I had this epiphany at the beginning of September: This thing that I’m doing? This series of choices I make every day? It isn’t working. I don’t like the way I feel, I don’t like the way I look, I don’t like the things I’m doing. Things need to change.
So I took a long, hard, serious look at myself, and concluded that some things needed to change.
- 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.
It’s been about six months since I decided to hit the reboot button on my life. I’ve checked in about once a month since then, to see how I’m doing, celebrate the victories, and identify where I can do better.
Let’s see how I’m doing.
Drink less beer.
I stopped drinking entirely in January, in an effort to get the last bit of weight I’ve been carrying around to fall off. I’m still about a pound away from the target, but not drinking has been incredibly helpful in getting me this close. It’s not just the alcohol, it turns out, as much as it’s the lifestyle that goes with having a drink or three almost every day. Cutting that out of my life has given me more free time, helped me sleep better, eliminated bad late night snacking habits, and pretty much improved all areas of my life. Occasionally, I miss a beer or a nice cocktail, but I honestly feel like I’m giving up something very small and getting something really great in return. I don’t know if I’ll keep this up forever, but I don’t really miss it enough for it to feel like a big sacrifice.
I’m giving myself another A+ on this one.
Read more (and Reddit does not count as reading).
It’s important to me that I read, because it inspires my imagination and keeps my mind sharp (per the Tyrion Lannister quote we all see online with great regularity). I’ve been making time almost every day to read, and I’ve enjoyed some fantastic stuff, recently. The March issue of Lightspeed Magazine is great, and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 did not have a single weak story in it. I’ve been devouring magazines, too. WIRED has been uneven, but this current issue has some good stuff in it. The new non-nude Playboy is fucking FANTASTIC, and I’ve loved both issues so far.
I’m going to give myself a B, this month, because I grade on a curve. Not only is my reading not as diverse as I wanted it to be last time I checked in, I haven’t read as much as I want to read. I need to commit to and finish a novel, which has been kind of tough because I’ve been enjoying the short fiction so much.
But the volume of short fiction I’ve been reading has really helped my writing. I’ve been doing this thing were I look at a picture from one of the Tumblrs I follow, and then I write a little flash fiction based on how the image inspires me. I’ve also written a short story that I probably won’t publish, but still needed to write, a speech for Miami University, a bunch of crap on my blog and my dumb Tumblr thing, and several ideas on my whiteboard for stories, books, short films and even a webseries.
I’m giving myself an A this month, because I finished a thing I needed to write so I could finish the thing I had to write so I could start the thing I want to write.
Watch more movies.
I spent about 40 bucks at Fry’s recently, and ended up with a few collections of cult and B movies. I think I ended up with like 50 different things. I’ve been watching them, but not just sitting there being amused and entertained by how terrible they are. I’ve been really watching them, to learn how these people took very little money and turned it into 75 to 90 minutes of story. I’m picking up on the way these things are paced on the page, as well as photography and editing techniques that I think I’ll be able to apply to one of the ideas I mentioned above. I’ve also been working through some great Science Fiction, including a fucking BRILLIANT movie called Space Station 76, an uneven but thought-provoking thing called The Sound of My Voice, and the 2012 Dredd film, starring Karl Urban.
Anne and I have been watching some incredible TV, too, including the new season of The Americans and Vinyl (which I hope maintains its course, in spite of Terrence Winter leaving the show).
On the curve, though, I am not doing as well as I’d like. Part of that is because I worked a lot as an actor last month, part of that is because I spent more time writing and creating than consuming. If I met with myself in my office, I’d probably be able to convince myself to give me an A, but I know I can do better and I want to push myself to do the best I can do, so I get a B.
Get better sleep.
I get another A+ on this one, and I think I’m going to take it off the list because it’s become an easy A every month. I’ve made this commitment and I’ve kept it for six months. I make sure that, even if I want to stay up and goof off or whatever, I go to bed early enough to get at least 8 hours, unless some work-related thing makes it impossible. I’m watching my caffeine and sugar intake. If I’m tired at 9pm, I go to bed at 9pm, instead of powering through until midnight for some dumb reason. The bottom line is: I’ve made getting quality rest a priority in my life, and this part of my reboot is an unqualified success.
Eat better food.
This was put on my list because I didn’t think of food as fuel and nutrition, and I needed to do that. I’m getting older, my body doesn’t put itself back together as quickly and thoroughly as it once did, and the food I put into it is pretty important. Because I already had a reasonably good diet (way better than the average American diet), there wasn’t much for me to do here, but I found that not eating crappy snacks late in the day or at night, starting my day with good quality protein, and tracking my macronutrients every day has been extremely helpful.
Now, all of this sounds like I should get an A, but I actually am going to give myself a C+, because I was on location a lot, and had to just eat carb-rich food that was available to me, because I didn’t plan ahead and take better stuff. I’ve also been on planes so much, I’ve been eating airplane salt I mean, airplane food, more than I would like. I’ve also developed a little bit of a sweet tooth for ice cream, and I’ve been having a scoop or two of rocky road almost every day. I’m still within my nutrient and caloric goals, but over time the sugar adds up and I should probably not do that. I can do better.
I want the A+ so much on this one! I ran my first true, timed 5K (33:22) and I was super proud of it … but because I was on location in Toronto where it was around freezing every day (and I was working 14 hours a day on average), and because I was super sick for almost 10 days, I had nearly 3 weeks of minimal activity, with two weeks of zero running. I walked my dogs a few times, I walked myself a few times, but I didn’t do anything consistently, and consistency is a big part of this grade.
Putting this on the curve, and accepting what was entirely out of my control, I’m going to give myself a B+. Again, I’d probably talk myself into an A, but I do better when I hold myself to high standards.
Okay, let’s total this up and see how my average is this month….
22 out of 28 points, and I’m going to give myself an extra half point for each +, which brings me up to 26 out of 28 for a GPA of 3.7ish.
I have no idea if this is the way real teachers score things, and I feel like half a point for each + is a little too generous. Maybe I should be closer to 3.5 than I ended.
So, this is very good, a solid B+/A-, with some room for improvement (and that room really motivates me. I’m going to rock a 4.0 on this eventually).
I feel good about all of this. I feel happier than I did when I started, I feel stronger, healthier, fitter, happier, more productive.