Pulling myself together

It is true that old habits die hard, yet there is nothing that can really stop you except for yourself.

Since December I am running an experiment on myslef and I can say that at the least in my case the rule of 3-weeks for a new habit is BS. I guess I am weird. Anyway, that has not worked… what did work out.. it seems is my new approach to my self organization.

Yes, I work at Nozbe, and yes I have a lot to do with GTD on daily basis. Yet, it never quite kicked in on my personal life and personal struggles. Perhaps because I have tried hard to separate the two worlds. Regardless, I have decided to make a bit more sense and give my day a written structure at the end of last year.

Here is what I did:

  1. I bought a physical desk calendar, one of those large ones where you have a whole week on one page and the page next to it is for notes.
  2. I started to keep regular notes of what I do each day in it and what I plan to do … there are things I have already in plan for June or September. ( I do have them in Nozbe as well, but due to work related matters I seldom have time to look at my private ones).
  3.  I do have some financial worries ( it is not precisely easy to be the sole supporter of a family of 3, on a rental and with 2 cats and studies to pay for)… so I started to record everything I spend and to cut out things I can live without on regular basis. I do admit that damaging my car is not going to help my finances in scope of another 6 months or so… but ohh, well…effects of stupidity do tend to be painful.

How I do it:

  1. I record any events as soon as I can in it; and I check on daily basis all the info on them as recorded. I also keep a Google Calendar to be able to update the information on the way, but somehow the physical on-paper version works better on my mind.
  2. I use the blank note page for calculations of finances and recording all the spendings
  3. In a month I have 4 of those pages, so I really use only 1 max 2 of them for the finances. I actually split the page in halves. One for the spending, other for remaining matters.
  4.  Each month after receiving my salary and any other income I might get I run through my account at the bank, pay all that I need to pay and NOTE down in my calendar precise sum that I am left with (if any) .. if it is a debit…I write it in red
  5.  I seldom check my account after that point… as not to get too down in dumps and I do have it all in my physical form.

What I hope to achieve:

  1. I hope to avoid forgetting any appointments ( I have always been ‘on time and on spot’ person but somehow my boys have managed to get me to be late on more than one occasions…I really do not like that). – So far so good
  2. I hope to slowly pull myslef out of the financial issues at hand… of course a 2nd working person at home would be of use… especially after 5 years +… really tired of that. – and here, except for the unforeseen accident, things were going slowly but rater good.
  3. I hope to cut some time out for myslef and things I really wish to do:  a) return to studying Japanese; b) get more time for exercising; c) get time and funds for practicing drifting ; d) add more structure to my study-time as the amount of material covered at the university raises exponentially it seems. — so far rather minor-to-none in terms of results.

I have to admit that I have been raised in times when Internet was not so readily available. I have to admit also that what I wrote in the past about switching to Nozbe ( or any other virtual time management system) is still valid and for one though since early the value of paper and physical calendar …I guess I’m tired of fighting it, although I do see still much value in the virtual system. I can see that the next generation is rather allergic to pen and paper. Yet, after so many experiments on myself, I decided to give this another go… and in combination with virtual tools I think, I hope it might finally work.

Thus far this method has been more effective and more old-habit-breaking than anything else I have tried.

 

 

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The recent blog’s name change

Some may wonder why I have recently changed the name of my blog. Well, there are various reasons. For one, the “my road” was a temporal name that I have used out of lack of better and more fitting ideas. Yet, ideas and matters to write on come to me at any time of a day and place.. they need home.

Now .. how come “truth or consequences”?

Well, for one the trip to New Mexico this year… apart from being very challenging on many levels.. made me realize where my heart lies and how the people and place have influenced me.  On top of that I did not recall that town in southern NM from the old times and was explained that couple of years back a guy came down to a little town, put money on the table and got the original name changed to this. I also hear it could have been based on a show on CBS (earlier NBC radio). Regardless of the origin the name fascinated me.

And here is why  I used it….

One of my goals developed throughout my life is to be honest. Purely honest. This does not necessarily means being insensitive, but it may equal to it when a need arises. Some things, some people and situations call for desperate measures. I don’t have to right, and I admit mistakes, yet when I see something amiss I tend to simply say it. Consequences of not speaking out my mind usually are more grave than of being frank, sometimes event blunt and unpleasant.

Yet, both ways may cost you friends.

Thus, I would rather speak truth than face the consequences of “forever holding my peace”. At the end of the day I will at least be able to look myself straight in the face I see in my mirror.

Procrastination

I believe this to be a curse of even the most productive people. I see that it happens to any of us. .. and it is not easy to avoid it.  But it is possible. I will share with you a few of my tricks, maybe they will come in handy.

One thing is to keep focused. Easiest way to do so is to make ahead of time planning sessions. I kind of like David Allen’s approach of weekly review and try my best to be religious about that. Over the years it has proven very valuable, and the only time I do fall of the wagon and behind my in my to-do lists is when I fail to keep this habit up. Those 2-3 hours in a week for planning and time ‘distribution’ are essential and you should give yourself that time. Regardless if you work with some electronic devises or just plain paper.. sit down, cut all external influences off, concentrate, review what you have done, look at what is to be done in a longer run and plan what will get you there, what little steps you need, to keep heading where you want/need to.

Another thing is to be honest with yourself.  It is humans natural tendency to find excuses, especially where they are reviewing things done or overdue. Stop wasting time on excuses! finding them consumes energy and time.. and they lead to nowhere. Ok, so you failed to deliver something, you failed to complete this or that. I really does not matter why… what matters is what are you going to do with it from now on. So, get your act together, put the item yet again on your list.. at the top and focus on getting it actually done asap.

Making plans in actual ink and paper is crucial. Regardless of my trusted on-line tool where I keep everything, I still plan on paper. Why? Over the years I have discovered that our brain sees these electronic means as fleeting…pen and paper for some reason seems to be more stable to it. Ergo I first plan on paper then transfer stuff over (as needed). And I keep my plan always with me. It is a constant reminder not to postpone.

Small steps method in Planning. Do plan big. Using small steps does not mean you are not planning BIG.. it only means you are not jumping at the huge idea.. instead building a solid foundation for it. So do split big plan into smaller areas, set time to do them.. and DO!

We all have our ups and downs.  Whenever I have my down I repeat to myself “a bee must, a bee does”. Truth is that if I slip off the track I will need to catch up later on.. thus I prefer to do things as soon as possible and not have to remember about them anymore. That also helps keeping on track.

Last but not least… I have tried with reminders…they are cool when you have very tight schedule, but too many of them are a killer to your effectiveness. They detour your mind away from what you were doing, they are disruptive and destabilizing. Though I am a multi-tasker, I choose NOT TO.. cause I would rather get a one job done to perfection than work on 100 little things and get none done properly.  Ergo my reminders are limited to bare minimum. I simply check my calendar daily.

Tough it may seem strange coming from me (person working in a GTD and on-line task management for all those years) I still believe pen and paper can be of value.. the key is to use it right.

 

My big dream = Rx-8

As I have mentioned in some previous posts I am a bit of grease monkey.. I like the sound of good engine under hood, I like the smell of oil (provided it is not overheated) and gasoline, I like cars that are non-standard.

My first is (still have it) 126p Fiat… I do love it still and it is going through some renovation works and needs some mechanical fixing which I plan on doing early in 2016.

Now my second car, the one I do use, is a Mazda Rx-8. It is sliver.. which at first I saw as a disadvantage cropped-smoczo3-e28094-kopia.jpg

but learned to appreciate later. It is not new.. they don’t make them anymore… it is 10 years old but it did steal my heart.

I saw one some 10 years ago in Warsaw, red it was,  and I instantly became fascinated by it. Over the years I have read much on the rotary and hemi engines, both are unique.  Miata (Mazda mx-5) is more eye catching, but I feel it is too ‘light’ for me in so many ways.

To cut the story short.. 10 years later I decided to make my dream come true. It has been 4 months now.  It surpassed my wildest dreams.

I am now on the road to customizing it. I was planning to do some body paint, several concepts rolled through my mind.. but for now I am working on some visual modifications of a smaller scale… subtle and simple. For my winter wheels I got those IMG_1657

and they look on like this: IMG_1660

Still waiting for a side decal.

On the inside I decided to break the grey alcantara with some blue (at first it was going to be blue additions on the outside as well). I did some stitching on the back seats (the front are still to be worked on).

Those photos do not reflect the reality. Our Rx-club mechanic believed from the photos that I have stitched wool…when he saw with his own eyes he stated that although it is not his style he finds it an interesting and rather good addition.

I will continue on my road to larger and smaller mods for this beast.

 

We are all cowards

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Dune, F.Herbert

 

Recently, I came to realization that we are all cowards. Humanity at large is a bunch of scared kids running around in dark.  Hell, I’m a coward myself. Yet, as opposed to most, I, at least, try to grow some ‘balls’. This prayer helps me at the darkest moments. Maybe it will also help someone else.

I wrote on my FB wall: “To be happy you have to grow balls. Those without them tend to keep being stuck in situations, places and relationships they are not happy with and pass on chances that come their way hiding behind lack of time, money, behind tradition and such, instead of thanking a stance. Funny thing how gym makes my mind work. Yet, I think I can say this openly cause at least on some levels I have grown my balls. Hope to grow them even more.
The difference between a coward and someone courageous is that coward let’s fear run his/her life… the one with guts, though maybe equally paralyzed, tries to convert the fear into something.. anything.”

This though came to me upon analyzing some things that have happened to me recently in relation to a 20-years of introspective that I have undergone. One of most important things to me have always been honesty and ability to look myself in face in the mirror. Most of us just look AT the face but not INTO it. I speak of looking INTO it. That’s why I stand strong now. There is little in my life, that I can honestly admit to messing up. Yet, I do not even regret those moments…. I have learned a lot through them. And that though above is one of the results of it all.  We are cowards *period*.

Examples:

1. people how keep stuck at jobs they hate …. they do not step up… why? well, cause they are afraid they will loose financial stability of any sort, cause they run indebt and they are afraid to take a plunge and risk. It is a mad-circle of “I’m not happy with it, but I don’t go looking for something else, cause it is a risk that I won’t be able to support myself or the loved ones, to pay off my debts and living” yet if you do not take the risk… you won’t get anywhere.. you will keep on being stuck.  If you are afraid of taking the plunge… at least try to convert it to something positive. Like that one friend of mine who hated his job, but it paid well, so he was scrubbing bits of funds here and there, bit by bit,  to go into a training he really wanted to do… took him 5 years… he then has built himself a firm spring-board for changing the job without loosing the ‘stability’.

2. people stuck in relationships they are not happy with… cause “I’m too old to change”, “I am too old”, “I am comfortable here, if I risk I might be left with nothing”, “I am not happy, yet I won’t discuss this with the other one, cause that would hurt their feelings” ; “I don’t want to break up, cause I am afraid to hurt the other one”…. some of those might have noble tones to it, yet, they are never a solution, they keep both involved parties tied up, to something that will one way or other end up in disaster.  One older gentleman (70+) met by chance in a bank queue told me something that I can’t get out of my mind. He was married for 50 years to the same woman, yet he never ever was happy and when she was dying she told him she was not happy either… I won’t be sharing here his life story, just the last thing he said to me. “the only thing I regret in my life, really regret, is not taking risks… sticking to safety and comfort of ‘stable’ everyday”

3. third is precisely what this man has said “not taking risk”…. if you do not take risks/chances… you do not RUN A CHANCE OF WINNING anything. Stuck in a Limbo.

4. Strong believe in  HAVING SOMETHING TO LOOSE. No matter how you look at it, there is nothing you can loose… e.g. life is something you are bound to loose.. sooner or later… that is certain and guaranteed from the second you are born. All material things can be lost and re-gained. I have been on end of being homeless, and I have been on the end of doing ok (not great, but ok). This one comes from my own experience. The older I get the more I’m convinced you really have nothing to loose. You can only gain even if you fail– that is called experience 😉 and it can’t be purchased…  and it comes from messing up on something.. yet failing per definition means you have at least tried.

Of course, any risk should be carefully calculated. There are things that obviously lead to disasters… like jumping on a bungee with damaged rope.. so, clearly a reasonable person would avoid that one, unless they had clear death wish. However, I do believe most things are worth the risk and you do not loose much by trying. At the end of the day you can at least look in the mirror and tell yourself – “I tried – I failed – I learned”. So, win-win situation.

End of another year

I had plenty of ideas for writing this year, yet I hold back on many of them … too personal I believe.

There are a few things I would like to share with all. Lessons in life gained during this year, or reaffirmed by it.

  1. Men

Men are weird beasts. Sometimes you can ask them for days/months to do something. I hate causing fights or quarrels as I see them as counter-effective…at least the specimen I have at hands simply goes into ‘reject mode’ and won’t do the thing I ask for if I push or fuzz about it. He will even go into ‘reject’ if that is against his own better judgment. To be honest that pisses me off more than anything. Yet, over the years I have learned there is no point in fighting. I have a heart condition and I am not about to let his moods and laziness get to me anymore.. and that is my 1st lesson of this year. My health is more important than most of the stuff I have to deal with. PERIOD.

I still will have to work on the balance of actually getting him somehow to do the things as opposed to doing them myself.. cause that is not a solution either and I do not wish to have two kids rivaling over my attention (I mean man and his own son).

2. Dreams

Some dreams suck… I won’t go into it, but they do believe me. Ergo I do not wish anymore ‘may your dreams come true’… I wish others, and myself, “may what you need appear at the time of need”.

Other dreams are way worth, no matter what the trouble afterwards, of fighting for.  One example is my Mazda Rx-8. True the loan for it weights on my budget heavily… yet it is my sweet escape. I believe anyone should have their “ReX” … it does not have to be a car, but it does have to hold an important position of a hobby in your life. LIFE WITHOUT PASSION KILLS. Your soul, your heart simply dies on you. And this is lesson no.2

3. Limited trust

I am not the most trusting person and perhaps that’s why it hurts more once someone you did trust screws you over. This has happened to me this year. I guess I kind of hoped that being friends for years and part of one family (not my bloodline but by marriage) deserves the  benefit of doubt in what others say of the person.. I was wrong… Simple as that. Lesson no.3 reads do not trust even your own family

4. True friends in unexpected places

This year was extremely challenging… out of that.. only 3 of those I believed to be friends actually stood a test and reached out to help me at a moment of dire need. Thank you, guys. I know now on whom to relay.

Thus reinforcement of a old belief of mine – you know your true friends only while in trouble.

I have to say that some persons have profoundly disappointed me this year … or perhaps I simply had higher expectations of them, and they only have shown how real they are. It is good to be stripped of illusions.. better after 10 years than after 20 or 30, right?

5. Do not give up

That’s the hard one. I have had a few of really down in dumps moments. Mostly due to my relationship and my financial balance. Yet, although the both of them weight on me heavily I refuse to give up.  In the 1st.. there is not much I can do, it is all still in the hands of that one person… in case of the 2nd one.. well I will just have to work it extra hard, won’t I?

 

Now, off to a new year. I plan to start doing a lot of monitoring of my finances to start with. This means keeping a close financial diary of all the spending .. no matter how depressing it can be.. and limit wherever I can.

As I still do not seem to be able to state where I am going, I intend on making a plan and whatever power there is in this world may help me in getting it done. I have never made written plans, yet I feel, if I don’t I will fall of the wagon soon.

Third thing on the list for next 2 days is bringing order to my in-work madness. Due to the change of position in firm this year I am walking into a foreign to me ground of marketing nowadays. This poses a lot of challenge and I do need to learn a lot, ergo.. another plan on the list of to-do.

A year has gone by

Last year I wrote a post on some resolutions I took ….It is time to take a step back and review.

“Screw what others say”… pretty much that is working out for the best. I grew more resistant to some stupid remarks and they do not bother me that much. It does not mean I do not review them and consider their value.. on the contrary I do… but I do no give a heck about hate language anymore. I do not take it personally anymore.  So, on that one I do have to give myself a point.

This year was not much easier than the previous one.. yet my group ‘to die for’ has evolved… or should I say deteriorated. One person failed friendship test, and yet has not found any quilt in themselves.. while I was capable of admitting to my faults on one end, I refuse to take whole of the blame onto me. Too bad, for years I did my best to support them.. ohh, well.  A family member failed me as well. Guess my expectations were to high set… well, I am no set on having expectations only towards myself.. and the rest.. take it as it comes.

I have to admit to at least partial failure on the end of ‘not taking decisions on behalf of others”…try as I might being mother makes me fail here, my son is still not at the age when he can do stuff legally on his own.. so.. sigh… And I do admit to having made some out of lack of patience with others. Here is a – for me.

I still refuse to subdue…that’s a plus.. although I do feel burned out.

I am still set on my goals, though I have not moved much forward… except maybe for standing the test at the collage and for making one of my dreams come true – Rx-8.

Though I’m rather down in the dumps on this b-day of mine.. the calculations comes out more in +. I need to stick to the plan and control some aspects of my life better. I’m working on that, and I hope to pull it through, though a transportable nuclear battery would be of great help if I am to keep on the path.

The ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of emotionally/mentally strong individuals.

Close to a year ago I wrote a small article for Productive!Magazine PL on habits of strong people (there is English version thereof on my blog). This one will take a tad different approach to the matter.

Throughout my observation of others I have discovered several things that strong people do and some that they don’t PERIOD. Some of them are common misconceptions aka. one believe the person is a strong emotionally individual but instead gets a great ticker/manipulator instead.

As stated in my article for P!M none is born strong emotionally.. that is the 1st misconception. You can work on your emotional strength and the first step is not to give up, not even in face of the most horrid circumstances. And that’s also the first thing each such individual does… they constantly work on themselves. Work on improving their own performance and rarely take from themselves ‘second best’. You can say that in a way they strive for personal perfection, yet that is not quite so… they know their limits (another DO) and though they push them, they also have respect for themselves (DO no.3).

Someone told me recently that in their opinion you do not get emotionally/mentally strong if you are not cold, unemotional, bossy and pushy/aggressive. I believe to the contrary… that would be like 4 DON’Ts right there. I feel a strong person knows when to be on the cold, unemotional and aggressive side, but will never overdo with any of those as they are aware that such behavior in uncalled for situation is working against them. Ergo the DO of a strong person is know the boundaries and although sometimes on the hard/bitchy side they will seldom overdo or adapt these four as their overall modus operandi.  I would rather attribute those 4 characteristics as permanent traits of weak, uncertain and manipulative being.

Another DON’T that I hear often is that these people ‘would never endure real hardship”. I think this is the one that makes me laugh the most….most strong individuals are forged by REAL hardships.They may not like such spots, but they will hold through and do what is there to be done.

I come from a psycho-therapy backwater place called Poland. Many here believe, it is inbred into them, that having a mental problem or going to a psychologist or (God forbid ! ) psychiatrist is not their problem and that strong people (on both mental and emotional level) do not do that for they are titans and do not have any problems. Well, I say it is a BS (pardon my french).  Everyone has their downs, everyone once in a while doubts and a psychologist/therapist might be just the thing that will help you pry yourself out of a dark whole when there is no hope left. The ‘outside’ perspective might be just what is needed. Also as many psychologists stress “mental health and mental strength are two different things”. The strong people differ from the rest by DO- admitting they need help at some points.

Ignoring pain/hardship is one of my favorite arguments. I can’t even count how many times I have heard that mentally strong people ignore pain or hardship. This is simply a-logical. How would they ever be able to solve anything, had they not actually looked at their situation/pain, had they not taken it apart and found a way out? You can’t ignore if you wish to crack the issue and grow by learning from it. What they do is endure the discomfort and learn from it.

You ALSO can work on each of those.. you can also grow and develop into more resilient better self.. But you do need to face your fears, and you need to learn to take things apart and look for loophole that will let you out of the though spots… but not at cost of others. There are almost no situation that you are faced with which you can’t handle without going over dead cold bodies. So don’t leave that trail behind… cause that does not make you strong.. that makes you into en egocentric ass.

You can’t change anyone.. except yourself.

I have been observing people for years, trying to learn from their mistakes. I guess it did not do me much good for in my naive idealistic mind I hoped that talking, explaining, asking, showing an example of self would help.

No such luck.

It seems right now that I’m stuck in a limbo both professionally and personally. And honestly I feel burned out.

I do not want this anymore, I do not want to be the one to constantly fight, I do not wish to be the supporting pillar of it all. I don’t even give a heck anymore if they appreciate me (not sure if they do… but it does not matter anymore). I will be working from now on, on changing myself. When I do that, I did it several times already, one important thing will happen.. my perspective will change for I will reach a different point. Once I do that.. kind of hard to say at this point… I will either stay put in a sense of my surroundings and people or move on. Should I move on… it will only be their choice if they wish to catch up or choose to go their own paths. There is a point where changing yourself is the only rational solution. A change has to come from within.

Bottom of the line of this little story is that I trust, from now on, only actions of the people… not their words. I have been doing all my life my best to keep my word, yet it seems I’m a relic of some long forgotten era. I also solemnly swear never again try to even in the slightest measure others with the same measure as applied to myself. My standards maybe higher or lower, depends on perspective, and I might be expecting from myself too much… but that is from myself. No more expectations of any sort for anyone and NO MORE WHINING.

Hater culture

There is much hate language on the Net and in real life. An outburst of it is seen in the media and between people across E.U. on the topic of ‘refugees” (topic on which I do agree though am not about to throw garbage over at others). Kind of… I do not see why we should be taking them in when the rest of the world refuses to.. not to mention the fact that most of them are not even from where they claim to be. But, let’s leave that alone.

I wanted to chip in a few words on other types of hate language that are spread between today population. A hater will always find someone or something to hate. As the old saying has it “one that wishes to hit a dog, will always find the right stick for that”.

What I do not seem to understand at all is.. why God fearing Catholics (or so they claim) , every-day church-goers and devout Christians in general  are so sickly evil to each-other. It makes my stomach revolt, when I hear a devote christian saying to his own (almost 40 years old) daughter upon noticing a tattoo on her “tattoo your brain” (and that is one of the lighter sentences).. that’s just an example from my own life…for love of the higher power…who are they to judge, and to use that kind of language. Who are we to judge others, in general? We have no clue what they went through, we may know their name… but not WHO they are or WHAT they are about.

This also applies to workplaces.

Why do we keep on judging each-other?!?

Another situation. I made my rx-8 dream come true…some people around me instantly decided I have a mid-life crisis and bashed me over it. Mid-life-crisis my butt…. I wanted one of those since 2004, since I was 25…ergo I am in mid-life-crisis since my 20’s ? great! Perhaps for them that car means I am going through a crisis because they secretly crave and have no guts to get one. Maybe for them that’s what it is…a mid-life crisis to make their life fuller. For me, it is just a dream come true.

My only reason for getting it, for going back to university to study law, for getting a crazy haircut or for my not so subtle tattoos … is cause I can and, finally,  am able to afford. I think with all I have been through in my life, I do diverse to treat myself to some things that I feel are good for me. And my brain seems just too narrow to even grasp why the hell all the hate and garbage I hear for all around about those decisions of mine. Why can’t they just be happy with their own lives and keep on judging  others? True, the post is based on me…ME ME ME… yet, I see that all around.. is acceptance really that hard?  Or maybe we are all just haters by nature? Or is it a fashion statement to constantly hate someone or something and to judge others? (I do not hate anyone, or anything.. not really.. does that make me a freak?)