Friday, September 25, 2015

The one where I learned I needed to study the science of Self improvement

I once had a life coach. After he finished coaching me, he quit life coaching.  True story.

Version 2 of my abstract thingy


When I was growing up my teacher reports would often contain some version of "doesn't apply self". If something involved manual labor I usually didn't shy away from working hard but for mental tasks I usually find the easy or lazy way to complete the task. My general policy when learning something new or accomplishing a task is to strive for  good enough to get by.  I rarely have felt the need to be the best I could be at something.  I see these people who go all out to master a new hobby or skill and I think.. wow that seems like a lot of unnecessary effort.

This lack of willingness to put out effort seems odd, because all my life I have been fascinating by people who excelled at things, mostly artistic. I could, and have spent hours watching painters paint or wood workers make fine furniture. I've assumed that if you where gifted at something you were always a master of that craft. I didn’t think if you had talent or a calling for something it would take any effort. For example while I was in college I decided to see if I had any skill at painting.  I bought a small starter paint set. One day I went to work and spent about twenty minutes slobbering paint on a cheap canvas.  The results were obviously hideous. I tossed everything in the garbage assuming I was not meant to paint.

Since then I have learned otherwise. It takes a great deal of time, effort, and skill to excel at any craft. I have decided to try my hand at painting again.  This time I haven’t just sat down and tried to create a masterpiece from scratch.  I am on my fourth iteration of the almost exact same simple abstract painting.

What does any of that have to do with the point of this post?  Not a whole lot actually, In my late thirties I realized that, as the great American bard Bruce Springsteen sang, "When I look at myself I don't see The man I wanted to be".  I found myself too out of shape in way too much debt and without a strong career path.

I decided that I needed to get my life in order and thus was born the Slackers Guide to Life. I even own the domain www.slackersguidetolife.com. My attempts at self improvement were haphazard and inconsistent. For a year I didn’t allow myself to buy anything but essentials. Sounds good but the definition of essentials at that time included eating out as much as I wanted.  I did not have a budget. It helped some but in now way did I come close to accomplishing my goals. At the end of a year I had seen some progress. My debt had lessened, I was in slightly better shape.

After that year, I did what most people do and returned to my old habits and the debt built back up. I realized I needed to make a serious effort to change. I decided to do some studying and learn some science and psychology about human behavior and self improvement.  That will be the point of the next post in this series.

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