Tag Archives: failure

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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I’m back…again!

21 Feb

Hi again my loyal readers. Remember me? After an on again/off again run at this blog from 2012-2015, I dropped off the radar screen again for a couple years. 

Well, I’m back – at least for now (hold applause until I get at least two posts in a row). What spurred me back to the blogging world was a graphic a friend of mine shared on social media about the connection between successful people and keeping a journal:


In spite of all the important things I have in my life – amazing, loving wife and kids, a house in a neighbourhood I love, etc. – I naturally don’t see myself as a successful person. As you may recall from earlier posts, that’s my thing (and I know I’m far from alone); magnifying my failures and discounting my victories. 

That said, simply restarting this blog – hopefully 3-4 times a week, my version of keeping a journal, and keeping mental health discussions going/growing – will I hope be a step in shifting my mentality. A cognitative change in behaviour that I know can shift my emotions in the right direction. 

So, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more. I’ll try and update you on the last 2 years tomorrow. 

Cut a great bargain…with myself

11 Feb

Right off the top, let me say that I did not meet the expectations I set for myself last time I wrote, going on three days now. I did my writing in time but didn’t finish the cover letter.

By my own and no uncertain terms I was in my rights to declare the week a a failure. My inner critic was chomping at the bit and tempting old habits – like self criticism and sabotage – circled like vultures.

But I didn’t give in to temptation or my typically harsh judgement. I stopped.

Taking a page from Daniel Kahneman’s excellent bookThinking Fast and SlowThinking Fast and Slow, I stopped. To breathe, to find calm, to think rationally. I caught myself in time with three anchors of reason:

1) Life’s not black and white, all or nothing. Everything in life is painted shades of grey. Yes I missed one goal, an important one but immediately urgent only to me. What’s I tend to forget is that I met the other 80% of my goals and did even more. How can I give myself a failing grade? Would I judge someone else through the same harsh eyes? Bottom line….I give myself a solid B+.

2) This old catastrophizing, self-sabotaging habit of mine is a stubborn bugger. Getting past it, accepting what I did instead of dwelling on what I didn’t, even giving myself a pat on the back…these are precisely the things I need to learn how to do again. They pose the biggest, toughest challenges in my life right now.

3) Through smart choices, a healthy attitude and the right meds, I’ve been on a bit of a run lately. I’m taking all my meds, I’m doing more and I’m keeping myself busy all day long. B2C days (bed to couch) are rare when they used to be daily. It’s too easy for me to forget the progress I’ve made, big picture progress. I need reminding that my worst days now are better than my best days in December.

So there you have it.

Maybe I’m finally starting to learn how to appreciate myself as is…that, or I just bargained myself off the hook for putting off an increasingly urgent task that I’ve been avoiding for ages.

Procrastination or appreciation? Crazy or lazy…thoughts?

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.

The art of self sabotage

30 Jan

It’s 11:28 and I’m still 5 minutes away from my 11:00 dentist appointment (at the time I started writing).

I didn’t have an earlier meeting that went long. I wasn’t rushing to get something done before walking out the door. Traffic and public transit were running on time. It wasn’t fear or procrastination either.

I made myself late through my own acts of self-sabotage.

A special brand of manufactured obstacles, self-sabotage means taking deliberate but often subconscious measures to make an already pressing task unnecessarily more challenging. More than simple procrastination, acts of self-sabotage work directly in conflict with truly important priorities.

Among the crazy, self-sabotaging is a common behavioral pattern, and a frequent topic of conversation at my group therapy. Particularly when we’re in a rut, trying to pull out of one, or in the face of an imposing or unfamiliar situation, we sabotage our best interests through decisions and judgement we know to be self-defeating.  Memorable examples include…

…letting your phone ring through to voicemail because it’s someone you’re just not ready to talk to. Now you’ve got the burden of returning their call, probably anxieties about the call itself, and the shame of avoiding it in the first place.

…putting off a reply email for so long that the people expecting it have moved on.  If you do end up replying, you’ll feel it necessary to explain your absence, further complicating an already daunting task.  If you write it off completely, maybe you’ve burned a bridge in the process.

…having a drink or two before an important meeting to relieve anxieties and boost your self-esteem.  At best you’re oblivious to the fact that you smell like a brewery.  At worst you end offending the very people you were trying to impress.

…drinking or smoking to incapacitate yourself from facing an important phone call, meeting or task.  Escape and relief from short term pain lead to more in the long term; you’re going to have to get to it sometime, only now you’ll have less time and more stress to do it.

…taking on work you know you can’t complete because you don’t want to say no to someone.  At some point however, and the longer it goes unsaid the more difficult it is to say, you’re going to have to own up. You’re going let that person down far more than had you were honest from the get go.

…Waiting for your last pill to order prescription refills. This might involve an awkward (in your eyes) call to your doctor, and almost certainly means you’ll be going 2-3 days without your meds.  No big deal if we’re talking Zoloft.  Clonazepam can be a bitch though.

The pattern is obvious enough.  Each is a form of avoidance.  The cost of avoidance, a heavier workload and accompanying anxieties, was far worse than the work being avoided in the first place.  We worry so much about the inevitable that our actions make it impossible.  And yet we repeat the pattern over and over again.

Why?  What drives our acts of self-sabotage? What are we really avoiding? What are your favorite examples?  These and other exciting details to come.  Stay sane:)

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