The only apparatus required for happiness is your pain and fucking going outside

Song of the day: Give yourself a try – The 1975

It’s all just the same pattern really isn’t it? I make big claims about starting writing in this blog again, make introduction posts and give long updates about what’s been going on in my life recently, and then there’s radio silence for months until I post yet another introduction post saying this time I really mean it.

I think there have been multiple problems with this previously. I don’t think I was always in the right frame of mind – while I wanted to write in abstract, I wasn’t mentally committed to it in practice. The second, and main, thing is that I have previously backed myself into a bit of a corner by trying to focus this blog too specifically at times when I probably wasn’t ready for it. As a result I felt too limited before I even began and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything. Case in point, initially I started this to document my journey towards health and happiness. However after posting a couple of food/recipe posts, I started to feel like I could only post health and fitness related items or recipes, and that anything else wouldn’t fit with the ‘theme’ of the blog. So there were no opportunities for some of the posts I’ve written on previous blogs that I’m still proud of, such as book reviews or musings on things I’d come across in the news recently.

My dad calls me a Polymoth – I’m flighty and I have a lot of interests that I like to flit between, some may say too many. I find it hard to settle on one thing because the world is vast and wonderful and there are just so. many. things.Case in point, even just this week here are the things I’d like to work on/improve:

  • Learn to play the guitar
  • Get better at singing (particularly pop/rock singing rather than the classical/choral practice I’ve had for the past 15 years)
  • Resume playing piano
  • Daily yoga
  • Become a runner
  • Paint/draw/do art
  • Read more novels
  • Watch more films
  • Resume learning Italian
  • Learn how to make music using FL Studio 20
  • Redecorate my bedroom
  • Learn more about film/tv/radio production
  • Travel more
  • Go out and try new things more often
  • Eat consistently more healthy

So many things, not an awful lot of time. These are all items that have cropped up time and time again over the past 8 years. In true polymoth fashion, I flit back and forth between things and never give any of them a proper go. I think there’s part of me that feels like too much time spent on one will be to the detriment of the others. But I’m getting older and I’ll be the same age if I spend the time doing the things as I will be if I don’t do the things. Only, in one of these scenarios I’ve developed skills that I wouldn’t have in the other. Time is passing, I might as well use it.

Something needs to change.

The other thing that keeps cropping up is recognising that I need to let myself be bad at things in order to get good at things. Think an underlying issue is a fear of failure like many people who have previously sailed through things early on in life (e.g. GCSEs, A-levels etc.) – if I have to put in some effort, what if I try really hard and am still no good at it? At least if I don’t try it’s an available defense mechanism to blame something other than my own ability (i.e. my lack of effort/’Oh I didn’t really try’). But there’s that famous quote that I can’t quite bring myself to google right now about your taste being better than your abilities and how you need to produce a lot of bad work in order to get to the good work.

I want to use this blog to let myself explore things again, and I’ll combine this with working through The Artist’s Way. Because why not? I need to use the blog to just do, not just think about what I should do. Therefore it’s not a ‘lifestyle’ or ‘fitness’ blog, it’s whatever I need it to be at the time. I need to develop some discipline in just getting stuff done whether I’m motivated or not. I can’t create good things if I don’t put in the time.

This is day one. I can either spend the next 365 days being productive and working on things, or I can spend the next year wishing I was doing more. It may be uncomfortable, it may mean facing some harsh truths about my motivations or discipline or inability to commit, but I’d rather be able to look back in the future at all the things I’ve done rather than at all the things I didn’t do. Let’s see how this goes.

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Revamp 2017

It seems like I only ever start writing here when I’m in the need for a refresh, when something sparks the part inside of me that screams “I need to get this off my chest” and wants someone else to hear it. Unfortunately, as with the event that sparked this entire site in the first place, this one apppeared completely out of the blue.

It’s nothing so dire as a death in the family. Instead, my manager told me that he’s resigning.

Let me start from the beginning.

Over the past year or so I have started to actually like my job. For majority of the past four years, with the exception of a few brief periods, I have simply ‘not minded’ my job, content with having a steady income that can support my lifestyle outside of work.

But this year two things have happened. The first is that as I’ve grown to become more knowledgeable in my field I’ve started to feel more secure in my abilities and more interested in developing in my area. I’ve had a manager for the past few months whom I really respect and look up to. I think his abilities are incredible and I found myself thinking that I would like to be just like him in a few years (although preferably a little less busy and stressed). Finally, after 10 different managers in under four years, here’s one that I’d be quite happy following for my next few projects, something I’ve only really felt like I could say about one or two prior line managers.

The second thing that happened is that work has started taking over more and more of my life. Gone are the days of a not-too-busy 9-5. This last week was more akin to 8-8, not including time travelling to and from Birmingham where I work at the moment (I live in London) which added up to a staggering 17 hours over the last week.

But I haven’t really minded any of this. I like the people I work with, I have a good manager who makes me feel like there’s lots I can do to learn and improve but that I’m also doing a good job and can be trusted with responsibility. I’m ok with work being the main part of my life during the week, and I can focus on everything else at the weekend.

And then my manager resigned. And this entire mindset came crashing down.

As I said, a large part of the reason I’ve been so happy at work is that I like my manager and I like our working relationship. Knowing that this will no longer exist in a few weeks and that I’ll have to get used to something new yet again has made me look at my work/life balance in a completely new light. I like the people I work with, I like the other managers on the project. I would still prefer to have my manager above any of the others.

I’ve realised that I’m as satisfied and happy with my life as I thought I was. I had thought I had a good balance between work and non-work and was quite happy to continue as I was. But my balance is off. I’ve been too work-focused, and now that something’s made work a little less enjoyable, I’m able to see the bigger picture again.

One of my friends has just moved to Vancouver. Another is moving to Toronto in two months. Another has moved a bit further out of London and I don’t see them as often. And I’m still here, not doing an awful lot other than working and not-doing-much at the weekends.

This upsetting the balance I’d found between work and non-work made me realise that if something doesn’t change, I could find myself seriously unhappy very quickly. If I stop liking work, how happy am I with what I’m doing outside of it? My friends are moving away, am I doing anything to replenish my social life? Am I satisfied with the things I’m doing and achieving outside of work? Will they make me feel fulfilled when work becomes just about the income again?

I didn’t really like my answers to these questions, so I’m going to do something about it.

….

The Plan

I’ve wanted to get this going again for some time now; I’ve opened and closed the webpage many times. How it’s been a year since I last even tried to start writing on a regular basis again, I just don’t know.

I’ve got a plan for what I want to talk about. I just keep having difficulty getting started.

Not only do I want to improve a number of different areas of my life, but I’d like to get better at expressing myself, at forming my opinions and being able to hold a conversation. So it is my current goal that this blog cover the following:

  • ‘Leveling up life’: Health/fitness updates, skill learning updates – I want to become more consistent in moving towards a healthier lifestyle, and share my journey to encourage others or at least show people a ‘what not to do’!
  • Book/film reviews/commentary – I need to read more and watch more and spend less time browsing social media. I’ve really enjoyed finding my old blogs and re-discovering what past me thought about various things, and I’d like to be able to do the same in the future.
  • Opinion pieces – I’m very bad at owning opinions or sharing them in a constructive way, for reasons I’ll discuss in the future. I’d like to get better at expressing myself and feel this could be a good way to do so.
  • Anything else I can think of – because why not?

I’m hoping that over the coming year I’ll be able to develop, critically and thoughtfully, and create a space for engagement, questioning and growth both for myself and for any readers. It sounds a bit pretentious, but hey, I’m writing a blog post here. I think a little pretension can be forgiven.

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Ah, life.

Ah life, why must it happen to all of us.

You might have noticed that some time has passed between my last post (in which I talk about how I will provide updates here on how my 100 days of healthy is going) and this one. Not as much time as has passed between previous posts, but still we are approaching a good four weeks without a single update here on how everything is going.

The reason for that is two-fold, although perhaps they can be considered the same thing. The first being that I started a new project at work, and the second is that I completely lost sight of how to manage my time well.

The new project at work is still out of town, however rather than flying up to Edinburgh each week I will now get the train up to Birmingham – a shorter commute that means I can get up slightly later on a Monday and get home earlier on a Thursday. But it’s a much busier project, and the last three weeks (the first few of this project) have been a bit manic. I had one day to get to grips with the workstream I now own before the previous owner left, and I spent the first two weeks trying to put everything into some semblance of order and trying not to break down.

I’m one of the people working the fewest hours at the moment, and I get there before 9 and leave close to 7. I know this is normal for some, but the end of my last project was so quiet that I was doing a 9-5 with little to do for the last few weeks of it. Having a busy 9-7 is a very different thing, especially when you’re trying to get your head around completely new things with tight deadlines that are coming up very soon. It was stressful.

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What I Want To Work On Wednesday

What is ‘What I Want To Work On Wednesday?’

A few days ago I was reading through my old blogs (there were at least two before this one) to both gain some inspiration on what to write about and, more importantly, see what my life was like a few years ago. It wasn’t long before starting this one that I last wrote in my previous blog – I started this one in November 2014, and the last post in my previous one was October 2014, although regular posting stopped around August – so I was surprised to discover that for the most part I feel like I’m reading about a completely different person. I was extremely surprised at how much I’ve changed and grown as a person over the past two years. As much as I tend to beat myself up a bit at the moment when I feel like I’m going off the rails (falling into bad food, sleep and exercise habits), ‘off the rails’ for me now is nothing like it was two years ago. I’m much better organised, much more confident, much more on top of my mental health – to name just a few things.

One thing I did do on my last blog which I think would be a good idea to start doing again here is the brilliantly named (and not at all overly wordy) “What I Want To Work On Wednesday”, where I’ll name a couple of small things I want to work on during the week ahead and check in on how the previous week’s tasks are going. This ties into my mention of accountability in my last post. It’s very easy  for me to completely lose track of time and my goals and ambitions if nothing or nobody is checking in on me or making me stop and think about how I’m doing. That’s how – just like this last month – I can suddenly stop and realise that it’s been over three weeks since I last did any consistent exercise, despite feeling like I’d just taken a day or two off.

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Rebirth and Renewal

rainbow fountain cow

There’s really no correlation between this picture and this post

Surprise! I’m still alive!

So, that went well.

Despite the fact that several of the last couple of posts published on this blog discuss re-starts and a need for increased consistency in posting, you may have noticed that I’ve failed spectacularly in doing just that. Whilst I did indeed have several very good weeks following on from my last post in regards to improving my diet, exercise, sleep schedule etc… I quickly fell into the same problem that so many people have with the end of the year, when I let December and the Christmas holidays completely derail my progress.

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