A New Road Ahead

There are some changes coming to justindirose.com.

I've been writing about emotional health, creativity, and purpose. I have a great passion for these topics; however, something different has been tugging at my heart.

I've always had a love for design and the web. I studied computer science in college and worked for my college’s web office for a couple of years. I enjoyed it. I even had a job offer on the table to work for a web firm rising to success in the region.

I turned it down.

Sometimes life takes you on a wild path. Sometimes the Lord requires you to walk away from something for a season so he can build other things in your heart. Unknown to me at the time, that’s why I walked away from web design.

For the last five years, I've walked a road of healing, hope, and love. I met my wife, something that would never have happened had I taken the job offer I had. I found real freedom and friends. I found life and what it means to be alive.

Yet, in the process, I gave up on the dream to do web design. I wrote it off as dead and something I really couldn't do. However, the last few months have shown me this is an absolute lie.

The truth is I am creative. I solve problems. I help people.

I am a designer.

It's time to start walking a different road again. So, I'm pivoting.

Instead of blogging about emotional health, I’m starting my own web design business.

It's a scary road ahead of the unknown, but I know I will regret it if I don't try it.

As a result, things will be changing around here. Here's what you can expect:

  • Blog posts will stop for the time being so I can focus my time on practicing and case studies. They will remain available as an archive once I get everything switched over.
  • #MorningEncouragement will continue on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • This website will under go a rebranding to reflect my new direction.

I love writing about emotional health. In fact, my future self will likely resume writing about it. But for now, this passion is getting set aside from the public eye. I have solutions to design for web problems.

Are you excited? I sure am, and I’m looking forward to having you join me on the ride.

Byword: An Exceptional Writing Tool

As Sean McCabe says, "Everything starts with writing." For the blogger like me, this statement is especially true. The starting point is writing, and the finished product is writing. So when you're writing, you want your tools to work, make it easier to write, and, essentially, stay out of the way.

That's why I like Byword.

Byword is a Markdown-focused, distraction-free word processor for OS X and iOS.

Though Byword has many features making it an excellent text editor and writing tool, it became my writing app of choice for one major reason: it handles Markdown beautifully.

Markdown is a formatting syntax designed by John Gruber to make writing HTML faster. It uses asterisks, pound signs (more commonly beloved by Millenials as #hastags), and brackets to denote images, headings, bold and italic fonts, and footnotes. Markdown is beautifully simple and only requires a simple text file to use.

Byword, however, takes Markdown editing to another level. When adding Markdown, Byword automatically formats the text. You can see how text will look as you go and know if you used the Markdown syntax correctly. For example, if I surround a sentence with double asterisks (**), it will automatically bold the sentence text. If you're a Markdown beginner, text can be formatted using keyboard shortcuts or the Mac menubar, like any other text editor, until you're comfortable with the formatting.

Many use Byword for its distraction-free mode, which means when you open up Byword, all you get is a blank page. You can use the app full screen, where it shows the text you are typing and that's it. There are no toolbars, no confusing formatting, or nothing to fiddle with. In other words, the app stays out of the way. I think this is essential for a great writing tool.

Additionally, Byword offers seemless integration with cloud services like iCloud and Dropbox. This feature works nicely if you want to use an iOS device to continue writing. Previously, I found the iOS client a bit clumsy and buggy to use, but recent updates have improved the app. I use the iOS version on my iPad to write on the go sometimes, but my preferred writing device of choice is the Mac.

When it comes to writing, the last thing I want to have get in the way is software. Byword provides a simple, user-friendly interface to help improve your writing experience with Markdown.

You can find Byword on the iOS and Mac App Stores.

How to Write Every Day

Have you tried to form a daily writing habit? Were you able to find yourself disciplined enough to keep going as long as you wanted, or did your motivation wane after a few weeks?

Writing is hard as it is, but writing every day is harder.

For the last three months, I've been writing daily first thing in the morning. But that has not been without challenges. Sometimes I wake up too late, other times I feel completely blocked up inside, not knowing what or how to write. I've been fatigued, discouraged, and unsure if I want to continue writing.

Some of these challenges have likely been holding you back from writing every day. Don't worry. They're just challenges. What's more important to know is you are capable of overcoming any challenge to write every day.

Every good thing which grows you is painful or challenging to some degree. You're re-training yourself to live and think differently. That's okay. You don't have to shy away from it. Though challenges are straining and tough, there's something incredible on the other side of the difficult, a reward you can reap.

Even so far, writing every day has helped me:

  1. develop my personal voice,
  2. learn to process and structure my thoughts more articulately,
  3. and grow my personal character by keeping a committment to myself and others by writing every day.

That's simply after three months. Can you imagine the growth you'd have after years?

The growth and progress make the struggle worth fighting to write every day.

Overcoming the Challenge of Writing Every Day

There's nothing that will beat the challenge of writing every day for you, no tip, trick, or article which will come to the rescue. However, there are some things you can do to help alleviate the pressure of creating a new habit. I've found the below list to be helpful for me.

  1. Commit to yourself to show up every day, no matter what. Don't worry about word count. Whether you get 30 or 3,000 words on the page isn't a big deal, nor is if it's at the exact same time every day. What matters is showing up and actually writing.
  2. Think out ahead and find your long-term goals for writing. Ask yourself, "Why am I wanting to write every day? To journal? Do I want to build up to writing a book? Am I writing a weekly blog? A newsletter? Songs?" Defining your long-term goals will help keep you focused and ready to overcome any obstacles.
  3. Believe you can make the time to write each day. With our ever-increasingly busy lives, it's all too easy to believe you have "no time" for writing, or anything extra for that matter. That's a big lie. Honestly, you have the time. There are 24 hours each day; you can choose to use any of that time to make writing a priority.
  4. Set aside time you've made to write, even if it's only 10 minutes. If you need to, put it on the calendar. When it's time, start writing.
  5. Find tools that work for you enabling you to write wherever you are. Remove barriers to your writing and find tools which work for you. If you don't know right now, keep trying different things.

Implementing some of these tools will help you overcome some of the challenges of writing every day, but not all of them. But with your determination combined with a committment to write every day, you will find success.

Living Proactively by Priorities

The phone is ringing. You receive an email notification. A coworker steps into your cube to ask a question. And you have a project to work on due three days ago.

Sounds like a normal day at the office.

These are the days of constant interruptions, the "always urgent" tasks from someone else, the near incessant noise of demands for attention. Somedays, it can be difficult to get real work done.

Regardless of where you're working or how interruptions come, it's hard to get what's really important done. When everything is vying for your attention, it's hard to live on your priorities unless they're clearly defined.

Living on anything but your priorities is what I call a reactive mindset.

Some like living this way. Sure, it's easy and requires little thinking, but it's stressful and unsatisfying. For me, it gets old. I get tired, cranky, and lose sight of my purpose in doing the work I am. In a reactive mindset, I ultimately find myself bored.

When you live reactively you lose a few things:

  • A sense of self
  • A sense of purpose
  • A sense of emotional well-being

These not only affect you, but others as well, including your spouse, family, friends, customers, and fellow employees.

Why? Because you lost the very reason why you do what you do. Nobody is impacted very much by person aimlessly wandering through life at the whim of someone else's command.

There's a great Bible verse that says, "Without a vision, the people perish." Some translations state, "Without a vision, the people go unrestrained."

In essence, the writer is trying to say having vision is the key to being effective in life. Instead of running around without a sense of purpose and priority, we're meant to discover and pursue a purpose, a higher calling, a reason to exist and focus.

If purpose is the sense of a higher calling, a reason you're here, then vision is the ability to see how that purpose is walked out. Vision keeps you "restrained" in the sense that when the phone rings, a coworker stops by, or you get an email, you have a sense of the bigger picture that keeps you from dropping everything to deal with the supposedly urgent, but not important task, in front of you.

Having vision and walking it out, or what I like to call a proactive mindset, builds into long-term thinking and satisfaction in life.

So you're stuck in a reactive mode. How do you get out? I have a few ideas for you to try.

  1. Determine your WHY -- It's hard to have a vision you can stick to without a driving purpose behind it. Answer the question, "I do this because..." The because statement will likely be your why. If you can't determine it right away, ask a trusted friend or journal a bit about purpose and what motivates you.
  2. Focus on WHERE -- Five years from now, where do you see yourself? Owning a business? Climbing the corporate ranks? Having a family? Find this direction and this is what will help focus your choices to proactively build something.
  3. Choose HOW to proceed -- What's the first big step toward your five year dream? Write it down. Will it take a month, six months, a year to get there? It's beneficial to have your sights set out a little further ahead.
  4. Pick WHAT to do now -- So you have your big dreams and the first step to get there. Decide what you can do today to start. Then do it, keeping your strategy in focus.
  5. Learn to say NO -- What's your vision? Say YES to the things that build toward it, and say NO to the things that don't. Your time and attention is limited, so use it wisely. Changing the world requires doing what's important over only what's urgent in the moment.

It takes time to change from a reactive mindset to a positive one. What's most important is taking steps in the right direction. You can change how you think, therefore, how you live.

Boundaries - The Key to a Fulfilled Life

I’ve seen people shudder when I say the word “boundaries.” Some associate it with control, others with being shut out. Boundaries actually don’t have anything to do with either.

Boundaries are definitions in your life. They say, “This is where I end, and where you begin.” [1] When someone crosses one of those boundaries, we have a right to say, “Nope, step back. This isn’t how I want to do relationship.”

As Cloud and Townsend write in the book Boundaries, boundaries are like a gate, letting in what is good, that which we need, and keeping out what is not good, that which is harmful.

The concept is an easy one to understand, but when you’ve come from a background where you don’t necessarily know how to have boundaries, they can be difficult to live out. Boundaries are not just a set of rules, they are skills needed to live a healthy life, often needing to be discovered and reinforced.

“No.”

The simplest tool to maintain boundaries is the word “No.” I think it’s the most challenging tool, too.

The idea of saying no means to communicate what you desire. If you don’t want to do something, say no. If someone gets too close, tell them to back off.

At some point, saying no means we risk upsetting even the people closest to us.

This risk is one that should always be taken.

No external relationship is worth sacrificing your internal freedom. Fear of how the other person will react is a key marker a boundary does not exist in an area of your life. How the other person reacts is not your responsibility.

If you want to learn how to have boundaries, learn to respect others’. If they say no, back off. If you keep pushing, you’ve infringed their boundaries. By learning how to have value for another’s boundaries, you will learn to value your own and pick up some more ways to communicate them.

To truly live life, boundaries are required.

Learning how to say no and have healthy boundaries are an absolute key to living a mature, healthy, fulfilled life. With solid boundaries, no longer will you be worried about what someone else is going to say or how they will react to you, but instead will be free to manage yourself and allow others to do the same.

A fulfilled life is found not only in chasing your dreams, but in building lasting, healthy relationships. Boundaries help give you the tools you need to maintain the health and energy to keep your relationships thriving.


  1. Many of the concepts in this post come from three sources: Danny Silk’s Keep Your Love On, Cloud & Townsend’s Boundaries, and Donald Miller’s Storyline blog.  ↩

How to Deal with Haters and Receive Real Critique

It happens every single time. I hear about haters almost every day, but until recently, I hadn't experienced it. For the first time, someone who doesn't even know me came out of nowhere criticizing a post I made with how they thought it should be done. The words stirred up a lot of emotions in me. You could say I was a bit angry. I made a few comments regarding why I said what I did, and then I left the room.

Frankly, you don't have to give people like that space.

The event reminded me of a tweet Kyle Adams, an icon designer and fellow member of the seanwes community, recently posted. He said,

There's a big difference between critique and hate. Critique requires reasoning and purposed solutions. Hate should simply be ignored.

-- Kyle Adams

Kyle, you couldn't be more right.

Critique vs. Hate

Of the two, hate is a destructive force. Like the occurrence I experienced, hate automatically puts you on the defensive, coming out of left field without any prior information and blasting you with what is incorrect or wrong about your idea or product.

Hate left unchecked and unfiltered will mess you up. It will leave you feeling discouraged, thinking you're not capable, and even wanting to quit. Let's face it, it hurts because the hater has absolutely no regard for you or your work; in other words, haters only care about themselves.

Contrary to hate, critique gives life. It takes a weakness and turns it into inspiration, motivation, and assistance. Critique helps you get unstuck and get started on moving forward. Instead of tearing down your work, critique notices your strengths and weaknesses and suggests improvements to take your work to the next level.

Critiquers care about the person behind the product. Since your work represents who you are, it's important for a person you allow to affect the direction of your work, and even your life, to be personally invested in it as well.

Critiques are Built on Trust

You leave your unique mark on everything you create, like a fingerprint on a glass or a footprint in the snow. It's no wonder dismissive or negative commentary on our work is hurtful. In a way, the hater isn't pointing out flaws in our work, but rather, the hater hashes out a distaste of us, our skills, our knowledge, or our style.

However, the critiquer recognizes the tie between us and our work, seeing one affects the other. Usually the critiquer understands because he or she is an artist as well. From this place of understanding, the critiquer becomes personally invested, and when he or she sees your work, you are seen.

The best critiques are from trusted people. You have a responsibility to protect your heart from people who don't care about it. Since your work is a representation of who you are, the only people who should be allowed to speak deeply into it are those who have proven their trustworthiness and investment.

Trust is built upon repeated actions demonstrating value, care, and respect. If you want someone to hear your voice, build trust, plain and simple. Stated differently, if you respect me and my work, listening to you becomes a whole lot easier.

Evaluate Feedback for Trustworthiness

So, say you just received some feedback. What do you do with it?

Take time to evaluate it. Usually, haters stand out like a tree in the middle of a field. They're obvious. But in case you aren't sure what to do with the feedback, ask yourself:

  • Who is this person? Are they some random person from the Internet, or have I seen them around?
  • Does what they say seem genuine? Or is it brash and lacking understanding?
  • Has this person shown any investment into me, my brand, or my cause?
  • Does what they say have merit? Can I make any legitimate changes from this?

Make the judgment if their feedback is worth listening to or not. You are not obligated to listen to everyone who talks to you. You have a finite amount of attention and time, so don't waste your time with people who have no value for you. Once you make that determination, sorting through the feedback and applying it gets a lot easier.

As the saying goes, haters gonna hate. There will always be haters, but there will always be those who are genuinely invested in our success, too. Make the choice to listen to the right voices and ignore the wrong ones.

Find Satisfaction in Your Passion by Serving Others

"Find your passion! Do what you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life again!"

I hear one of these phrases at least once a week. Chasing your dreams and finding your passions is popular. I can't blame anyone for liking the idea.

Helping others find fulfillment is part of the reason I exist, and discovering what you love plays a significant role in finding meaning and fulfillment.

Yet, there's something about finding and chasing my passion that troubles me.

Look to Myself... Alone?

I wonder if there is a piece missing to the formula of finding your passion. If E = mc^2 didn't have m, the formula would be incomplete; likewise, the idea of finding your passion alone seems like a partial thought process.

I've wandered on a journey trying to find my purpose for the last however many years since I started high school. I studied computer science in college, ventured into ministry shortly after, dabbled in web development, design, blogging, music, and a variety of other things.

Some of those pursuits connected with a passion deep inside, and I think the sum of attempts revealed my many interests. However, what I didn't find revealed more.

I found no satisfaction. Out of all the dozens of jobs, hobbies, and passions I tried, not a single one of them satisfied me, no matter how much they connected to my heart.

I found no satisfaction because I tied my life's value and meaning to myself alone.

I think we agree life isn't enjoyable all alone. So why would looking to yourself for fulfillment yield any different results?

Two Components to Your Dreams

It is short-sighted to look for meaning only in ourselves. I began this thought process after listening to a speech on the radio.

The speaker, David Brooks of the New York Times, talked about being a deep person of character. In part of his speech, Mr. Brooks spoke about finding meaning outside of ourselves leads us to greater depth as a person.

The talk resonated with me. As I arrived at home thinking about his words, I began to realize a key to finding meaning in life.

It's simple. There are two components to your dreams. The first you already know well. The second gives meaning to the first.

1. Find Your Passion

You and I already know what this is talking about. Hundreds of writers, speakers, and podcasters are talking about it.

It goes something like this:

  • Try different stuff to find what you enjoy.
  • Do what you love.
  • Passion will get you started.
  • Remember your dreams are valuable.
  • Get good at whatever you enjoy so you can make money doing it.

Simple enough, right? The journey through this process is not always easy, and it is very necessary. But the satisfaction you desire in life is found in step #2...

2. Meet Others' Needs

Yep. The key to obtaining your dreams is to find and meet others' needs.

Meeting others' needs starts with exposing yourself to them. It starts with being present in the world around you, seeing how people interact, hearing their struggles and pain, noting what's missing, and letting that move you to action. Meeting others needs is passion in action.

Your passion for drawing alone will not keep you getting out of bed in the morning. The pattern may be sustainable that for a season, but, unless your passion is applied to the context of others, you will lose steam eventually.

However, by exposing yourself to the needs of those around you, you might find yourself drawing to cheer someone up, writing to help someone else through a tough time, or composing to bring peace to someone's chaotic mind. Whatever it is, your passion belongs in the context of someone else's needs.

It can be scary to be moved by the needs of others, or to share your work with someone you don't know.

Just remember you were created to benefit others. Your passions in the context of community are weapons to fight injustice, tools to heal hearts, and motivations to change the world.

Don't ever give up on the pursuit to your dreams because you play a key role in changing the world around you!

Fulfillment Comes In Finding Meaning Outside Yourself

So while you're busting it learning how to become a better artist, businessperson, musician, or whatever it is you do, don't forget to expose yourself to the world outside yourself.

It is there you will find inspiration to drive you deeper into passion, and, ultimately, the satisfaction you are seeking.

Start Thinking Long Term By Working Slower

image.jpg

99U recently posted an article dealing with the topic of focus, dealing with two different modes in which the brain operates: fast mode, and slow mode.

According to the article, fast mode is when the brain quickly switches from task to task, looking to quickly accomplish tasks while looking for others in the process.

Slow mode, on the other hand, is devoted to finishing a single task at hand. There's less emotional pressure and stress in slow mode, and our mind is more easily long term focused.

The Myth of Multitasking

I'm sure we've all heard of the myth of multitasking. No human can simultaneously do two things at once; instead, we quickly switch focuses. That's what fast mode is for our brains. Fast mode keeps us thinking about what we need to do next and how to do it.

While operating in fast mode, we end up checking our email, looking at Facebook, eating, texting, doing tasks, watching videos, listening to podcasts, and whatever else is at hand. It's not a bad thing. In fact, fast mode is helpful when we need to quickly move through tasks, like dealing with a barrage of email or organizing documents.

It becomes a problem when we need to get something taking longer than five minutes done.

Focus Mode Enable

Since reading the article from 99U, I started to realize when I am in fast mode and trying to consciously switch myself to slow mode. In fact, I've realized that I've largely been in fast mode since I was in fourth grade when everything became a race for me. I went from the most beautiful handwriting, as my mom would say, to scribbles on a page racing to get done.

I intentionally have to slow myself down and let my mind be at peace toward the task I'm currently focusing. I must give myself permission to get into focus mode so I can see long term.

Multitasking encourages short term thinking while focused thinking enables thinking for the long term.

Short term thinking is a survival mindset, which states what can I do today to survive because tomorrow might not be there. Long term thinking says what can I do with what resources I have now to plan and build toward the future.

Tasks may be accomplished quickly in fast mode, but dreams are built in slow mode.

Don't get me wrong. There is a place for each of these modes in our day to day. If you need to quickly accomplish a number of short tasks, let yourself be in fast mode. If you are strategizing for your business or writing a long-form blog post, go into slow mode.

Getting Into Slow Mode

Slow mode is something I must intentionally engage.

I start by stepping back, letting my racing thoughts go, and taking a momentary mental break. I let the feeling of a rush pass me by, and let myself become emotionally and mentally invested in the work I am doing.

Since there is no longer pressure, good ideas start to flow more easily. My best work surfaces naturally. My best life starts to develop because I am no longer the task-doer, I the long-term dreamer building my masterpiece.

I think it's important to note slow mode isn't just for tasks. It's also for relationships. Going into slow mode helps me be present so I can fully take in and enjoy the moment. Nothing is more damaging to relationships than to constantly be thinking of the next task while you should be investing in the one in front of you.

So take a step back, take a break, and become invested in the moment.

Let yourself be there, and start thinking investment instead of accomplishment. Your dreams and family will thank you.

Learn Something New Without Psyching Yourself Out

There's a teaching model in medicine called see one, do one, teach one. It is a form of apprenticeship used to teach new procedures to surgeons. While learning a new procedure, a surgeon will:

  • see the procedure once so he/she knows how it's done in practice,
  • do the procedure once to demonstrate understanding of the procedure
  • and, finally, teach the procedure to reinforce his/her knowledge.

This method exposes a professional to an idea and quickly moves it from passive knowledge to active. This also leaves little room for overthinking the procedure resulting from too much knowledge, removing a common source of fear, anxiety, and, ultimately, error or injury while performing it.

I like to think the see one, do one, teach one model applies to anything else we learn, yet many of us, myself included, don't use it. Instead, my approach usually looks like this:

  • Research the task at hand,
  • Start doing it, but get scared, and stop,
  • Research some more, and more, and more,
  • Rush at the task again until I don't know what to do,
  • Then, finally, give up because I have so much knowledge stored up and no idea where to take it.

I'm learning to break this cyle of psyching myself out of success and into failure.

The solution is simple: stop consuming, and start producing.

Who cares if you don't know enough. You will learn along the way. In fact, you will never know everything there is to know about a subject before you start, so there's no point in trying.

Instead of preparing for possible failures for lack of knowledge, prepare for success by acting. Failure will happen. You determine whether it is a setback or an opportunity for growth.

Don't psych yourself out before you start. Define and learn what's needed to begin, start moving, and teach someone else along the way.

The journey of learning is satisfying when you turn the power of knowledge and understanding into working action.

The Right Friends Will Make Your Dreams Happen

Our lives are the sum of our influences, those people who lead and guide us, who we look up to, who let us walk the path of life with them. I'm only 27, and, looking back on life, it's absolutely amazing how I see the impact of my parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors on me.

I may not have had a choice who influenced me when I was growing up. I didn't choose my family, nor did I have much say on where I was going to live.

Yet, as I mature, I've learned I have the power to intentionally filter who and what will influence me. I can choose my friends, church, college, workplace, favorite music, and locale.

I'm free to be influenced by whatever I want. And so are you.

With this freedom comes responsibility to manage it.

We manage our freedom by defining the vision for our life and intentionally selecting our influences to match those goals. This selectivity applies to the books we read and movies we watch, all the way down to the friends we have and the person we choose to marry.

Who will you let influence you? Surround yourself with those you want to be like. As you do, you will naturally grow in the direction of your dreams. So to say, the right friends will make your dreams happen.