Day 668: Hallowe’en!

Halllowe’eeeeen! Bop bop. Here’s the thing: Hallowe’en candy has been on sale for a while so my wife and I got our shameful candy ya-yas out like a week ago, and I think we’ll be in a strong position to resist now. No kids, so there are no inbound candy vectors, and a healthy number of trick-or-treaters, so we’ll be candy free by night’s end.

Hallowe’en also means it’s the last day of October! So it’s a good day for a fresh start with Perfect Me tomorrow, which means I guess this visualization experiment is OVER, and it’s time to put it into action. We got exercise, we got food, we got sleep, we got sobriety, we got work, we got hobbies. We got it all, baby!

Here’s the sheet, for the curious: Perfect Me List

Perfect Me List




Day 666: Perfect Spirtuality

I guess I’m an atheist? I’m not an anti-theist; people are welcome to believe what they believe, as long as they keep it about making people’s lives better across the board and not about making other people’s lives worse (either overtly or through omission).

But, in a discussion with a religious friend of mine a few years back, the essential question was “do you believe there’s a central organizing intelligence to the universe?” Some do. I don’t.

This could be its own podcast! I even had an online comic for a while back in the early ’00s called God Is My Roommate with an obvious premise but got into theism / atheism / anti-theism a fair bit.

How does this fold into the Perfect Me thing? Well, as the old saying goes, if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. I think Rage Against The Machine said that. I think, even if you’re not on team Central Organizing Intelligence, you have to believe in something to keep you getting up in the morning and rolling through life.

In my case, it’s a belief in the human experiment. I think people are, at the end of the day, pretty groovy. I want us to do well. I know that there’s a lot of variance in there that includes a lot of, well, arseholes, but I’m still on team People Are Basically Good.

But if we’re going to get anywhere, we’ve all got to be pulling in the same direction. Now more than ever we need people to be banding together to row this boat. And if people are being marginalized and shut out because of their race or gender or beliefs, they just can’t row.

And that’s where my progressive atheism comes from. I don’t believe in a brain at the center of the universe, but I do believe in us. And I believe in removing the barriers that keep people from contributing fully.

Perfect Me, then, I see staying this course. Gently pushing back against foolishness online and off, sticking to my guns, advancing the idea that we’re all in this together.


Day 664: Perfect Drinking

All right, I’ll cop to this being a pretty easy one; I’ve been up and have a big day ahead of me, so I kind of want to knock out an entry and get some sleep!

Aside from a brief experiment a while back in which I quickly learned that no, I can’t “wait out” my dimmer switch problems and start drinking again, I’ve been rocking sobriety for, well, 664 days. It hasn’t always been easy but it’s been sustainable, and the key there always comes back to the question “am I happier when I’m drinking, or when I’m not drinking?”

The answer is “neither.” It’s about the same. I can’t say I’m happier, on balance, as a non-drinker than a drinker. It’s an even hand.

With that in mind, if I’m equally happy either way, why not go with the cheaper, healthier option? I’m just as happy, I’m saving money, and am making better choices for my wellbeing and longevity.

So yeah. Perfect Me is sober. That’s… pretty much it, I guess.

Day 662: Make Whatcha Eat, Eat Whatcha Make

What does a perfect me eat?

What we cook.

I mean, not to the exclusion of all else at all times, but — and we get back to this periodically — eating out with intention, not because it’s late or I’m tired or whatnot.

At its heart, this is more about planning and preparation than where the food comes from, but my bad habit is getting sucked into free / offered / available food. Because it’s there. It’s a problem.

So in the realm of “simple rules I find it tough to follow”: make whatcha eat, eat whatcha make. My wife and I tried on a resolution in January to not buy anything with more than two ingredients in it and strive to make most of what we consume, including sauces, crackers, etc.

We did a good three or four months hardcore, and a lot of it has stuck — instead of buying ketchup I’ll make hot sauce or a homemade barbecue sauce; we still get things like chips but as an exceptional treat. But I’ve also drifted into easy food, particularly sugar, and Faculty Sandwiches, over the course of the year.

So I’m not saying Perfect Me would do this to 1000%, but he’d pack a lunch and have a plan for dinner if he was going to be working late. He’d abstain at free-food events and stick to the plan for the day.

The last bit is where the “healthy” part comes in. It’s entirely possible to make all our own food and be a disaster. I find it easy!

But planning the day in the morning, making most of what you consume so you understand, intimately, what you’re eating, and sticking to that plan is paramount. That’s what Perfect Me would do. I’m not there yet, but it’s a goal!

Day 661: Perfect Work

This is the elephant in the room, right?

I promised myself I’d be better after my vacation, on getting back to work, at managing my workload and managing up to reduce stress and seek help.

I… have not done that.

It’s hard, in the churn! You want to clear your inbox, get to the things, and if you’re a people-pleaser (I am), do all the things for all the folks and get smiles. Who doesn’t like smiles?

So the big second thing, if I’m looking to visualize a better me, is “I manage my workload.” That’s so huge as to be pretty ambiguous, and not very useful. So let’s try to crack into that a bit.

“I spend 15 minutes every morning organizing my work and updating principal stakeholders on what my priorities and progress are.”

That’s not bad. I’m pursuing this with some of my staff who report up to me, so it only makes sense that I do it as well.

“Take meaningful breaks for lunch or otherwise.” Sometimes you gotta work through lunch due to other people’s schedules. That’s fine. But I need to take breaks.

And finally:

“Spend 30 minutes at the end of every week reflecting on what felt the most productive and meaningful to me.”

Now, this isn’t my first time at this rodeo. I doubt anyone listening hasn’t promised themselves they’d do something very close to this in the past. But it’s checklisty, and calendarizable, which I like a lot.


Day 660: Perfect Exercise

All right!

What would exercise look like, if I were exercising ideally? What kind of shape am I in?

About 175 pounds. My best-ever fightin’ weight mid-20s count-the-abs self was 165. 175 is probably fair in my mid-40s.

Exercising every day but Sunday. Getting in around 300 calories of exercise; this is deliberate hard work, not walkin’ to work and around the building and stuff. Long walks can be exercise! But commuting walking and work-walking isn’t.

Strength and core training, not just cardio.

Gym? Nah. Even perfect me doesn’t want to spend the money, and gym has never really worked out for me in the past. I think that’s still a home-based activity.

With intention. I’ve had a huge problem with this in the last several months — getting it in, but also phoning in.

I’m exhausted just thinking about this!


Day 659: Perfect Me!

Visualization go!

As mentioned yesterday, I’d like to try something new: start from kind of an idea of the person I think about when I think about how I’d like to be, and work backwards from there. It seems obvious — it IS obvious — but if I have a list, it’s at least something I can look at. Not, like, to beat myself up over, but to keep myself on track a bit every day as a destination.

What does that person look like?

I don’t know!

That’s kind of the first challenge. I’m going to kick a few things around and see where they land, but I think there’s a bit of a fallacy in trying to figure this out all in one go. And to lock it in too tight.

I like the chimpanzee evolution analogy a lot, and I use it at work a fair bit to describe the wooly nature of how things move forward. Grab a chimpanzee, tell it you can evolve it, ask it what it wants. I don’t know any chimpanzees that I’m on speaking terms with (I refuse to talk to Garbanzo after that thing at the Hallowe’en party last year), but I bet they’d say things like:

  • bigger sharper teeth
  • stronger
  • faster
  • better, like, chimp hands for doing chimp things

I doubt they’d say “taller, weaker, bald, pretty brainy.”

But look where we ended up. It’s pretty great. I own a computer and a microwave!

So I’m a bit hesitant to lock things down to a too granular point.

I think there are some good starting points:

  • fit: about 20 pounds less than where I am right now
  • sober
  • eating well! Not perfectly, but healthily
  • a job I like and enjoy doing
  • lots of time for family and friends
  • some sort of creative and satisfying volunteer life
  • organized: having and sticking to a daily routine that flexes to life circumstances

…in other words, pretty much where I’m at right now, but really doing what I should instead of doing what I am, most of the time.

This may not be as useful as I thought unless I do get granular. What does my day look like? What hobbies am I really good at? What am I not doing?

I clearly need to spend more time on this.