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Letting Myself Off The Hook

This is the year I’m finally going to do it.

That’s been the mantra of every single year since I very first thought about self-improvement and had the smallest desire to make myself better.

Whether it’s losing weight, writing more, doing more community service, etc., every April I end up in a similar place. No closer to where I was in January and then all of the sudden it’s November.

NEXT YEAR is the year I’m finally going to do it.

I have a unique ability, a super power even, of living up to other’s expectations of me before my expectations of myself.

To put it more bluntly, I allow others to dictate my priorities. I allow outside forces to decide for me what’s important in my life and where I should put my energy.

I’m a people-pleaser by nature and really hate the idea of letting anyone down. I’ve read self-help book after self-help book about how to take control back without feeling like I’m letting down the people around me.

And after every book I put a new practice or system into place and one of two things happens:

  1. I go so far in the opposite direction that I come across as a dick who has more important things to do than meddle with the common-folk. I drive away people I really want to help.
  2. I revert back to my old ways immediately because telling people NO is just too damn anxiety-ridden.

I’ve yet to find a middle-of-the-road approach that helps people know that I’d like to help, but realistically due to constraints of both priorities and the Gregorian calendar, it’s not possible for me to say yes to their requests.

My Things Are The First Things To Go

Let me be clear. This is not a “woe is me!” blog post. I’m blessed in so many incredible ways and have immense gratitude for my life. But that doesn’t mean the way I spend my time is a reflection of what’s most important to me in this life.

I get a thrill out of helping people. Making a connection between colleagues or helping someone get past a technical hurdle gives me that endorphin hit that I imagine Alex Honnold gets every time he moves up another hold on a cliff face without plummeting to his death.

But I put me on the back burner every single time I say yes to free-soloing El Cap (or more realistically fixing a broken website).

And I’m also not talking about my responsibilities at my job or home either. I’m talking about literally everything outside of those times. There are so many extra things that I take on that put the things I say I want to accomplish at the back of the line.

But I’m getting older and hopefully a bit wiser and I’m spending more time looking inward than I really ever have.

And there are some things that are MY THINGS that I’m moving back to the front of the line.

Two Main Things in 2019

I have two goals in 2019 that I need to put out into the world so I can create some accountability from the internet and the people around me.

Both of these are things I’ll finish this year, before it’s November again and I miss my chance.

Can you help me follow through? I’ll tell you what they are and then you can decide. How hypocritical would it be of me to want to say No to more things and then subject you to a Yes without knowing the terms?

Anyway, in 2019 I will accomplish both of the following:

  • I will perform at an Open Mic at WiseGuys Comedy Club – I mean, I already created the menu item on my website where I’ll post the video, which I’d imagine is the hardest part, right?
  • I will get back under 300 pounds – Within the last seven years I’ve weighed as little as 260, which I know is still fat, but it’s a far cry from where I am currently. To hit the 300 mark I need to lose 6-7 pounds per month through December, which is extremely possible if I stay focused.

How will I Accomplish These Goals?

Step 1: I have to stop letting myself off the hook. It isn’t a negotiation anymore. If I get a request that’s going to keep me away from the gym or impede on my writing time for standup, the answer is no.

I’m capable of this. I decided when I was fourteen that I wouldn’t smoke or drink and I haven’t ever done either. And my cynical brain says “yeah you just replaced those two vices with tacos and soda” which is fair of my cynical brain (who is a real jerk), but I still know that if I’m determined enough, I have the mental fortitude to power through whatever challenge is in front of me.

Maybe I’ll link people to this blog post as an attempt to give some context for the struggle I face every day? It’ll probably be a case by case basis thing. The bottom line is I have to block the time out for these goals.

Step 2: I need to write every single day. It doesn’t need to be a lot, or anything terribly special, and it doesn’t need to be published; but it needs to be every day.

I know the funniest and most unique well I have to draw from is my personal experiences (I’ve had a pretty weird life in some ways), but I need to record them and hone them so I can turn them into something that will make people laugh for 3 minutes.

Step 3: Eliminate fast food. Exercise 3 times per week. Walk daily. I don’t need to elaborate on this really. When I stick to something this regimented and stay focused, I get results.

I simply can’t let laziness or the demands/requests of others get in the way anymore. I have to make internal peace with the fact that I’m not going to be able to help everyone with every request.

I’m also super optimistic and excited about both of these goals. And maybe being time-strapped will force me to be more creative so I can make better systems or tools for helping people that are asking me for similar things? Or maybe I’ll simply say no. I’ll have to see how all that goes as I get further down the road, but I gotta start with Step 1.

No more letting myself off the hook. Because this is the year I’m finally going to do it.

By Ryan

I wanna be a writer, so I'm writing. In this space I muse about being a dad, tech stuff, the joy of cooking, and hot takes about bad movies.

8 replies on “Letting Myself Off The Hook”

This is a great post. I’m pulling for you, my man! I’m not a huge fan of most self-help-type books, but the best book I’ve read in a while is Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s pretty great from front to back!

Haha I’ll be sure to let you know when it happens. Thanks Shane! Really appreciate the kind words.

Rooting for you man.
Not sure if you seen this:
https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1077512985769636
This matches what I’ve been hearing consistently from the science podcasts I subscribe to.
And it matches my experience. For some reason after I turned 30, I just can’t seem to lose weight with exercise alone.
Providing in case it’s useful. Good luck!

I hadn’t seen that video but it 100% makes sense and matches up with my own experience too. For me the nutrition is the piece that needs to be my primary focus, but I’m gonna look to walking for the majority of my activity at first. Thank you ๐Ÿ™

Hey Ryan, I stumbled upon your blog on Twitter by chance, since we are both in WordPress world. I have similar goals, but I started in January.

STANDUP – beta test your stuff in front of friends first. Let them tell you where are the loose parts. Helped me a lot, might work for you too, but I am no expert on this.

DRINKS – for me, cutting soda is the best decision I ever made. Switching to clean water is the best if you miss sugar too much add a little syrup. I also enjoy cucumber water. After just 1 week of drinking water, you might see the positive effects. I also drink a lot of green tea as a substitute for coffee โ€” it has the caffeine, but it releases it more evenly in your body and you donโ€™t get the jitters. It is legit better energy beverage. I still drink beer, though. Since Iโ€™m from the Czech Republic it is probably part of my genetic makeup. Maybe I will cut it eventually, but the point here is, donโ€™t change your diet too drastically it will just stress you out. Keep some cheat food, but not too much.

FOOD – For me, I just had to try different healthy foods to find something I can eat all the time. For example, tofu tastes like Satan’s balls to me, I canโ€™t go there. I loved eggs before, so I started making them in the toaster with just a sliver of oil. I added avocado, and it is not terrible. Now I eat it every other day, it is reasonably healthy and more importantly filling. If I find 3-5 more "healthy" foods that are filling Iโ€™m golden. Also, if you cut back on fat, you will notice you are hungry all the time. So you need to find healthy snacks. Fruits are obvious, but if you are still hungry try unroasted unsalted nuts. Lastly, this works for me, but might be useless for you and the one absolutely best thing you can do, is visit a nutritionist, someone who is actual MD. They will give you tremendously good advice. Avoid food blogs and Instagram experts with laxative teas. As a bonus, a nutritionist can help you with other bad habits you might have โ€” alcohol, smoking, drugs.

SPORT – I do 7-minute workout every day. There are apps for it, and you do not have to go to the gym. For me, there is no excuse to not find a couple minutes to work out so I am trying doing it daily. The first week it the hardest, not even the first day. After a month I started adding some free weights, but I think I still suck at this and if you have a friend who works out a lot, they will probably give you good advice. I do not need to lose weight, so I canโ€™t tell if this routine would be great for you, but worked for me.

Lastly, you WILL start feeling better, happier and more resilient, both mentally and physically. As a helper type of guy, you might benefit from that greatly ๐Ÿ™‚ I am still not sold on the idea of being "addicted" to the healthy lifestyle, but I can surely testify on the benefits. Best of luck!

This is all such sage advice and I really appreciate the input, Pierre. I laughed at "tofu tastes like Satan’s balls to me". I don’t know exactly what that flavor profile is, but I imagine it’s not great ๐Ÿ˜‚. Thank you again!

Tofu is what is wrong with humanity, but some people swear by it, Iโ€™ll let them eat it all ๐Ÿ™‚ I forgot loads of stuff in my comment, but you already outlined your plan and regime. Your resolutions are quite similar to those I made for myself, so I just wanted to share my insights and reinforce your decision to make yourself first class citizen in your own world.
You want to do a lot of changes, and that is all great, but be careful to not change too much right off the bat. If you stop eating greasy fast-food and start working out at the same time โ€” I can almost guarantee you the will experience withdrawals that would make sympathize with heroin addicts. If you really want to feel the heat of 5-star hell โ€” cut all sugar. I tried to do this and relapsed in 10 days into garbage routine. It was too much.
What worked for me was finding 1 change I can do every day no matter what. In my case, it was a 7-minute workout. No excuse not to set aside a couple of minutes every day to move. For you, it might be something else.
After 10-14 days try adding more changes, for example cutting unhealthy food in half, replacing it something healthier. Again, good luck on your journey! ๐Ÿ™‚

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