17.3.17

Fuck this shit

For the last few years I've been feeling a growing, gnawing sense of malaise. Wasted minutes turn into wasted days. Wasted days turn into months, and years. Time is a non-renewable resource. It's our most precious commodity. And I'm letting it slip through my fingers.
I haven't been able to work out why I felt that I was wasting time. Recently, I've begun to reach an understanding.
I've stopped deliberately getting better at things.

I've stopped asking what better looks like and how I could get there.
Maybe I've been getting better at some things by accident. But that doesn't represent anything earned by investing time wisely.
Excuses are legion: fear, confusion, doubt, inexperience, lack of awareness, lack of focus, laziness, unsupportive environments, forces beyond my control.
Excuses are bullshit.
The trend has to stop. It stops now.
Fuck this shit. I'm going to get myself back on track.

When I was growing up I was always getting better at things. That's partly what kids do. And it's partly how society is structured. School creates a framework for measuring results and guiding progress. Of course, you don't have to get better at things. Some children choose not to. But the framework is there if you choose it.
As a child and teenager I was getting better at the subjects I was taught and studied at school.
I played badminton, practised and was coached. I got better at badminton.
I learnt public speaking, practised and was coached. I got better at public speaking.
I played chess, practised and studied. I got better at chess.
And I was growing up and learning about social life (although I got better at that much more slowly).
I played a lot of computer games, and you can get better at those too.
At university I carried on with academic study, badminton and public speaking. I added more extra-curricular activities by getting involved with the administration of the students' union and the athletic union.
As a young adult I entered the workforce and started to follow personal development plans to improve my skills in software development and project management. I carried on playing badminton, took up running, played a bit of football and tried to learn to live life independently. I mostly got better at those things.
As I reflect on my life, I notice that at some point as I reached my late 20s and early 30s it feels like my rate of getting better at things started to slow down. This is complicated to review, because, as you get older, the things you are getting better at are more subtle.
I became a father and I hope I've been trying to get better at that. But there aren't as many simple measures for whether you are getting better as a father. Nor as a husband. Or a friend.
My job took on more responsibility and the objectives got measured over longer periods of time and the measures became more subjective. This last observation is partly a factor of the organisations in which I've chosen to work. But also a consequence of taking on different jobs.
For the majority of my life, and certainly the parts of my life that I look back upon with most satisfaction, I have been getting better at things.
Recently, I haven't been getting better at things. No wonder I feel malaise.


It's part of who I am to get better at things.
Although I am (very) competitive, it's never been about being the best. I've never needed to be number one in the world at anything.
It's always been about being good enough and getting better at lots of things. It's not about greatness in one thing at the sacrifice of everything else. Or even excellence in a small number of things to the exclusion of many others.
This is who I have been. Who I am proud about being.
It's who I still am.
That's why this shit has to stop.
It's not up to anybody else to get me better. It never has been. It has always been down to me. It's always going to be down to me. The only person responsible for making me better is me. Others may take on roles that help me get better, but I am ultimately accountable for being better.
It doesn't matter why or how I let myself drift into this state. Drifting along in mediocrity is not acceptable. I will not tolerate it any more.
Fuck this shit is a mantra to focus my mind.
If I feel like I'm avoiding the opportunity to grow, I can draw on this mantra.
If I feel like I'm doing something that limits my growth, I can draw on this mantra.
Fuck this shit tells me that I mustn't accept malaise.
I don't spend time, I invest it.
There are 24 hours in a day. 86,400 seconds. I choose how to invest every single one of them.
Staying still is not an option. Mediocrity is not an option.
Excuses are not explanations.
Fuck this shit.

I start getting better today.

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