Every Day Is A Fresh Start, Don’t Let Guilt Stop Your Journey

prairie-679014_1280Every new year, people take January 1st, and make it their excuse for making changes they’ve wanted to make for a long time. January 1st isn’t a special day in your life, and it’s not even astronomically significant according to Neil Degrasse Tyson. If you’re serious about making changes, randomly postponing until some date in the future isn’t the best idea.

To make matters worse, according to some reasearch only 8% of people manage to follow through on these resolutions. And sure, some people achieve great things because of their New Year’s Resolutions, but could these changes perhaps not have been achieved faster if they had not postponed making the change until a more or less arbitrary point in time? After all the only moment we have any real grasp of is the present. We don’t know when something might change and make it harder, or even impossible for us to achieve the things we’ve dreamed about achieving.
So if there’s something you want to change in your life, don’t wait until next year, start working towards it today.

Already Missed A Day Or Two? Skip the guilt, keep going.

For those of you who have hit your first hurdle with your new years resolutions, this post is a quick reminder that every single day is a fresh start. Every day is a chance to make a change or to keep moving in the right direction. If you slipped up, get back on track.

Don’t feel guilty about not going running, learning, or eating 100% healthy one day, just double down and make sure you show up tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after.

I messed up almost all of last week. I was off the wagon and not going towards my goals for more than 6 months before of that. If I spent my time wallowing in guilt (as I sometimes have been known to do in the past) I would not be surpassing my daily goals today, and I would not have surpassed them yesterday either. I would not be moving toward the Ragnar that I aspire to be. I would not be taking on small web projects for friends to help them (and selfishly gain experience and build my portfolio).

Guilt has stopped a lot of wonderful changes, even transformations from coming to fruition. Don’t let guilt stop yours.

New Year, New Habits, New Goals, Old Goals, Old Habits – 2015 in review and plans for 2016

As I write this, it’s been around six months since I wrote anything for this blog, or anywhere/anyone else. I never made a conscious decision to quit, but between my full time job, new relationship, new friends and new habits, the time and mind space needed for writing seemed to slowly slip away. This hasn’t been all bad, however, as the past year has probably been the best of my life. For the first time, I’ve been able to consistently stay more positive and enjoy myself for the vast majority of the whole year. Sure, sometimes bad things would happen, and it would cross my mind that the universe conspired against me and that I needed to pity myself – old habits die hard, right? – but they never became more than moments. There were no weeks.

The most negative period of last year was perhaps a few weeks after I stopped writing in which I sometimes felt guilty about it. In hindsight this might have been the last straw that actually caused me to stop writing for a time, as guilt adds another barrier between you and actually getting things done.

 

New Habits Acquired Over The Past Year

As far as new habits go, there are two main ones that I added to my day to day life. I started practicing martial arts, not any one in particular, but an unusual mix of JKD, Shooto, FMA, etc. Other than randomly starting to shadow box at any given point during the day, I’ve been going to martial arts practice for the last few months (2-3 times a week, 3 hour sessions).

I started hanging out with friends doing actual things (not just playing video games or drinking/eating.) This wasn’t an entirely new habit, as I had started doing this 2 years ago after I started my new job, but after I moved to a new office at school and made new friends, it became a bigger part of my life I guess.  Although a lot of this took place during weekends, or breaks, it still played a big part in the past year, making me healthier(getting me out and about and moving, and even was what got me started with martial arts) and happier. Instead of ending most weekends feeling like I did a whole lotta nothing, many ended with a feeling of time well spent, having gone to a new place or done new things. Again, not a new concept or experience to me, but a much more regular occurrence than before.

I Enjoy Life

Between these two things the way I fundamentally feel about life seems to have changed. I’m generally enjoying myself, and I know it. Sure, I may not look forward to work on some Mondays (or other days), but that no longer seems like some sort of overwhelming significant thing that is part of a larger pattern of ‘everything sucks’. I’m more confident in general, I feel more grounded in myself and my own habits rather than outside opinions and influences.

Old Habits To Revisit

First and foremost, writing. Not just for the sake of the innate benefits of writing, but I also intend to rekindle my freelance writing efforts – slowly but surely this time (as to not overwhelm myself again). Writing (and sharing that writing online) is what finally got me out of a 1 year rut after I came back from my exchange studies and graduated. I was unemployed, had 1-2 friends in the country that I rarely saw, and my thoughts about my life and future generally involved self-pity and despair. This is not an old habit to revisit, just something to remember, as good a reason as any to restart my writing efforts.

Secondly, restart learning about Web Development and WordPress other CMS. While teaching English here has been an enjoyable learning experience, I feel like I’m gradually approaching a time for me to move on to a new stage in my life, and having valuable, marketable skills will surely help me in getting there.

Thirdly, meditation. Although I do yoga at the end of every martial arts practice, and there seem to be some meditative moments interspersed throughout, over the coming weeks and months, I want to take up meditation again. Not only for the many general cognitive and emotional benefits, but to maintain the brainspace needed for writing consistently.

Old Goals

After all this I still have the same goals. The freedom of body to go and do what I want. The financial freedom to be able to afford to do what I want (not talking millions of dollars or even hundreds of thousands, just a buffer of a few thousand that means I can afford to quit my job or move to a new country without any real risk) and the freedom of mind to enjoy day to day life.

So here I am, back to writing again. It feels good.

 

 

 

What To Do When You Get Tonsillitis And Your Blog Gets Hacked In The Same Week

hackedDon’t get caught up in thinking about what happened. Forget if ‘it’s fair’ or if ‘it’s not a good time’. In fact, forget about what happened, focus on how you react to it. Focus on what you can do to minimize the damage, and if applicable, what you can do to stop similar things from happening again.

It sounds simple, but it is hard. Very hard. To do this, you must first understand and internalize a crucial idea. The idea that a lot of your suffering is self-inflicted after the fact. That your choices and interpretations of something leads to suffering, not what happens itself.

This is not a new idea. It dates back thousands of years. In fact, it is one of the key ideas/concepts of the ancient Stoics.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” – Marcus Aurelius

But it is a hard one to internalize. It doesn’t help that it sounds maybe a little too good to be true. How could you choose not to suffer? I mean the negative stuff has already happened right? Suffering is only the natural consequence of the negative stuff happening right? I’m not so sure. Continue reading

8 Lessons and Important Reminders from 8 Days of No TV or Other ‘Mindless Distractions’

no more tvJust saying no to TV and other ”distractions” is proving to be a challenge. The good news is, it’s just about as hard as I had anticipated it would be. That’s also the bad news. But the real good news is that my No TV Challenge is just into it’s second week, and I’ve already learned, and been reminded of, a few important things.

Procrastination comes in all shapes and forms.

This is the most obvious when you have something completely overwhelming that you’ve postponed for just a little bit too long. You might find yourself almost making up chores, and things you do in preparation before you get started.

One of the trickier ones to deal with, is thinking. I’ve talked about this before. About how it’s easy to get stuck thinking about doing stuff, rather than just doing it.

It is easier to get started when the break or procrastination activity is ‘less fun’.

This had sort of been one of my key assumptions that motivated me to do this experiment. When I’m taking a break from working, if the break activity is addictive, entertaining and soul-sucking at the same time, it adds an extra layer of resistance towards working. If it is fun and relaxing, but not addictive, it’s easier to switch back to working mode. This is maybe the most motivating part of this project so far.

Productive procrastination is possible, and can be fairly productive.

I’ve started to learn how to make WordPress themes using a particular framework called underscores. I’ve been using this to experiment with making my portfolio site look better. (My final goal would be to create a lightweight, semi-customizable, easy to use portfolio theme. One that is focused on writers. Though it is going to take some time and real effort to get there.) Continue reading