Friday, September 20, 2013

An Inventory of Habits and Goals

Here's a partial list of self-improvement goals, followed by a paragraph or two of commentary.

1. Wake up early. Early to bed, early to rise.

What time? Maybe, bed at eleven, up at seven. Yeah right. This has been sort of a goal of mine for a long time, and I say sort of, because every time I try it I don't like it, and I usually abandon it. So why do I retain it? I guess it's because I associate it with healthiness, productivity, and success. I'm trying to improve the quality of my life in anyway that I can, and getting up early seems like a good idea: start the day fresh, early, have the whole day ahead of you, lots of productive hours of sunlight.

But what do I end up doing? I often stay up late, and sleep late, whenever I have the chance. Early morning jobs that start before nine, do not agree with me. I do it, if I have to, if I cannot finagle another way, but I do not like it, and as soon as I get the chance, I opt for a later time, otherwise I suffer in silence, chronically sleep deprived. Though I think this is a seasonal thing. I tend to stay up later in the summer, because I enjoy the cooler nights, and go to bed earlier in the winter, because it get's dark earlier. But there must be some kind of middle ground. Not too late, not too early. It is what it is. Tonight I will probably stay up late.

2. Alternate run/bike ride every other day, five days a week.

Which would be what? Run 2-3 miles. Bicycle 10 to 15 miles. I have no aspirations of running a marathon or bicycle racing. I just do it for the transportation, the relaxation, and health benefits. I'm not a speed freak. Or an adrenalin junkie. I will never sky dive or bungee jump, but I think it would be pretty cool to run in the mountains, ride my bike across country, or to paddle through a white water rapids. Surfing is also a possibility, but I'm not a strong swimmer, I'll have to stick to small waves. Same with skiing. I'll have to stick to the bunny hill. Am I a daredevil? No. Speed is not my thing. Risking my life for 20 seconds of bliss, is just not worth it to me. I like a little bit of safety, to do my research, to be prepared, to take risks, but not unnecessary ones. After all, I don't have health insurance, but I am debt-free and would like to keep it that way.

3. Get Stronger.

Continue building up my strength doing weight training, resistance bands, and calisthenics. I need to become stronger, more muscular, over time, but without getting big. Slim, but extremely fit, like a gymnast, or a ninja. Yeah, you've heard it all before. I work out regularly, and blog about it every couple of months at least, but have reached a plateau; need to get much stronger, more agile, and acrobatic. Like a ninja warrior.

4. Cut out the daily beer drinking.

Make it more of a weekend thing. Not everyday. I've cut down quite a bit, but I still do have it everyday, and I'm not sure how it's affecting the pH balance of my blood. I recently learned that alcohol is extremely acidic, much like soda, and it may be throwing the whole internal balance of my body out of whack. Never really thought of it that way. I mean, of course getting drunk every night is not good for your health, and even two to three beers isn't good for your waistline, but I figured one to two beers isn't that bad. I mean, it's not really a health food, but there's improved circulation of the blood flow to your brain, and it boosts your spirits. That must help bestow certain health benefits, wouldn't you say? Yeah, an addict will say almost anything to justify their addiction, but really, two beers isn't a fifth of gin, it could be much worse; the problem is, although it's not a large quantity, it's probably not that good either to have it every single day.

5. Need some kind of natural stress-reduction program.

If I'm going to stop relying on drinking beer in order to relax and to help me go to sleep, I need something else to take its place. Which is not to say that I wouldn't ever have a drink again, but it would no longer be a routine, it would no longer be a significant source of pleasure, not something I rely on every night, even if it's just one beer. It would be good to not depend on it. But then again, I depend on a cup of tea in the morning, and I have no ambition to ever give that up. And if I don't drink heavily, what is the problem? Well, either way, being able to relax and go to sleep without drugs is probably something that would be in everyone's best interests to do. It doesn't mean you can't ever take a drug, or a drink, again, but it's better not to depend on it if there are other methods that could do the same thing that are better for your health.

6. Need money.

Earn more money. Save more money. Need to build my savings back up to at least $10,000. I cannot move, or make significant changes in my life, without financial independence. Selling my time to be no better off than a slave, doing what I hate for hardly any money at all, must come to an end, soon. Otherwise, this life was a failed experiment. But it's not about the money, per se. It's not about the acquisition of wealth, of buying expensive material luxuries, it's about the freedom that having a certain amount of money and financial independence can buy.

7. Read for at least two hours a day.

I used to set goals in terms of pages to read, but the ease of doing so varies depending on the difficulty of the book. For fiction, particularly if it stimulates me, I could easily read 200 pages in a day, but more difficult academic material I may more likely only be able to read 50 pages or less. So, because each book is different, it is more realistic to set a daily reading goal according to time, rather than pages. However, once I have assessed the difficulty of the book, I can also determine how many pages I wish to read per day based on that.

But it's not really about numbers, or quotas, what really matters is the substance of what is learned. I set this goal, simply as a game, to keep me focused on the things that matter most to me. But when it comes down to it, it's not about how many hours I read, or how many pages I read, or how many books I read, all that matters is that I read, that I enjoyed what I read, and that I learned something from it.

8. Need to improve my memory.

For the longest time, I would say that my memory was impeccable. Maybe not so much in the sense of memorizing strings of letters and numbers, but in the sense of vividly remembering experiences and events and the general idea and impression of things learned. But lately my memory has not been so good. This is a new development. I don't know if it's because of the beer, the heat, some nutritional deficiency, sleep deprivation, or all of the above, but my memory and focus has been suffering lately. I have been having some senile moments, forgetting what I just did a couple minutes ago, forgetting that I already brushed my teeth, etc. Need to do something about that. The worst of it is that when I look at the list of books I've read, I'm finding that I don't remember all of them. I mean, I do remember reading it, but I'm forgetting major portions, the key ideas, about it. For someone who reads a lot, that could be a major problem, because what is the value gained from reading if you are only going to forget what you read a few months/years later? It's extremely inefficient. Yeah, I definitely need to work on improving my memory, otherwise everything I learn will be for naught.

9. Write for at least one hour every day.

Whether that means here on this blog, or in my private journal, I need to make it a daily habit. And not just writing whatever, but actually attempting to write something good, you know, getting organized, and putting some thought into it. But I'm still not really sure if I want to be a writer or not. I don't really consider myself one, even though I probably write a lot more than the average person who doesn't consider themselves a writer. I don't think I'm a very good writer though, not that I'm terrible at it, I am a creative person with some interesting ideas, but I'm just not too good with the formal grammar aspect of it. I probably need to take some kind of grammar refresher class, or at least set aside some time to study it on my own, because that is probably my biggest obstacle in the way of significantly improving my skills as a writer. Again, in spite of this blog, I'm still not really sure if I really want to be a writer or not, as like a full-time calling. I still consider myself more of a reader than a writer, but I think it would be beneficial, either way, to improve my writing skills, and a large part of that has to do writing more frequently, improving my understanding and usage of grammar, and also logic. Have to spend some time studying that subject as well.

Closing Comments

Yeah, I've talked about it before, do I sound like a broken record to you? All these goals are nothing new. Sometimes I achieve success, for a little while, and then circumstances change, or I get tired of it, and go back to my old habits. So, maybe I'm not serious about it. I don't know. Sometimes I want to do these things, and sometimes I don't. Some days I feel as if everything I'm doing now, is just fine. Everything is as it should be. I have goals, plans, hopes and dreams, as well as grievances and complaints, but from one day to the next all that really matters is my health and happiness, and whether I am content and feeling at peace, even if things are not perfect. Either way, these topics, goals/habits, are a regular theme in my life, something I think about pretty consistently, and so it bears repeating, being that they are on my mind once again.

*This is post 11 of 20, part of my 20 Posts in 30 Days challenge.

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