything effected me. The things I could bounce off of me normally really dug deep. Even the little things like stupid joking comments from people at work just had more of an effect than usual.

I wrote this for all of you dealing with a similar mood swing. It’s so natural. Maybe more natural than we all realize.

You can do it! I believe in you. You’re amazing!

Without further rambling…

I made the realization yesterday over coffee. Thinking back on my writing about alcohol, I correlated it to writing. The resistance to Start writing is so akin to the resistance to Stop drinking. I wrote,

It’s self-perpetuating. Alcohol demands more of itself. The hardest part is to stop. 

The easiest… not starting at all.

Andrey Starostin: Alcohol

The self perpetuation can be understood as a state of flow,

see my writing on flow in How to Find Your Passion.

It’s quite simple to keep writing once I start, due to said state of flow. I realized alcohol’s similarity in that perpetuation. So I thought about the resistance between wanting to stop drinking and wanting to start writing.

It’s hardest to stop drinking after the first few drinks.
&
It’s hardest to stop writing after you start.


It’s easiest to prevent the perpetuation of drinking by forcing yourself not to start.
&
It’s easiest to begin the perpetuation of writing by forcing yourself to start.

The Resistance

Life seems to be so full of resistance. The richest moments of our lives demand difficulty in one way or another. The War Of Art, by Steven Pressfield is a perfect manual, almost a writer’s bible. It is the mirror you didn’t know you could look into. Relating to all creators, Pressfield brings clarity to the physical, emotional, and spiritual resistance all creators feel to sit down and get to work. The rationales we justify Not writing with. Easily in my top 10 books of all time.

My point is, I am flawed.

Unfortunately, I succumb to the resistance and my writing goes days, weeks, sometimes months without seeing a pen touch paper. I battle the desire to be more productive. I want the ability to write any time I choose. I wish I had the control.

Why isn’t there a gym of my mind? Why can’t I go through the motions and deadlift words out onto paper?

Equilibrium Theory

As a young boy, I formulated rationalization to explain why the world worked. I had to make sense of things. When people get mad, they return to happy. When people quit a job, someone replaces them. When I run around the playground all day, I get a sunburn. Everything seemed transactional, as if to have a reaction or an exchange of energy.

As bad as things get, the show must go on.

My equilibrium theories have never let me down, but I have no explanation for them. The moon comes around every 27.3 days. It’s no coincidence that oceanic tides change, hospital attendance rates spike, and restaurant call-offs occur around the same time.

How have you noticed these wavelengths in your life? It seems like one day you’re posting on instagram, and other days you’re beating yourself up.

My point with the equilibrium theory and my discipline is that some days it’s so easy to write. Some days, I can barely get out of bed. I look for ways to influence those days into my liking.. perhaps by

Nudging

I want to control the wavelengths.
I want to find the optimal length, intensity, and frequency.
I want to understand how my ups and downs can be steered into my favor.

I believe discipline, going through motions and forcing yourself to do the intentional right thing, will raise your “low’s,” but with an important caveat.
It seems to work by desensitizing you to the effects of your emotions.

That means your lows are less low.
It also means your highs are less high.

There has to be an ideal wavelength, where the highs hit all the marks, last long enough, and the lows are not downright crippling.

Steering

What if you could choose where the lows fall, as much as where your highs soar?

I want my highs to be involved with creative endeavors. I want to create at my peak performance. I want to analyze and understand with clarity and love for myself.

As for my lows… I aim to steer them at something… resilient. Durability in various facets of my life offer the ability to absorb negativity and bounce back faster.

I believe you can practice steering negative states into parts of your life that are definite and indestructible. Controlling the downside seems to be the first step, letting the upside glow and aid in recovery.

I know, I know this sounds like some woo woo freaky mind games. I don’t deny that it’s out there. As soon as someone starts talking about moons and astrology people automatically have a predisposition to… you get the point. I’m just a young boy trying to make sense of the world.
I’ve heard from a lot of you that you can relate… creating things is hard.

So far the best examples come from states of clarity.

Clarity is when you’re centered. You can drop into yourself and sit in a state of experience. You’re aware, present, and intentional. Clarity is where I see that I’m right.

When do you experience clarity?
Can you access it?

I’ve never been able to provoke clarity, but I’ve learned to recognize it when its there. I use clarity to recalibrate where I am in the wavelength.

I encourage you to try it next time you are having an amazing day. Try to drop into yourself and write down your desires, your goals, your downfalls, things you want to be more intentional with, and experience the moment, recognizing it shouldn’t always be there.


It’s a work in progress, this theory of equilibrium. I wish I could control it, but I’ll settle for simply understanding it.

It offers some explanation for why I am the way I am.

While I may feel out of control, I gain some peace with the fact that some force in this world is.

Thank you,

To my support around the world. My family, friends, loved ones, critics, and editors. I can’t do this without you.

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

I’m Writing about My Relationship with Alcohol

Total Read Time: 8 Minutes

This post is about trauma. About Numbing myself. This is about choosing to give myself life instead of taking it away. I know it’s hard to read. Believe me, it’s harder to write.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I do not advise anyone on changes to their health. Please consult your doctor before you do anything. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol, please seek guidance and help from a professional. There are people a phone call away that know exactly how to help.

The most spent currency is time.

One of my mentors, although there’s no chance he knew the impact he has had on my life, is a man I worked with years ago. He worked with urgency, indulging in a sigh only when time was taken care of. I mean the kind of “taken care of” when we are waiting on time itself. His most quoted saying was, “we are up against the clock.” The clock started when he woke up. It ended when his tasks for the day were finished.

We are either waiting on time, or time is waiting on us.

When you start a kettle of water, the time span before it boils is YOUR time. During that time, you are free to do anything you want. When the water has boiled, you are back on the clock; with time waiting on you to pour that water over some coffee grounds.

I find a soothing relief when I am waiting on time. I feel productive and in control. Ahead of the game.

Another example of this is efficient dishwashing. Not the kind at home after you ate some eggs. The kind where a 50 table restaurant that seats 200 people sends back 200 plates after they finished eating. Imagine you are the dish washer, and the next set of guests is arriving. Clean those plates.

I once worked with a young server named Jake. The dishwasher at the time was complaining they had to wash too many dishes. Jake pointed out,
“You’re not the dishwasher. That machine is the dishwasher.”

The point here is, the one thing we can not control is the time the dishwasher takes to run each cycle. What we can control, is having the next tray of dishes ready so that we can have the dishwasher running as often as possible. When the dishwasher is not running, time is waiting on you to load that thang up.

Alcohol is a time suck

I see alcohol as an exchange. A trade sometimes. Most of the time, just a time suck. I give away the rest of my evening, to the influences of alcohol. I sacrifice the productiveness and efficiency of the following morning to “recovery.”

“I give away hard earned dollars to the empty calories I worked so hard at my job and in the gym for. “

Don’t mistake my drama for preaching. I am all about loving myself. I want you to love yourself. You are amazing. Your life is worth living. You are incredible. Don’t beat yourself up for a night of drinking. This is about understanding the CHOICE you’re making. Man, I’m full of caveats today…

Alcohol BLURRRS Time

My father often related his first drink of the day to it’s conclusion; the day that is. Decisiveness takes a steep drop after that first drink. It’s self-perpetuating. Alcohol demands more of itself. The hardest part is to stop.

The easiest… not starting at all.

“Drinking alcohol is borrowing happiness from tomorrow”

Matt Mullenweg

The Challenge

Awareness – Take note of the opportunity cost with drinking. Understand what you will be unable to do instead.
Value – Apply intention in weighing the value of your consciousness that you lose while drinking.

Honesty is the true challenge.

Why is it easiest to lie to yourself, when you are the person that knows the truth?

I want the blur. I hate the clarity of the mirror. I don’t value my time. My productivity doesn’t produce anything the world wants. It’s better NOT TO FEEL and keep the past buried. It’s easier to sleep.

I couldn’t be more wrong.

What I know about myself is I find the edge too hard to balance on. One drink is so perpetually powerful, I eventually succumb.

The easiest answer is no, to starting.

Why am I being so hard on myself?

I spend a lot of time looking around myself; at the people I look up to, the people that raised me, and the people I can learn something from. So… basically everyone.

Most of the time, I’m paying attention to myself. What makes me feel good, bad, okay, and not enough.

The times I beat myself up the most are when I’m unproductive, financially irresponsible, and repeating mistakes I’ve already learned from.

When I look at what keeps me on track to being disappointed in myself, it usually involves alcohol.

When I look at accomplished, revered people around the world, many of them abstain from… alcohol.

Decision time

Drink a lot less alcohol.
As in, barely any.
Most of all, to better understand the true cost when I do drink.

Accountability

This audience… YOU are a great start. I really don’t want people pointing out when I’m slipping down the slope again.
So please point and laugh if I do.

Reward

I really Love finances. If anyone wants to talk about money saving techniques, credit cards, savings accounts, trading options, etc… Maybe I’ll just write about it. I’m bound to eventually.

I’m going to reward myself for every time I say no to alcohol.
I set up an easy transfer between a checking account into a savings account at a different bank. Capital One savings, in case anyone is interested.

They’re both interest bearing, but the savings account I specifically chose because I have no physical access to it. I did not link any automatic withdrawals from it. It’s way easier to put money in than it is to take money out. The point being, to mimic the sunk cost of spending money on drinks.

Every time I say no to alcohol, I get to deposit the cost of the said alcohol into my savings account.
Bottle of wine costs $15?
Just made $15 dollars by being disciplined.

I started thinking… imagine if you could get back all of the money you’ve ever spent on alcohol… god damn.

So that’s what I’m doing now. Positive reinforcement.

The easiest thing to forget is to accept being human and forgive mistakes. I’m not saying I’ll never drink again. I’m not demonizing it if I do. Remember, I said I want to understand the cost of doing so. I’m also making it easier and more rewarding to not drink.

What does Alcohol look like in YOUR life?

I’ve heard of dear friends drinking because they’re bored. I’ve heard coworkers say how they realized how much better they feel after NYE if they don’t glorify getting sauced. I have friends running challenges to make March a dry month.

The reality of it is, alcohol is so present in our lives. It’s effects do not have to consume us. The world is such a beautiful place with people like you in it. I would love to see what you’re capable of if you stop letting alcohol hold you back.

Truly, Thank you

For reading my spilled thoughts. You are so significant to me, and to this world. Thank you for being in it.

Thank you for being.

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

Self Acceptance vs. Complacency

Total Read Time: 5 Minutes

I recently heard Tim Ferris’s interview of Brene Brown (Episode #409 – The Tim Ferriss Show) where they discussed relationships. As with most of his podcasts, Tim discussed ways of self betterment. He and Brene reach a topic that I in particular can relate and empathize with: the topic of self acceptance.

“There is a fine line between self acceptance and complacency.”

Let’s bring in a money analogy. When have you made enough money? If your goal is to “make more,” then what does it take to get you off that path? When do you realize you’re trapped in a never ending goal?

It looks like two outcomes really: You make more or you don’t. If you get what you want, it isn’t enough. If you aren’t making “more” money, then you’ll have to reconsider everything.

Money is really easy to understand.

It’s just a number. If you want it to grow, you have to define the goal number. The same principal has to be applied to your self acceptance.

How do you measure your self worth?

Now there’s a touchy topic. I’ve gone through months of trauma work and just scratched the surface. Trauma is everywhere and we have to make eye contact with it. I highly recommend Mastin Kipp as a start to learning about yourself. Below I’ll add recommended books etc.

You have to measure yourself based on who you are now, not who you want to be now. Speculation of your future self is bullshit. I’m sorry, but you don’t know what tomorrow looks like. For that reason, stop worrying about yourself. Today and right now are all that matters.

Step One

Accept does not mean like. You don’t have to like who you are right now, but you have to accept it. It’s done. Accept who you are right now.

Step Two

Accept all the things you can not change. If you don’t accept them, you’re stuck on repeat. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein.

Step Three

Avoid complacency by being critical of the things you CAN change. Begin with things that are going well. Start with one thing and ask, “how can I be more intentional with the thing I love about myself?”

This is not something you want to eliminate. Remember, change does not have to be scary. Change can mean better. It should mean better. If you’ve been given the gift of beautiful hair, and you love that about yourself, how can you change to be more mindful, or twice as intentional with your hair?

Intention is the Key to Everything

I hate to be needlessly repetitive, but intention is my catch phrase. Jocko has “discipline” and “dichotomy.” I have “intention.”

I argue that intention is the solution for all of your problems. When you are intentional, it means you are in control. Control leads to easier solutions, because you have no one to blame and everything to change for the better.

Love Yourself

If you start being intentional with loving yourself I am sure you’ll have less time to wallow.

Displacement Strategy

You’re too busy loving yourself to hate yourself.

Or how about this.

You’re too busy improving the things you can, to be worried about the things you can’t.

Okay one more.

You stop noticing pebbles on the ground when you’re running.

Vacuum Strategy

Displacement is avoiding the formation of clutter in your living room (clothes, bags, useless garbage) by putting a couch there instead.

The vacuum is formed when you take out something you’re used to being there; your bed for example. It feels extra empty. The space is a vacuum for new things to fill it.

Take unwanted habits, bad role models, malevolent influences, and toxic environments out of your life. The vacuum that is created by that can only be filled with love. Love yourself first and your intention will naturally show you what is toxic and what is pure.

It’s like eating something out of a garden. You don’t grab the dirt. You just know what’s good for you. It looks so fresh and healthy. You don’t have to like it, but you have to accept it. You can be someone who hates fruits and vegetables, but you can’t deny that they are good for you.

Recipe for Life

Have you ever baked a cake? Baking is something I’ve never been able to do because the core construct involves trusting you’ve done everything correctly. You mix all the ingredients, then it’s out of your hands. You put it in the oven and pray.

The cooking I like to do involves tasting as you go. Adding additional salt, pepper, lemon, garlic. Giving each step thought and intention. Every ingredient serves a purpose and without each other, the dish is missing something.

Life should be a harmony of intentional steps forward. Life has no recipe where you do all the right things and come out risen and enlightened.

Life is today. Life is right now. You have the choice to carry yourself the way YOU intend. The one thing no one can ever take from you, is how you react. So react with intention. Give everything that deserves thought your loving intention. Let everything else stay in the past.

Thank YOU

For your time, your attention, your support, your kindness, your love

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

Recommended

The Tim Ferriss Show: For those with a commute. Music lets you think. Podcasts tell you what to think.

Mastin Kipp: Claim Your Power – This book changed the way I see myself. It really put me on the path.

Jocko Willink: Speaking of “the path,” Jocko is responsible for hours of my time and interest in getting my mental state battle ready. From war novels to Jiu Jitsu, Jocko covers all things to get you on the path to your best self. Discipline Equals Freedom is the book I started with. Review coming of his latest book, Leadership Strategy and Tactics.

Why do some people Never Break Up?

Total Read Time: 5 Minutes

What a lovely palindrome of a day (02 02 20 20). I was informed it was also our 33rd day of the year, with 333 days left. Allow me to geek out over numbers, moon patterns… moving onward!

People are so caught up in finding someone to be with.

Maybe it’s loneliness. Perhaps I’m wrong and people want to be left alone. I believe people live longer and are living happier lives when they are in healthy long term relationships. I would love that for YOU.

Here’s some stuff to look out for. 👀

I’ve racked my brain over healthy relationships. I’ve examined and analyzed couples who have confided in me with their difficulties. (I know you’re reading this, so know that I love you guys and can’t wait to hear from you).

This is a good spot to add, I’m no expert. I LOVE analysis. I find writing therapeutic. Please don’t do anything irrational after reading this. I only want what’s best for you and your loved ones.

Here are qualities that people in healthy relationships

MUST HAVE

Let me intensify: without these, your relationship is doomed.

I’ve chosen each word carefully

  • A Safe Communication Environment
  • Intentional Love
  • Compatible Foundational Life Goals

Things that make relationships inherently easier, NOT VITAL

Primary

  • Finding your person impressive
    • Imagine them in their element. Does it turn you on?
  • Similar attractiveness

Secondary

  • Equally opposite in masculinity/femininity
    • You’re both a blend of masculine and feminine. One of you is more masculine. The other is equally as much feminine as the first is masculine.
  • Similar Intelligence
  • A general predisposition for learning and improvement

Tertiary

  • Similar financial liquidity
    • It’s great to be pampered. Finances turn into really hard conversations when one person has had it easy all of their life while the other has had to struggle between paychecks. If you’re both on the same page, it just works easier.
  • Similar diet
    • I’m not saying you both have to be health nuts. I’m saying if one is a vegan, and the other hunts every season… that’s an important conflict.
  • Similar hobbies
    • Time is a precious commodity. If you both like to hike, that’s an amazing activity you can share in excitement with. The hike itself is fun, and the preparation builds the excitement that much more every day.

Clarification

Large caveat: I’m extremely lucky to be in a healthy relationship. Even more so, I’m lucky to be with someone who recognizes and values hard work. We’ve worked really hard to get where we are. There are still tough times. Trust is a huge factor. However, I promise it will be earned. I say will be earned because it takes the strength of time. Time will show you everything you need to see in your relationship.

Remember, I’m merely a man observing relationships around me. I’ve had the privilege to talk to some people about theirs. I’ve analyzed, from my perspective, what has led to their strengths. My writing is not absolute. Love has a way of defying all concepts of reason. The world doesn’t make sense some times, and yet works in a balance you can only observe in retrospect.

Let’s go back to the vital three.

A safe communication environment: A space where there is freedom to express each other’s opinions, conflicts, compliments, and so on. There is no judgment. This is a place for honest listening and cooperation. A place which brings us to…

Intentional Love: This is huge. Genuine, honest, intentional love. Intentional means you, at your core, want this. Love is everything that is good for your person. You truly want your special someone to be loved. To feel loved. To know that you love them.

Compatible Foundational Life Goals: This one’s tricky. This isn’t, “I want a house some day.” This is more like, “I want a lot of kids,” or “I want to serve my country as a Marine,” or “I want to live on the coast.” The goals of you and your loved one have to be compatible, they have to operate together and not contradict each other.

As for the following set of “Non vital,” I repeat they are not vital. They simply make getting along easier and making any compromises easier and more fluid.

Compromises

will make these flow into a healthy relationship. The vital list of three is a list I simply believe relationships need to end up with to make the long haul. I’ve seen people change for the better. I believe I am one of those people. That is what compromises are all about. The major factor here is Love. When you love someone, their needs make it easy to be selfless and commit yourself. If both of you are in love, both of you have a tendency to want to make sacrifices for the other. However, everything will crumble if you don’t feel safe enough to communicate your concerns, if you’re not sure if your person loves you, and if you’re both headed in opposite desired directions.

Thank you so much for your time

I’d like to expand in the future on the vital three. And maybe look at some relationships specifically and help or just walk through what works.

Please let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in!

Andrey Starostin

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(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

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“Consider THIS Before Your Next Conversation.”

Total Read Time: 5 Minutes

Have you ever heard about the family that you actually got to choose for yourself? How about that you are the average of the 5 closest people to you? (Tim Ferriss quote… Seems to be a theme in my mentorship). The common denominator is your choice.

It really doesn’t matter where you are in life, what you’re working on, how much you’ve accomplished up until this point, or where you’re headed. The most valuable thing in our lives, is our relationship with the people around us.

Let’s take a bleak turn to drive it home.

On your death bed… Here Andrey goes again… You really get a clear picture of what truly mattered in your life. This is a gratefulness exercise. Imagine someone close to you died yesterday. What would you pay/do for one more day with them? Probably anything. I would pay anything…

This should make most of the so-called “problems” in your life go away instantly. Your relationship with people is above everything else.

Consider THIS before your next conversation.

Your day is built upon choices you make. You employ discipline, you have routines, and you choose the manner in which you conduct your relationships.

Relationships:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Significant other
  • Boss
  • Coworkers
  • Mentor

Every interaction you have can be a withdrawal or a deposit into your ongoing relationship.

Visiting your mom and spending time cooking with her: Deposit.

Visiting your mom and communicating your stresses in life: it may sound like a withdrawal because stress can be vicariously taxing, but I’d bet it’s a deposit in your mom’s eyes.

Visiting your mom and recommending new exercises, yoga, hiking, and general motivation for getting more active: sounds like a deposit because of great intentions, but could be a withdrawal if mom is a human and takes criticism with a grain of salt.

The most immediate use of this logic is at work.

Everyone has difficult coworkers, an unreasonable boss, and unfathomable clients/customers. If you structure your interactions, with positive intention, your days will get better, I promise you.

“This isn’t manipulation, unethical, or deceitful. The key is to care.”

If you struggle to care for someone, realize they are structurally tied to “the mission” and you will lose without their help. If you want a good shift at the restaurant you work at, the bad server needs help with their 3 table section. If they don’t get help from you, they’ll give poor service, bring out food late, force the food to get cold and the table will ask for the food to get remade, that will slow down the kitchen, and then YOUR table’s food will be slow and your table will be upset with YOU. I digress.

Surround yourself with Positivity

My best friend David DM’d me a quote on instagram: “Pay attention to with whom you feel your best.”

I later saw another one of those quotes: “Pay attention to who is happy with you, when you’re winning.”

It’s so environmental. Tying back to one of my earlier articles, The Hands That Hold You Down, your environment is directly responsible for not just holding you accountable, but directly influencing the quality of the decisions you make for the day ahead of you.

It’s quite easy once you do the mental heavy lifting. And that is, Honesty. Once you are honest with yourself and answer the following questions, you can easily delegate your attention toward the positivity in your life.

  • What facet or quality of your life would you like to make more deposits into? (Love, Health, Finance, etc.)
  • When you think of a deposit, what does it look like?
    • Is it more time with a loved one? Is it eating healthier foods? Is it avoiding going out when money can be allocated more prudently?
  • Think about who helps you deposit into those categories and who forces you to withdraw from them.
    • At the same time, think about who gives you negativity when you share your progress and who celebrates with you and supports your successes.

Confronting these people can seem so difficult, but I promise you it’s easier than you think, and quite addicting after you start.

For example, I’ve recognized alcohol as a slippery slope in my life that I needed greater control over. See Andrey’s Alcohol Commandments. I had to take an honest look at my life and recognize who I naturally drank more alcohol with.

“My approach was initially light handed”

I suggested alternative activities like playing frisbee, skateboarding, bike rides. Fortunately for me, some of my friends really enjoy doing those things and it was easy to structure hanging out without alcohol needing to be involved.

After hanging out, I just needed to decline an offer to go to a bar or hangout and have a beer.

However, some of my other friends really don’t do much other than drink. They would ask me to hang out, and I had to say I’m busy. It wasn’t unreasonable, since I work a lot and generally live further away. (It really helps that I work night shifts Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and they work a M-F 9-5). Conflicting schedules, busy lives, and if all else fails…
“I’m saving for a wedding.” (Also very true and an incredible motivator).

Prescribe yourself Positivity

I freaking love a conservatory. Plants are beautiful, the buildings are warm and humid, it’s oxygen rich, everyone is in a good mood at a conservatory. I can’t think of a better place to go for positivity than Nature. If it’s cold outside, if you’re in a big city like me, odd’s are there is a conservatory near by that eliminates the cold and the distant forest. The Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago is free, and parking is free, so there are really no excuses.

Start a day off with some arugula, sunflower seeds, an apple, some olive oil. Visit a conservatory. Take some photos with your phone of a weird plant or a cool turtle.

“Clear your headspace by flooding it with positivity and displacing anything that’s been holding you back.”

Once you’re in that state of bliss, go through the questions again. It’s uncanny what a new mindset can shed light on.

It will have a domino effect

Surrounding yourself with positive influences and people who celebrate you cascades into every facet of your life. People who you care about, and who care about you give life a new meaning. It gets easier to wake up in the morning. You fall asleep quicker at night. Stress dissipates and so does the blood pressure.

I want everyone to feel significant. If you take the time to filter your life for the things that lift you up, you too will want to give back as much as possible.

Thank you

To the people who help me climb to new heights, you know who you are.

Thank you.

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

When to Promote Yourself to Manager

Total Read Time: 3 Minutes

Short answer: right now, but it’ll take people three years to believe it.

Leadership starts every day when the alarm goes off.

Start by managing yourself. People naturally want self improvement. It’s called progress. We do not like to go backward. When those people see you succeeding, they will want a piece of the action. They will come to you for advice and for vicarious thrill.

DO NOT SEEK OUT PEOPLE TO LEAD

Do not start a cult. Motivation works better when it is sought out by those looking to be motivated.

Trust me, when you’re winning, people will look to be led.

Why it Takes THREE Years

Year ONE:

You enter as a beginner, albeit with a set of predisposed skills, but in the eyes of everyone around you, a beginner. You are developing relationships with those around you. You care for them like your family. Without them, there is no winning. YOU CAN NOT DO IT ALONE. You stay humble, you learn from the people around you with tenure, your job is to care.

Year TWO:

You begin to master your surroundings and naturally see areas in need of improvement. You suggest and implement new strategies and processes that benefit everyone on the team. Your relationships are strengthened.

Year THREE:

People see consistency in your actions. You truly want what is best for them. You’ve made prudent choices and beneficial improvements for the team. You’ve made the Investment of Time. There is no better evidence for your commitment than time.

Start today

Congratulations, you’ve been promoted to manager. If you’re here for money, power, control, you can go home. In order to EARN the position, you have to act as though you already have it. You have to care. Above all else, you have to care. Anyone can see through bullshit. If you are motivated by anything other than seeing everyone around you thrive, you’ll fail, because they won’t believe you.

Thank you for your time, for your attention, and for your support.

Every time I am notified that someone has read my writing, it makes me feel significant. Every time someone has a conversation with me, shares their personal experiences, asks me for further clarification, I am made whole.

Thank you,

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

I’m Motivated By YOU

Thank you, for making me feel significant.

I often wake up and hard press the WordPress app to see quick stats. (Which if you have never done, works for a multitude of apps).

I can’t thank you enough for how motivating this is:

Every one of you matter to me. Every one of you make this writing mean something more. Even though it’s meditation for me, the writing is made whole, by you.

Thank you,

❤️

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

How to WIN Today: Forget the Nail; Just Swing the Hammer

Total Read Time: 4 Minutes

“Basically as we try to design more than we can comprehend, more than we can understand. We will shift from traditional engineering to evolutionary algorithms and iterative learning algorithms like deep learning and machine learning. And as we shift this engineering to the training of these iterative algorithms, the locust of learning shifts from the artifacts themselves, to the process that created them.

Tim Ferriss podcast: 404: Steve Jurvetson,

Tradition tells us,

Keep your eyes on the prize

We are led to believe we can do anything we set our mind to.

We are given tools to dial back the size of our goals. The end seems so far away. It all feels so daunting.

Dale Carnegie advised us to live in “day tight compartments.

If you’re worrying about tomorrow, you’ll lose track of today. Dale suggests focusing solely on today.

This is the “dialing back” I mentioned earlier. Take Quick analysis of your end goal and you can figure out what you can do today to get closer.

WHAT IF YOU HAVE NO END GOAL?

Crazy right?

That’s been my life for the past 10 years. 2010 I thought I’d be a math teacher, 2012: a photographer, 2014: a beer brewer, and plenty more in between.

Enough about me, how about you?

It’s okay to NOT know what you want.

You can spend years, even decades figuring out your desires and goals.

You can be a lot more productive with that time.

FOCUS ON THE PROCESS, NOT THE OUTCOME

Love the Hunt, not the kill.

Doesn’t it make sense? If you’re searching and fighting for happiness, are you saying you’re unhappy now? Do you think the dream job will bring you fulfillment? Once you have it, you will still have to go to work. If work now makes you unhappy, then work later, albeit different, will also make you unhappy.

I volunteer, I’ll be the bearer of bad news.

Your appetite won’t stop growing. You think $100k a year is enough, but once you have it, you’ll need $200k, $500k, $1,000,000.

Stop imagining the future. Start living right now.

Jocko Willink’s latest podcast, episode 210: Leadership Strategy and Tactics, talks about the seal teams advancement strategy. It’s just like life. “As soon as you feel ready and comfortable to do your role, you’re promoted and advanced forward.”

You’re in a constant state of progress. That means, you’re never “there.” You’ve never arrived, because you’re already here.

THE PROCESS

If you believe anything I’m saying, if you’ve read this far…

First of all, thank you 🙂

Secondly, let’s set some assumptions:

You don’t need money. Money just allows you to spend more time doing the things you want. Assume you have enough money and start doing the things you like.

You have time. Worrying about time is a waste of it. Tomorrow is future you’s problem.

There’s nothing to be a afraid of. If you’re not working toward any goal, remember you don’t know what you want, then you can’t fail. I mean, failure is the biggest fear right?

What’s left?

That’s right, nothing. Nothing to fear. Nothing to worry about. You have nothing to do, except what you desire. The choice can be anything. The direction can change any and every time you want.

The only thing that remains is process. You start small. Start now.

Thank you

For your endless love and support.

Andrey Starostin

Email
(Yes, I respond and read every one)
Andrey@andreystarostin.com

Instagram
a.o.starostin

Bibliography

Thank you for reading. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your time and attention. Thank you to my loved ones who give me significance.

Inspired by Tim Ferriss podcast: 404: Steve Jurvetson

Further inspiration by Jocko Podcast Episode 210: Leadership Strategy and Tactics

Suggested reading:

Dale Carnegie’s, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”

A quick weekend read. Dale’s typical analogous style keeps you following along with examples to back any and all of his theories.