in life

104 Weeks

104 weeks. 2 years. That’s how long it’s been since I was handed a diploma and walked across the stage of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Two years ago I was barely a college grad – and since then, in only two years, 104 weeks, since leaving the “classroom” classroom and stepping into the “life” classroom, I’ve done a whole hell of a lot.

  • I spent a year working for Tennessee’s largest advertising agency.
  • I started Life Without Pants – a blog about everything (and nothing) – not having a clue what it would be.
  • I sold my car and almost all of my furniture on Craigslist.
  • I quit that job and moved to Chicago with less than $2,000 to my name (and a lot of college debt).
  • I scrambled on Craigslist and found a job that kept me afloat for six months.
  • I earned my first paycheck as a freelancer.
  • I got fired from my day job.
  • I started my first business, turning my freelance gig into a full-time job.
  • I became debt-free.
  • I drank a lot of coffee, a few beers, and met a lot of amazing people in Chicago.
  • I made a lot of friends.
  • I lost a few.
  • I’ve spoken at and/or coordinated 10 different events in the past 6 months.
  • I got married.
  • Somewhere along the way I even managed to get into the almost religious habit of starting each week with inbox zero (quite possibly my most significant feat).
  • Now I’m packing things up to move BACK to Nashville, a little place where I spent the first 23 years of my life.
  • And two weeks ago I filed paperwork to start a new company (more on that soon).

In retrospect, these bullet points represent only the tip of the iceberg, but if nothing else, are the most significant of the past 104 weeks. And by now you’re probably saying, “Good for you Matt, but did I really just come here to read you talk about your own accomplishments”?!

I wouldn’t do that to you.

Through every single thing that’s happened in just these two short years. There’s been a lot of ‘life lessons’…

  • Some things WILL come and go.
  • Some relationships and friendships ARE NOT meant to be.
  • People have the ability to surprise you (for better or worse).
  • YOU have the ability to greatly impact other people without even knowing.
  • Some ideas sound great but will never come to surface.
  • But most importantly – you CANNOT be everywhere for everyone all the time or any of the time.

Life is about choices.

The mantra of doing ‘meaningful work’ passed down by my amigo Everett Bogue rings true in my mind every single day. The concept of ‘The Pleasing Disease‘ recently discussed by my good friend Nicole resonates with me regularly.

You’re going to want to do it all – you’re going to want to take on every great project and say yes to everyone.

But you can’t.

You won’t.

It took me a while to tap into what my ‘meaningful’ work really was. But I think I’ve finally started to figure it out – and since I have – my productivity has sky-rocketed.

Yes, that means some relationships have dwindled – I’ve left myself (and others) disappointed – and that’s something that I never want or intend to do – but while some have faded into the horizon, the one’s that matter most have become stronger than ever.

You don’t have to know the final destination of where you’re going – but you do need some direction.

You need to be heading toward something – and focusing on what it takes (or will take) to get there.

Figuring out what matters most

That focus and direction can (and will) change. I never thought I’d be doing any of the things I listed above two years ago – my focus and direction has shifted dramatically. But if you were to ask me today where I’m headed in the foreseeable future, I can tell you with confidence, and also cheers to the fact that I don’t have it all mapped out because I understand that everything is not within our power to control.

But the one thing you can always control are the choices you make.

Figuring out WHAT is important is 90% of the battle. The other 10% (implementation and action) is the easy part. The ‘not knowing what you want’ is what holds so many of us (myself included) back.

What matters most to you? Think about it, write it down, post it somewhere where you can see it every day – make sure you’re making time for those things – be it personal or professional – and commit to making time for what matters most, every single day.

So here’s to the last 104 weeks and the next 104 weeks ahead. It’s been incredible sharing some of my journey with all of you – learning SO MUCH from what you, my readers, are out there doing. I can’t wait to see where we’ll be two years from today…

(Photo Credit)

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  1. Well, said Nicole. Seems simple enough, but the latter, knowing when to let things happen and allowing the chips to fall as they may – not as simple as it would seem. Especially for those who want to be in 'control' of our lives. We are, for the most part (at least in my belief) but there will always be those things that you can't quite predict…

  2. Thanks Karen. I chalk it up to many late nights, early mornings, a lot of cups of coffee, and great friends and family who support what I'm doing 100%. Support is good, coffee is a must :)

  3. This is great, Matt. I think it's important to take time to reflect on how we are spending our lives and some of your experiences resonate strongly with me. I once drew a “road map” for my life. One day I will share it on my blog, but for now, I am selfishly getting kicks out of how far from my “road map” I have strayed :)

  4. Great point about creating a 'road map' (and steering away from it). I think drawing out that roadmap is important, though – gives you something to come back to when you do get too far astray. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Awesome, Matt. I've always thought “know thyself” is the best advice anyone's given me, and your post just underscores this. Know what you love. Know what you'd live for. Know what you'd die for. And go after whatever that is, no matter how elusive it may seem. The only real metric for success, then, is this: are you making a significant impact in whatever it is you've set out to do?

    I'm really, really, really looking forward to seeing what you produce over the next 104 weeks – and I'm eagerly anticipating the post you'll make then.

  6. Frying 'em (and eating 'em too!) Looking forward to it Nancy. Good things are ahead and it's taking a step back like this that makes me realize how much happens in a very short amount of time. Cheers!

  7. Thanks Brett – I think you pretty much summed it up perfectly here. I'm extremely fortunate to be where I am today. I work hard, but I'm also VERY lucky to have some great people in my life and some great opportunities ahead of me. I've found that the company you keep is very (very) important – make REAL time for the relationships that matter, and don't waste your time with the negative ones.

    Thanks for the support my friend – I think we'll all be doing great things in the coming years.

  8. I've only recently discovered your blog, and appreciate your perspective on life. Particularly poignant for me today is the reminder that people and relationships will come and go, and that's just part of life.
    Congratulations on all you've accomplished in the last 104 weeks, and for sharing the lessons you've learned along the way. Cheers to the next 104!

  9. Tis true…not knowing where you're going is what holds most of us back. You don't have to have it all planned out, but you do need a general idea.

    Thank YOU for coming by – must talk soon!

  10. Althougth Facebook makes it harder than ever to let some of those relationships go ;-/ I just had that experience last night when i was browsing through friends of friends and all the names and memories from the past were surfacing like zombies from a George Romero film… although as you said, it’s all about the choices we make, and we can chose whether to buy into the social media and who/when/how much. so it really is in our hands afterall. ha!

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