January 2015: Goals Update

A week ago I reviewed my initial goals that I set in September.  As part of this process I gave a bit of time to think how I would develop, add and drop goals – as appropriate.  This has now been updated and I will be working on these tasks for the next three months, where I will review my progress.

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The Goals

It contains some new ideas, old ideas that I have been able to articulate more clearly what I am supposed to be doing and old ideas – which I did not get round to doing for various reasons.  I have grouped them based on the categories I use with this blog:

Fitness/nutrition

  • Get support for my injury and take preventative measures during exercise
  • Do more fitness activities with girlfriend and cook together
  • Take part in a bike maintenance course, fix bike and cycle regularly
  • Find new fitness challenges

Creative/Projects

  • Make my own cards
  • Write a short book
  • Run an event

Social

  • Be more assertive
  • Drive to a new place
  • Limit myself to no more than two hours of television a week
  • Reduce Internet usage

Money/Work

  • Document IT skills/knowledge applied at work
  • Become comfortable in my new job/make it my own
  • Develop my skills knowledge so that I can achieve for promotion

Self-improvement

  • Keep a progress/positive action diary
  • Review goals every quarter of the year

There is a lot of work to do…

I actually set myself more goals than last time, which I did not intend to do – however there are a few that are relatively straight forward and two aim to save time (reduce TV and Internet) so if I am successful carrying out them, I can focus on everything else.

In the coming weeks I will be writing about how I intend to achieve them.

Stop running for a month

Last year when I listed my post new year resolutions, I did not want to add anything.  However around that time I was broken down with injuries – particularly around my feet and ankles.  So I decided to not run for a month

The last thing I wanted was another objective, but by not running I was not having to dedicate additional time.

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Insanity Fitness Test template – Regaining my fitness

Starting Insanity?

Download the Insanity Fitness Template that I designed to keep record and mark changes

From fat to fit to unfit

Due to injuries, an increasing social life and changing jobs.  I have not made much time for the gym.

As a result my fitness has gone downhill – for someone who could do 5k in 19 minutes it’s a struggle.

And due to the new job I am currently gym-less as I find one I like and convenient to my location.

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Fix it! – Bike Maintenance Course review

As part of my drive to fix my bike and cycle it regularly, I decided that I would improve my skills so I felt confident to make basic repairs on my bike.

I typed in Bike Maintenance course into Google and came up with the Fix it! class run by the people at Evans Cycles.  So I paid £15, with high hopes of getting shown the errors of my ways.

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I came out of the closet

Yeah you heard it.  I came out of the closet….

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No let me rephrase that as I don’t want you thinking I came out as a homosexual and now live in a civil partnership with a man called Nigel.

I showed someone my writing.

Obviously not you, in Internet land, but someone in my actual real life.  Despite writing this blog for over a year now, no one in my life knew I wrote this.

And you may not think that it is not such a big deal, but I do.  Its always been a place to express my own private thoughts.  But even then, I didn’t link to my blog – I decided to appropriately select and edit what was shown.

If you wonder why I am so private about this, there are three main reasons I have not shared with family and friends.

Embarrassment

It would not be appropriate and I would be mortified if they read this little story about when I was in Amsterdam.

Open access to my emotions

I have written things that contain my most private thoughts, that no ones knows.  So when I passed on my story about having a breakdown from stress.  I wondered how they would react.  Particularly when I wrote:

“I walked by the canal in my lunch hour and wondered what that cold water would feel like.”

No one in my life is aware that I have even had suicidal thoughts and I thought twice about sharing that because I did not want to upset them.

Quality

And finally I was apprehensive because they might just plain think that what I write is crap.

So…

People closest to me knew I wrote something, but I was always was a bit vague with what I was writing.  But my relationship with Vicky broke things down a bit and I told her I wrote “a journal”.

She was curious to see some of my writings.  It took me about three months and as part of a valentines present I gave her something priceless.  And I wanted to get it right:

  • I went with My Hell, because it showed how deep with my writing I can get.

Then I got her to read – Nobody starts a new job in January purely because I felt it was a conclusion of how I picked myself up from rock bottom.

Finally I got her to read The Karate Instructor because I felt it really showed my self-depreciating humour.

The Aftermath…

I use the term “Coming out of the closet” as an analogy, because like admitting your gay there is always that dreading moment what someone will say.

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She felt sympathy and shock of how I felt during my breakdown, but enjoyed seeing how I picked myself back up.

She laughed at the Karate Instructor story and got perticular amusement out of the line “It soon became one of my first dreams that did not revolve around a girl touching my penis.”

I told her that my original idea after writing The Karate Instructor was to write an amusing book about all the failures in my life and what I had learnt from it.

Vicky replied “Well why don’t you?”

It was such a simple thing to state, but it gave me the drive I have been lacking with my writing.  I now have a new project to work towards.

And that is what happened when I came out of the writing closet.

The parents meet the parents

It has been seven months since I started a relationship.

When I started writing the Manifesto of Perfection accepted that I would be spending my life alone.  My previous past experiences had put a distrust in women – so I could never see myself getting into a long term relationship.

Then I met Vicky and my perception changed.

Vicky was the first girl I looked at realistically.  I would never allow myself to be taken advantage of, used, mistreated or become a walking cash machine.  If she ever crossed the line – we were finished.  To this day that boundary remains untouched.

The Parents meet the Parents

So I guess it was time my parents, meet her parents.

This was a day that was almost as nerve racking as when I first went out with her.  Family opinion is a very important factor for myself.  If my mum and dad took a dislike to her family, that would make things difficult.  Fortunately I would describe both sides as down to earth and on a similar level.

So there would be no hilarious culture clash like in Meet the Fockers.

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To establish the relationship of team VAJ (Vicky and James), we decided neutral ground was most appropriate.  And we chose a popular food chain restaurant which had good food but was not pretentious.

Having a meal in a popular chain restaurant, at peak time on a Saturday – what can go wrong?

I realised the choice of venue and time was wrong as soon as I walked in.

Loud music played and the staff gave patrons an out of tune rendition of Happy Birthday.  This was quite funny the first three times it played.

When I was having to shout my order to the waitress plastered with the fake smile, after hearing it for the twentieth time, it was not funny anymore

Yeah…ummm…. we seem to have a high number of birhdays today… hee…hee

Said the waitress

It actually seemed appropriate.  The first time I went out with Vicky I had picked a pub that hosted an open mic night the same day.  That evening comprised of shouting amongst the table while a 40 year old man who did not realise the dream was over, sang Wonderwall.

It was a disaster until we decided to move elsewhere.

Tonight was loud and it made me think of that scene from the IT Crowd where Jen takes a date to a very inappropriate themed restaurant.

I thought how many people were actually born that day and why someone over the age of 10 would demand waiting staff sing Happy Birthday.  It must be bad enough working on minimum wage and faking enthusiasm for tips, without having to bow down to the needs of every insecure person.

If the evening had stayed like that it would have been a pointless exercise – it was very difficult to talk and break the ice, but eventually the birthdays died down and finally a conversation could be established.

Vicky looked at me and rolled her eyes when her dad started going on about his tourer caravan, but other than that things went well.

So another success for team VAJ…. who knows what will happen next.

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Winners guilt

I don’t really win much.

I don’t really win ever.

It’s not through lack of effort, but occasionally a combination of my hardwork, determination, luck and good decisions pays off.

It’s nice that hardwork does occasionally pay off because I put a lot of faith in it – usually to my disappointment this has not been the case.  So the training 6 times a week was worth it.

To be a winner can be a combination of hardwork, luck and good decisions

Last year I was quite fortunate to win a 5k race, coming in just short of breaking into 19 minutes.

As I have invested time to becoming a long distance runner I never expected to win a race.  I am an average or above average runner at best and do not train as much as other runners.  My advantage has always been that I can make my mind override the suffering of the rest of my body.  Some people may call this determination.

This has helped me to run harder and improve my times and even during races where I am outclassed, my head keeps telling me to keep going to stay with the elite class.

Despite all this I never expected to be of ‘winning caliber’.

And then I came first, beating the rest of the field by a good two minutes.

The first thing I did when I won was to play down my success, luck came in as the race had been poorly promoted so there was not the usual running club crowd that had turned up.

The only reason I came to the race was because my brother knew the person who had ‘organised’ the race and thought I could help with the numbers.

So I was quite embarrassed by the photographer from the local press shoving a camera in my face.

I actually felt guilty because the race had been organised to make money for a disability charity and when I was surrounded by various runners with different disabilities – did I give them a chance?  No I ran as hard as I would normally.

My tactic was to run hard and this was a good decision as due to the quality of the field not many of them were experienced runners, so they did not know how to pace themselves.  The kids with learning disabilities did not understand this and treated me like the rabbit in a greyhound race.

As a result they exhausted themselves half way round.

My guilt stemmed from the fact that by running so hard I may have put them off running.

I talked to some friends who were members of running clubs about my experience.  Despite years of running competitively they had never won a race.

Their advice?

Just enjoy the experience

It’s funny for so long I had this inadequacy where I wanted to be the best and for my one moment in the limelight, I couldn’t help feel guilty.

To be honest I don’t want to always win as it kills my motivation, I enjoy the thrill of the chase – getting better times when I have a fast pace maker to lead me on.

So when I lead, I look round and see no competition, do I keep running hard?  No, and so I have no incentive to run faster.

Winning isn’t easy…

1 year later – so what now?

Has it really been a year since I wrote my first blog article?

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1 Year ago…

It seems strange that as I completed that post, I looked at my new blog Perfection Manifesto (soon renamed The Manifesto of Perfection) and thought how empty the archive looked.  So I deliberately set the blog so that it looked like it had more content.

My drive to write the blog was simple – I wanted to write and I wanted to be a better person.  So I combined the two and created this self-improvement blog.

In reflection from the past year, in many ways I am a better person.

Last year I referred to myself as a perfectionist, but my life was far from perfect.

  • I wanted a better body.
  • I wanted a better job.
  • I wanted a better life.
  • I wanted to be a better person.

My obsession with perfection was a double edged sword – it helped make me better as what I had was never enough, but it also made me miserable.

I no longer view perfection as a target and perhaps it is a coincidence; but when I stopped worrying about it – I got into my first ever serious relationship, I got a new job, I had more going for my life and although my body isn’t quite as athletic as it was last year – I really don’t mind.

So what next…

I was driving home from work thinking what I could write next.  Then a thought came over me – my story has changed, I’m no longer striving for perfection and I am quite structured in my goals – should I move on from the Manifesto of Perfection?

The thought scared  me, but I had my reasons.

I felt that my writing had gone back into having no clear direction and despite thinking I had developed a writers voice this past year, if you asked me to write a paragraph on what that voice was I could not tell you.

I also felt for the amount of time I put into writing I wasn’t getting enough page hits (despite always saying that never mattered!)

After writing for a year it seemed a good time to draw it to an end.

I decide the best course was to think about it – so I decided to take some time off writing.  And two weeks later here I am back writing.

So is it the end?

I could do some big build up to build reader anticipation, but to save time no!

I realise that this blog is more than self-improvement, it is about me and my life.

If I had not started writing the Manifesto of Perfection I would not have sat down and wrote about my pre-date nerves with my current girlfriend, or about my stress related breakdown, my experience with suicide or shared my thoughts on how to live a better life!

And for that it is important that the blog grows as I grow.  I will continue to write stories from my life – about how I go about working towards my goals, my thoughts and all the things that have an influence on my life.

I am going to stop worrying about the page hits issue and write about what I enjoy.

It’s taken a year to develop my writers voice and I realise that this will be an ever growing process.  I have goals to work towards which I will write about from time-to-time.  So here is to making it to Year 2!

10 years later…

My lack of progress in the job market has partly been down to my own fault, as I gradually developed an apathy to getting a better job around the time I started writing this blog.

But in my defense the last 10 years career was has been a lot of let downs and disappointments, which made me feel burnt out.  Because of this I decided to focus on making other areas of my life better – which I did.

These improvements spurred on my decision to get a new job before my next birthday.  Now that I have a new job, I have been reflecting – It has taken me about 10 years to progress into an advanced position.

And my aspirations began in 2005….

An opportunity arouse in my dead end job working as an IT assistant.  I had already been doing this as an additional duty to my post.  You could say it had been made for me, my only competition was the new girl who had only recently started doing similar duties.  Prior to this she had no experience.

Yet I didn’t get it…

So in 2006….

I realised I would get nowhere and because I had nothing to lose I went to university.

In 2007…

The recession kicked in – I wondered what job prospects would be like when I graduated..

In 2009…

I graduated and I was stuck doing voluntary work and temp jobs.  I was worse off than ever.

So in 2010….

Stupidly, I went back to university.  Because I thought having another degree would increase my chances

But really in 2011….

I just had more dept.  It bought me a six month internship that paid peanuts and I ended up in further debt as I tried to keep up rent payments on an expensive city flat.  Despite all the clues, I held out hoping I would be made permanent, but that never happened.

I thought the experience of the internship would get me a prestigious job elsewhere

But it didn’t

So in 2012….

I was unemployed for six months, so I volunteered more and went to the gym which helped me lose all the university drinking weight.

This was a turning point – I would have to work my way up.  I managed to get a part time job in a library in 2012.  This was actually a really good job, the only downside was being patronised on a daily basis by a post menopausal women who thought I needed supervision to put books in alphabetical order.

It was simple and it made me lazy.

In 2013…

I was thinking about training to be a librarian alongside the job.  But with the cutbacks in the public sector, I knew the library was never going to be in a position to offer me full time work or improved career prospects.

So I ended up back in full time work.  I had managed to get a job where I was earning the same amount as the job I quit in 2006.  Depressingly I realised I would be earning more in original job as I would have had 12 years experience.

I soon realised that this was not the place I was going to advance.  I always remember the boss hiding the job bulletin so that staff could never even casually browse other jobs.

In 2014…

By this point I had listened to the lies… I had been told that changing jobs too quickly would make me look disloyal and would be bad on my CV and I never mentioned my university education as this was taken as a slight that I was saying I was better than everyone else.

And I crashed – I was in hell…

I had three options:

  1. I could return and ignore the problem until it came around again. (Oblivious option)
  2. I could quit my job and chance my luck elsewhere (Flight option)
  3. I could go back to my job, but look to better myself elsewhere (Fight option)

I decided to fight and this led to an interview in project management.

And so the rest was history.  It really was an emotionally moment when I was offered this position, it had taken 10 years to move up to the next level.  And the self-doubt has already disappeared.

In reflection…

From reflecting my past work I have learnt a lot of things:

  • I probably would have got a job like this sooner if I had stopped worrying about what others thought,
  • I should not have been so bitter about my failures and reflected why I was not considered for promotion.
  • Life is too short – might as well make as much money and get as much satisfaction from work as possible.
  • 90% of the work I have done did not need a university education but it has changed the way I think, organise and express myself.

So in 2015…

I am ready for a new challenge, I am still young, ambitious and I am ready to show people what I can do.

The clock

The Clock – Dave Allen

“We spend our lives on the run: we get up by the clock, eat and sleep by the clock, get up again, go to work – and then we retire. And what do they give us? A clock.”

Dave Allen was an innovative comedian in the UK comedy scene during the 70’s.  When other stand-ups were still doing mother-in-law jokes, Dave produced so much thought provoking material and was not afraid to offend.

This routine always makes me think about how are most valuable commodity is time.  As Dave’s routine basically says are life is ruled ‘by the clock’.

How much time did I waste this week?

How much time did you waste this week?

We all need to look at how we spend are time – we can’t buy anymore than the 24 hours allocated in the day.

Once are time is up that is it.

So use it wisely.