Sunday, December 26, 2010

1L: 1st Semester

I stopped posting on here when I started law school. While there were moments where I could have written posts, I wanted to devote my full attention to doing well. Also, in my free time I either wanted to be spending it with my wife or doing something where I did not have to think.

Here are a few of my thoughts from the previous months:


Quickly approaching the end of 3CR, my wedding and starting law school. A weird time. Almost like the calm before the storm. Trying to clutch to the present and enjoy my time, not really easy with how excited I am for everything.


Idea: Make a blog that includes things that you googled. So you have the question and then your eventual answer if you found it. (why do this? who cares??)


Following a great wedding and about a week before law school starts. Really excited to get started with law school. I am trying to make sure I am as prepared as I can be.

8/24/10 (first day of law school)

The school has been nothing but welcoming and open over orientation and the first day. This, I think, has helped calm down all the type-A's starting law school. Yet, under the surface level calm I have a bunch of anxiety over doing well. I get the sense that most others do too. When success is defined by one test at the end of the year you must take a certain mindset to retain your sanity. I am still trying to find that mindset.


Law school is tough. But not tough because it is hard to comprehend and not necessarily the workload (which can be challenging). It is tough because there are so many different routes to take and no one is exactly sure which way to go. Read the cases? Brief the cases? Hornbooks? When to outline?

This is hard and exhilarating all at the same time. I like competition and challenge.


Starting to figure everything out better. Now it is time to ratchet up the work.


In a good place. Up to date on my work. Outlines looking good. Into the homestretch and feeling good. Time to start ratcheting it up.


One semester of law school in the books. I enjoyed it, but have no idea how I did. After all the exams I couldn't help but remember the following section from One Lon finals: 
I felt insulted by them--there's no other way to put it. Finals were regarded with an institutional earnestness which had left my classmates and me believing for months that the tests would offer some consummate evaluation, not simply of how well we'd learned, but--almost mystically--of the depths of our capacity in the law. Exams were something to point to, a proving ground for all the hard and sincere labor. And instead they have been intellectual quick-draw contests, frantic exercises that seemed to place no premium on the sustained insight and imagination which I most admired in others, and when they occurred, felt proudest of in myself.
I knew going in that the finals would not necessarily measure my intellectual capacity for the law, but I was (and still am) very much aware of their ability to affect my capacity to find employment.


Enjoying the break.

Photo: eflon

Sunday, July 18, 2010


When you are through changing, you are through. 
-Bruce Barton

I started Choice of Action one year ago.  Over the last year I have tried using this blog to strike a balance of being informative for others while also being a personal tool for improvement.  Looking back, I can say that it has unquestionably succeeded in helping me with my own goals.  I can only hope that some of the advise was useful for others.

For me, the last year has been highlighted by anticipation for big life changes.  Over the next month I will be quitting my job, getting married and starting law school.  These are all things that I have been planning for quite a while so the change is not really shocking.  Yet it is very difficult to stay in the moment with all of this on my mind.

I used to think of myself as someone who was not exactly comfortable with a lot of change.  I now think it is more true that I am just more comfortable (and generally more successful) in familiar situations.  When placed in new settings I prefer to assess, survey and see how things work on their own before acting.  I anticipate I will do the same thing when I start law school, though the time to analyze will need to be short as I attempt to balance a big workload with family life.

I am not exactly sure how this blog will look in the future.  Anyone who has occasionally visited it will have noticed that I stopped posting regularly months ago.  The biggest success of the blog has been maintaining my workout log for over 6 months.  Updating the log has provided both motivation to work out and a sense of accomplishment in looking back.  I plan on continuing to post my workouts.  I am also considering posting a similar log in connection with my law school studying.

Moving forward with my life I remain steadfastly excited for the future.  Excited both for the beginning of a new career and for new beginnings with the woman of my dreams.  Amidst years of questioning and analyzing what career to pursue, a stabilizing force in my life has been my future wife, for whom I have never doubted my pursuit.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Examination of Routines

I am the type of guy who really likes routines.  I think it's tied to this weird obsession I have with finding the most efficient way to do everything.  I recently stumbled across this website where the routines of famous people are listed.

One of my favorites is Benjamin Franklin:
The precept of Order requiring that every part of my business should have its allotted time, one page in my little book contained the following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural day.
5-8: Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness! Contrive day's business, and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study, and breakfast. (The Question. What good shall I do this day?)
8-12: Work.
12-2: Read, or look over my accounts, and dine.
2-6: Work.
6-10: Put things in their places. Supper. Music or diversion, or conversation. Examination of the day. (The Question. What good have I done today?)
10-5: Sleep.
Making time every day to ask "What good shall I do this day?" and "What good have I done today?" is reason enough to work on building a routine.  The practice clearly worked for the underrated Franklin.

Another interesting one is Barack Obama:
Although his presidency is barely a week old, some of Mr. Obama’s work habits are already becoming clear. He shows up at the Oval Office shortly before 9 in the morning, roughly two hours later than his early-to-bed, early-to-rise predecessor. Mr. Obama likes to have his workout — weights and cardio — first thing in the morning, at 6:45. (Mr. Bush slipped away to exercise midday.)
He reads several papers, eats breakfast with his family and helps pack his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, off to school before making the 30-second commute downstairs — a definite perk for a man trying to balance work and family life. He eats dinner with his family, then often returns to work; aides have seen him in the Oval Office as late as 10 p.m., reading briefing papers for the next day.
“Even as he is sober about these challenges, I have never seen him happier,” Mr. Axelrod said. “The chance to be under the same roof with his kids, essentially to live over the store, to be able to see them whenever he wants, to wake up with them, have breakfast and dinner with them — that has made him a very happy man.”
In comparison I jotted down how my usual morning breaks down:
  • 6:30: Wake up (sometimes set alarm at 6 and hit snooze until 6:30)
  • 6:50: Shower/dress
  • 7:10: Eat breakfast/check email, google reader, facebook, google news
  • 7:45: Leave for bus
  • 8:15-8:30: Arrive at work
My routine is far from ideal.  I enjoy having time in the morning to reflect a bit on the day ahead.  My current schedule usually does not allow much time for doing this.

I will be starting law school in less than three months so my routine will definitely be changing.  I am planning on taking this opportunity to instill a much more structured, Franklin-like routine.

An easy criticism of these routines are that they are boring and non-spontaneous.  I think this is fair.  But I also think that this type of structuring can allow for maximization of time to do great things.

From looking at the routines of famous and accomplished individuals a theme seemed to emerge; rigid structure allows for focus and bursts of creativity.

A few links related to the subject:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Assorted Musings

I often have flashes of seemingly great ideas or thoughts.  When this happens I keep these ideas on a Google document, sometimes expanding on them and writing a blog post and sometimes never touching them again.  Here is an assortment of the later.

One of my new favorite blogs is here.  Which is where I stole the Assorted Musings idea from.


The next 5 to 10 years are going to have elevated levels of unemployment. What are ways that you can capitalize on this?

-Few people your age have an entrepreneurial attitude. This generation has been told what to do....What does this mean??
In regards to entrepreneurial thought, I see no better time in history to forge your own way in business than now.  The reason: internet, globalization, etc, coinciding with an age of many young people taking the same paths their parents took.  It is a completely different world.


The blurring of political communication with the internet is creating issues for campaign finance can you get more involved in this???


The best thing about February is that it is only 28 days.


Be so good that they can't ignore you. (I believe this is a Steve Martin quote.)


Some really great stuff on economic thought and ideology.

" the course of producing and distributing goods and services, market outcomes generate incomes, wealth, status, and power. Any modification of market outcomes modifies the allocation of incomes, wealth, status, and power. So it is no wonder that the discussion has become thickly encrusted with ideology. And one convenient way to turn subtle argument into ideology is to create dichotomies where there are originally fine gradations of more and less. For example: are you for or against “the free market”?

"The market evangelists, who tend to claim more for unregulated markets than solid theory can justify, are ideologically motivated. They dislike and distrust governments so much that they overlook the exceptions and the implausible assumptions, and simply propose the blanket principle that the market knows best. What is improper in this manner of argument is the frequent casual hint that it is authorized by economic theory. Nothing so general is ever authorized by economic theory."

"Why, in the marketplace (sic!) of ideas, have the evangelists for the unrestricted market attracted so much attention and the “realists” so little? He argues, fairly convincingly, that the truth does not lie predominantly on that side of the issue. So is it that believers always make more effective advocates than skeptics do? Are we for some reason more receptive to simple answers than to complex ones? Is it that, in the nature of the case, there is more money backing one side than the other? Perhaps the long postwar prosperity provided good growing conditions for conservative political and economic ideology. If so, it will be interesting to see if the current recession and financial meltdown leave traces in the course of serious economics."


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Difference Between Surviving and Thriving

I was taught growing up to survive.  By this I mean I was shown the skills needed to get by and make it in the world.  Very valuable skills of which I am very thankful to have.  They've allowed me to support myself, put a roof over my head and ensure that I do not go hungry.

I cannot help but appreciate this mindset.  There is something utterly simplistic with being happy to survive.

And yet, I remain hungry for more.  I do not want to just get by or just survive.  I want to dominate, I want to be the best, I want to thrive.

The difference between these mindsets are relatively straightforward.  Surviving is doing what is necessary to live.  Thriving is not being satisfied just surviving, but reaching above this to make continual progress.

A thriving mindset is defined by continually challenging oneself.  To be a better person.  To be a better spouse, parent, child and friend, being more understanding, more supportive or just being there more.  Challenging yourself to have a better career, being more fulfilled, being more rewarded or just being happier.  Challenging yourself individually to constantly question who you are and whether this is in line with who you want to be.

The important corollary is that seeking to dominate in every aspect of your life will require trade-offs.  Do you stay late at work to finish the big project (career) or leave to catch your son's soccer game (family)? A thriving mindset requires priorities.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to continually improve aspects of your life, it is just important to be aware of what is most important to you.

I think everyone has the potential in them to be better.  Wanting to do so is the first step, doing the little things necessary to get there is what thriving is all about.

Photo: aussiegall

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Facebook Update

My latest (over-the-top) post included my plan for "drastically" cutting back on the time I spent on Facebook.

So how did it go? 

Overall, the plan went very well. The first few days were a bit tough because checking out Facebook became a habit I did not even really think about. After breaking through the initial barrier it was pretty easy.

The obvious benefit to checking FB and other similar sites less is more free time. (Oddly, I am not really sure what I spent the additional free time doing...It clearly was not blogging more.)

A surprising result was that I stopped caring about what was going on with the hundreds of "friends" that I had. It was calming.

Moving forward I am trying to simplify my life before heading to law school so I will definitely stick with visiting Facebook less.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How Facebook is Worse Than Smoking

I am sure you've heard the statistic that for every cigarette you smoke you take 11 minutes off your life.

How about this statistic: the average U.S. Internet user spends more time on Facebook than on Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon combined. According to Facebook, the average Facebook user spends more than 55 minutes per day on the website (or 5 cigarettes a day, however you want to look at it).

The fact that you are reading this probably from a link on Facebook (however ironic) shows that I am not anti-Facebook.  In fact, I like it.  There are many benefits to the website.  I enjoy keeping up with my friends, checking out new pictures and perusing the latest gossip.

The problem for me though (and I suspect others) is that I spend too much time on the website.

Because of this I have decided to drastically cut back on the time I spend on Facebook.  I will be going on the website once, briefly in the morning for business purposes/responding to messages and that is it.  No lunch time FB surfing or late night creeping.

Am I just becoming that old man who hates technology?  Perhaps. But the numbers do not lie.  Facebook is a time eater.

For me, the opportunity cost of Facebook is big.  I have several goals I am trying to accomplish and rarely have the time to get them done.  Here are a few things I will be doing instead of checking the latest updates on Facebook:
  • Working out: I am still working on hitting my goals previously mentioned.
  • Spending more quality time with my wonderful fiancee
  • Wedding planning
  • Anything not on a computer: I am on a computer all day at work...I do not need to be on one when I get home.
  • Sleeping: I am a big fan of sleep.
While I am laying off Facebook for the next few months I am not necessarily advocating that everyone should.   If millions of people are spending this much time on a website it can present business and networking opportunities.  It is undoubtedly a great way to spread ideas and reach out to contacts.  Also, having an outlet is fun and necessary.  Facebook can provide a good break from work and really is an easy way to stay connected with your friends.

It is all about balance.  For me, FB can still be this outlet without eating away at my valuable time if I limit how often I check the site.

So the next time you log into Facebook think of this quote from a certain former IL Governor that I've modified for my own purpose:  "[time] is a f*cking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

Photo: Benstein

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Break on Through

It is really easy to get sidetracked from accomplishing goals.  Spend five minutes looking through my archives and you will see some great examples.

Often there is something in our lives that we want to change, we get excited, set a goal, hit a bump and become discouraged.

A big component to successfully reaching goals is being able to overcome these setbacks and mini-failures.

In light of this, here are a few tips to overcoming this cycle and associated barriers:
  • It's a continuous cycle.  The cycle doesn't have to end after giving up once.  Get back on the horse.
  • Progress is progress.  Setting goals, making a bit of progress and failing is better than doing nothing.
  • Break on through.  When you initially hit resistance or find yourself too busy it doesn't mean you have to quit.  If, for some reason, you missed a week of working out, just start again the next week.  Do not get too down on yourself because...
  • Everybody fails.  Everybody.  If you do not occasionally hit resistance you are probably not setting hard enough goals.  Push yourself! (On the flip-side, if you are doing nothing but failing, set some really easy goals. Accomplish them and make the goals a little bit harder.  Incrementally give yourself more confidence in your ability to succeed.)
  • You will always be busy, so make some time.  This is the biggest one for me.  It really is true-- unexpected stuff is going to come up, you will be busy...just deal with it.
Failure is part of life.  Embrace it, get over it and dominate. 

Photo: tpower1987

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Be Content

"Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you."
-Lao Tzu

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Plan for Getting Fit

A few months back I posted about the benefits that tracking your progress can have on reaching your goals.  Specifically, I highlighted how recording every time I worked out pushed me to keep up with my fitness goals.

With my wedding/honeymoon 6 months away I've decided to take this a step further.  I am going to combine tracking my workouts with publicly broadcasting my progress (or lack thereof).

I am going to record how much I work out on this blog.  I have created a "My Fitness Goals/Progress" section on the right hand side.  On that link I will post my fitness goals and record all my workouts.  If I start slacking I encourage any trash talk.

Photo: Sean 

My Fitness Goals/Progress

As discussed in my plan for getting fit, here is where I am publicly tracking my fitness goals.