California is Great

Strange how time flies when things are changing.

Well, I got laid off in February.  I knew it was coming.  They told me back in November that it was going to happen.  I was really unhappy about it at first.  But over time, it was freeing.  I was given until Feb to look for another job.  Which was pretty awesome.  I didn’t find one during this time, but shortly afterward, so things are okay.

But I did something crazy and interesting.  I moved with my girlfriend to a big city across the country.  San Francisco to be exact.  It’s been awesome.  We’ve been here since Feb and I’m really enjoying  it.

I found myself another exciting cubicle job.  But this time I’m looking at it a bit differently.  I’m not just surviving the cubicle anymore.  I’m thriving.  I’ve had a huge change of perspective over the past 6 months.

I’ve realized that I’m never going to quit the easy office job and do something crazy.  I’m getting older and have really realized how nice it is to have a paycheck.  What I am going to do is take an active role in building my career.  No more will I sit around and wait for someone to recognize my greatness and give me a better job.  I’m going to work hard and make sure I get that better job myself.  There is no more time for waiting for good things to happen.  If I don’t take control and make it happen, it never will.

Another thing I’ve been realizing is that your location really does matter when it comes to being happy in a job.  Back in the cold winters I felt like crap going from a warm bed to a freezing walk to a boring office.  Now I get to be in beautiful weather and see awesome views every day.  California is great.

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Top ten best things about you

What are your top ten best attributes outside of work?  Make a list right now.  Think about it.  It’s tough, but you can come up with a list of ten.

What makes you interesting, awesome, or cool?

Thinking about this list will help you at work.  It’ll help you remember that you’re an interesting person regardless of the work you do.

If you’re like me, you don’t really get all that excited about office work.  So get excited about something else.  The more you think about these attributes, the better.

Also, make sure you’re not just writing down a list of things you like to consume.  Being a fan of watching Basketball and reading romance novels isn’t what I’m talking about here.  Think of things that you do and create.  Not what you consume.

How long did it take you to write a list?  Paste it in the comments for the world to see.  Be proud of who you are outside of work.

5 challenges for the weekend

This weekend, you are going to accomplish these 5 things:

  1.  Spend all night Friday out and about in your town.  You don’t have to do anything specific, just don’t go home until the sun comes up.  Bring a small notepad and write down what you see.  Talk to people and see where the night leads.
  2. Donate one bag of clothes to good will.  You know you can come up with at least one bag of old unused clothes to donate.  Bonus points if you have more than one bag.
  3. Don’t drive anywhere all weekend.  Bike or walk or public transit.  Don’t even start the car.
  4. Ask 5 strangers for the time.  Bonus points if you lead it to a conversation.  Even more bonus points if it’s between 3-6 am on Saturday morning.
  5. Saturday morning, go out for breakfast.  Leave a $20 tip.  This will just make you feel good and generous.

So there’s your homework.  Have fun.

Acceptance vs. Rejection

If you want to be happy in life, you will eventually have to choose between rejection and acceptance.

Many people are unhappy in their lives.  They don’t like their jobs, spouses, friends, cars, homes, clothes, incomes, etc.  Most of us just live with it.  We are usually always pining for something more.  We spend half of our day thinking about the future and how we can make things better.  Then we spend the other half wishing it would just get better because we don’t really know what to do about it.

I say you eventually will have to make a decision.  Accept it or reject it.

Rejection

Rejection is simple.  Quit your job, get a divorce, start a home business, make new friends, sell your car, etc.  Rejection is also hard.  It takes a huge leap to do something like this.  There are some things that are way easier to change than others.  If you’re overweight, you can throw out the junk food and start eating healthy.  That’s a pretty easy one.  If you hate your job, you can quit and move to Thailand.  That’s a pretty hard one.  It’s doable, but it takes commitment.

Rejection is important though.  You have to learn to fight back and do things for yourself.  It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as wearing purple socks on Wednesdays or as complex as becoming a traveling shoe salesman.  The point is consciously doing it.  You have to make the decision for yourself in order to be happy.

Rejection is deciding that the way you have been doing things and the way your life is going is unsatisfactory and you are going to change it. Rejection is not fighting against people and quitting things just because.  That is being a rebel.  You can be a rebel and enjoy that lifestyle, but then you are just accepting the rebel lifestyle.

It would be rare to find a person who is completely happy with their entire life and doesn’t have anything he or she would like to change.  At least not until they have rejected some things and accepted others.

Stop doing things because you feel you “have to”.  You don’t actually have to do anything.  You can sit on your ass for the rest of your life and do nothing, but don’t do it out of laziness, do it because that’s what you want to do.  The movie Office Space is great because the main character decides that he just doesn’t want to do anything anymore, just sit around, go fishing, and watch TV.  He doesn’t want to change the world or start a business.  He just wants to do nothing and is fine with that.

That is acceptance.  Realizing that you are absolutely happy with what you are doing, regardless of what it might be.  So quit your job if that’ll do it for you, but if you decide to keep it, you have to consciously decide that you want to.

Acceptance
Acceptance isn’t just accepting that you hate your job and will always hate it and living out your days in misery.  Acceptance is finding a balance in life and finding the small things that you like about it.  It’s realizing that no matter what you change, you have to accept life as it is and be happy.  Acceptance is realizing that your house isn’t all that great, but you like it.  It’s knowing that your job is really boring, but it allows you do to the things you enjoy.

Acceptance is the more difficult idea to understand though.  It isn’t just putting up with your crappy job and your annoying spouse.  It’s actually making the decision that the current situation you are in is the one you want to be in and enjoying it.

You have to consciously make that decision though.  Too many people are just “okay” with the way things are.  Yet, they constantly complain about how they want more money or a nicer house or a new car.  That is not acceptance.  That is just getting by.  That is suffering through something.  You don’t want to do that.

Acceptance is a great feeling.  It allows you to actually live in the moment and stop worrying about something.  When was the last time you did that?  Probably at a time that you were really busy doing something you loved.  It’s when you realize that there is nothing more important than what you are doing right this moment.

Make a decision

If you truly want to be happy you have to get to a point in your life where you can just accept things as they are and be happy.  You have to combine the two.  You must reject the things you don’t like in your life so that the only things that are left are things you choose to accept.  It’s all about the conscious decision though.

An easy way to do this is to make a list of all the things in your life that you like and all the things you dislike.  The likes are easy.  You just have to decide that you like them enough not to change them.  Then next to each of the dislikes, write down how to change it.  Those are the changes that you need to make.  Once the changes are made though, you have to enjoy yourself.

That is really the main point I’m here to make.  You just have to make the decision and run with it.  That is the key.  Nothing matters in the end, but your own state of happiness.  If you don’t like something, you have to stop doing it.  You have to stop putting up with things.  You will get nowhere in life if that is your attitude.

You have to stop worrying, complaining, and hating your life.  You have to decide that there are things you want to change and things you don’t want to change.  Then actually make the changes.

A person’s ideal life is finding a balance between the two.  The big thing is that you have to make the choice.  Accept it or reject it.  If you don’t make the choice you will always be unhappy.

Kill Your Television

There is nothing more detrimental to your life than your television.  It makes you fat, lazy, boring, and old.  The average American spends about four hours a day in front of the boob tube.  Most people have around six hours of downtime between work and sleep on any given day.  If you are spending the majority of that time parked in front of the TV, you are wasting your life.

These days, a good majority of people have jobs where they sit all day long.  For a lot of us, this is unavoidable.  That alone is making us fat and contributing to heart disease.  To add another four hours of sitting on your ass is just speeding up the process.  All of this sitting is just as bad as smoking at eating fast food every day.  It is killing you.  It is making you fat.  People complain about making it to the gym three times a week.  You don’t even need to do that.  Just stay off of your ass when you get home from work.  Keep moving.  Take a walk or do chores, it doesn’t matter, just don’t sit and watch TV.

Television makes you incredibly lazy too.  Ever notice how you can be watching a show that ends and you are too lazy to even see if there is anything else on?  You are literally too lazy to continue being lazy.  I’ve sat there watching infomercials because I was too lazy to get up and find the remote.  Try sitting around the house with the TV off.  You will barely be able to sit still.  You’ll keep getting up and looking for things to do.  With the TV on, however, you will probably not move for about four hours straight.  You might even sit there until you couldn’t possibly hold your bladder and have to run to the bathroom.

Some of the most boring people I know are people who could tell you about every TV show they watch and explain each and every plot line to you.  We all think that we are smarter than average and that we know what’s going on because we watch the news.  We are being brainwashed by advertising to buy things we don’t need.  When was the last time you bought something at the store?  Chances are you bought something that was mentioned on TV.  TV makes you incredibly dull.  Have you ever talked to someone about a TV show that they love, but you have never seen?  It’s boring.  You have no interest in what that person is saying.

Television ages you extremely fast.  Think about how many weeks have just flown by for you.  How many years have you wasted watching TV?  Every one of those days where you worked all day, then watched TV all night was a waste.  Sure occasionally there is something specific to your interests or a movie you would like to see, but that’s rare.  Too many people mindlessly watch TV every day and couldn’t even name the shows they were watching.  Your life literally flies by when you watch TV every night.  Think about the weekends you’ve spent in front of the tube.  You spend all week waiting for the weekend only to blow it all on the couch.

TV is a waste.  Get rid of it.  If you can’t, at least get rid of cable.  Limit yourself to a few hours a week.  Actually plan what you are going to watch and when so that you don’t mindlessly watch reruns of bad sitcoms every day.  Kill your television before it kills you.

Focus

 Sometimes it becomes incredibly difficult for me to focus on something.  I need to shut out every other distraction and just get into something.  I think this is why working on a computer can seem to just drain your time away from you.  If you have your email, a spreadsheet, your personal email, a website, and itunes all going at once how much time do you think you’re going to focus on that spreadsheet you’re supposed to work on?  About 1/5 the time.  Probably even less.

To really get into work, you need to close out everything on your computer, but the bare minimum required for your project.  I tried this today and it seemed to work.  I realized that I was able to get a lot more done in less time than usual without the distractions.  I also realized that I was less frustrated at the thought of working on a boring project because I could not see the tabs for the distractions in the background.

I set a time limit to allow myself to take a break from work, but I was not allowed to do anything else on the computer until those set breaks.  It worked very well.  My problem now is not being able to focus on this article I’m writing.  I have the email open and keep glancing down to see the little (1) that means I have a new email.

I guess who cares right now though.  I realized that I need to focus and become really good at my job as long as I have to be here.  I might as well enjoy myself and get some work done.  If I focus on what I’m doing it isn’t all that bad.  The worst part of working is when it is slow and I lose focus because of all of the other distractions.

I feel bad if I get off of my projects to follow those distractions and it is actually stressful to think that I’m wasting my own time.  I need to focus on work and set timetables for myself.  I can set specific times to take breaks and check out those distractions, but if I have them open it is too easy to lose focus often.

Even while writing this, I have checked my email.  This makes things difficult.  I’m going to make it my plan to write up a set list of things to do during the day and follow it.  I’ll add in breaks, but other than during those specific times, I will stay focused on my work.  This will make my job easier and more efficient.

This can really work for anything.  I realize that I get distracted easily and just need to keep it in check.

Quit Reddit

Today I’m starting an experiment for one month.  I’m quitting reddit. I’m interested to see how this will affect my life.  Ideally I’ll be able to come back to reddit occasionally without becoming a horrible addict again.   I’ve been addicted to reddit for over 4 years and it’s seriously affecting my life.

This is hard for me because on one hand, I’ve learned a great deal of useful things from spending my time on reddit.

On the other hand, I waste a lot of time on reddit.

It’s affected my work.  I get my work done, but I’ve found that work has become something I do to fill the void between redditing.  It should definitely be the other way around.  I also don’t look for new things to do or learn at work.  Instead of learning about my job, I go learn about something odd and most likely unimportant from reddit.

I’ve been redditing for the majority of my career and am wondering if it is why I’m going nowhere.  I just don’t try very hard because there is nothing about my job that is as exciting as what could possibly be going on in reddit.

Sure I’ll still spend time at work doing non-work related things, but I only have a few RSS feeds in my google reader and I can’t access facebook.

Besides work it’s affected my hobbies and other leisure time.  I like writing, but find that I sit down to write and open up a window with reddit.  I’m currently working on two books, but I constantly stall because I just have to quickly check out reddit.

Whenever I have some down time, I tend to pull out my phone and surf reddit.  This is getting to be a bad habit as I find myself surfing reddit more often than usual.  Especially in the bathroom and sitting on the couch at home.

It’s also affected my relationships.  I don’t really have many friends in real life anymore.  I just don’t make an effort to meet people or make time to spend time with my friends.  I think this is because I get the feeling of talking to people every day by coming on here and joining in discussions.

I find that I have trouble conversing with my girlfriend and the friends I do have because I feel like they can’t relate to my “reddit” self that I use to communicate on reddit.  It’s not that I feel like they are two different people, it’s that I feel like the “real” me is talking on reddit, while it’s just a fake me in real life.  It’s like when you are a kid and you feel that the “real” you is the you that hangs out with your friends at school, but the fake one is the face you put on for your parents and authority figures.  It’s a small difference, but it’s definitely there.

Sometimes I find myself thinking of things or talking to people and telling myself that I should post it on reddit.  This is kind of scary.  I already spend too much time thinking about other things while talking to people, I don’t need to add another.

I’ve learned a lot here, but I haven’t gotten any smarter.  It seems like there are million tips and ideas here, but not enough information to actually grow.  I think this is because everything is just a short read and then you’re on to the next thing.  It’s hard to keep enough of an attention span to really learn anything.

I know, this will be hard.  I know it’s not for everybody.  It might not even be for me.  I don’t want to give up reddit forever, but I need to do this experiment to prove that I can get by with out it.

I’m going to be keeping a journal and documenting what happens through this process.

I’m hoping to do some of the following:

Get more work done

Find new projects to work on

Write more

Work on my friendships

Work on my relationship

Learn something new

Talk to more people

Be happier

If it works, great.  If it doesn’t, oh well.  It’s just a month.

I’ll be back in a month to talk about my results.  And we’ll see if I want to come back or quit for good.