One Year Ago, I Rebooted My Life. Is It Working?

Sometimes, I feel like I don’t look terrible in a photo.

Just about one year ago, I took an honest look at myself and I didn’t like what I saw. I needed to reset a lot of habits, make some significant changes to the way I approached just about everything in my life, and keep working at it, even when it was hard.

I can’t even believe that it’s already been a year, and that it’s only been a year, because time feels like that when you’re 44, I guess.

Here are the things I decided to address:

  • Drink less beer.
  • Read more (and Reddit does not count as reading).
  • Write more.
  • Watch more movies.
  • Get better sleep.
  • Eat better food.
  • Exercise more.

Some of these things have been easier than others, and from month to month (and even day to day) what happens to be easy and what happens to be hard are constantly changing. I know that’s an obvious thing, but I say it because we can forget that, and consequently be unfairly rough on ourselves when we don’t live up to our expectations.

No matter where you are in your personal journey, I am super proud of you.

I know a lot of you who are reading this have been doing reboots of your own, and I want you to know that, no matter where you are in your personal journey, I am super proud of you. I’m not the boss of you or anything, but I give you permission to be proud of yourself. Go you!!

So let’s dive in here and see how things are going:

Drink Less Beer: Zero is less than all positive integers, and while there are brief moments when I miss having drinks with friends, they are fleeting.The very best part of drinking less and then not drinking at all is how I have had more productivity in my life in all areas. I’ve lost all the weight I wanted to lose, and my overall quality of life is vastly improved. There is also this profound clarity in my life that I never would have found if I hadn’t made a decision to quit drinking entirely, and face things that made me feel unhappy, or overwhelmed, or just some version of not good. I’ve talked with professionals and concluded that I never had a drinking problem like people who go to meetings to get sober, and I may decide that I can have a beer or a cocktail every now and then at some point in my future. But right now, I honestly don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Grade: A+

There is also this profound clarity in my life that I never would have found if I hadn’t made a decision to quit drinking entirely, and face things that made me feel unhappy, or overwhelmed, or just some version of not good.

Read More: I set my Goodreads Challenge to 30 books this year. It’s always been 20, and people who have lots of time to read or who can read incredibly fast and not miss out on things have been kinda judgy at me about that in the past. I always felt like 20 was more than zero, and it was about two books a month, which seemed reasonable and achievable. This year, I upped it because I wanted it to be more of a challenge than a goal, if that makes sense. So I’ve been reading like crazy, carrying a book with me everywhere, and branching out from the stuff I usually read. This last month, I read Mara Wilson’s magnificent memoir, Where Am I Now? which I give 5 out of 5 and 12 out of 10 because it’s a very good book, Brent. I’m also still in William Gibson’s The Peripheral, which is still a bit of work to stay connected to, but not in a bad or unsatisfying way. I’m also doing lots of magazines and short fiction, because that’s the sort of writing I’m working on. I’m on pace to make my goal for the year, and I’ve kept my reading pretty diverse, so I get an A.

Write More: I haven’t finished anything for my short story collection, but one of the stories that I thought would be about 3500 words is now just over 32000 words, and is maybe even on its way to being a novel. I’ve been writing about it here and sharing little bits of it as I work on it, so I won’t rehash all of that. You can look at those links if you want. I don’t know if it all holds together, but I’m pretty sure that I can make it hold together in rewrites, if it needs me to do that. The important thing is that I’ve been enjoying the process, and I’ve been growing as a writer the whole time. I hope that I can get it finished soon, though, because it’s almost October and I have a scary story that I want to write and release before Halloween. A+

Watch More Movies: I don’t feel like I’ve watched as many movies as I could have, but I’ve watched a wide variety of movies, from silent movies to Kenneth Anger art films to exploitation movies to some very good recent releases. Anne and I have been watching a lot of super good quality television, with great storytelling and writing, though, and I’m getting out of it what I wanted to get out of watching more movies: I’m inspired to create, and reminded why I still care about being an actor in an industry that doesn’t want to return my calls right now. A+

I’m inspired to create, and reminded why I still care about being an actor in an industry that doesn’t want to return my calls right now.

Get Better Sleep: Last month, I wrote about how frustrating this part has been for me. The last couple weeks have been marginally better, mostly because I stopped trying to fight my idiot brain that doesn’t want to power down and go to sleep when I do. My nightmares are still pretty intense and I’m currently experiencing that unsettled weirdness that comes from a couple nights of vivid terror that feels real when you’re asleep and can’t fight it. I read somewhere that our bodies don’t know the difference between imagined emotion and real emotion (this was in the context of being an actor, who spends all day pretending to fight with someone, and has a hard time letting go of that adrenaline when he gets home because his body’s fight or flight system doesn’t know the difference between real and pretend) so my stupid brain is making me feel like I was actually in the movie Green Room, and then actually missed a flight home. Yay for stress dreams, I guess. So I’m still doing what I can do to get better sleep, like not having late day caffeine, wearing the dumb orange goggles before bed when I read, and hitting the sack the instant my brain even suggests to me that it may be willing to go to sleep, whether that’s at 9pm or 1am. The only thing that I think I could do that I’m not doing is just force myself to get up at 7am when I want to get up, and force my body to get on board with this, so it’s tired when I want to go to sleep, but I just can’t bring myself to do that right now. So I’ll give myself a B.

Eat Better Food: My only vice left is ice cream, and I have ice cream almost every night. I’m not going to feel bad or apologize for it, or make any excuses. All my other meals are really good, and we are cooking our own food at least three nights a week. I track my calories in and out, and I’m staying right around 1300 calories every day, which I guess is good for a guy my age and activity level and all that stuff. A.

Exercise More: I really want to be out running at least four times a week. I haven’t done that, because it’s been miserably hot here for no good reason. But when I do run, more like twice a week, I’m going for anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes, doing just over 20 minutes without stopping, and even getting my 5K time down to just over 30 minutes without really pushing myself like I would in a race. My goal is to increase my time and distance so I can do a 10K, then a half marathon, and a full marathon next year. I’m on pace for that. I’m also walking with Anne for about 3 miles on days I don’t run, and we walk our dogs every day. I’m adding a tiny bit of strength training, mostly just pushups and squats and planks in the house, and that’s making a positive difference. Without getting all obsessive about exercise, I couldn’t do better than I am, so I get an A+.

My goal is to increase my time and distance so I can do a 10K, then a half marathon, and a full marathon next year.

Before I total up my points and give myself a final grade, I want to do one more thing, and look at why I chose each of these things to reboot, and see if I am getting what I wanted out of them.


  • Drink less beer.

I wanted to be more present in my life, lose a bunch of bloated weight that I was carrying around, and clear my head so I could honestly assess what I liked and didn’t like about myself. Is it working? YES.

  • Read more (and Reddit does not count as reading).

I wanted to nourish my brain and my spirit with narrative fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels and other comics, and find inspiration in those creative works. I wanted to be Someone Who Reads again, and I wanted to not spend a lot of time err, waste a lot of time doing Someone Is Wrong On The Internet. I wanted to be informed about current events, have a better understanding of things that I don’t know enough about, and be a more well-read, well rounded, and interesting person. Is it working? YES.

I wanted to be Someone Who Reads again.
  • Write more.

I took this whole year off from a lot of work so I could be a writer. I was depressed and unfulfilled and unhappy and sad, all the time, because I felt like I’d spent years doing other people’s work. I’d lost my way, creatively, and I know this sounds wanky but it’s true: I needed to find my way back to The Art. I needed to write stories and tell stories and finish stories. I needed to grow as a writer so I had the confidence to start a thing, and keep going when it got tough. I needed to develop the discipline to put down words without judgement and go back to fix things later. I needed to be the Writer that I was telling people I was, before I got distracted three years ago and didn’t write every day. I needed to do something to express myself creatively because I want to be a writer when I grow up. I need to honor the very good writers who I know and love and respect who tell me that I am a good writer, and that I need to write more. Is it working? HELL YES.

I’d spent years doing other people’s work. I’d lost my way, creatively.
  • Watch more movies.

I needed to stop playing arcade games and pinball. I needed to stop goofing off online, reading Fark and Reddit and Hacker News and Imgur. I needed to rediscover the art inside of making movies. I needed to find a connection to the part of me that wants to be a filmmaker, that loves to bring characters and their stories to life, even though the part of me that needs to Prove To Everyone That I Can Do It is constantly in my way. I needed to remember why art matters, and why there is room for everything from a shitty Michael Bay movie to a deeply moving little indie. I needed to watch things that are great, to get inspired, and I needed to watch things that aren’t great so I didn’t judge myself solely against Kubrick and Welles and James Gunn. Is it working? YES.

I needed to watch things that are great, to get inspired, and I needed to watch things that aren’t great so I didn’t judge myself solely against Kubrick and Welles and James Gunn.
  • Get better sleep.

I needed to stop staying up late just because, and sleeping late just because I stayed up late. I needed to stop having nightmares and panic attacks every night. I needed to get more out of my days, feel more productive, not dread turning out the light every night. Is it working? NOT LIKE I WANT IT TO BUT IT ISN’T MY FAULT.

  • Eat better food.

I had to stop having a #burritowatch every day, even though they’re delicious. I needed to lose weight and get my body fat down. I needed to lower my cholesterol, and I needed to start respecting that my body is older and that the food I put into it is fuel for this meat sack I rely upon to move my consciousness through our shared reality. Is it working? YES.

  • Exercise more.

I had to get off my ass and move my body. I needed to acknowledge and respect that, even if I am mathematically in middle age, whether or not I was “middle aged” was up to me. I needed to put in the work now, so that I’m strong and healthy and not prone to injury in ten years when I’m in my fifties. I needed to do this thing that is actually productive, that was hard, that gave me immediate and tangible results, because most of what I do feels like it isn’t real. I needed to assert control over my body and my health, because I have a long time left in my life and I want to enjoy it. Is it working? YES.

So before I even get to my grades, I know that this has been totally and unquestionably worth it. I also know that it’ll continue to be worth it, and probably next month I’m going to add some new goals, because I feel like these are now a solid foundation that I can build something awesome upon.

I know that this has been totally and unquestionably worth it.

OKAY GRADES! 36/28. Um. Hell yes go me that’s an A+ and I think I might even make the Dean’s List.

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