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. 

“Free” Stuff

I am terrible at making good decisions when things are offered to me without a monetary cost, particularly food. Let’s take, for example, the events of last night. Not only was my favorite bottle shop offering free donuts, but there was free pizza and free deep-fried cookie dough (the south is a magically gluttonous place). I’m not too annoyed with my decision to eat some pizza or one donut because I was prepared for that and adjusted my diet accordingly, but the deep-fried cookie dough was unexpected and I didn’t really resist.

My justification? It was free.

Unfortunately, looking at a decision simply through the lens of a direct monetary cost is kind of a terrible way to make good choices. We live in a world with a ton of free or nearly free things, just look at shows like “Hoarders” where generally low-income people have more than they could ever use. We live in a culture that is overflowing with calories and trinkets, and a common justification for hoarding calories in our bellies or trinkets in our home is the low cost associated with acquiring them.

But what if I were to look at that deep-fried cookie dough from another angle, perhaps time? That food was not nutritionally necessary in any way. It didn’t have any essential vitamins or minerals that I was lacking and it didn’t have calories that I needed. In fact, that food meant I was well over my calorie limit. My guess is that one of those deep-fried cookie dough balls was about 500 calories (and I had two), and it may have been more, but let’s go with the 500 calorie count to make the math easy.

One cookie ball gave me about 10 minutes of pleasure or 50 calories per minute. In order to work off those calories, I would need to run for about 35 minutes at a 7mph pace (8.5 min mile). So, was 10 minutes of pleasure worth 35 minutes of running the next day? For me, no, it wasn’t. At least not in this situation, maybe there are some situations where it would be.

We could also re-monetize that. If we say that one minute of eating pleasure is directly equal to one minute of not running (which is a huge assumption) then after eating that cookie dough ball and running I am currently in a 25 minute pleasure deficit, Given my current pay rate of $30 per hour, that dough-ball cost me $12.50 worth of my time… which makes that “free” snack no longer free.

So, anyway, basically, I make shitty decisions when I am offered “free” food, but hopefully, I can shift my mindset and think about things from a more forward thinking perspective in the future and pass on the extra desert. Particularly when I know that I will probably get just as much pleasure out of one bite as I would out of an entire dough ball.

As always, I’m open for comments and questions on any subject, just submit them anonymously here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH