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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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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?

Skipping church and other signs of trouble

18 Feb

It’s been a little over 36 hours since my return from the long weekend and, as expected, it’s been a brutal, depressing and anxiety-ridden road back to my own reality. Since I’ve been back I:

…had another B2C (straight from bed to couch) day yesterday, paralyzed by anxiety and lack of confidence with even the smallest of tasks.

…feel even more overwhelmed than I expected, mainly because our water pipes froze while we were away, adding another major task to the ever growing to do list.

…skipped church (group therapy) last night, probably when I needed it most, and in itself a warning sign that I’m neglecting my own self-care (more on this topic to come).

…let my own judgemental, pessimistic outlook on my return become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The good news? I’ve been looking after my 2-year old nephew who’s home sick from daycare, so I’m out of the house and being (to my mind) productive. What’s more, I’m feeling the proven therapeutic effects of spending quality time with a toddler.

Still time to salvage the week?

6 Feb

I can’t say much now; I’m running late to pick up the boy but I wanted to check in quickly, if only so I can fill in one more check box on my to-do list for today. So far the fate of the day is still up in the air as, is my habit in recent weeks, I kept myself busy with minor housekeeping and chores…at the expense of the single job application I’ve been kicking down the road for two weeks now. In the small victories department:

  • Today I actually opened the laptop and Word AND my cover letter for the job.  I got to the application, just too late in the day.
  • Compared to where I was in December, I’m miles ahead in the amount of daily time I spend being productive, and not in the viscous cycle of beating myself up to the point of all-day inaction.

Still, the smallness of these victories screams loudly to me.  How much longer am I going to keep putting this thing off? Am in in denial about my true capabilities? Am I really ready for full time work, or even the task of finding it?  I’m terrified of the alternative.

You’ll know I salvaged the week if:

  • I finish this post in under the 5 minutes I set aside for it.
  • I start my next one by reporting the job application submitted.
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