Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Goals and strategies

One thing I’m gaining from doing this 30 before 30 project is the importance of setting achievable goals.  Setting goals is a good thing to do, but more important is actually committing to them.  Once I actually fully commit to achieving the goal, I seem to do a lot better at getting things accomplished.

I touched on this before when I talked about shutting the computer off for the weekend: when I don’t have anything to do, I just wait around and kill time.  I’m fighting this more and more these days, trying to find little projects to occupy the time and get me closer towards a better state.  I hate being in limbo, but I realize that the best way to get out of it is to be the one looking for an exit.  Kaitlyn Hatch, a life coach, wrote a post recently that seemed to sync up with what I’ve discovered over the course of the last month and a half: if you want to achieve something, it’s up to you to go for it.

I’m thinking a bit about some of the goals I have in the near future thanks to this project.  Some of these goals are goals in themselves, and others are incremental steps towards achieving other aims of mine.  I also find that posting some of these goals in a public space like this blog is a way to hold myself accountable.  There are a few things I want to keep as a priority this week that I’ve already posted about, but I’m also working on developing strategies towards keeping on task.

What I want to start doing this week is actually work on the whole internal-clock issue.  I propose that I’m going to start turning off the computer at midnight every night, starting tonight.    The iPod will go off an hour later.  I’m thinking gradual is the best strategy here.

What are some of your strategies for achieving goals?

New look

As you can probably see (unless you’re just looking through a feed reader), I’ve decided to change the look of the blog a bit.  I did like the old layout at first, but I felt this one looked a little cleaner.  I’m going to be doing a few tweaks to the site’s overall appearance here and there over the next few days.  I think this look has a bit more potential.

I’m also considering renaming the blog.  I do want it to be unabashedly and openly myself, but I think that there might be a better way to do this than just putting my name up there.

Sent messages

I got something in the mail today from a friend who I sort of knew when we were both in Moncton, but ended up connecting a bit better on the Internet than in meatspace.  There’s something satisfying about getting an actual piece of mail that isn’t just a bill.  I especially appreciate it when people take the time to actually print or handwrite at length…there seems to be a greater investment in what’s written when someone takes pen to paper.

I’ve stated before that as part of my 30 Before 30 I wanted to finish all the unfinished draft e-mails I had started before I started my list of goals, and then send at least 30 new e-mails out.  I also wanted to send 30 pieces of “snail mail” out before that time.  I’m still having trouble deciding what kind of message to send to whom: I know I have three people so far that I will definitely send a snail mail letter to, but I’m still juggling the possibilities.

If you want me to send you an e-mail or an actual physical letter, please let me know.

Another goal accomplished

I actually stayed offline all weekend.  Go me!

I realized that I waste a lot of time on the computer, but forcing myself to turn off my computer and iPod for a whole weekend made me put the amount of time I spend online into perspective.  For all the connection to the world it gives me, I really didn’t feel particularly isolated without it after a while: maybe it’s only because I knew this was a temporary measure on my own volition, but I actually thought stepping away from the computer freed me up to do a few different activities that I enjoy, but usually don’t pursue because I’m always waiting for another e-mail, message board post, or an update in my blog stats.  The internet has become background noise for me.  This weekend has forced me to ask myself how I’m using my time online: I think my next (unofficial) goal is to set times each day when I avoid the computer and just find something else to do.

Sometimes, when I’m online, I have to ask myself: am I really connecting with other people or am I hiding from them here?  The internet has helped me find people with similar interests and tastes when I haven’t been surrounded by too many who share them with me, and it’s a place where I feel a little more comfortable getting to know people.  I don’t want to end up living in front of a screen, though.   There’s too much out there that I want to experience, and I was pushing some of that away in favor of finding some detailed information on trivial matters.

I’m grateful for the potential of the Internet.  It’s a valuable tool for gathering information and connecting with other people.  But at some point it becomes a crutch.

30 Before 30 List: Update three

Once again, time for my bi-weekly 30 Before 30 update:

Progress:

  • I’ve gone ahead and studied the New Brunswick driver’s manual, but I haven’t actually booked a sitting with the driver examiner to take the test for my learner’s permit.
  • Still no fast food this month.  I’m quite proud of this, actually.  Once the month is done, I may crave something but I’m going to keep track of how often I get fast food and try to keep it at a minimum.
  • I started applying for jobs again.
  • Still avoiding new purchases of DVDs, books and CDs, and still going through my unwatched pile.
  • I’ve started going through photos and watermarking them for my portfolio.

To work on:

  • I didn’t get around to taking any new portraits for my Simple Portraits series, but I will get something done in the next two weeks.
  • This is going to be the time I plan my week of meals.   I actually cooked burgers from scratch on Wednesday and did a pretty good job at it, but I’m going to look for some different recipes to try.  One thing I’m thinking of trying is lasagna.
  • As I’ve posted, I’m doing a self-imposed exile from the internet starting later tonight, and will not use a computer until Monday morning.  This actually would be a good time to work on some of my other goals.
  • Book an appointment with the driver examiner.
  • Complete my passport application.

I’m still thinking about what I’m going to do with my 35 before 35.  Most of what I want to accomplish is travel-related: I’m looking for suggestions for goals for that list.

Have a good weekend!

Weekend offline

I’ve seen other people commit to spending a certain amount of time offline, and have admired them for it.  This is why I’ve decided to make one of my goals for my 30 Before 30 list be to spend a whole weekend offline for a whole weekend, and I’ve decided to make this weekend the one I fulfill the goal.

From 6:00 pm (Atlantic time) on Friday, February 24 to 9:00 am on Monday, February 27  my computer and iPod touch are staying off.  If you want to get in contact with me, please contact me by phone or text message (assuming you have my number…please contact me my e-mail before Friday if you need it).

One of the reasons I’m doing this is because I spend so much idle time looking at a screen.  It’s become a mindless impulse for me to turn on my computer as soon as I wake up to check my e-mail.  I’m grateful for what the internet has given me in terms of being able to connect with new people and new ideas, and find fellow like-minded souls.  I want to be able to purge myself of some bad habits this weekend, and being able to take the time off the internet is going to help me.  This is also going to give me a deadline to help me get some tasks accomplished.

I will post another update on my 30 Before 30 progress before 6:00 pm tomorrow, and then it’s three nights away.

Career tracks and callings

Thank you to everyone who offered me encouragement about my photography so far.  I’ve long mulled over whether I should take the leap and actually commit to a career in photography. I suppose putting together a portfolio is a step towards doing that.  I also think about seriously pursuing writing as well.  On my Twitter profile, I identify myself first as a writer and photographer.  Technically, it is true.

I still have lingering doubts as to whether it’s realistic for me to actually consider either of those as my vocation.  People tell me I’m good at both, but I still wonder if I’m one of the people for whom “do what you love” is not particularly good advice to give.  It’s not hard work alone that gets success in the world: talent, skill, opportunity, connections and circumstance cannot be ignored.   Some people can only do what they must, whether they like it or not.

It’s not just the ultra-competitive fields where this is true.  There are people who do pretty well at call centre work, but others, despite their best efforts and developed skills, still don’t have the natural talent for that occupation and end up either getting fired or burning out.  But it’s easier and less risky to look for work in a call centre than try to eke out a living doing what you love.  I’ve done the call centre route.  I did alright: in retrospect, I did better than I would have imagined and learned a good deal, but the longer I stayed there, the more I realized that I was never going to be completely happy in that setting.  I felt that even if I were to come to love it, it didn’t really come naturally to me.  It was also exhausting me to the point where my time off was spent on recovering for the next shift instead of putting words together or going out with my camera.

Photography and writing are more than just hobbies to me.  They’re urges that the way I see the world is inevitably filtered through.

I’m at the point where I know I have to ask myself whether it’s worth the effort of pursuing what I want to do, or if I should just keep practicality in mind and keep my interests on the back burner.  What does it mean to be realistic?   Does that not sometimes include accepting that the best you can ever hope for is cleaning toilets?

I’m thinking it’s time to actually subject myself to a bigger test of my abilities.  I’m thinking about the 35 before 35 list these days.  I’m considering making it a goal of mine to sell some of my work in the next five years…

Photography portfolio preparation

I’ve decided this week I’m going to put together a photography portfolio.  This of course means going through all the different pictures I’ve taken over the past little while and selecting which ones I want to showcase.  Ultimately, this is going to have to be my decision as to which photographs to showcase, but I appreciate other pairs of eyes looking at my pictures and pointing out what about them they like.

I’m wondering if I should actually post any of my shortlist on my blog before actually deciding what to include.  If any of my readers are my friends on Facebook, you can see a whole lot of my photography there, as well as some I have on Flickr (please contact me for the link).

Wasting money

One thing that I’ve noticed since starting my 30 before 30 list is that I had really been spending a lot of money on DVDs and eating out.  I’ve mainly been using the money I’ve been saving to put additional payments towards various balances I have.  I’ve been thinking, though, that even after the 30 after 30 is done, I may still keep my book, movie and music purchases to a minimum for a little while, at least until I reach a certain financial goal.  There’s way too much to life that I’ve sold out for some of these things, and I think part of getting older is realizing how experience is so much better than just collecting stuff.

The whole fast food thing is partially to get me eating a little better than I have been, but even so, the money I used to spend on the stuff adds up after a little while.  My sister may have indirectly influenced me in this goal: she lives in a village where there’s no fast food restaurants, and the nearest one is a plane ride away.  While she was home over the holidays, she found that she just didn’t have the same appetite for the stuff as she did before she moved away.  It got me thinking: do I actually like a lot of the food or do I crave it because it’s familiar and convenient?

I’m trying to think of other ways I could save money.  I have a tax-free savings account that I contribute to a little every month, but I’m considering other measures to cut expenses and have a little more wiggle room when it comes to finances, just in case something big comes up.  What works for you?

Neighborhoods

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately when preparing to move to Halifax is the neighborhood where I would look for an apartment.  I have to take a few things into consideration: expense, proximity to my workplace, the safety of the neighborhood, building security and whether they allow pets.  Obviously, I won’t choose a place until I know what it is I’ll actually be doing for money, but I want to get as much feedback on this topic as I can.

I’ve heard various things from different friends, but so far I’ve heard:

  • Near the Universities is expensive.  (Makes sense).
  • The North End has the seedy vibe but is actually not as bad as its reputation and has a lot going on on a cultural level.
  • Stay out of Spryfield and Highfield Park
  • Inconsistent testimony about Clayton Park.

I’m soliciting help on this issue from Haligonians and Dartmouthians alike: What neighborhoods should I consider?  Which ones should I avoid at all costs?

Anyone who doesn’t live in Halifax or Dartmouth, feel free to comment at length about the good and bad neighborhoods in your city.

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