Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life: A Reboot

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

At various points in my life, I have had to step back and examine my life to figure out what is working and what isn’t working. I’m sure that if you’ve ever read any self-help, talked to anybody who reads self-help, or given change to someone living on the street who listened to self-help... sorry, I’m trying to be funny. The point is that I’m sure you’ve heard of examining your life frequently, and fixing what isn’t working.

I think the mistake that people make, and believe me I’ve watched people make this mistake, is that when they examine their life, they start looking at everybody except themselves. I think that in most cases, people don’t maliciously try to ruin your life. If people were malicious about it, they would be a lot more effective than they typically are. I don’t think that a person who doesn’t let you pursue your dreams without a guilt trip is maliciously trying to ruin your life. I think that person is just insecure. On the other hand, if that person does actual physical or social damage to the pursuit of your dream (destroying gear or causing irreparable rifts between you and contacts) then you’re dealing with a malicious person. When I start examining my life, I do my best to look at myself, and not what others are doing or not doing.

Most recently, I’ve been sitting at work, for many, many, many hours, and wondering why I’m spending so much time at work. The answer is simple. I made the choice to be there for many, many, many hours. It was one of my goals at the start of the year. It was framed as “Get the Taxi Situation Worked Out.” The result was going to be the same either way. I would be working over 12 hours a day to make enough money to pay my bills. Before I was able to jump through the hoops to start as a taxi driver, I found myself with enough hours to get by, working the equivalent of two full time jobs.

I worked a lot, and I did get many of my bills caught up, including a couple of debts. I have $1,000 set aside for emergencies, and a written budget to prioritize my spending whether I’m working 40 hours or 95 hours a week. I’ve figured that if I’m working about 65 hours a week (as long as I’m making $8 per hour or more) that I have enough to pay my basic bills, eat, and put gas in my vehicle and get to work. I don’t have much leftover after that, but I have enough. After many months of working between 70 and 95 hours a week, I decided to start moving toward fewer hours at work, and more hours living my life. This meant that I had to start thinking in terms of: What haven’t I been able to do while I’ve been at work?

Group Projects - These have been more or less non-existent. There were a lot of goals that I had, that Nathan had, and that Nathan and I had, at the beginning of the year that became completely overshadowed by my achieving my work goal. I never expected that I would have this much work for this long. When I worked two jobs before, one or both would often not have enough hours for me. I’ve stuck with it as much as I can, but my life is getting out of control in a number of ways. The number and quality of projects that I can do while I’m at work is starting to tip in a direction I’m not happy with. I can still find things to do, but I can’t seem to focus on them for 90 hours a week anymore. Too many of the projects have another step that require me to do something away from work, whether it’s a solo project that has to be done at home, like recording music, or a group project which simply can’t be done while I’m at work.

Organization - I worked 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm yesterday. Then I slept for around ten hours. When I woke up today, I decided that I needed to clean my bedroom. One of the strangest things about working as many hours as I have been is that the normal day to day things that you take care of stop getting taken care of. You find yourself too tired to do something as simple as cleaning your room. Then two months later, you find that it has exploded, and you don’t have time to clean it up. Too long ago, I tried to start going through my stuff and throwing away things I didn’t need, using things that have practical value, and archiving nostalgia items. To an extent, I have done this, but what I have found is that stuff has a way of growing faster than you get rid of it if you don’t focus your attention. It’s great to go through a box and throw away fifteen bills that are no longer relevant, except for when you then get another thirty bills in the mail before you throw anything away again. My answer before was to put everything in storage, and then slowly pull it all back out. This did work to an extent, but eventually, what would happen is that I would bring some stuff home to go through, not go through it, and it would multiply. It’s really easy to go through a box and think, “Oh, I need to do something with that,” and think it over and over before you have more stuff than you can do anything with. I’ve decided to restart that. Everything that I thought I was going to get to is going back into storage, and I’m going to restart.

Money - One thing that I really wanted to do while I was at work was to start selling Magic: The Gathering cards on eBay to clear a small amount of income. I’ve always realized that doing eBay enough to pay my bills would be a full time job. It might even require that I work as many hours as I have been. The problem is that as with everything else, I have no time to work on it when I’m home, because I’m sleeping. One might say that if I spend just a half hour each day either before I go to bed, or when I wake up in the afternoon, that I can probably do enough to get started. The problem is that if I do a half hour on that, then a half hour on organization, and a half hour on normal day to day errands, and a half hour... You can see the problem. Eventually, I’m just out of time. Eventually, I lose sleep. And when I lose too much sleep, I can’t focus on the projects I would work on at work.

Job - What I plan to do from here forward is to do my best to work between 65 and 75 hours a week. I can get by on 65. Anything more will help out. I’ll just spend my money with purpose, and try to use the extra time to get my life back in order. I always said that I could work 90 hours a week if I had to, and I think I’ve shown that. I could keep at it if it was necessary. I no longer believe it’s necessary. Maybe I’m wrong, but for now, I’m going into debt in non-money areas of my life. It’s time to get more hours in those areas. If my job paid better, I might not feel this way, but I always feel like I should be spending time pursuing a personal business.

Life - I always realize that life is a limited amount of time that a person has to experience living. I don’t believe that living has to be nonstop excitement. I want time for downtime. I want time to watch TV, play video games... sleep. Sleep would be nice. What I do believe though is that if there are things you want to do in life, and you’re not moving towards those things, then you’re not really living life. I don’t mean that you have to put everything on hold to achieve your goals and dreams. I simply mean that if all of your goals and dreams have been put on hold to achieve things that don’t fall under the heading of basic survival and necessity, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate whatever it is you’re doing. I think sometimes setting goals looks like something that has to be done with time I don’t have, and it makes achieving even a simple goal feel like a chore rather than a positive life experience. I don’t want to be there anymore.

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