Day 843: Burnout! Time for changes.

After suffering through Monday and yesterday, I’ve grudgingly accepted my wife’s diagnosis that the stomach cramps and overwhelming sense of bleak, pervading dread isn’t a bug, but rather the first signs that I’m seriously flaming out.

I’ve been living in “a structure of obligation and dread,” as I just said on the podcast and liked so much I’m looping back around to type it here.

Which isn’t a surprise, really — looking back at the arc of this project it’s been peaks and valleys of taking things on and letting things go, but the overall trendline has been toward a need to simplify, step back, take stock.

I’m also aware that this is pretty classic midlife crisis territory, which for a dude in his mid-40s is riiiiiiiiight on schedule, I’d say, but at least this seems like a healthy kind of midlife crisis as opposed to the “buy a corvette and have an affair” variety.

Again, the track of this thing is a constant running up to “I need to simplify and get back to things that are valuable to me,” then backing away from that and, frankly, distracting myself with garbage. I’m not saying that life has to be all grim all the time, but having a couple of days of being flat on my back, burnt out and more or less staring at the ceiling, does lead your brain places.

Where I’m at today:

  1. Get a therapist! This is good and all but I’m making a lot of assumptions and decisions about my mental health that I probably should get somebody, like, good to check in with about.
  2. Deleting video games off the computer and phone. They’re the soda pop of brain activity: I like them when they’re happening, but afterwards I never feel good about having done it.
  3. Ditto podcasts. Not goodbye forever here, but I need to reconnect to quality music instead of meandering conversations for a while.
  4. Quitting the radio show, maybe? It’s not bringing me joy, as the new old saying goes.

Anyway — I’ve been promising myself change for a while, and I think I really hit a wall earlier this week, so it’s fish or cut bait time about making some changes.

Day 841: Yo, yo, yo-yo-yo

As mentioned a while back, I’m in and out of a good groove right now; the holiday weekend was not super great, and following our vacation I’m kind of back to beginning-of-the-year status in terms of weight. But I’ve been getting better with the tracking streak, and as mentioned, I need to fire on all cylinders for this to work.

We get back to motivation, and why I don’t want to do these things. It’s the important question — maybe THE MAIN QUESTION OF THE PAST TWO AND A HALF YEARS! Sorry for all-capping that, but that’s where my head is at this morning.

I run up against a lot of motivations and a lot of attempts and a lot of slips, and here are the two countervailing truisms:

  1. Fall down seven times, get up eight times. Keep trying! You can get this licked.
  2. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If something’s not working, change it up.

The wrinkle here is I know what works, but I choose not to do it. I get bored, or distracted, or frustrated. I think the deepest seated weird thing in my brain is a feeling of rebellion. I feel like “ooh, I’m being naughty” which is kinda… dumb. Who am I rebelling against? What am I rebelling for?

We’re deep into the “this podcast as self-therapy” territory again, I guess.

Day 840: Spring into Sunday!

That seems like yesterday, again. Oh well — still a good idea. No radio show on Sundays, and up late with a nice sleep in, but time to get to work. The project of the year is the side yard; to be done as cheaply as humanly possible, as we need to save money for the 2020 kitchen reno.

My feeling is we’re gonna need a guy with a backhoe, at least, and from there money for materials but not necessarily money for labour. The good thing about non-critical stuff like yardwork is there’s a bit of tolerance for error, so even if a mistake is made, it’s fixable or at least amendable down the line.

The key here, though, is getting up and getting to it, when what I rrrrrreally feel like doing is firing up a video game or something for half an hour and waiting for the weather to get better. But we also have to get the laundry in, which means getting out of the sleepin’ clothes I’m in now, which means getting up anyway… bah.

Day 839: Rolling into Saturday

Rolling into Saturday without much on my mind this morning — having finished the “Fun” book, I’m vetting Ask Outrageously, which seems like another good candidate for Blinkist, and I think might actually benefit a couple of people I know (including my wife). So far the feedback is “ask outrageously,” with a lot of reasons why that’s a good idea and a survey, but this is a “the title is the book” kind of book after about 30-40 pages.

No super specific plans for the day, beyond the radio show, but lots of little things around the house. I am setting up a to-do list on my computer, with the idea I can kind of check in on it through the day. I don’t have a better idea to date…

Day 838: Good Friday!

Late sleep in this morning, but still getting on track for the full day — exercise, shower, dressed, and planning a three-day weekend. Honestly it’s not that different than a regular weekend, except I have some volunteer work to do and would really like to clean the basement.

In another window on this computer I’m trying another attempt at a personal to-do list. I rock these at work, but I’m brutally bad at them at home — it’s an interesting issue, and I think it’s largely because I do 90% of my work-work in front of a computer, and don’t spend that much time in front of a screen at home (and I’m trying to cut down on phone use).

So my preferred todo method, PlainTasks plugin for Sublime Text 3, doesn’t really work at home as it’s difficult to access on the fly. I use Wunderlist with my wife for groceries and stuff, but that’s not really a great system either — I need to subdivide what I’m doing or it gets overwhelming, and I don’t want to maintain sixteen different lists in Wunderlist.

These are good problems to have, which I recognize — just some context for the weekend.

Day 837: Rockin’ the Morning

Another 4 a.m. up, as my wife’s starting at 5; I’ve actually made dinner for tonight (mostly, there’s two components left to go) as well as the Everything Else; I’m going to try to grab a short nap before heading to work as well.

Good sleep hygiene would suggest that I should get up at 4 a.m. all the time, but that’s insane, and the cats won’t let me sleep once my wife is up; they’re awake at that point, and since they get fed at five and I’m the guy who makes it rain in the morning, it’s not my wife they bug.

So I lean into the early up, and now dinner’s (almost) made, cats are fed, exercise and shower done, I’m dressed — the big question becomes “nap or not,” and if I nap, whether I’ll have time for book work this morning.

But a regular 4 a.m. up is off the table.

Day 836: Fun – The Book

A while back, I bought the “hack your life” Humble Book Bundle with my wife, and I’m just starting to crack into it.

On a side note, these books really do convey the value of Blinkist, which is an app that basically condenses non-fiction books, with a significant lean toward introspective (I wrote “self-help” here, but I think that’s kind of perjorative) and management books, into 15-minute audio files.

At first I was “how dare you, the art of writing, blah blah blah,” but let’s be real: these books are about 5% actual content, 95% filler. So Blinkist — when it has a free book of the day I’m interested in — is actually pretty great.

Anyway!

I powered through “The Power of Having Fun,” which fits the pattern of about 5% actual material and 95% stuff , and… it was… helpful? I guess? The essential takeaway is “structure your job to give yourself breaks and make sure the breaks are real breaks,” at it has a number of workbooks and tips around scheduling. Lots and lots of objection handlers for the typical “but I’m too busy to take a break!” kinds of reactions.

It’s easy to poo-pooh these things as obvious, but I’m actually glad I read it, and I think there’s more I’m taking away from it than I’m giving myself (or the book) credit for. My reflexive cynicism is actively trying to ruin the experience of this book for me, which is kind of an interesting thing to observe as it happens — there’s legitimately some interesting ideas in there, and I think it side-steps me as the right audience by about 50%, but somebody who needs this book would probably get a ton of use out of it.

Day 835: On track

Things are going pretty well. Still not quite back from the planned setback of vacation time in March-April, but I’m on a logging streak — 10 days today, I believe — and getting back in the “morning flow” rhythm of up, cats, water, exercise, shower, this, and writing or other things til work.

Frankly, I’m doing this quickly because I kind of want to get on to making some coffee and then nudging the book forward a bit– 15-20 minutes a day to work on it isn’t much, but it’s something, and every step forward is, well, a step forward.

Writing about getting better helps me get better, I think. I mean more/besides this, which on many days feels like an obligation rather than a joy — I need to make sure I’m not drifting into YAGO with this whole project.

Day 834: Keepin’ On

A “keeping on” kind of day — not much to report; less writing yesterday than I intended, but lots of good kitchen work. We’re set for food for lunches for quite a while, roasted some nuts, did the laundry, cleaned the bedsheets and remade the bed.

A pretty normal day with no particularly profound thoughts. Still happy to be on a social media diet after — has it been 100 days yet? Checking, it’s actually 156.