Inevitable Success

by Dan Walsh


When success is easy.

I used to read over 60 books a year. That’s more than a book per week. It sounds like a monumental achievement but it wasn’t it. It was easy. I read everyday on my 30-minute bus ride to and from work. 30 minutes, twice a day, five days per week… Five hours is enough time to finish most books. Sometimes I’d even knock out two or three shorter books in a week. These averaged out my numbers for when I read longer books like Game of Thrones. It was easy it read this much. It felt inevitable.

I don’t read nearly as much anymore. It’s hard to find the time. Something that used to be so, so easy has become difficult. My commute changed when Angelica and I moved across town. There isn’t a good bus option anymore so I ride my bike to work now. It’s hard to read while riding a bike. Success is no longer inevitable.

To counter this lost reading time, I leave for work earlier and  stop at a bench along the way. There’s a beautiful morning view of the San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge. I take a break and read. It’s wonderful and relaxing, but it’s not enough. If I’m lucky it’s 30 minutes, one way. Not nearly the 5 hours per week I’m seeking. It’s also not inevitable.

Sometimes, if I’m running late in the morning I cut my reading time down to 15 minutes. If I’m running really late, I contemplate not stopping at all. I didn’t used to have this option. I had to get to work, no matter what, and I had to take the bus to get there. Even if I was running late I still had 30 minutes to read. Reading 60+ books a year was inevitable because work was inevitable. Reading isn’t inevitable for me anymore – it’s optional. My stop-over on the bench is optional, and the amount of time I spend on the bench is optional.

But something funny happened in this transition: Exercise became inevitable. I traded reading for cardio. I still have to get to work. And since biking is how I get there, no matter what happens during my week I get almost an hour of cardio every day.

5 hours of cardio a week?! That’s like… 6 hours more than I used to get ;)

I used to have to make time to exercise, now it happens inevitably. I do have to actively find the time to read now, though.

It’s a strange trade.