In my recent talk at TEDx Xavier University, I shared an overview of how building practices into your life to support your creative process can make you more effective on a daily basis. I deeply believe that structure, habit, and an understanding of why is critical to being prolific, brilliant, and healthy over the long-term.

There was a point several years ago – and I can almost pinpoint it at right around my 33rd birthday – when I realized that if I don’t begin to treat my life as precious, it will be over before I have time to blink. Days will pass like one long run-on sentence, and soon I’ll be looking back wondering what I really did with all of them. It’s never too late to change course, but the new vector must begin today. Now. With a choice.

Every vector has (1) a starting point, (2) a velocity, and (3) a direction. Your starting point is easy; it’s where you are. The velocity and direction, however, are a little more tricky to uncover.

Yesterday I took my son to a local laser tag place as a reward for accomplishing a few school-related goals. On the way, out of the blue, I asked him what he thought the second most important thing is if he wants to be successful.

He replied, “Work hard.”

Hmm…interesting. I was curious, so I asked, “OK…what’s the most important thing?”

He thought for a half second and replied, “Find an interesting problem to work on that will help other people.”

My heart jumped. I was so proud of the kid. And it was a finger in my own chest too. I can get so busy working hard that I forget that the reason I’m here is to serve others; to solve problems and contribute something to the world around me.

The beginning of the vector is find a problem to solve that adds value to others. The velocity is work hard.

Then, it’s all about emptying yourself each day. Getting it out of you. And in the end…the hope is… to die without regret… and empty.

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