Fuck “Succesful People”

20 Sep

Every few weeks I come across the same infographic – the one that shows the difference between successful and unsuccessful people:

I don’t know if it’s because the graphic is baselessly false – or precisely because it’s true – but I hate it. It makes me pay little attention to the things I’m doing right, and feel like shit for the things I’m so obviously doing wrong.  

Give Credit Where Credit’s Due

To be fair, I think much of what bugs me about this graphic is how it fits with my own self-criticism:

  • I drink a lot
  • I watch TV every day
  • I don’t know what I want to be
  • Say I keep a journal (this blog) but I don’t 
  • I fly by the seat of my pants…and more. 

But Let’s be Real

This is a highly over simplified graphic. Yes I fit many of the criteria for an unsuccessful person, but at the same time:

  • I do eventually journal (this post a case in point)
  • What I watch on TV is news or news related
  • When I do drink (current post a case in point) I’m almost always reading articles or responding to emails
  • I fly by the seat of my pants because I work for a high growth tech firm
  • I do keep a to-do list…but I’m used to having only a handful checked off by the end of the day (workday or weekend, work or family)

What’s the Lesson (Hint: Booze)

Most of this categorization is subjective bullshit, in my humble opinion, but one thing stands out from the rest. 

I’m an alcoholic, and I still can’t admit it. 

From my “let’s be real” comments, I think almost anyone – successful too! – can relate to 4/5 of my situation. Among successful people I know, almost all have to fly by the seat of their pants to a degree, and they all leave work with tasks undone. 

What they don’t do is drink…or at least not like I do. Consider that, on an average work day, I do at least 2-3 of the following:

  • Fighting a daily hangover to get to work some time between 9:30 and 11:00 each day
  • If I stretch my work arrival to noon, trying to get 2-3 drinks in me to get my workday started 
  • If not, taking the first opportunity to get 3-5 drinks in me so I can “work at 100%”
  • Take at least one break in the afternoon to “go for a walk” when in fact I’m back at the bar keeping my buzz on
  • End up getting home to my family anywhere from 8:00 to 11:30 because I had to catch up on what I didn’t do for the day 

All told, I estimate I spend 3-5 hours (don’t ask how much money I spend) at a bar of some kind every day of the week. That’s:

  • 3-5 hours a day
  • 21-35 hours a week
  • 82-150 hours a month

If that’s not enough reason to give up drinking, I don’t know what is. If that’s not enough, I’ve given up alcohol for months and years at a time. 

All which begs the question…what will it finally take for me to give up a habit I know is so self-destructive?

I’ve pulled myself out of this before; I just  can’t find the way out now. Life’s too busy – or just busy enough a to do it. 

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Booze or My Kids: What do I love more?

18 Aug

Simple question. Should be a simple, easy answer. 

But it’s not. It’s complicated, and I’m in denial. 

For many of you out there, I don’t need to say more. I know I’m not alone. I hope I’m not alone. 

So far so good…so far

2 Mar

I’m pleased to report that I’m on my third consecutive ‘successful’ day this work week. It hasn’t happened in a LONG time but that’s three successful days in a row which – for better or worse, after years of trying otherwise – in my mind is a direct function of my productivity. 

Theee lessons come to mind from this week’s track record:

1. Accept Who You Are: As I’ve said before, years of trying to change it, my beliefs remain as strong as ever; that a productive day = a successful day = a happy and satisfying day. There’s a Theory X vs. Theory Y Management story here for another day. 

2. Celebrate Small Victories: Three days in a row (in a 5 day workweek) may sound like a small victory, but celebrating those is just as important as larger ones, and far more valuable than stewing over my shortcomings or missed goals. 

3. Stick to What Works…Religiously: Each day this week I stuck to a formula that seems to be working:

  • Getting up as soon as my alarm goes off and showering right away
  • Spending little to no time watching the news over morning coffee
  • Taking my meds (Vyvanse in particular)
  • Just doing instead of thinking
  • Getting out of the house and into the office as soon as I can

What do you think? Apart from exercise, what’s missing from my morning routine? And am I the only one who finds this a morning victory and not just a routine?

Cover me I’m going in

27 Feb

Taking a page from last week’s playbook, I’m on my way into work after a successful start to the day. I was up and showered quickly, spending less than 10 minutes watching the news over a cup of coffee (leaving little time to get lost in my head with only my inner critic for company). 

What’s more, I did something different this weekend. I worked for a couple solid hours on both Saturday and Sunday. Not enough to be a burden on my day or interfere with my kids’ activities, but enough to keep up my ‘mental momentum’ so I’m not hitting Monday morning from a standing start. 

How will the rest of the day pan out? Wish me luck and I’ll let you know. 

Being in the Right (Head) Place at the Right Time

26 Feb

How often does this happen to you?

After hours or even days of depression, procrastination and self-loathing, you finally find yourself with the energy and mood to do what you want/need to…but by then you’ve run out of time to do it. 

A couple cases in point, just from my last week:

At Work: (Not) Tackling a Mountain of Tasks

I spent one morning hungover (a story for another day) in meetings, struggling even to pay attention, let alone participate. Then a few more hours stressing over my workload, going out for smoke breaks and ruminating over my lack of productivity. 

Only when I had less than an hour left before I had to leave did I “snap out of it” and kick into the high gear I needed right after my morning meetings. In that last hour I got more done than in the previous eight…but I left with a mountain of unfinished tasks I promised myself I’d tackle over the weekend (not going well so far). 

At Home: Household Chores

Today I had the house to myself for five solid hours, and a manageable list of chores to go along with it. I spent half of it at the bar at the end of the street, and another hour watching Bill Maher, before doing the only productive thing I did all day – putting away a single hamper of already folded clothes. 

After another trip to the bar for a quick couple pints, and with 20 minutes before having to leave for my kid’s hockey game, it happened again. Only when I didn’t have the time to do it did I snap out of my rut and feel almost enthusiastic about tackling even the most onerous chores on my list. 

Sometimes it’s as if the only time I’m in the right mood to get something done is precisely when I don’t have the time to do it. 

What’s Your Secret?

I know I’m not alone so I want to hear your stories. And what I want to know just as much is, how do you align your mood with the time when you need it? 

Or…how do you end up in the right (head) place at the right time?

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