With every percentage

That scrappy bit of paper above is a list of life ambitions I wrote, aged 18. You can see I didn’t exactly hold back.

That scrappy bit of paper is a list of life ambitions  I wrote, aged 18.  I didn’t exactly hold back. In full it reads:

write at least one novel
have a photographic exhibition
speak 5 languages
save someone’s life
work for UN/NATO
sing in a band
visit over 50 countries
publish a historical/political work

learn a form of martial art.

To complete this grandiose document I then apparently scribbled some train times upside down at the bottom. In a similar vein, I didn’t find this note carefully stored for future reflection but by chance, stuffed in an old folder, when I recently moved house.

A few ambitions have changed in the 10 years since then; I never did apply for that NATO job nor have I seriously picked up a camera since I was 19. Ambitions change as we grow older, sometimes for better sometimes not (although me not singing in a band is almost certainly doing the world a favour). But what really hits me looking back on that list now, is the fact I had no limitations. My 18 year old self saw no reason for me to dream smaller or be cautious.

And why should I have been? At 18 I hadn’t had a single IV admission, I didn’t take any regular nebulisers, I hadn’t developed CF related diabetes, I only took about 10 pills a day. I’d just been prescribed my first inhaler. I was not by any stretch, what you would expect from a young adult with CF. I am proud to have dreamed so big.

The thing is, those big dreams may have evolved but they haven’t gone anywhere. I am loath to accept limitations, and the list I’d write aged 28 is just as ambitious as the old one, Cystic Fibrosis or not. But a little life experience has taught me that achieving every dream takes time and compromise.

A thought popped into my head the other day, and I found myself speculating how much lung function I had permanently lost in the last 3 years due to normal stresses like long hours at work and city air. I settled on 6 percent. Lung function fluctuates naturally, mine has gone up and down by 20% in the last year depending on how well and generally fit I am. But there is something called a baseline measurement in lung function, and CF doctors will use it to assess what your best figure is.

After my morbid moment, I mentally slapped myself and went back to mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed. But navel-gazing Elly had a point, there’s an opportunity cost in everything we do.  We all need a method of measuring how we spend our time – even if spent percentages of lung function is a little niche – how else will we work towards our goals?

I thought about all the hours that made up those three years, some spent in pursuit of goals big and small, others spent happily pursuing no goal at all. I wouldn’t go back and change them; they’ve led to personal and professional achievements I’m proud of. But I do wish I’d spent more of that 6% in pursuit of the things I really measure myself by. The motivations, beliefs and dreams that inspired that little list in an A5 notebook aged 18.

Which is why, 2 weeks ago, I quit my job. I’m spending the next few weeks working on a writing project I’ve been awarded a grant for.  Beyond that I’m looking for a role in a creative agency where I can work on the kind of social change, charity and sustainability projects that get me really excited.

I’d like to make every percentage count.

Don’t be antisocial

I am a bad blogger. You don’t need me to tell you this. The (lack of) evidence has been staring you in the face for the last two months. I’m sorry. Will it make it better if I fob you off with a blog I wrote over at Café Create instead? You never know, you might even enjoy it…

Don’t be antisocial.

Social media is a nifty little thing. Alright, that’s not doing it justice. It’s played its part in revolutions, helped make supermarkets funny (We see you, Tesco) and made us remember Oreos forever. Yet it has limitations.  Last time I checked, it hadn’t cured male pattern baldness or put milk in the fridge for me the last time I ran out. It’s also not outside the realms of possibility that some people within the advertising sphere have been adding kindle to the social media hype fire for their own benefit.

Not everyone is comfortable with social media and so understandably they seek advice on the subject.  At times the conventional advice has seemed to be, “DO EVERYTHING AND DO IT NOW!” Social media covers such a wide range of tools, it is likely that one or more of them will come in handy for your business. But all of them? Probably not.

Truth is, we’re all still figuring out what some of this stuff is good for.  We don’t know yet. The ways in which we might be using social media in 10, even 5, years time are infinitely exciting, but perhaps we shouldn’t be rushing to get there.

Initially, what was brilliant about social media for a lot of brands was that it allowed them to be disruptive and show how ahead of the game they were. They could get on the social bandwagon before everyone else and shout, “look mum no hands,” and no doubt impress a lot of people in the process. Nowadays the only advantage of social media, in some situations, is to be on the wagon with everyone else.  What then, is the impact?

Back to that disruptive part; what does it mean to be disruptive? Well, sometimes, just to make a lot of noise. Call me Rudolph, but you’re probably not the only business trying to do that at this time of year. Unless you’re incredibly innovative (and if you can figure out my milk/fridge problem I’ll be eternally grateful) you probably won’t get noticed on social media at this time of year. Being disruptive often requires taking the road less travelled.

Maybe the most disruptive thing you could be doing right now is to send a letter.