Ten Minutes

A few months ago, I was feeling extra motivated after I read something about the “habits of highly successful people.” I bet you can guess what some of them are. Even better, I bet you can guess what some of them are NOT. Sleep in….no. Procrastinate….no. Celebrate 5 days running of having at least one alcoholic beverage…unless you work for Samuel Adams, no. Basically, the article talked about these super-human CEO’s with 4% body fat and bodies that worked better than diesel engines and found out some common things that these people had in common. Get up early….yes. Read everyday…yes. Meditate, eat foods with less than 2 ingredients, exercise, disconnect, family, loved ones, unwind, no TV, animals, kids, yadda yadda yadda.

Anyway, after reading this and deciding that my life could use a little kick in the butt, I decided that I was going to get up an hour earlier than normal 3 days a week and either read, write, or exercise. I was realistic enough to know that  I wasn’t going to be able to do this 7 days a week just yet, but who knows, maybe after a few good months I would learn to enjoy the pain of this routine and expand on some of these good habits.

Well, like my childhood dreams of becoming a professional baseball player, this never happened. I found plenty of “good” reasons NOT to start this good-intentions project.

“Well, I don’t want to wake my wife up, so I probably shouldn’t do it.”

“Well, I work better at night, so maybe I should do it at the end of the day.” Cut to, “what time is it? Well, nothing more important than a good night’s sleep, so I probably shouldn’t do it.”

“I’m more active than most people my age, and I like writing at my lunch breaks at work, that’s probably more realistic for my life. Once I become CEO of my $10 billion company, THEN I’ll make sure to incorporate those habits into my daily routine. So, for now, I probably shouldn’t do it.”

So, in my last post, I wrote about being on the verge of something I think will change my life. It is very early on, but my wife and I have decided to commit to creating a start up business and we are going to begin making some things happen. Now, more than ever, I need to start making some changes in my life to watch less TV, and dedicate myself to making this dream a reality.

I still don’t think I can get up 3 days a week an hour before my alarm usually goes off (my wife would kill me), but I do think I can do 10 minutes.

I read another article that says if you can get early and just focus on a task without stopping for 10 minutes, you will begin to make some significant (positive) changes in your life. 10 minutes before you shower, eat, take the dog out or brush your teeth, just focus on something and see what happens. The author said that you might find yourself focused for 20, 45, or even 60 minutes (which would be great for trying to build a start up from the ground up).

So my new (and realistic) goal will simply be “10 minutes.” I haven’t quite figured out what I want to do for 10 minutes, but I’d like to get into some kind of routine. Maybe 3 days a week I brainstorm blog, 3 days a week I brainstorm startup, and 1 day a week I just stretch (because for the amount of running I tend do do leading up to half-marathons, I really NEED to start stretching).

Anyway, I am always trying to make myself a little bit better in one way or another. I really want to develop some habits that the ultra-productive 1% of the world have, and I think this might be a good first step.

Advertisements

Chasing the Dream

I think everyone who has ever worked for somebody else has dreamed of running the show. From the stock room worker who dreams of her own clothing line to the 9-5 desk-jockey dreaming of the bigger office, everybody at one point or another has dreamed of making the rules.

I think I am on the verge of that chase.

Right now I work at a well-paying, 9-5 job. I don’t love the fact that I sit in front of a computer screen most of the day answering emails and filling out spreadsheets, but I genuinely like the people I work with and I think the work week moves pretty quickly.

SIDE NOTE: the last place I worked was very similar as far as what I did on a day to day basis, but the days and weeks drug on like there was no tomorrow. If you are reading this and you are stuck in a job where your days drags and you just watch the clock from the time you go in to the second you leave, start looking for something else.

Anyway, I like my job enough to not have any real complaints.

But….

I want to chase the dream. I want to dictate my own salary based on the amount of work I do as opposed to getting the same paycheck week to week. I think that will motivate me to push myself beyond what I have to this point. I want to work for something I believe in. Like I said, I like the company I work for now, but I don’t really care if the product we sell does great or tanks, so long as it doesn’t affect my paycheck. I want to have a titanium business card that reads, “Ryan Rauch: Owner and CEO,” or something to that effect.

I really think I am on the verge of that chase.

The scary thing is the jumping off point. I think without anything more than an idea, it’s hard to imagine leaving my desk job and really committing myself to this dream. But I also think that people think that about anything new.

Before you learn to ride a bike, you panic at the idea of your dad letting go of the seat and would never dream of being able to cruise around the neighborhood without even thinking about how hard riding a bike used to be.

Before you take that AP Algebra class, you look at the problems in the back of the book and think there’s no way you’ll ever grasp it. But you do…

Last year I ran my first marathon. If you would have told the overweight, high-school kid that I used to be that one day I would run 26 miles I would never have believed you. I had a hard enough time running around the outfield during baseball practice. But after I graduated college, I committed to the idea of running a marathon to prove to myself that I can reach a seemingly unattainable goal and I did it. It wasn’t pretty, but it doesn’t have to be.

I think that’s one of the biggest problems of my generation. This idea that everything has to be perfect before we can do something. We can’t do anything until we research the background of something, cite examples in the real world, weight our options, list pros and cons, discuss it with our friends, and make sure the idea is as solid as it could possibly be.

I believe that in order to find out how cold the water in the pool is, we shouldn’t buy a thermometer on Amazon and wait for it to arrive, we should just jump in!

So that’s what I’m doing. Well, that’s what my wife and I are doing. We both have the dream to make the rules and set the tone and live life on our terms. We have the idea, and I think we’re about to dive in head first.

I hope that this is the beginning of something great. I hope that I will look back at this point of my life and say that this was when I decided to take charge of my life and do what it is I’ve always wanted to do.

 

My Poker Past

It’s hard to pinpoint where my poker complex came from. I remember being about 12 and the family would go over the my grandma’s house where all the uncles would play Hi-Lo Stud games for nickles and dimes. I never played in these games, but my brother did (he was about 10 at the time). Anyway, I didn’t really understand the game, but it was fun seeing who would end up the “big winner” each night. 

Note: “big winner” = +$5 in a pocket full of silver change.

I also remember being a junior or senior in high school. It was about 2002 or 2003 and it was right before the poker boom when then amateur Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 World Series of Poker and netted about $2.5 million. That year, I remember our high school bookie getting together some guys and playing tournaments in his parents basement. I think that the buy in for these tournaments was about $40. I never won, but I did develop a nasty habit of betting on baseball games that year. I remember putting $100 in an envelope and putting it in his parents mailbox with the bookie’s name on the envelope. I am not sure that this was the beginning of my love for the game, but I remember how much fun we had playing “Follow the Queen” or “Pineapple” where anything holding a sword or only had one eye showing was wild. Good times…

But the honest start to my “obsession” was freshman year in college.  It was fall of 2004 and ESPN was up to their ears in poker coverage. Not only were they broadcasting the entire 7 days of the main event, but people were watching Omaha, Stud, and even Razz tournaments on TV. I dare anyone reading this who isn’t as far gone as I am to Youtube a WSOP Razz tournament and try not pulling your hair out. 

I remember this was the time when online poker was really taking off. I wasn’t sure how good I was, but that didn’t stop me from playing in some free-money games for imaginary dollars on Pokerstars. I remember talking my roommate into getting into it with me. Sometimes, there were free-money tournaments that didn’t start until midnight, and we would stay up until 3 a.m. playing for pride and not worrying about letting our classes get in the way of all this new found excitement. 

Eventually, I got better and began playing for real money. I remember depositing $50 into my account and playing the $10+$1 multi-table tournaments and, occasionally some bigger money tournaments. I eventually figured out my strengths and learned how to make some decent money at the game. I played on Pokerstars, Party Poker and Absolute Bet my entire freshman and sophomore years while living in the dorms. I distinctly remember one Saturday, not having any big keg party that day, declaring to my whole mod that  I was going to win $1000 that day, which was a bold declaration even for me back then.  Sure enough, I won $900 in one tournament, then cashed in a $100 buy in tournament, giving me a total win of about $1200 for the day. I was the king of the castle that day and I think I realized that I was a pretty decent player. More than anything, I wanted to get better and learn as much about the game as I could.

So by the end of college, I had made a pretty decent haul at online poker. Not enough to pay for school, but enough to keep me fed and hydrated on the weekends, and able to attend social functions without digging through the couch. Then, on April 15, 2011,”Black Friday” happened. For those of you not in the know, “Black Friday” was the abrupt end of online poker as we all knew it. All activity was halted and the government seized all assets accumulated in player accounts. People did not know what to do. Luckily for me, my poker bug had cooled and I didn’t have any money lost on any sites. 

At this time, I was going to “brick and mortar” poker clubs around Columbus and learning the live game. I had gone to a few casinos and played against some talented players, but cutting my teeth against “regulars” who knew how to play cash games was a crash course in strategy and money management. I honestly believe that the Gemini Club had some of the best live players around the country. Aggressive, fearless, calculating, these players would try to take my money as if I were wearing a big sign that read “ATM.”

Anyway, that’s a long history on where I’ve been. I think most of America kind of dulled out on poker once ESPN stopped airing most of the shows and the thrill of online gambling has been limited to just a handful of states. But, to be honest, I am still fascinated by poker as much today as I was when I was playing every Saturday in college. I love thinking about the strategy of poker, about multiple ways to play the same hand, and about all the fun I have when I sit down at a poker table and play. 

I like the idea of being able to be whoever I want. I love the psychological aspect of it where I can dress up like some sko-bro (TM) and make people think that just because I look a certain way, it must mean I play a certain way. I love hiding behind a pair of sunglasses and listening to The Game. “Dead presidents. Big paper!” I love listening to people at the table talk about this or that, some tournament they played in or some guy who just got up that was as (insert any of the following adjectives: crazy, drunk, loose, loud, funny, perverted and hitting on every waitress that walked by) as anyone has ever seen. I like the thrill of winning money, but more so than that, I like the thrill of mastering the game itself. 

So this Sunday I am going back to the casino to play in the first live tournament I’ve been a part of in the past couple of years. I am extremely excited and I can’t wait to sit down and start playing. I am also excited to follow up with this post about how much I (hopefully) won! Now all that’s left to do is decide who I want to be on Sunday, and get ready to go!

Motivation isn’t just for Mondays

I am a pretty healthy eater, which is a good thing. However, I am also a self-sabotager, which is a bad thing. One little game I like to play with myself is the “I don’t need to work out today because I had a sensible day eating-wise” game. The way you play the game is right at the moment your little Jiminy Cricket conscience tells your body you should probably get up and do something active, you listen to the little guy on your other shoulder who says, ” You don’t need to work out today because I had a sensible day eating-wise.” It’s not a complicated game, but I have mastered just about every way you can convince yourself not to do something you should.

For me it’s usually exercise. Sometimes I’ll kind of play the game in reverse and say, “well, since you ran this morning, this 730 calorie Cold Stone milk shake craving that is coming on strong is kind of a wash. Not to mention, yesterday I had a sensible day eating-wise, so at the end of the day, I’m still probably coming out ahead.”

The point is, we all have something in our lives that we struggle with and we all can be pretty good at convincing ourselves to stay in bed, or spend the money, or DON’T spend the money (see: me, shopping). There is always going to be that voice inside of us who will tell us to take the easy path, or accept the temporary pleasure despite the long term consequences. I can have the milkshake now, and my body will not look any different tomorrow. But if I have the milkshake now, I am probably going to have the milkshake the next time the craving comes, and eventually the series of short term decisions that seem harmless in the here-and-now add up to some pretty serious problems that become a whole lot harder to remedy over time.

Motivation means seeing past the present and focusing on the long-term. If you’re in school, it means you might be bored studying for the next hour, but when you’re ACTUALLY prepared for that mid-term in a few weeks, that gratification will outweigh your temporary laziness. 

Motivation means getting up when your alarm clock goes off 45 minutes before it normally does (remember how ambitious you were last night when you set that alarm?) and putting on your running shoes and going outside (take your dog, he is always motivated and will thank you by not tearing through the recycling while you’re at work).

Motivation means the next time I have that craving for a milkshake, I will remember that the brief satisfaction I get in drinking it does not make up for the long term damage I am doing to my body. 

Now I don’t want to say you can’t ever have an extra drink when you go out on the weekend or you should never touch chocolate again, but the key is recognition. Recognition and motivation are key building blocks to long term success. Recognition means knowing that once-in-a-while is not a reoccurring pattern; it is being able to sleep in one Saturday because you genuinely have put in the time over the past few weeks or months and your body needs it. 

I guess the devil is in the details, but what it all comes down to is being able to be honest with yourself and not making excuses. If you have to make an excuse as to why you did something, it probably was the wrong thing to do. 

So the next time that little voice tells you to stay on the couch, stay in bed, or reach for that doughnut in the office kitchen, remember the difference between what you want now, and what you want for the rest of your life. Rewards don’t come in sugary calorie-bombs or another 15 minutes in bed, they come in the satisfaction of improving yourself, little by little, one decision at a time.

 

 

The Journey to Home Ownership

My wife and I are starting the home buying process. And by “starting the home buying process,” of course I mean we’ve been watching House Hunters, Property Brothers, Designed to Sell, Property Virgins, Love it or List it (original and “too”), Million Dollar Listing, and the occasional Say Yes to the Dress to remind ourselves that we just got married and our lives aren’t “totally” about finding our first home. To that point, we also watch Cesar Milan to remind ourselves to be good dog parents and occasionally, I get to watch some hockey or football on TV to remind myself that if I watch nothing but renovation or animal shows, I will lose my mind. But, to my original point, we are starting to talk about actually what it would take to buy a home.

In reality, we are a few steps beyond just watching the design and renovation shows on HGTV. We have met with a lender my parents use who seems to want to help us out. We are going to meet with a Realtor we like whom my wife has known for some time through her Young Professionals group. Everything is falling into place, and we are really trying to figure out what it takes to become first time home buyers.

Beyond getting together the initial lump sum of money together, my wife and I are going back and forth on Trulia and Realtor.com websites picking out houses in our price range that we both like. For us, we have a similar idea of what we both want, which makes this part of the process a whole lot easier. I cringe when I watch those HGTV shows where the husband and wife have two completely different ideas of what they want.

Usually it goes like this.

She wants something with any one of these key words: modern, turn-key, kid-friendly, chic, walk-in, updated …with a view.

He wants something with any one of these key words: craftsman, fixer-upper, rustic, vintage, floor-plan, yard for my “insert outdoor project.”

My wife and I are looking for something relatively modern, with an updated kitchen, walk in closet (more for her) and fenced in yard. Other than those items, we both have a few things on our wish list. She wants vaulted ceilings in the living room, I’d prefer 3 bedrooms to 4.

Anyway, my idea is to detail our journey from renters to owners over the course of this summer. We have a good group of friends who have recently bought homes around the price range we’re looking at, so we feel somewhat prepared for what the next couple of months will bring.

Here is kind of where we are at in the process (and if anyone reading this has any insight or helpful advice for us, please let me know!):

  • Met with lender and have been pre-approved
  • Attending open houses to get a feel for design, cost and locations we like
  • Set to meet with Realtor to describe what we are looking for and time frame (looking to buy in about 4-6 months)
  • Starting to push for aggressive saving’s plan over next 4-6 months
  • Learning about closing costs, Fannie and Freddie, escrow and a whole list of new words so to hopefully limit the amount of up-front costs and hopefully get a good deal when we eventually buy

I don’t know what the next steps will be, but I hope to learn more about this process and pass on whatever it is I gain from this experience. It’s crazy to think that in 9 months I can get married and buy a house, but I guess that’s what happens when you finally grow up. 

Right now I am anxious, excited, nervous and ready to move forward with this process. I know I am beginning something big, and I only hope that the payoff is worth the trouble, but in my heart of hearts, I know it will be.

**ANY INSIGHT OR INFORMATION WOULD BE HELPFUL AND EXTREMELY APPRECIATED**

I have a shopping problem, but it’s not what you think…

My name is Ryan Rauch and I have a shopping problem.

I know there are kids out there who will get $20 for their birthday and take it straight to their piggy bank in their room and never even think of spending it. Maybe they take it out every so often and look picture of Andrew Jackson or the White House on the back. Maybe they stare at the hologram, or maybe they keep it tucked away and imagine how it will be a big down payment on going to college someday. I know there are other kids out there who will take that same $20, run across the street to their friend’s house, and trade that $20 for an old NERF gun or XBOX game.

Do kids still play with NERF guns? Doesn’t matter…

The point is, kids rarely do the smart thing and weight their options, look for deals, and try and use that $20 for something practical and necessary. I was never the kid who hoarded money for 20 years down the road. Nor was I the kid who ran out and spent it as soon as I touched it. However, as I got older, something happened to me. I have become that kid who stares at the $20 bill and refuses to spend it unless he absolutely HAS to.

I have a spreadsheet to track my finances. It’s sensible. I was told by my coworkers at a sales dinner last week that they, too, have similar spreadsheets to track budgets and spending in their own homes. (Actually, someone told me that Chase has a way you can download your statements to an excel file… I almost had to excuse myself from dinner and run to a computer…)

Anyway, I look at my spreadsheet like that kid looks at his $20 bill. Wide-eyed and excited, I track out 3 months in advance how much money I will have in my checking account. I know what day my electric bill will be coming out and how much, to the penny, I will have leftover afterward. Sometimes, so not to spend more than what I budgeted for fuel in a given month, I will stop short of a full tank by a few dollars so that my spreadsheet stays accurate. Again, this is not so much the problem. Well, my wife will tell you it is, but to each their own, right? At least this is somewhat-sensible and responsible. And when it comes down to it, at least I am not the kid who is pawning my paychecks for NERF gun and video games.

The problem comes in for when I have some “extra” spending money. Some “shopping-money.” I budget so much money every month for “assumed spending.” Sometimes, this means paying for dinner with my wife or playing a round of golf on the weekend. I don’t have a problem with doing things like this. My problem is when I decide I really want a material-something like a golf shirt, and I become gun-shy when it comes to actually buying the shirt. I have had an Amazon tab open on my browser with 2 Nike golf shirts and a bottle of green Sriracha in my cart for the past 2 weeks.

Side note: The only reason I know how to spell “Sriracha” is because I am able to click over to that tab and look.

I have the most fascinating was of talking myself out of buying something for one reason or another. The other night, I “almost” bought everything in my Amazon cart, but my wife who was sitting next to me made a little comment about one of the items and I decided that her comment” threw me off,” so I shut my computer and was ready to go another two weeks before considering buying again. She, recognizing this, tried to build my confidence back up and tell me I should buy the shirts. So, reluctantly, I go to get back on Amazon, and the internet connection fails.

A sign.

This is literally what happens when I shop online:

  1. Find something online that I really like or want.
  2. Let that tab stay open for 3 or 4 days on my desktop while I click over different color options.
  3. Decide what I want is probably too expensive and there is another (insert color or style) one that is half price.
  4. Find one that is half price.
  5. Decide that this new one isn’t really what I want and I’d be better off getting undershirts  or something I really need.
  6. Don’t buy anything because I don’t really want undershirts and I need to pay off my credit cards anyway.

I recently read an article about learning how it’s OK to spend money on yourself every now and then as long as you’re not buying a new car or a 2 month trip to Tahiti. I’d like to say that it gave me the courage to just spend $100 for the hell of it, but I am still apprehensive. I think I like the idea of buying something more than the execution of buying something. I liken it to buying expensive household items. For me, it’s more fun to window shop at West Elm than it would be to buy furniture at Target. So until I can buy at West Elm, maybe I want to hoard my money in a savings account.

This is a problem. This is a SHOPPING problem. I can spend, but I cannot shop.

However, I am determined to overcome this shopping problem. I do not want to be the kid who stares at the $20 bill. Besides, I don’t think a golf shirt is going to keep us from finding a house in a year or not being able to turn on the A/C if it ever decides to stop raining and actually get warm this spring!

Managing Stress, Conquering Fear

In general, I am not a very “stressed” person. My mindset is usually one where I absorb whatever unpleasant situation that might arise, decide that “what’s done is done” or “what will be will be,” and figure out how to move past it. Sometimes, I think people want to dwell on stress for entirely too long. I don’t know if it’s because they want to believe that their stress trumps anyone else’s stress or if they think there will be some sympathy on the back end from people. I know people who over dramatize whatever happens to them in order to, I can only imagine, almost make you envy them in some backwards kind of way. In any case, people handle stress in any number of ways.

Today is the Thursday before Easter. Every year since I can remember we would go out to my Dad’s side of the family for Easter Sunday and we would have a big dinner, which would usually take place at 12:00 or 1:00 which is still funny to me that it’s called dinner. Anyway, today I was looking through Facebook and I saw a post from my Sister-in-Law addressed to the Facebook page for the “Rauch Family Easter Dinner” explaining that she and my brother and niece weren’t going to be able to make it out this year.

Side Note: The fact that there is a Facebook page dedicated to our family holidays cracks me up. This is the family that 3/4 of the entire family lives on one stretch of road in Newark, Ohio and still has the same red barn I remember growing up. It seems like a world that will forever live in my memories, but now they have Facebook to organize holiday dinners.

Farm
Red circles all Facebooking each other right now…

I’m losing focus.

The point is, I completely forgot about going out to “the farm” this year for Easter. Usually by this time, I have talked to my Dad and we have arranged a time to get out there and when to leave. Here’s the point: it stresses me out that I will let my family down that I will not be out there this year. It stresses me out that, although it’s not like I am staying home, that I feel like I am losing touch with that side of my family. It stresses me out that  my relationship with this side of my family exists more on Facebook than it does in real life.

Today, for whatever reason, I have been feeling stress more than most other days. A lot is happening in my life and maybe it’s all catching up to me. Maybe it’s normal to feel stress and my way of shrugging when the weight of the world hangs over me isn’t always the right way to handle stress. I’m stressed about moving. I know I should be excited to start looking for a house but I can’t help but wonder if I am ready or if I want to settle in Columbus, Ohio. I’m stressed that I can’t write more blog entries. I’m stressed that I don’t know what to blog about some days. I’m stressed that I cannot finish books. I’m stressed because I don’t have any money to play poker and even though I’m confident that I’d win, I cannot justify gambling money I can’t afford to lose. I’m stressed that I can’t justify buying a hat or a golf shirt I want (This could be a whole other blog post and it will be eventually. I have inability to buy things for myself. It is what it is.). I’m stressed that I have debt. I’m stressed that I pick at hang nails until they bleed. Stressed that I don’t know if I do this because I’m stressed or if I do it which causes me stress. I’m stressed that this list is getting so long. I’m stressed that I started in fantasy golf Graham McDowell instead of someone else and I only will have 6 starts left with him and he is shitting the bed.

So before I ramble off the edge…

I am not trying to turn this into a pity party blog entry and I am not trying to make it seem like what I stress about is any more or less important than anyone else. I know there are 100 million people who would read what I stress about and tell me how lucky I have it. And I think that’s why I never allow myself to show stress to anyone else. I feel like I am blessed to stress about things like hang nails and not being about to blog. But this way of thinking prevents me from stressing about the things that actually matter, like feeling like I am losing a part of myself because I am losing touch with the side of the family I do not identify with as much as I used to.

I think we stress because we cannot quite grasp what really matters. We stress about the little things because we don’t want to admit what really scares us. Fear and stress are very closely related. Stress is the blanket we use to hide ourselves from fear. My wife stresses out when I do not answer the phone when she calls because she thinks I got into a huge car crash. I stress about not seeing that side of the family enough because I fear the day when I don’t see them anymore. It doesn’t mean one stress is more legitimate than the other, rather, it means we all interpret our fears differently allow stress to affect us uniquely.

So how do we cure stress? Should we cure stress? Is there a world where we can honestly say we do not fear anything? I think we are born without fear and the more we understand and more we know, the more we learn to fear. I think the right approach is to embrace stress. Understand stress. If we can be honest with the reasons we stress about something and get down to the root of what we’re afraid of, we can learn to manage our fears and get through the hard times. To conquer stress, I believe we have to be honest about what we fear, decide if we are able and willing to address our fears, and ultimately either do something about it or learn to live with the daily worry that our true fear will someday come to fruition.