The Next Chapter

Since posting about my annual “failures” last week I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I want to move forward. By next July do I want to have accomplished the things I didn’t last year? Or are they things that are no longer important to me and I should quit? Are there other things I want to commit to accomplishing? Last year’s failures fell into six basic genres that each require a different response.

  • Author – My book isn’t an audiobook yet, but I can change that. Starting today, I am going to make this my priority. I’m going to record every single day until I have a recorded draft of the book. It may not be a perfect recording, but good now is better than perfect never. Once complete, I’ll listen to it (shudder), make any major changes or re-recordings, and then submit it to Audible. During this process, I will also be able to give my book another look for any potential edits. I will also start working towards “going pro”, which is going to require a shift in mindset as well as some practical changes in my life.
  • Fitness – I’m going to keep running daily and working out regularly. I think implementing a monthly “glutton weekend” can help prevent me from entering major periods of sloth. I’ve got an 8-week workout plan I’m using and this October I’m going to start seeing a personal trainer. I also have some running goals that will get me to the 100-mile run level. Oh, and I’m committed to a mountain climb next year which is motivating me to stay in shape so that I don’t die.
  • Finances – I’m getting into a pretty good groove when it comes to saving money and earning money. For the next year, I’m going to keep working on cutting out waste and increasing passive income to get to the point where I could stop working (I won’t because I love my job and the people I work with) and still maintain my lifestyle.
  • New Practices – I am not sure how to integrate new practices in my life that I know are valuable but I also find difficult. I never regret yoga or meditation or language practice after I accomplish them, but it is difficult to motivate myself to do them. I think part of the problem is that I’ve committed to too much and maybe I need to focus on just one thing to get into and prioritize it above all else. I need to jump into it first thing in the morning when my mental fuel tank is full and I’m less likely to justify skipping it. I don’t need a lot of mental energy for work, the gym, or running because I know I’m going to do those regardless of what other circumstances are going on, but by the end of the day it is difficult to get the mental energy together to do something like meditate, so I need to do it first thing in the morning (well… maybe after a cup of coffee)
  • Facebook – The biggest time and energy suck of them all. I’ve come to accept that I have a bit of an addiction and my use of it is generally unhealthy. I’m going to schedule reasonable time for Facebook (probably 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening) except when I am posting a blog post. I’m also going to only check Facebook Messenger once a day. I need to constantly ask myself “is what you are doing at this moment helping you accomplish your dreams?” and when it comes to Facebook the answer is almost always “No”. Sharing articles of interest and talking with people is great, but scrolling mindlessly or getting in stupid debates with people I’ve never met is a waste. I would be better off reading, writing, cooking, gardening, exercising, working, masturbating, yoga, cleaning, meditating, etc.
  • Vegan – I think I’ve found a workable solution to my temptation problem, at least for the situations in which I can prepare for. I’m going to start eating my largest meal of the day directly before going to places where temptation is going to be and I’m going to carry a bag of almonds with me. Hopefully, this will keep both my physical hunger and my psychological oral fixation at bay to provide support for my ethical strength.

So I guess that is where I stand for the next year. I’m not sure the exact path I’m going down for each of these goals, I imagine it will vary with each one and many of them will have a bunch of sub-goals and reward systems to help move me up the mountain. I wonder if it would be beneficial to break down a proposed system for each of these six sections, maybe I’ll do that tomorrow in another blog post. I find writing things out to be helpful but I don’t want “being busy” to replace “being productive”. Oh well, I guess I’ll burn that bridge when I get there.

I haven’t answered any questions or comments lately and would love to hear from you. So, if you’ve got a thought or question submit it to me anonymously at  www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH and I’ll respond. 

A New Year is Born

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”

The last 365 days were a whirlwind, both in my personal life and within the world. We saw heroes die and villains raised to power, but we also saw more prosperity and technological advancement than humankind has ever known. My life, as well as the lives of my friends, were filled with successes and failures, disaster and celebration. I mourned the death of friends and felt joy when my friends gave birth, I saw relationships end and new ones begin. It truly was the best, and the worst of times, just like every year will be.

In 2017, I expect much of the same. More icons will die and I will likely lose a personal friend or family member, but new life will come and the world will keep getting better. I’m not really one for specific New Year’s Resolutions, but I do see the value in ceremony and participating in a cultural event that is bigger than myself. Today is a new year, and that symbolism matters and can provide strength, and with that strength and the support of friends I want to refocus my life and seek to make 2017 the best year I’ve ever had. For me, that means finding processes that I can implement to improve my life.

Mental Health – To improve my mental health I need to continue my meditative practice which allows me to focus on the things within my control and ignore the things outside my control. I also need to keep trimming my Facebook feed and unfollow people who only share current events or politically charged posts. Politics and pop culture is beyond my control, which means I am better off ignoring them.

Physical Health – Every day I try and do one thing physically active. That is my only real “goal”, but within that goal, I have other interests I want to explore. I’d like to run a triathlon this year, and I’d like to explore physical activities that inspire challenge me. Yoga, rock climbing, and martial arts are currently on the top of my list to try out. I also want to keep eating healthy, cook more, drink less, and keep improving my knowledge of nutrition.

Self Experimentation – I am going to continue to experiment with my body and mind. This includes introducing new nootropics and supplements into my diet, as well as trying new things that have interested me but that I haven’t explored as much as I’d like, such as parts of my sexuality, skydiving, read more books, pagan spirituality, podcasting, theater, gardening, volunteering, woodworking, and art.

Writing – I try and write or edit every day. Right now my focus has been on my book, but once that is completed in the coming weeks I am going to start blogging more again. I also would like to take some creative writing classes, continue with the grammar lessons on Khan Academy, read more, and try to expand my vocabulary.

Fiscally Responsible – The less money I need, the less I need to work and the more leisure time I have. I want to keep finding ways to trim my budget and spend less money. I’ve done a pretty good job so far by living without a car, getting a gym membership at the YMCA, and cooking 90% of my meals at home. But there are still places to improve.

Relationships – One thing that I’ve been lacking in Wilmington is new relationships. It is difficult to meet people, particularly when I work from home and am fairly introverted. I need to start getting out of the house and trying new things to meet people.

So, those are my basic goals. The best process for me is an Excel spreadsheet that I mark off as I accomplish something in each category each day. Sometimes the accomplishment is small like I priced out skydiving lessons, but the process works for me. Any day where I am able to advance my health in some of those six categories is a good day. I find this method to be much more effective for me than setting goals like “Lose 10 lbs.” or “Read 30 Books”.

I’m excited for this next year and everything that it can bring in my life. Most of my unhappiness this year was due to things outside of my control, hopefully, I won’t fall into that trap as much in 2017.