Some media for thought.

I have been pretty affected recently by two pieces of media that I’d like to share right now and blog about later.

These are a little dated, so they may have seen some exposure already, but it’s the first time I had come across them.

The first one is a Moth story by Brian Finkelstein about finding perfect life moments.

The second one is a TED talk by Brene Brown that highlights vulnerability, connection, and shame.

They’re intermingled in a few ways. I had a third link that I’ll reserve for later posting, it seems right now there’s a bit too much commotion over it on the web and I don’t want to be a band-wagoner. I have some ideas of how and why they are intermingled, but the ideas are jumbled and need some processing. For now I just wanted to share the links and ideas take shape.

Maintaining course.

The last post was about the endless pursuit- this one could be called maintaining pursuit.

As life progresses I realize how delicate the balance is between living with awareness, meaning, and purpose compared to wasting hours away. It’s amazing how quickly you can be thrown off course.

The past two weeks were a prime example of that. I started a course on Monday on Java programming (more on that in a later post) and I’m feeling slightly desolate because of the progress I made in preparation for the class. Of the past two weeks, the first one felt very scattered and rushed, while the second left me feeling more in control. I was pretty frustrated with my use of time the first week.

Here’s what I’m going to work on to stay more productive and happy:

Planning a schedule and sticking to it.

I find that I function so much better when I have that majority of my activity planned out for the week and attach it to a regular routine. That includes my fitness schedule, budgets, meal plans, study time, and my activity in the workplace. Having a schedule with set activity gives me a checklist for the day to attack. I need to be conscious of fulfilling the goals at hand and not giving into spontaneous decisions.

Rewarding myself.

Motivating yourself to stick to a schedule when it isn’t very fun or enjoyable is a challenge. I need to build in rewards to celebrate accomplishment. It works for a teacher and his students, it should work for others as well. Be it a meal out, an adventure with a friend, taking a “day off” from goal activities, or do something else I love. I feel I will work more effectively when I can enjoy my progress.

Maintaining ties.

I came across a TED talk a few days ago that I’ll soon write about. One thing I took away from the talk was the desire among humans for connection to one another. I’ve found that the lower points of my life were also times that I was more isolated from others. The more interactions I have with family, friends, and coworkers translate into more opportunities to feel accountable for myself, to others, to feel loved, to have fun, and to check in with the world outside my head. By scheduling time with connections, I am fulfilling the first two ideas of this post- to plan and reward.

The first week of preparation for this class was nearly absent of these three ideas. I did not plan effectively. I had few goals. I did not reward accomplishments; if I did something pleasureful, it was merely for the sake of pleasure and not really a reward for anything. I didn’t stay very connected with people outside of my necessary interactions. The second week was the complete opposite. I need to strive for more weeks like that. Finishing this blog is one step towards that. Finding the balance between structure and freedom is tricky, but hopefully sticking to these ideas will maintain that balance.

Leo at Zen Habits has some good, cheap ideas for rewards. Check them out.

Until next time.

The endless pursuit.

I identify myself as a runner. I ran track in high school, I’ve completed two half marathons, a 10K, a few 8Ks and a few 5Ks. I try to run year-round unless injured and while I’m not sure I’ll race again, I will try to run for life.

Last week I was out for a short 3-mile run. As I approached the turn-around point on my route I saw a runner on the opposite side of the street heading in the opposite direction. I touched the streetlight at my turnaround, now following the other runner, and got after it.

My sights locked down on my new challenge. My turnover rate increased and my feet sprung off the ground a little quicker as I continued my mini-race. I had a mile and a half to go on my route but as far as I was concerned, all that mattered was the next quarter mile. I secretly hoped he stayed on my street so I’d have a little more time to catch him. As I closed in, I felt a rush of adrenaline and my speed increased even more. I pulled up even to him and continued my route, refreshed and energized.

The experience reminded me of the endless pursuits we engage in every day. Many people describe the beginnings of courtship as “the thrill of the chase”, even Adele wrote about her failures in love as “chasing pavements”. Catching that runner reminded me of all the things I’m chasing. I remembered not to lose sight of them, to persist, and to both enjoy the chase and be motivated by its outcome, whether that be falling short or succeeding.

I chase self-actualizations and acceptance of myself. I chase knowledge. I chase new skills. I chase relationships- I’ve broken many over the last few years and I need to strengthen them. I chase better outings in the kitchen. I chase financial stability. I chase good health. I chase happiness. I will be happy, but rarely satisfied.

Here’s to that endless pursuit.


PS- This probably goes against other philosophies I’ve subscribed to lately, like being content with your own run and understanding other runners you find are at different ability levels and training stages compared to you. I understand that and keep that in mind, but this one particular moment was simply refreshing and the chase felt validated and worthwhile. I understand that the ultimate chases with running and other endeavors are against my personal bests, but for a brief moment, I let myself compete a little. It was fun.