What I've Learned in 6 Months
Every mistake comes with a lesson or two…
It’s been about 6 months since I wrote about having to take a step back and figure out what’s important in life. I think its important that I share some findings and thoughts.
Warning: This is not a technical or business related blog entry per se. It’s very personal. I hope you enjoy it, but if it’s not your thing, please check out some other entries for more technical and business advice.
Scared But Not Alone
One of the concerns I had when writing my piece originally is that history would use it to judge me as unfit for my future. That is to say, I can imagine a time a decade from now where I might be preparing to take on a more advanced, more important role, and researchers might uncover some of my musings. I was concerned that what I wrote would make me look weak, like I wasn’t perfect, and that I wouldn’t be effective in a future task. For example, let’s say I was chosen to be a CTO of a large firm. Would a historical blog entry make those on a board question if I was ready?
My head was in the wrong place.
First of all, the way that we feel things is not unique. For every struggle you have, there are countless others that are having that same struggle. What’s even worse is that sometimes we believe that we are alone, that no one could be feeling these things like we are. We might feel ashamed or embarrassed. So, while some of my thoughts in these two entries may have diverged from my typical business and programming content, I think it’s important now that I’ve shared them. I hope it’s being brave - but really it was just to show others that I have these struggles, if you do too, you’re not alone.
Second, it was a way to remain accountable. For a long time, I was very proud of my habit of writing (or should I say publishing) an entry once a week. Suddenly I would no longer be doing that. I didn’t want to appear that I had given up - that I was not following the advice that I’ve given so many other programmers and professionals (that advice being: publish and communicate your thoughts, skill and knowledge. This is a way to prove you know what you’re talking about and a way to give back.) By being honest about both my physical and mental health issues, and the need for a reset and a vacation, I felt like I could stop writing guilt free.
I also think it was important to be accountable to myself in a public manner about what things I was struggling with. I know a lot of other people struggle with them (over-eating, over-working, alcohol abuse), but we all tend to brush it off and joke about it. By giving it a name, I felt like this will help me stay more on the path to success.
What I Learned in 6 Months of Reflection
Next month, I’ll be turning 35. While I’ve always felt like I was very put together, an adult for many years, if you will, there are still some areas where I’ve been lacking. I took some time to reflect on this, I know where I am, and I know where I need to get to.
Health Is Always Important
I still struggle with getting out and exercising regularly. There are tons of excuses (it’s too hot, it’s too cold, I’ll do it later), but that’s just what they are: excuses. I live in an area which provides tons of options for exercise. I need to take advantage of them more. I recently moved (and by recently, I mean 2 months ago). I used that as an excuse for not exercising. No more excuses. Get back on that train. I feel better, I look better, I’m more confident, and I can do more things when I exercise. I need to keep on this in order not to end up at the doctor or hospital again.
Alcohol still creeps into my life. I try not to drink regularly (or at all), but I often fail at this. I had to recognize that I will most likely never be a person that can have a drink and then be done. I need to keep reminding myself that I have goals in my life, and all this does is harm me and stop me from getting to them. It also is damaging to my health.
Finding Things I Enjoy
Someone asked me the other day what I like to do - and all I could think of was “nerd stuff and also Netflix.” But then I realized, I wasn’t actually doing much nerd stuff. I wasn’t programming or writing. I basically would finish work and then watch TV. This is not what I want for myself. I used to have more hobbies (there are remnants and examples of them around my apartment, but they’re covered with dust.)
Writing I actually enjoy this. That’s why I’m starting again with this blog entry (explaining life, lessons and choices), but I’m also going to write more technical and business entries again. This time I’m going to write them on the schedule that I want to, not try to force a publishing timeline on myself.
Speaking In the same vein as writing, I enjoy speaking and sharing technical and business knowledge. I have done this many times in the past. I would like to get back to this.
Guitar and Music Years ago, I had actually made my own LP (in CD format). I played all the music, wrote the music, sang it and mixed it. I have lost my voice (I’ve changed, but I’ve also beat on my body that I’m not as healthy as I used to be - and I think part of that is reflected by my lack of voice now), but I still enjoy music. I listen to music all the time. I have a bunch of guitars around the house gathering dust. I’ve lost my skill I’m sure by now. But in the same way where I can type crazy fast, because I do it all day, all I need is practice to get better at guitar and create / play more music (that I like).
Target Shooting I used to go target shooting often. I grew up in the country and enjoy firearms. (Please note, I believe in target shooting, not the crazy crap that is going on these days.) There’s something relaxing to me about slowing things down, watching your breathing, and trying to become a proficient target shooter. The ritual of cleaning the rifles afterward is also very rewarding and relaxing.
Visiting Friends and Colleagues I took some time by myself to figure out what I wanted in life, to reset my habits. But, in that time I let a lot of relationships lapse. I need to get more involved with seeing friends and colleagues - basically getting out of the house.
This journey is no where near done. But I think I’ve learned a lot of things. I know what my goals are, and what I need to get there. I just need to buckle down and do the right thing. I don’t imagine I’ll be writing many more entries like this, but I felt it was important to be honest about what’s going on in my life. My hope is that it helps others who might be going through the same struggles and challenges know they’re not alone - or at the very least show that I’m not a robot, I have flaws. Those flaws are what have helped me become the person I am so far, and working on them will continue to make me a better person in the future.