I have, and have had for years (I’ve written about it again and again from either side of thinking I’m going mad), this on-going delusion that I should be super-human. That I should be killing it at work, on my side projects, working out like a crazy person, having an active social life and a functional relationship that is actually going somewhere, whilst living in a beautiful spotless apartment and dressing fabulously!
I’m not sure that I’m doing great at any of these things right now. In fact about a month ago I decided to just give up dating for 6 months. This has freed up a bunch of time and emotional energy – it’s a good decision for me right now. I’m focusing on Cate.
So I’m talking to one of my friends about how hard it is to figure out habits, and how thrown my habits are by this latest move. And how I feel pulled in all these directions, there is a show I really want to see and tonight is the last night, and there’s a piece of work I need to finish, and I need to weight train more and there is a class I could take but I’m not sure I can do that either and meanwhile my shoulder is really sore from the yoga class I did yesterday and just how do I possibly fit it all in. And commute. And deadlines. And job more emotionally demanding because I’m more optimistic and engaged in what I’m doing and I hadn’t quite thought of that.
Meanwhile I moved back thinking I could spend more time with my family, but had a completely serious conversation with my parents about whether it was feasible for me to meet them in Dubai in a couple of weeks. Because otherwise I’m unlikely to see them until April.
Really, I’m just not good at the day to day logistics of life. I am late filing my taxes. I don’t book my own travel anymore, and there are plenty of reasonable reasons for that, like when I do crazy trips with multiple stops you basically have to have a travel agent, but the real reason is that booking travel can be viewed as an optimisation problem… but you can never really solve it. Because that flight can be delayed, or cancelled, or something horrible can happen, and voila, no amount of advance thinking helped at all. So it’s better just not to worry about it too much, lay out my parameters, have someone else deal with it, and then just live with whatever they come up with.
And I’m too prone to seeing life as an optimisation problem. And there are these aspects to maximise, and then these constraints. Like, the best way to get a good workout in is to do it in the morning. But, getting in early to work makes me so much more productive. Pick one. I can work on side projects and do a long workout at the weekend, but if I workout first I’m sometimes to be too tired to do any. Only one can be the top priority. The way to get up early is just to do it, be tired and deal, but I spend all day staring at a screen and too little sleep isn’t just being tired, it’s also spending the afternoon with a horrible headache. Not today, please.
And so I create these arbitrary rules. Like, only eat sandwiches at the weekend. Only watch TV at the gym. Do something cultural every week. 5 positive things around the house for every 5 chapters of a book.
These rules, ingrained, work really well. Only I got the flu, and then I took a trip. And voila, everything fell apart. I started watching TV at home, and overwhelmed by the grocery store self-medicated with bread. And I got into work later, having not worked out, because I was so exhausted. And the more I felt like I was failing at every aspect of my life, the more I wondered why I was trying with anything at all.
The thing about habits, is they can disintegrate so quickly. Even a short trip can throw me right off, if I have terrible jetlag and I’m exhausted everything feels like a catastrophe (talking to my friend, I realised that my messed up sleep schedule is the root problem for at least two things I’m failing at). Meanwhile, I pack out my schedule – as I write this, the following week I have plans Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, an 8pm meeting on Thursday, and on Friday I’m supposed to be in Manchester.
(Not that I’ve figured out a hotel or a train to Manchester at this point. Logistics are hard.)
Even when all habits fall apart at once, you have to build habits up bit by bit. So last week, I got a reasonable amount of cardio and one yoga class in, and I was mindful about what I ate in the evenings, despite feeling exhausted (always harder). I dealt with a bunch of personal email, and made a significant amount of progress on The Project. This has to be a win.
Next week, I’ll focus on fixing my sleep schedule, and finishing up this section of The Project. If these are under control by next Sunday, I’ll view that as a win.