Happy to live in post-apartheid South Africa

Every now and then, I have an experience that makes me profoundly grateful that apartheid is over and that I am alive to see the effects of South Africa’s transformation. I had such an experience this morning.

What did I do this morning? I went to work, just like every other day of the week/month/year. Nothing unusual about that. I parked my car and walked towards the coffee shop near my office to get a chocolate croissant and an Appletiser (probably not the healthiest breakfast, but it works for me).

As I approached the coffee shop, I saw someone walk out of it. I recognised him – a friend from school who works close by. I called to him, he stopped and waited for me and we had a little chat – mostly about his baby boy who just had his first birthday.

The chat ended and I went on to work.

And then, a bit later, it hit me. That conversation could not have happened in apartheid South Africa. Here’s why:

My friend is a coloured man. He’s married to a white woman. Their son is a black baby boy whom they adopted.

During apartheid, their family would have been illegal. The Mixed Marriages Act would have prevented them from getting legally married. Even if they had lived together in secret, they would not have been able to legally adopt a black baby.

I would probably not have ever met my friend, because I am a white man and we would not have been able to attend the same school under the apartheid regime.

We’re not close friends. Our interaction consists of occasional chance encounters like happened this morning. Otherwise we’re Facebook friends so I see his status updates and photos (which is how I knew about his son’s birthday).

What I see of his life on Facebook shows me that he has a close-knit, loving family. Mom, Dad and baby boy all seem pretty happy with each other’s company. In that regard, I’m very pleased for them.

Thirty years ago, their family could not have been. I can only marvel at the evil of legalised discrimination when I think about that. And while apartheid is over, discrimination is certainly not.

So many discriminatory laws exist in so many countries around the world – laws against people of different genders, skin colours, races, religions, sexual orientations, languages, family backgrounds, political affiliations, and so on. My little list here is probably tiny compared to the reality of worldwide legalised discrimination.

And this is why I’m so pleased to live in post-apartheid South Africa. South Africans got together and decided that enough was enough and that the discrimination of apartheid had to end.

The conversation I had with my friend this morning was made possible by the actions of people I’ve never met that took place over twenty years ago. My personal happiness has been affected today by the end of apartheid in the early 1990s.

I’m so grateful that apartheid is over. And I hope that other forms of discrimination both here in South Africa and around the world can be ended so that more families like my friend’s can be and more people can have experiences like the one I had today.

Mood Matters

I used to think that my mood made no material difference to my ability to successfully perform tasks, particularly tasks that I’m used to. But over time that’s proving not to be the case. My mood matters. A lot.

I work in a fairly stressful job. There are multiple deadlines during each day and they all have to be met. So I don’t have a lot of time to slow down and think about how I’m approaching my day. I simply have to get on with it.

The trouble with that is not the stress itself. It’s the lack of space to deal with my mood. If I arrive at work frustrated and stressed out for some reason completely unrelated to work, that frame of mind stays with me and affects how I experience my work day.

What has woken me up to this reality is dissatisfaction in my work. On some days, I really don’t like my job. And that’s been slightly mystifying because on other days I relish my work. Looking at those days on which I’d rather be somewhere else, I can see that I’ve taken stress and frustration to work with me, rather than the work itself being the problem.

Of course, there’s a positive side to this too – if I arrive at work calm, collected and focused on being productive, I generally have a fantastic day.

This is something that’s taken me a bit by surprise. And looking at it now, it seems a little ridiculous that it’s taken me 30 years to work out that I need to prepare myself mentally for any task in order to perform it well. But that’s just how it is.

Of course, this new realisation is also a call to action. I need to spend my morning in such a way that I arrive at work in a positive frame of mind. That means I need to have enough time for my morning routine, so that I don’t have to rush.

It also means that I must wake up refreshed, which requires that my sleep be of sufficient length and quality. And for that to happen, I need to go to bed early and, perhaps more importantly, without being stressed out.

This post is now going in a direction that has been covered before – I need to take care of myself. And that’s not what I was thinking when I started to write today. But it’s the inevitable conclusion. If I want to live a positive and productive life, I must first be good to myself.

This new appreciation of the importance of mood also highlights something I chatted about with a good friend over a glass of wine yesterday evening: It’s crucial to face personal issues, even if it’s uncomfortable.  That’s how we learn and grow.

If I constantly push my own issues aside, they don’t go away. Instead, they stress me out and wreck my mood. If I deal with my problems, they go away. And the lightness that results from solving my own personal problems is truly wonderful. It’s surprisingly easy to forget that.

So I suppose the conclusion I’m drawing from this meandering post is this: I need to care about myself enough to face the issues that are holding me back. I’ll be trying to keep that in mind as I go through today; then tomorrow; and hopefully every day after that.

 

Quit trying to do everything yourself

I’m guessing you have a long list of things to do at home that you never get round to. My wife and I certainly do. We finally worked out that we don’t have to do it all ourselves. We also worked out how to get it all done in pretty quick time.

How? We hired a PA (Personal Assistant). Just for a week. Just to take care of some stuff that we needed done.

But let’s go back to the beginning. Last Sunday, the wife and I were staring at each other across the coffee table, contemplating the bleakness of our to-do list (Quite a lot of that list really needed to happen by the middle of the week).

And we wondered aloud “Wouldn’t it be great if we could just pay someone else to do it all?”

A few seconds later, we clicked. “We CAN just pay someone else to do it all!”

So we Googled this idea, hoping to find some sort of agency or business that did exactly what we wanted. No luck. Then we started looking at Gumtree ads, where we found one promising candidate, who we emailed (without ever getting a response).

Not long after sending that email, we thought “What we really need is a student-type person who’s on holiday and therefore has the time.” We also thought it would help if we actually knew this person who would end up with access to our house and cars while we were not at home.

A quick phone-call to one of my sisters later, we had our target. An unemployed (funemployed in her terms) friend of my youngest sister who had just finished studying and was waiting to go overseas.

We called her up, met with her later in the afternoon and she agreed to work for us. In return, we promised her pay, petrol money, airtime and five lunches.

The result has been, in a word, magnificent.

In the space of a week our awesome PA has engaged the services of movers, an electrician, a handyman and a cleaner. The enormous pile of everything that has been sitting in our garage waiting to be sorted has been neatly divided into appropriately labeled sections.

We’ve acquired a ladder (we needed one), had a wardrobe and various other items sold and had some clothes dry-cleaned. Next week, my wife’s car is getting fixed and a handyman is coming to sort out some more issues that we’ve identified.

What we’ve learned from this experience

1. We don’t have the time to clear our to-do list. In fact, if we had to do everything that’s been done this week it would take weeks or even months to accomplish.

2. We can afford it. Many people I know would prefer to leave things undone or do them badly rather than pay someone else to do it, simply because of the perception that there’s no money available. That’s not true. Budget is just a factor. If money were tight, we would have made it a day or two instead of a full week.

3. Getting things done is satisfying. And that applies even if we’re getting them done by proxy. I’m very pleased by what’s been accomplished this week.

4. An organised life is more pleasant. Just walking into our garage is more pleasant than it was a few days ago. Where before there was a mess to be dealt with, now there are specific actions to be taken with specific things: A particular pile of books needs to be sold, tossed or shelved. Some items we need but don’t use often must be put into the ceiling. And so on.

5. We don’t need to make all of the decisions. We needed a ladder, but we didn’t choose it. It was chosen for us, and that’s just fine with me. We didn’t have to choose our electrician, handyman, movers or cleaner. And everything worked out just fine.

6. We don’t need to control all of our spending. Most of the tasks our PA dealt with this week involved money. We didn’t want to have to approve everything, so we gave her complete freedom to approve anything up to R500. We could have made it higher, and probably will next time. Because of that freedom, we only had to approve expenses on 2 or 3 occasions. The rest of the time, things just happened and we found out when we got the invoices for payment.

7. When we have time, we’re more productive. My wife and I both work full-time. We normally get home tired and a bit stressed, and then try to deal with our world in that compromised state. Now we don’t have to do that. So we end up happier and more relaxed when we go to work. In my case, the benefits have been noticeable.

In conclusion

Stop stressing about your personal to-do list. Really. Just stop. It’s not helping you or anyone else to be stressed about problems you don’t have the time to solve.

Just hire someone. Make it someone you trust and someone you expect to actually do the things you want done. And then forget about it.

And stop worrying about the money. Money is just a tool. Spend it to make your life better.

Dealing with Consequence

Consequence is an inescapable part of reality. We make decisions and take actions, and consequences result. Sometimes our decisions and actions are negative, i.e. we choose not to decide or act, but there are consequences nonetheless. I’ve observed three distinct ways in which the people I know deal with consequence. Let’s have a look at them.

1. Fear of Losing Out

This is the fear of negative consequence. It is the source of a need for security. This fear is paralysing, as it prevents the subject from doing anything unfamiliar in case it turns out badly.

Staying in an unsatisfying job can be an example of this. I’ve been there – I stayed in a previous job for too long. There was nothing wrong with the job itself, I just needed to move on for my sake. But I was afraid to push myself out of my comfort zone, afraid to make an incorrect decision.

When I eventually did take the step of leaving my job to pursue a freelance career, it turned out to be a life-changing, universe-expanding decision. I had delayed that decision simply because I was afraid.

This fear also manifests in me as a fear of disappointing other people. I want the people close to me to approve of my choices, to the unhealthy extent that I sometimes act against my wishes or better judgement simply to preserve that approval.

2. Fear of Missing Out

This fear leads to reckless and unmeasured behaviour. It results in the pursuit of any and all opportunities simply because they exist.

The fear of missing out is also the source of herd mentality: “Everyone else is doing it… I don’t want to feel left out, so I’ll join in.”

In me, the fear of missing out manifests in the form of aversion to opportunity risk. I struggle to commit to some things because I fear that if I do, I will miss out on the consequences of committing to some unspecified “other decision or action”.

3. Embracing Consequence

There are a few people I know and admire who seem able to consider the consequences, both positive and negative, of their actions and proceed, accepting the possibility that those consequences could come to pass.

This is the method of dealing with consequence that I desire for myself. In some parts of my life, I believe it exists, and that is certainly to the benefit of myself and the people around me.

An example

I like to use sport in examples, because sport is governed by well-defined rules that lead to one of a limited number of specific outcomes. So I’ll use a racing example here.

Motor racing is one of my hobbies. I like to go racing. The reasons are not particularly important here, but my attitude to the consequences of racing is very important.

Racing can have positive consequences – exhilaration, enjoyment, success, etc. (I’ve experienced each of these to a degree) – and negative consequences – it’s dangerous (there are other possible negative consequences, but this one is sufficient for the example).

Using the above attitudes to dealing with consequence, I could behave in one of three ways:

1. I’m aware that a crash on the race-track could lead to serious injury or death for me, my competitors and/or the spectators and marshalls involved. The Fear of Losing Out dictates that I should therefore not be involved in racing.

2. Racing is enormously enjoyable. I love to win, I enjoy the adulation of other people when I succeed, and I crave the exhilaration of pushing a machine to its limits. The Fear of Missing Out dictates that I should go racing regardless of the risks.

3. Racing has risks, as described above but it also has rewards. I would like to have the rewards, but I would also like to minimise the risks – I’d like to live to hold the trophy at the end of the race. If I embrace the consequences of racing, I must ensure that I do what I can to mitigate the risks (i.e. use appropriate safety equipment, respect accepted track ettiquette, ensure that my kart is well maintained, etc.) while also doing what I can to win (practice, study racing technique, watch and learn from the drivers who are faster than I am, etc.)

Of those three possible behaviours, it’s clear that the third one is ideal. No-one wants to make decisions from a position of fear, and yet we do that so very often. I know I certainly do.

Note that it’s not necessary to agree with my approach to the question of racing – not everyone enjoys it and I know plenty of people who have no interest in it. In my case, the embrace of consequence would lead me to race, but it might well lead someone else to choose not to race.

In all areas of my life I would like to make decisions in the knowledge that I have examined the potential consequences, both positive and negative, as far as is reasonably possible. I wish for my decisions to be made without fear, but instead embracing the potential for positive or negative results.

Taking care of myself

Of all my flaws, perhaps the most significant is this: I’m useless when it comes to taking care of myself. That needs to change.

As examples: I don’t eat well; I don’t get enough exercise; I don’t sleep enough; and I don’t spend enough quality time by myself. That’s not an exhaustive list, but it illustrates the point.

The result of my lack of self-care is a poor quality of life. I generally don’t have a lot of energy; I lack enthusiasm for my daily tasks; I don’t focus as well as I would like to. Worst of all, I get stuck in my comfort zone of living badly and typically lack the motivation to get out of it.

Well, that all has to stop. My life is short and precious and I intend to live it positively.

However, I know myself quite well. If I try to suddenly and significantly change my lifestyle, it’s quite likely that I’ll do things differently for a short while and then go back to my current habits.

So my strategy is this: I shall become awesome one step at a time.

The first step is sleep. Last night I was in bed before 9 and asleep before 10. This morning I felt a little more rested than I usually do, but not much. For now, I’ll carry on going to bed early and waking up early. From previous experience of getting better quality sleep, I’m confident that I’ll see significant benefits in as short a time as a few days. That’s step 1 in the process of self-improvement.

Step 2 will involve exercise. I’m not going to beat myself up about it until I’ve settled into the new sleep pattern, but I intend to use the extra time I will have in the mornings (from waking up early) to exercise. I know from experience that when I’m fit I have more energy, focus and positivity.

Step 3 will include a bit of re-training myself to eat well. I eat a lot of fast food, a lot of processed food, a lot of carbs, a lot of sugary foods. It’s got to the point where I wonder if I have a mild addiction to carbs and sugar. So I intend to break that habit by eating well. In my experience, my eating preferences are generally dictated by my eating habits, not the other way round. So I’ll teach myself to enjoy healthy food by eating it.

There will be further steps. But for now, these three will do. Step one – sleep – will get my attention until it becomes my normal, and then I’ll focus on step 2, then step 3, and then we’ll see what else I want to change.

I look forward with (slightly bleary and fuzzy) enthusiasm to living an improved lifestyle.

No-one is “just good” at anything

Talent is one of those confusing concepts that I don’t really like. Calling someone “talented” in reference to the presence of a particular skill misses the point. Anyone who does anything well does so as the result of a great deal of practice, not because they are naturally gifted.

Thinking about myself, this becomes quite evident. Taking just two of my skills – I play the piano reasonably well and I’m quite quick around an indoor kart track – as examples, it’s clear to me that both are the result of hard work much more than any “natural ability”.

I started learning to play the piano when I was seven years old. I practised most days from then until I completed my ABRSM Grade 8 exam when I was 17. Since then, I have practised less, but still continued to play regularly – in a church band, with singers and instrumental soloists – and I have performed at a few small house concerts.

My proficiency on the piano is not down to talent. It’s down to the fact that I now have over 20 years of playing the piano behind me. I’m not sure if I’ve made it to Malcolm Gladwell’s magic number of 10,000 hours, but I’ve certainly spent a lot of time at the piano.

When it comes to indoor karting, I have for a long time considered myself to be “naturally fast”. Thinking about that recently, it’s become clear that I’ve been deluding myself. I’m not naturally fast. My early attempts at karting were pretty poor, which would not have been the case if I were somehow “just good” at karting.

I’m quick around a kart track because I’ve done literally thousands of laps. Although I only really started racing about 5 years ago, I made a point of getting in regular practice until I was quick enough to be competitive. Now it seems fairly straightforward to me to get into a kart and take it pretty close to the limit on a track.

Looking at any of my other skills (I’ve thought about this quite a bit recently) leads me to the same conclusion in each and every case. Any skill I have is down to practice.

Looking at other people around me, the same appears to be true. I’ve never met anyone who is just spectacularly good at anything at the first attempt.

The authors I know have become competent through years and years of writing. The musicians I know play well because of years and years of practice. The racing drivers I know who are quicker than I am have had more practice than I have had. The entrepreneurs I know who are successful have spent years of their lives trying to run businesses and have learned hard lessons along the way.

No-one is “just good” at anything. Of that I’m becoming more and more convinced. And the lesson is a great one for me – it tells me to stop looking for those things I’m naturally good at, and to work hard at the things I want to do well instead.

Give it a Rest

I’m a busy guy. I’m not alone in that – pretty much everyone I know spends their life in a state of constant action. I’m slowly learning that it’s important to slow down, take a break, rest and relax.

I’ve spent the last few months in survival mode. And with good reason. My wife and I recently moved house. I wrote a pretty big exam a few weeks ago. And, most significantly, one of our family members had a sudden and very serious health crisis.

So I’ve been quite stressed out. That stress has translated into dissatisfaction in many areas of my life. I’ve not been enjoying my job; I’ve found small household tasks to be quite a burden; I’ve been questioning my motivation in many things that I do.

Yesterday was Sunday 28 December. It was my fourth consecutive non-work day. Not because I took leave (I didn’t and I was back at work today), but because Christmas Day and Boxing Day (actually called “Day of Goodwill” in South Africa”) happen to be public holidays in my country and happened this year to fall on a Thursday and Friday respectively.

So I had a bit of a break from work. I got to spend a good chunk of time with my wife (which is unusual because we have quite different working hours). I saw quite a bit of my family, and quite enjoyed doing so. I had a chance to pay attention to my home environment.

And, crucially, I was able to rest. For the first time in what seemed like months I didn’t have much that I had to do. And those things that absolutely had to be done could be dealt with calmly.

Not everything went smoothly over my four-day weekend. There was another (much less severe) family health issue to be resolved. There were important decisions to be made. There was a lot of cleaning to do in the aftermath of Christmas lunch, which my wife and I hosted.

But those challenges could all be met in a relaxed manner. Having the time and space to rest a bit afforded me the opportunity to solve problems rather than merely eliminating them or putting them off.

At the end of the weekend, when I was thinking about all of this, I was struck by a desire to approach all of my life’s challenges as I had over the past four days.

I tend to over-commit my time and energy. I struggle to say “no” to requests and as a result I tend to take on more than I’m comfortable doing. The inevitable result is poor performance in some areas of my life.

I’d much rather commit to less and do everything well. I would certainly benefit from that approach and the people I commit to would also benefit if I gave their problems the time they deserve.

Additionally, if I were to say “no” to some people, they could take their problems to someone who has the capacity to deal with them. The problem would more likely be solved to the benefit of everyone involved.

I resolve to get more rest. To live a bit slower. To do things well. To say “no” when I need to.

Enjoying being me and unselfish love

Driving a Ferrari F430 at Killarney Raceway
Driving a Ferrari F430 at Killarney Raceway

This morning, thanks to my amazing wife, I got to drive four supercars on a race track. The experience was thoroughly awesome. And I think it’s important to have fun. But what struck me afterwards as being even more important is to enjoy being myself.

I like cars. I like learning new things and working out how to do them better. I like to push myself. I like to be in control. Driving around Killarney Raceway this morning in a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, a Nissan GTR and a Porsche was therefore enormously enjoyable.

Far more than the enjoyment of what I was doing, though, was the enjoyment of being myself in the experience. I felt alive. I felt capable. I felt exhilarated and at the same time comfortable.

I now feel refreshed and relaxed, ready to face any challenges and new experiences that may be lurking just around the corner.

This experience and subsequent awareness reminds me of the need to do regularly those things that make me enjoy being myself. It is crucial to invest in myself, not just in terms of what makes me valuable to other people (marketable skills, etc.) but also in terms of what makes me valuable to me. I want to enjoy being alive more.

Over and above everything that’s been mentioned above is a growing appreciation of the wonder of love. My wife gave me this wonderful gift because she knew it would make me very happy. She did it just for me, not to get anything in return.  How awesome is that?

Thank you, Tessa. I love you.

Rejecting specialization

What’s the obvious way to build a successful career? Become very good at a specific task and then earn lots of money from it for a long time. This is known as specialization. I don’t like that, and I’ll tell you why.

The first (but not necessarily most important) reason for my dislike of specialization is this: Specialization is inherently risky.

What makes me say that? Specialization is risky because it is dependent on there being a market for a specific skill. But markets change all the time. Some skills become irrelevant as technology develops. Markets can be dramatically affected by legislation and regulation, to the point that demand for skills can decrease suddenly.

Consider my own full-time work as an example. I work in investment administration for a multi-manager. It is quite conceivable to me that my job could be done by a piece of software. If that happens, demand for my skill in investment administration will drop dramatically in a short space of time. If I am relying on that skill for all or most of my income, I’m setting myself up for financial disaster by investing all of my time and energy into this one skill.

A much more sensible strategy for earning money would be income diversification. If I could have multiple sources of income that make use of my myriad skills (and perhaps some sources of passive income) I’d suffer much less from the loss of one source of income than if I only had that one source to lose.

The second reason I dislike specialization is this: Specialization is boring.

Let me clarify. I don’t think my job is boring. I do think quite strongly that my job gets more interesting as I become more competent. What i mean when I say specialization is boring concerns my other skills that I don’t use as much as my one “specialized” skill.

I’ll use myself as an example again. Aside from my investment administration skills, I have a few other skills that generally only feature in my life as hobbies. They are: music (I’m a pianist), writing (this blog, my racing blog at http://chrisonf1.com, and some other projects I’m working on), home-making (my wife works longer hours than I do, and therefore I end up dealing with most of the household tasks),  and driving (I do a bit of amateur racing) to name a few.

The problem with specialization in this context is the neglect of my other skills in favour of my one most marketable skill, simply because that one skill most easily puts money in my bank account.

But what about my other skills? I’d love to spend more time playing and writing music, writing articles like this one, making my home a haven for my family and tearing around a race-track. I’d be more interesting, happier, more fulfilled and probably more relaxed in general if I could find a way to do all of that.

Thirdly, specialization is inefficient.

Doing the same thing all day every day is… impossible. At least for me. I work an 8 hour day. I very much doubt I’m productive for 8 hours. That’s not because I don’t put effort into my job. I do. It’s more because I, as a human being, am not capable of concentrating for that long.

My day gets broken up into productive sessions, separated by distracting activities which include talking to my colleagues, reading articles, drinking coffee, communicating with my family and friends, organising non-work activities (dinners, etc) and browsing social media.

Estimates for productivity of office workers go below 3 hours out of an 8 hour day. That sounds appalling, but it’s believable. I have quite a busy job (it’s the busiest one I’ve done so far in my short life), so I’d guess I’m probably productive for a fair amount more than 3 hours in an average day. But it’s certainly not a full 8 hours for me.

If I could have a shorter work day (but still do the same amount of work – more than possible in my opinion), I’d have more time to spend on my neglected skills, which would be of great benefit to me without incurring any cost to myself or my employer.

Fourthly, specialization is disempowering.

That might sound counter-intuitive. Surely becoming very good at something is immensely empowering? Of course it is. What is disempowering is the knock-on effect of being useless at everything else.

Once again, I’ll use myself as an example. I can work out the details of complex financial transactions at work, which makes me feel very good about myself.

But when I get home, and find that I have a couple of loose stairs that need to be stuck down, I’m all at sea. Don’t ask me to service my own car (I did it once – it took forever and I needed lots of help), unblock a drain, install a satellite dish or tile a floor.

There are, of course, lots of people who specialize in doing all of those tasks that confound me at the first step (pun intended). In order to get a task done, all I have to do is pay one of those specialized individuals some money and it gets done for me.

But wouldn’t it be great to be able to do the things I want done by myself? I think so. I’d feel enormously empowered if I didn’t have to call someone every time something relatively minor went wrong in my life.

Time to invest in myself

Specialization could be described as: undiversified investing in my ability to produce income from a specific skill or skill-set.

Based on that description, specialization is certainly not for me. I’d rather invest time, energy and money in all of my skills. The likely result? A happier, more interesting, more relaxed, wealthier, more secure me.

Just do it

On Sunday (four days ago) I decided to shave my head. Why? Because as long as I can remember I’ve wondered what it would be like to have a shaved head.

So I made an appointment with Brian (who’s a fantastic guy and an artist with hair) at Blokes Hair (www.blokeshair.com) for Monday early evening (just after I finished work).

I imagine it wasn’t his most challenging assignment ever, but Brian shaved my head for me. He also gave me some good advice on how to avoid burning my freshly-exposed scalp to a crisp in the African sun.

The point of all of this is not that I shaved my head. That’s pretty normal for many people. The point is I finally made a decision after gently mulling it over for possibly as long as 15 years. And in the end, the decision-making process took pretty much no time at all.

Why did I think about shaving my head for so very long before actually doing it? The best explanation I can offer is fear. Fear of doing something different, venturing (however gently) into the unknown.

Was the fear justified? Absolutely not. What was I scared of’? That I’d look terrible? Even if that were the case (it’s not), my hair will grow back. In a few short weeks my head will look like I didn’t shave it at all.

So I’ve learned some lessons. Firstly, to just do it – quit wondering about the consequences and just go for it. Secondly, that most decisions are reversible or recoverable (in this case, my hair will grow back in not very long). Thirdly, that being decisive, even in just this one little thing, makes me more interesting to the people around me – everyone wants to know why I did it and most express some admiration for taking such a supposedly “brave” step.

All in all, just doing it has been an amazingly positive experience. From now on, decisions will be made quickly and decisively. I expect the results to be positive.