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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T – 7 [+5]

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I feel that now I’ve gone through more ‘clinically’ what I’m planning on doing, I can now use this space to reflect more on how I feel, both right now and about the challenge in general.

Originally I started to write this post about a week before I started, and added notes here and there as time went on. But I seem to have picked the busiest part of my September to start this, so my original intentions of posting before the start date, on the start date and then several days later have culminated into me just posting once several days late. But I do think it’s a good idea to look at where I was mentally before this started, so we’re going back in time for the rest of this post..

A [not so] long, long time ago…

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What does healthy living look like?

What does healthy living look like?

So what does healthy living look like, and how will I keep track of what I’m doing?

To start with, in a similar vein to John Green I’m not going to place the main focus on my weight. Yes, I would like to lose some, but it’s not overly important – I’m currently considered a healthy weight, albeit close to the top of the range. It’s also just one factor amidst myriad others, and you can definitely be unhealthy and lose weight!

Instead, I’d like to see if I can gain strength and increase my flexibility. I plan on taking my measurements as I’d like to lower my body fat percentage and I think that’s probably the best way to start noticing if my body is changing shape/composition. But I’d also like to see if my skin improves, how my energy levels are affected, and even if my moods change. This will be a holistic healthy 100 days.

I plan to track this in a number of ways. Primarily I will write about my experience here, sharing both metrics and how I’m feeling and what I’m doing. I plan to keep track of metrics in a spreadsheet on google where I will track my weight and measurements and whether I’ve done the things I’m supposed to that day. I also want to share photos of how I’m eating on my Instagram to help me with accountability and I will probably moan a lot on my Tumblr in the meantime. For measuring flexibility, as well as noting down what I notice, I may also film myself periodically doing the same yoga routine so I can literally see how I improve.

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