Day 658: I Blame the Full Focus Journal / Perfect Me

Talking about it with my wife over breakfast, I think the last couple of months of feeling sludgy and bad behaviour were snapback from the Full Focus Journal experiment.

I think the Full Focus thing is probably a great system for a lot of people; especially people who have a standard 9-5 day job — or at least a single main gig — that breaks into several goals and maybe a couple of side things.

But trying to use it to manage all the side things, on top of a job that I think is already top-10th percentile in terms of being busy and consuming… that was a mistake.

And I think after two months of having that system reinforcing that I felt like I was failing, I basically had a quiet freak-out in July. The slump I feel like I’m in started almost exactly when my attempts at maintaining the FFJ stopped. And I don’t think it was that I stopped using it that caused the slump. I think I had to stop using it, or flame out entirely, and I arrested that process in mid-flame-out by stopping when I did.

I don’t think it’s a bad system or a bad product. I enjoyed setting it up. I think setting goals for myself is a good thing.

I think this was an intersection of two things: one, I do too much, and two, if I set realistic goals for myself, they’re already ambitious, because I am ambitious. I’m working a job that most people, if we’re honest, couldn’t do. I’m using volunteer time to literally build a podcast network from scratch with and for no money. I’ve rebuilt a local outdoors club’s web presence and marketing structure from nothing. I’ve set up a now-on-hold side business. I’m taking challenging courses in law.

My normal is super hard, and using the Full Focus system to try to push myself even harder was a recipe for disaster.

But just using it to track what I’m already doing… I’m already good at that! I’m already doing it!

So I think I used it as an excuse, or a motivator, to succumb to my worst unhealthy push-too-hard instincts. And I think I’m clawing back from a three-month burnout that was entirely self-inflicted.

This is one of those weird moments of clarity you get periodically.

And wow: here’s a mental trick. I thought I stopped the full focus planner and burnt out on it in the first week of July. That’s when I started it. I stopped in mid-August! I lasted a month and a bit.

That’s — weird, at least, maybe worrisome? My brain rewrote the whole story to be Full Focus in June, and quitting after a family crisis in July. But I started it concurrently with the family crisis!

So today and tomorrow, I’m going to give myself some time to genuinely reflect on that experience and what I took away from it. Twelve annual goals is great. Quarterly goals are great. The daily tracking and Big Three daily is… probably not great, or needs to be scaled back to the point where they reflect a normally ambitious life, not a supernaturally ambitious one.

Maybe, given my misremembering of the whole sequence of things, starting it in the middle of a family issue was the wrong-footing. Maybe I need to roll it out and try it for another quarter, but with less crazy goals and a more realistic perspective.

Tomorrow: what does perfect me look like? Who is that guy? How do I get in touch with him and reverse engineer that guy to now? Visualization as tactic.

I’m (cough) back off therapy. It’s expensive! I want to try some other things first in terms of self-guided reflection and meditation.



Day 657: Homecoming!

It’s Homecoming weekend in Kingston, which means a few things: first, I gotta work; second, it’s probably a good time to reflect on drinking.

I was as surprised as most to learn recently that almost one in eight students at the university — somewhere around 11 or 12% — don’t drink. I guess it’s not that astounding, when you factor religion, health, personal decisions, athletes, and other things into the mix. But at certain times of the year, it feels like 100% of the campus is kind of boozed up. Hopefully responsibly!

It is, though, kind of a reflection of how we see drinking. One in eight is a pretty noticeable number. It’s not small. One in ten is still an awful lot! But the overwhelming perception is that all of ’em do.

When I extrapolate that to my adult life, it feels the same. Everyone drinks! Right? But not everyone does. I can’t think of many people I know personally who doesn’t, but maybe they cluster differently. I’m sure more people STOP after university than START after university, so that number’s gotta be higher than one in eight. The NIAAA doesn’t have super clear stats on this in an ongoing way, but about 13% of the people in the US never drank in a 2015 survey, so that’s your baseline. More depressingly, 27% of people reported that they binge-drank in the last month, which once you factor in the 13% or more non-drinkers is… hm. Oy.


Day 656: Up Late Friend Time!

Stayed up super late last night! Hanging out with a friend. And I know I’ve been banging on a lot lately about having to get back on my game, and sleeping in and not exercising is kind of the opposite of that, but actually hanging out with people is good therapy, too.

My friend Michael has recommended a therapy approach that I’m kind of interested in exploring — I’ve heard it advertised on other podcasts, too. I’m checking out BetterHelp, which is kind of a spot-therapy program (I think — I’m checking it out!) done remotely rather than in a local office. It’s in a space where I like a lot of these ideas, and I like the general convenience of it, but I’m also kind of invested in the idea of spending money in ways that stay in my community. I want to take a poke at it, though.


Day 655: Getting Going

Arrgh! Late sleep today, so no exercise and running behind in myriad other ways. One result of yesterday’s “I should take another run at therapy” note is that I have no idea how to find a therapist!

There’s a Catch-22 here: I need a therapist to help me contend with the fact that I’m overworking and not managing that well. But finding a therapist is starting to seem like work itself: research, listing names, making contact, trial sessions, etc. Ugh.

Focusing on today: no/little exercise, so I need to pack a lunch carefully and track food for the day; work is going to run a bit late but I should be home in reasonable time this evening, which is good — coursework to do.

Just keeping the head down and soldiering on seems to be the order of the day, while watching diet and thinking about a strategy to get myself therapized.


Day 654: The Two-Month Slump

Ugh, make that FOUR months. I think I’ve been semi-off-my-game since JULY. Not a horrorshow, but if I had to track back to a general sense of creeping malaise, it would be around the Canada Day weekend when I felt like I was out of steam in a very broad and abiding sense.

It’s this weird liminal space where I’m still productive and forward thinking and motivated to do things, sometimes, but there’s more of a bedrock of meh that I get down to quickly.

I’ve done therapy before, and it might be time to go back to that well — there’s nothing super concerning here. But that’s part of the problem. I’m not super concerned about my wellbeing, but I’m also not jazzed about anything, and haven’t been for a few months now.

With a week of vacation/remove, it’s easy to see that it’s that there’s too much on my plate; I need to cut back on stuff and actually spend more time decompressing. Managing the guilt of not doing stuff then becomes its own challenge… hence the therapy!

There are times in life when it’s good to go to somebody whose job is to help you figure out life stuff in exchange for money. I think it’s time to roll back into the therapy thing again!


Day 653: Careful With That Food, Eugene

A not-great day for exercise today — cat-based insomnia — but I had a good day for food yesterday, and a good exercise session yesterday.

So it’s “careful with food” today, as I get ready to move out. I haven’t weighed myself in a while! I got the scale back while I was on vacation, but vacation. And now I’m frankly a bit too anxious to do it. I’m going to give myself a week of eating well before I give that a shot.

Day 652: Back to Business

Back to work! And back to exercise and modest eating — I’m doing the “back to bed” thing today, wife up at 4, so this is a quick check-in.

It hasn’t been a week of mad gluttony or anything, but there’s been an exercise break, and probably more food than was needed. Kind of returning to basics this week: modest exercise, reasonable food, and a mind on focusing myself on managing expectations and dialling down pressure at work.


Day 651: Staycation End!

The mini-daybed is finished on schedule — glue drying as we speak — I need to wait for the foam to arrive (I’m cutting up some IKEA kids’ mattresses) and then some sewing, which will be next weekend. Then finished! It’s not as good as the first day bed, which is mainly a reminder of the importance of slow, careful lumber selection. It’ll be the sorts of flaws that only I notice, though.

Definitely need to block some time today to think about re-organizing work and volunteer things — if there’s one thing this week has shown it’s that I need to cut back for sure.


Day 650: Back to Cutting Back

Coming off a week of vacation — new mini-daybed is doing just fine, thank you for asking — and as always, am exiting with a certain sense of clarity about why I’m so stressed. Breaks are good.

I’m not feeling rested, but I am feeling removed, which is a good point to take stock from.

The priority, getting back to work on Monday, is going to be to rebalance my time and obligations, and start setting more reasonable expectations for what I can accomplish. Starting with myself — I set very high standards, and I need to manage those first.

Volunteer stuff is next — again, I’m taking on a lot of responsibility because I choose to, and that’s something that needs to be worked on. Accomplishing stuff is good! Burning out is bad.

Sunday, tomorrow: no particular plans. A good day for mapping out the next few months.


Day 649: TCOB

Keepin’ on keepin’ on with staycation week; the big walk yesterday was lovely, the day bed is coming along nicely, I polished off this week’s coursework and read the new Grady Hendrix novel.

Bunch of fiddly life stuff today — frankly, I’m amazed I can even hold a job, with the amount of things that seem to need getting done in my life on a vacation week…