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Entering the Arena

It seems that every new year you get to read countless articles about how to set goals, accomplish them, and generally make yourself a better person. And around February, you start seeing the memes about unused gym memberships and getting to try again next year. I've fallen into this trap before at least 41 times (though the first 18 or so couldn't count) and this year I'm making headway on actually doing something. Before last year had ended, I decided I was going to write two novels, and release my wargames rules. The first novel is outlined (a thing I NEVER do) and the second is well on it's way. The rules beta has been play tested and the problems more or less ironed out. Just need them to be put into a cohesive text and released for others to play and enjoy.

Of course, that's all talk if nothing happens and making those things happen is the real work. I have a nasty tendency to set absurd goals and then fail to achieve them. This blog and my podcast are the two most successful things outside of being a family man and becoming a Marine that I have achieved. And that's not saying much given how many views, shares, and likes they have received. Part of the whole reaching goal is to achieve something.

And that's the rub. How the hell do I measure the success of my endeavors?

There are of course metrics- which I think hold a ton of weight in and of themselves- and then there are the soft factors that so many love to harp on. I can measure myself against the likes of John Ringo or Games Workshop or Tucker Carlson- or I can measure myself against myself. The former is the "higher" standard, the latter is the "realistic happy for yourself" standard. If I'm being honest, there is a desire to measure myself versus myself- to strive to better myself year on year- but the former standard will push me to have to reach and move beyond simply beating myself to "feel" like I've accomplished something.

And this is where our society has come- to the realm of "I bested my best score today."

It's sad that I have fallen into this trap when my forefathers set goals like "reach the moon" or "find a new continent" and then died in the attempt. They had goals and aspirations that seemed at the time unthinkable and yet- they did it. Now we have goals like "Watch the whole of the Harry Potter series in one shot," or "achieve the Guinnes book of World Records for eating the most fruit flies in five minutes." We've lowered our goals to things that are so mundane and worthless that they'd only be recorded as legendary by a select few who could never measure amongst those we would call elite.

You can't set your goal to "become a cook at a McDonalds" and achieve it and hope to be respected as much as the person who set the goal of "I will become a Recon Marine" and achieved it. The two are worlds apart, requiring vastly different levels of dedication and discipline. One does not equal the other, yet we seem to put the two together in the world of achievements and then give the McDonalds grill bandit the same accolades as the warrior who jumps out of helos into the ocean and then recons a beachhead.

This doesn't compute. And I really feel social media is to blame (just like every other pundit who uses the interwebs to shove their ideas around). And so I have to look backwards to figure out what I should measure myself against- where was my "peak?"

Honestly, that peak was likely at year seven in the Marines. I was a Sergeant, a Martial Arts instructor, and a HRST Master. By that time I had led Marines in battle, been a mentor and a friend and a husband and had just become a father.

This isn't to say that I haven't had other notable achievements in my life worth celebrating. I have six children after all and they are all well fed, housed, loved, and getting a good education. I have a good marriage after 17 years (and it only feels like it's getting better), and I have two degrees and a good job besides that I actually enjoy. I've struggled mightily, been through some tough stuff, and I'm still cooking.

But as of late- I haven't been climbing. that needs to change. That is changing one burpee and pushup and blog post at a time. And if I can figure out the recording issues- one Rumble at a time. I'm not looking for filthy rich- I just want to do what I enjoy doing and get paid for the privilege. I realize that will take work, and I'm finally hitting that stride in my life after 41 trips around the sun.

I don't think it's too late- other men have made their mark far later in life than I- but if I've learned anything in my time it's that life is linear and shorter than we'd like. I may never hold a newborn of my own in my arms, and the reality is that I likely have more years behind me than I do before. They've been good years, and I cherish them all, but holding onto the past and looking back fondly at what was isn't as good as looking forward to the future and what could be.

And then I think of the people who seem to have given up- who have no more ambition than to sit and watch videos of what others do, or read posts or scroll Pinterest and see how others are living their lives. That's not living, and with the rapid advance of AI it's likely that those people sitting on the couch watching the lives of others as their own slips away will be watching a fantasy no more real than any movie Hollywood pukes out.

And so I'm going to reach out to you after I tell you what I plan to do this year and ask you to do the same. Tell me what YOU plan on doing this year to make yourself better, or improve your station in life, or leave your mark on the world. How will you spend this trip around the sun striving for excellence as you reach for your moon?

Me, I'm going to do the following:

  1. Publish "Jim Beam"

  2. Publish "The Sentien Chronicles."

  3. Publish "Battle Specter: Death Ground" wargame rules.

  4. Start Rumbling.

Likely as not something will fall by the wayside, but in this I will still move forward. I have to accept that I am human, the breadwinner of a family of eight, a homeowner, employee, Husband, Father, etc., etc. It's not going to be easy- it's going to be hard.

And if history serves as a teacher, the very best goals in life- the very best accomplishments that we achieve- are the hardest we endeavor to attain.

Dream big. Work hard. Achieve greatness.

Battle Specter, out.

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