Empty Watch Winder

I am a goal-oriented person. I love making long-term goals.  I’m also very visual, and I like having things around that remind me of my goal. Subtle things that I see and think, “Don’t forget that goal we made”. For me, daily reminders of my goals are almost critical to the success of that goal. Some objects I have around that will remind me months or years later that I need to make decisions that push me towards achieving my goal every single day. Even when things get grindy, as they do with most long-term goals, the visual reminders are so effective at keeping me on track and reminding me to be patient and consistent. The best part about long-term goals is the feeling of achieving that goal. The feeling of achieving a goal you have been working on for a decade is indescribable. And then… You get to set another goal!

The best way I can describe how I use visualizations is with a story I’ve told a number of people. The story is about my watch. I had a career-based goal. I told myself when I achieved this goal, I would get myself my favorite watch. My favorite watch is the IWC 50 Years of Science for Galapagos Aquatimer edition. The career goal I set was significant for me. The specific goal would take years to achieve and require me to do a lot of self-improvement work. At one point, I favorited a youtube ad for the watch. I watched that ad at least once a week… for years. 2-5 years after I set my goal, I had improved a lot but hadn’t reached my goal. I was trying to figure out what to do with my life and was starting to feel hopeless. I went into an IWC boutique and got their promotional book. I kept it on my desk and looked at my soon-to-be watch… for years.

We all have the ability to give up. Long-term goals span seasons of your life. Things change, goals change, and priorities change. There are countless reasons to re-evaluate long-term goals and adjust.

The goal I set wasn’t one that I could give up on. To give up on the goal I set would mean abandoning my core values. The IWC book was with me through some of the darker times of my life. It was a light that shined through everything and reminded me of who I knew I was going to be. I doubted myself. I experienced shame, anger, and confusion. I told myself I gave up. I felt lost. I saw my book with the fancy watches. Sometimes I’d sit down and stare at my future watch to kind of lower the volume of the background noise in my life. I remembered where past Mike was when he made his goal. I remembered all I’d already been through. I’d look at how the current passing issue will only be another thing that got in my way for a hot minute. I envisioned the Mike that has his watch. What would future Mike do right now? How would Mike overcome this so he can be more capable? What would future Mike be thankful for when he looks at his IWC? Future Mike would take action, so start making decisions that will lead to getting my watch.

Nine years, a trip across the country, a house, and many many setbacks later, my wife got me my watch. Sort of… It would be awesome if I could say I was wearing the Aquatimer while writing this. I can’t, but I’m totally cool with it. I knew I was achieving my goal. l knew I was going to get my watch. If I could find one. The watch I wanted was a limited edition. I usually saw one available when I looked but there had been fewer and fewer readily available in good condition. I looked for a while and couldn’t find one in time. In many stories, there’s a sad story of lowering standards and missing out. My wife who had been cheering me on, humoring my IWC obsession, and saving precious space on her bookshelves for my IWC books swooped in to save the day. She noticed what was going on and said she’d think of something. I was admittedly skeptical at first but went with it. My wife is pretty awesome with presents. She got my favorite new IWC watch, engraved with something very meaningful, and told me something that meant a lot, and she gave me my watch at ILPalio, a very nice restaurant in our town, in front of some of my favorite people. Zero regrets. I wouldn’t change a thing. To be fair, the watch she got me is way more work and brand appropriate than the one I wanted. She made the right choice, as usual.

I enjoyed achieving my goal and getting my watch, and soon after made another goal. The reward for achieving my new goal would be the Aquatimer, again. I still had my IWC books, but my wife had another plan. The specific kind of watch I got requires the watch to be in motion to work. If you put it on a desk for a weekend, you have to reset the time if the battery dies. The way around this firstiest world of problems is to buy a special device that winds your watches for you. Watches are that boujee. I asked for a watch winder as a Christmas present. My wife gave me the nicest watch winder I’d ever seen, and said something amazing. She said something along the lines of, “The second spot is for your next watch. I know you’ll get it so I’m saving myself time and you can remind yourself of your goals every day.” My wife speaks my nerdy love language.

I got my watch two years ago as of writing this. Every morning I get up, I take my watch out of the winder. I look at the empty spot next to my watch. I envision the Mike that has his favorite watch. What would future Mike do right now? How would Mike overcome today so he can be more capable? What would future Mike be thankful for when he looks at his favorite watch? Future Mike would take action, so start making decisions that will lead to getting my watch.


Michael Levandoski, PhD.
Michael Levandoski, PhD.
Dr. Michael Levandoski, Jr. grew up in Morristown, New Jersey having a passion for science at a very early age. It was around 5 years old when he carried with him a dull, blue Styrofoam case containing a microscope for which he used everywhere he went. From viewing insects to plants to food under the microscope, his curiosity was never satiated. He participated in science fairs while in elementary school, putting in hours of dedication and creativity. His scientific inquisitiveness carried with him into adulthood, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics with a heavy focus on RNA processing from Rutgers University. His career in science has led him to move from New Jersey to Los Angeles, to his current home in North Carolina. Presently, as a Research Scientist, his work is focused on pathogen genomics and large-scale data analysis and data visualization. He has presented posters at national conferences and has served as a subject matter expert for infectious disease research. One of his unique strengths is using his programming skills to analyze massive data sets to aid in machine learning projects and explain complex biological phenomena in easily understandable ways to non-scientists. He is a big proponent of thinking “win-win” to join multidisciplinary teams so that he and his colleagues can succeed in various projects. Aside from his scientific achievements, he would say his biggest accomplishment was marrying the love of his life and collegiate homecoming queen, Edith. Together they enjoy hiking, traveling, and exploring local cuisine. Their happy home consists of 3 rescue dogs and 2 cats, which means there is never a dull moment. In Mike’s spare time he enjoys his lifelong hobby of martial arts. He is practicing Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and wrestling, where he encourages and inspires newcomers to break out of their comfort zone and test their limits just as he did. One of his core principles is that it is the duty of the strong to protect the weak, and he tries to embody that idea physically, mentally, and spiritually across the spectrum of his passions.

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