Monday, December 24, 2012

How My 2012 Went, and Plans for 2013

Time for me once again to pretend to be a good, on-schedule writer and do the obligatory end of year analysis, though I'm doing it out of value of course, not traditional commitment. This year, I will say, has been rather messy, a confusing conjumblelation of factors that really makes it neither good nor bad, though plenty disappointing enough. Overall I did learn a lot about myself personally, how to judge and treat other people, and have identified the important questions to address and set up new goals for 2013.

I take new year's resolutions very seriously, and am not one of those who forgets them a few weeks into the new year, only to make a half-hearted attempt the following holiday on another set of goals to again be abandoned. It's an excellent way to improve your life for your happiness, so why not take them seriously? I check my list of goals at least once every two weeks, which ensures I never actually forget them throughout the year.

By and large, unfortunately, I admit that I failed a lot of my 2012 resolutions. Last year I identified that the problem with my 2011 ones was that I was too concrete on getting very narrowly specific things done, which did not suit the context of a changing life, and I think my problem with this round of resolutions is that I made most of them too depended on a hierarchy, which meant I wouldn't move onto others until I got the first in the series done.

My concrete goals this year were set around the theme of “Self-Mastery,” and it was way harder to get it done than I thought it would be. In fact, I made rather mixed progress, and have only learning to show at the end, rather than actual success. It's embarrassing to bring it up at this point since I've been quiet about it for so long, but I did open the can of worms years ago, so to remind you, the reason why I named this the year of self-mastery is because I wanted to focus on recovering from a long, arduous journey to getting to where I am today, which has left some big negative footprints in my conscious, sore spots and emotional problems leftover from the vast struggle I had to undertake.

You may remember my familial problems. In years past it used to be a frequent, downright obsessive thinking and conversational subject because I had identified my family as a major source of my ills and the barrier to my self-realization. I won't resummarize the conflict, because by god I've done enough times so in the past, so I'll simply state that the conflict resulted in me moving to Texas, where I am today. Most everyone has been cut off.

There are no regrets about what I've done or longings for old family members. I've even ignored one on her deathbed without feeling bad about it. The letters and notes that my family sends me on occasion is continual confirmation that they're not willing to recognize the true source of our problems, so I'm resolute on keeping them out of my life, permanently. I know their psychologies too well, to be able to predict that, if I resumed contact, we'd lapse right back into old patterns.

The unfortunate thing is that I carried a lot of emotional baggage with me. There were still negative psychological footprints, as being so immersed in that problematic atmosphere for so many years really changed who I was, for the worse. As a tiny example, I had a lot of obsessive thinking patterns where I would begin a train of thought and be unable to stop it for hours, even the majority of a day. The reason was that the saturation of the conflict frequently put me on the defense, so in order to have a shot at living my life unimpeded I was constantly trying to think of arguments to get these people to leave me alone, but their irrationality persisted, and in being unable to actually get out of that situation my thinking persisted too, even though I knew no rational argument was possible. In moving to Texas I was still trying to think of arguments even though I'm never going to deal with those people again, as I had been conducting the habits for over three years and it has cemented itself nicely in my general habits, even though it was entirely out of date with my environment. Getting to Texas I had finally gotten what I wanted for years, but I couldn't appreciate it since I was so battle-worn by irresolvable conflicts.

Speeding back to resolutions, I wanted 2012 to mark me getting over all those self-defeating habits, and to take it further in me actually having mastered the total of my psychology, with stronger freewill, resistance to temptation, and what have you.

By and large some major goals have been obtained, while some other damage has been done, yet there's still lots of hope and potential for 2013.

Most importantly, in 2012 I managed to defeat the majority of my obsessive thinking patterns and to move into my own apartment. On the former, I discovered some very interesting techniques for destroying and uprooting seemingly self-initiating trains of thoughts, and to this day can say that there's no line of thinking my mind stays “stuck” on. On the latter, I had been wanting to live alone for years. Throughout my life I have lived with over seven different people, and they have all been a detriment to my comfort, whether it be my grandmother who pushes her mental problems on other people, or my old landlord (Wassail) who was nearly a suicide danger on a daily basis (literally), so I'm simply fed up living with other people. It means more money out of my pocket, but I've had no luck in finding peaceful people to live with, so I'm glad to finally be by myself!

Additionally, I made mixed progress in my career. On one hand, I did successfully get into a fine dining establishment as a dishwasher after nearly two years of trying, and got out of an abusive workplace in return, but, regrettably, I ended up losing the fine dining job by failing to master my emotions as per my goal in The Year of Self-Mastery. (Essentially, I walked out, and while it was not my intention to quit it did, by the ink in the rule book, bar me from being able to come back, so I accidentally quit, you could say.) My career is probably where most of my grief and discomfort is lodged right now, for on a fairer market I could have been a line cook by now, but instead I'm still a lowly dishwasher, hardly fit for prep work, and am now set further back again by losing this job, which may mean I'll have to start over again. I've been so distraught because I feel that all I can get in contact with are dishonest, self-lying people who let me down in big ways, including a boss who continually made excuses to me for over a year to keep me trapped in the dish pit, to a country club chef who lied to me for a year about a job opportunity that didn't exist, nearly bankrupting me in staying unemployed for him. I've dealt with such a spectrum of hopeless louses that my spirit was much weaker once I did get into fine dining, and because I couldn't move myself to trust the prospect, fearing always being tied to dish washing, I folded and lost my job accordingly. There's lots of lessons I've been chewing on in this, particularly in understanding how to quickly identify the bad employers and what I must overcome in myself to get ahead, but it's still disheartening that so many years of work have been put forth to still be a dishwasher, when other people have gotten much farther ahead with less effort and time.

Blow-by-blow, 2012 wasn't a very dense year, at least not enough so in goals that a month-by-month relay could be detailed, but that's about the most of it. I finally got over some hugely bad thinking habits, got out of an abusive job, got into an awesome fine-dining one, and moved into my own apartment, but retrogression was made in that full healing did not occur, costing me my job and leaving me presently unemployed and in financial straits.

I think this year has made me learn three major lessons, and identify three major questions that are thoroughly worthwhile to address, in hopes of actually gaining self-mastery in 2013, but before I hit that let us actually go over my actual new year's resolutions one-by-one.

And before moving on, let me just say I'm being open about my personal life because I believe it's an important extension of my favorite saying “A giant is as a giant does.” If I want to be great, then I also need to be open about my vices, pitfalls, and failings, so that I can be believably successful when I detail my eventual triumph over them, a correcting of my character and a move forward towards actual greatness. If I want to hold myself in high regard and be held in high regard, then I shouldn't hide myself: I take credit for the good things I've achieved, and accept moral responsibility for how I've failed.

The 2012 resolutions:

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1.) Get a second job in a culinary-oriented place and stop washing dishes

Drat. I did get a second job, but my original job was so dang abusive that I left it to keep sane. Additionally, by not realizing the ins-and-outs of getting ahead I still washed dishes, and ended up losing the prospect altogether. One job, Two Jobs, One Jobs, No Jobs!

Some food for thought on my professional life in 2013, however, to be detailed later on.

2.) Move into an apartment

Success! However, I was impatient and ended up moving into a WAY overpriced studio, which is definitely putting some pressure on my cost-of-living, but it was worth it anyhow. I know living with roommates is especially cost-effective and practical for people my age, but I've failed time and time again to find good people to live with, last living with an alcoholic landlord who was in danger of killing herself daily with her diabetes. Enough is enough, so I choose to a more expensive apartment to have my private piece of the universe.

I'll be moving in a few months, however, to get away from this expensive lease, and being here has really made me think about what I would find ideal. I might have to move to the city to get some cheaper rates, but I long for the countryside, and could something like that be possible in 2013? We'll see.

3.) Begin investing

Pah! Made no steps towards! As mentioned in some of my posts outside of the notes section, 2012, in knowledge and technology, was the best year for mankind in history, but there are still legitimate dangers to analyze and be on guard against still, one of them being wealth destruction via hyperinflation. I want to protect myself by learning practical investing, but haven't even managed to save any money, so tsk!

4.) Perform mental exercises every single day

Kinda, sorta . . . not really. The reason why I failed is part of one of the three major questions I identified from 2012 in analyzing my failures.

Simply put, for now, I've got to figure out how to sustain momentum on my cognitive self-improvement, as they're intense and stressful in ways that are hard to recover from.

- 5.) Achieve mental exhaustion at least five times a week

This goal stems from a neurological hypothesis of mine, in that the most practical way to develop knowledge, a new skill, or a new ability is to practice it until you get exhausted, as I've found in the past that when I do isolated things to exhaustion my development in them will be the fastest and most noticeable.

For instance, this year I learned to whistle, which I've never done in my life. At first, it was physically impossible for me to produce any sort of note. I practiced until a certain part of my brain got exhausted, and when I woke up from a sleep afterward I noticed suddenly I could produce a tune, that I could whistle. There are other times in which I've exhausted myself in something, and that in getting some sleep afterward I would wake up with new found powers. As such, I think it would be rather practical to live a lifestyle geared towards achieving brain exhaustion in any given endeavor, if you truly want to rapidly develop and max out your potential in it.

However, I found it's harder than I thought. Sometimes I can do something for hours and hours without ever getting tired at it . . . and eventually bedtime must just come! As such, I've decided it's worthwhile to shoot for it when I can, but if I can't get to that point even after extended hours, then I must rest content that I've practiced and moved forward in fluency regardless, exhausted neurons or not.

6.) Cure my bipolar and OCD tendencies

Ehhhhhh half and half! It's come of embarrassing talking about this again when I've spent so many months being private about issues like these. My openness about goals like these came from a time when I was far more regularly open about my issues. Still, I opened the can of worms a long time ago, so in keeping promises I will dump the can empty.

The bipolarity I've made a lot of progress on, but haven't cinched. In thinking about it, it shouldn't be so embarrassing to talk about it, for since it's evident in my behavior, people are going to know about it factually, on some level, whether it's explicit or not, so one such as I might as well be open about it . . . then again I've made good enough progress for it to, perhaps, not be apparent! Regardless, I'm much, much closer to nixing it than I was at the start of the year, and ought to very well secure its healing in 2013.

As for OCD, well, it's not really a problem anymore. When I think of it, was it ever a problem? I can't remember the root incidents that made me really worry about having OCD. Do I have OCD about OCD itself? Well, at the very least I do have some small habits, such as walking back to my apartment after attempting to leave to check the stove or that the door is locked, or quintupley checking be make sure the car lights are off. Okay, I have OCD about the car at least, but overall it's licked and not problematic outside my homelife.

7.) Optimize diet

A lot of progress, yet still no cinching. I've learned to incorporate more fish, but I still eat too many Paleo-friendly sweets and certain dairy products. Securing this area shouldn't be too hard since it's mainly about overindulging in foods that are still acceptable to the Paleo diet in moderation, like Greek yogurt. Focus a little more on reduction and then done.

8.) Practice cold meat preparations

A culinary interest. Mainly, I mean deli meats and charcuterie. Sadly, I failed! Didn't even get to step one! However, I'm not that worried about it.

9.) Turn reading into my primary form of entertainment 
  • Read a half-hour before bed every night

Wild success. I love reading, especially by my firelit oil lamp in bed before sleep. I could still work at making it an even fiercer habit, but overall I would say this is my most successful new year's resolution. I still have to work on that bullet point, however, as sometimes, if a little thing changes in my routine or something, I might end up forgoing reading for the night.

- 10.) Develop a habit of studying regularly, at least five times a week

Although it's quite a ways down this list, this is definitely related to item number four, doing mental exercises everyday. I highly, highly, highly value a well sharpened intellect and strong cognitive powers. No matter what career I dedicate myself to, I want to exercise within it the best and strongest intellect I possibly can.

However, it's yet another thing I faltered on. A whole lot of self-doubts creeped in, especially career stress, and a real study routine never really got going. Plus, I'm unsure if I'll ever really be able to get it going if I, say, get two jobs or something. Still, I think I figured out a solution called “Deliberate Thinking,” which may make studying unnecessary if I judge right, and will fit into any lifestyle. More later.

11.) Become a stronger, more uplifting leader
  •  Make honesty and drive dominant personality traits; build up resistance to irrational influences to remain "myself" 
  • Master keeping emotions in check

This is probably the one most related to self-mastery. Essentially, I wanted to master the content of my character so much so that in viewing myself from a second-person perspective I would find myself a very admirable and influential leader who can move others by setting the right example first. Throughout most of my life I've noticed I've been able to most potentally convince people to live a certain way by making visible how I was living that way, and it worked: People did mental exercises when I did, took ice baths when I did, and so on.

However, as should already be obvious, I let myself fall in this regard. I've managed to become more uplifting in my activism, but not so much so as a leader that sets good examples. I'm far more honest and far less afraid to put myself in opinionated conversations, but perhaps don't talk much enough in that area. I've definitely failed the last bullet of keeping emotions in check, as letting the worst get the best of me is what led to things such as my job loss.

2013 is another chance. Life goes on; there's more yet to be lived.

12.) Buy and master more knives

Culinary,! I've only got the three basics, and wanted to get a few more, like the meat cleaver, which would be fitting for learning butchery, a growing interest of mine. No dice however, as I didn't save enough money nor move far enough ahead professionally to even use my basic knives.

13.) Pay off debt
  • Deposit 10% of paycheck into debt account

Drat! This is probably the worst! I've actually increased my debt, even! Drat, drat, drat!

There's still time yet however!

* * * * * * * * * *

Alright, messy year. Right? What are the three major things I learned?

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1.) How to identify bad people more quickly and respond accordingly

This is primarily in relation to my career. As noted before, at one point I worked in an abusive workplace. One thing that was especially bad is that the boss passed me over for a multitude of promotions while keeping me trapped in the dish pit, and he had convincing enough rhetoric to persuade me to stay and be patient, which resulted in me staying still in my career while he continued being unjust to me. Since much of what he says is him actually lying to himself, he does a good job of making high, convincing promises he's not going to follow up on, but moves you to stay and be hopeful.

When thinking about it, there were warning signs early on that I should have heeded which would have gotten me out of that place much quicker. In fact, I find that the worst among the worst people usually cast off warning signs that make them very detectable early on, which makes it unnecessary to have to suffer them for prolonged periods when you can amskray at first warning. By not understanding the warning signs I did prolong suffering under that boss, especially that other country club chef who kept lying to me about a job.

I won't detail all that I've learned here so as to not derail the article, but I will say that learning how to judge evidence from people in order to properly judge them continues to be a strong interest of mine. It astounds me how people can rush into horrible relationships despite having little reason to have such a strong, positive estimate of the person, or even to ignore noteworthy negative evidence. It'll probably be a regular thinking subject for the rest of my life, as it's practical for knowing which people not to let go of and who to run away from, and who deserves your love and who deserves your hate.

With this knowledge in hand, I ought to be able to have better relationships in 2013 since I know what kind of evidence to look for and what weight to give to individual pieces, and which employers will deserve my loyalty and which ones I should get away from as soon as possible.

2.) What to put on display about myself, and what I need to overcome within myself

In other words, what I need to give other people in terms of character in order to get ahead, and what I need to keep to myself and overcome.

For example, as few months ago I identified something I called the “Vegeta Mistake” (yes, after the character in Dragon Ball Z). It essentially entails indulging in the whims of your emotions in the unthinking hope that it'll give you what you want in external reality. For instance, if you get angry you might be tempted to yell and be hostile with people, and during that you may “feel” that indulging in those temptations will get you want you want: For people to submit to your desires, work to alleviate your pains, and so on. People do that regularly, thinking that escalating and putting their rage on display makes them more powerful over people because the emotion inside them feels powerful. In reality, however, it is not so: It lessens your overall and long-term influence on people, and damages your relationships, career, and health. The anger may make a person feel more powerful, and feel that if they indulge in the whims that they will be more influential and dominating, but in reality it makes them weaker.

The way this applies to me is that a thing like the Vegeta Mistake is what ultimately cost me my job. By walking out, I felt that the distraught behavior would get me the kind of attention I wanted and the remedy I wanted, and I acted on those feelings. In reality, it set me back professionally. I lost the job.

From experiences like these, and some others resulting in not so severe of results, I understand better what it is that causes people to become more affectionate of a human and want to reward him, with attention, career advancements, or whatever, and what it is that pushes them away. The Vegeta Mistake is one such thing that pushes people away.

Simply, I need to do far better at putting positive character traits on display as much as possible, for that's what adds value to people's lives and makes them want to give you values in return. At work, this translates to be a likable personality who gets the job done thoroughly and fast, and that will result in promotions and raises. In contrast, what I need to work on keeping more to myself is my bitterness and resentment over past events, such as lousy bosses who waste my life or my family who stood in the way of my life, and getting over it with my own power, as allowing those events to affect my psychology will only result in a negative personality that won't win people over, and consequently not only not get me the values I'm so pining for, but also add to my misery. I've learned what adds to people's lives; I've learned what subtracts.

While still unemployed, this ought to lead to a smoother career from here on out. To everyone else: You can't let past, hurtful events enter into your manners in treating new, innocent people, for that's never going to get you what you want in the long-run. Learn to treat people well despite how you feel inside, and in the long-run you'll get want you want, compensation for the injustices and then some.

3.) I need mental balance and variety in order to fully realize myself

This is related both to healing emotionally and fully realizing my intellectual powers. What I've realized in trying to achieve emotional health and intellectual growth is that a lot of techniques are needed in order to be fully effectual, and that there needs to be balance between everything so that any one technique does not get worn to ineffectivity or stresses me out.

As for variety, I've learned that while, for instance, there may be a great number of individual techniques that will work in enhancing emotional health, still a multitude are required at once to fully secure it. For example, writing in a journal is immensely potent in analyzing my thoughts and affecting change in my ideological structure, but there comes a certain point in when I get absolutely sick of it, get no relief from it, or whatever. When I squeeze my brain dry like that, I want to intake stuff. For that, reading satisfies me. It satisfies deeply as if my brain actually had a stomach, for if I go a while without feeding it there will literally be an uncomfortable sensation of a hollow space in my head, making me antsy to consume some intellectual material. But reading only goes so far too, and sometimes I'll be sick of writing and reading at the same time, and my brain will feel overworked. Then that's when I need to meditate, to shut my brain off while I'm awake, so that it can recover.

In short, while such a thing as writing may be fantastic for emotional health, it only goes so far as it needs to be offset by other things to accommodate changing needs within me, otherwise I overwork it and get less value out of it. The same goes for intellectual-developing activities. If I overwork a method I have a harder time concentrating, and it becomes less effectual.

As for balance, I also recognized that I can only accomplish certain things under certain conditions, so that in order to engage in a multitude of different practices I have to do so in a certain way that balances them out, such as tackling them in a certain order or rearranging them depending on how I feel. For instance, I have been frustrated for YEARS that I've struggled with meditation. On many occasions I've gotten huge values out of it in terms of deep relaxation and vastly increased concentration, but I could never sustain the momentum and could never understand why. Now I understand I can only do meditation under special conditions, when my brain has been worked to a certain extent or, even better, overworked. For instance, I simply cannot do meditation an hour after waking up: My brain will fight with thoughts too much. But if I fry my brain through exertion, then meditation feels wondrous and I actually get its full effect. Thus, to maintain a lifelong habit of it I need to invoke the right conditions for it and know when to do it and when not to do it.

This type of learning will enable me to use many techniques much more effectively, as I have plenty of practices where I couldn't understand why suddenly the value of it would dry up after extended practice, or why I could engage in it better some times better than others. As another example, I've learned I'm a far better reader when I've done a lot of writing, as the writing will squeeze my brain of its own thoughts and clear the way for the intake of others. If I try to read when I'm introspective then the thoughts can't be silenced and the reading can't be read.

* * * * * * * * * *

Still yet, I've identified three important questions that, if tackled the right way, will add a lot more value to 2013 if I can get a good answer. Here's where I'd most like your input, if you'd give it.

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1.) How can I better maintain an intense lifestyle?

This one flows from lesson number three directly above. I've found that I need balance and variety to fully heal emotionally and to best move forward in cognition, but I haven't figured out the full extent of it.

For instance, a few weeks ago I discovered a new thinking technique I call “Deliberate Thinking.” Simply put, it's a very intense thinking method in which you intensely heighten your attention and consciously choose things to think about or be aware of, to fill up the empty hours of the day that could be made more productive, such as that five minute walk from Point A to Point B. If I use Deliberate Thinking, then I can make WAY more intelligent use of my time by heightening my attention or digging into deep subjects when I do something that doesn't require a lot of mental focus. In a way, you could almost say it's like studying without cracking open a book, or learning how to learn things the first time around without constantly revisiting it.

It works. My memory and thinking powers have notably improved, and I think this method is ultra-practical. Anyone would get an awesome mind if they made it a daily practice . . . but the problem is that it's EXHAUSTING! For the first week I could only keep it up for a few hours of my shift before losing the ability, and the next week after that I couldn't do it at all. It may be practical, but it's so intense and tiring that it's hard to keep it up for long periods, and will definitely need a lot of training in order to get its full potential released.

To maintain it for the long-term, however, how can its stress best be alleviated? It is extremely taxing to the brain, and oftentimes it's hard to recover with just a simple night's sleep.

There is a potential solution. Someone suggested meditation, and I have noticed that meditation felt extra good in times I was stressed from Deliberate Thinking, but I didn't take it far enough to observe it's full healing potential, so my habit of DT kind of lapsed, for now. But if meditation is indeed the healing method, then I ought to engage it for as long as I need to in order to get the full effect, rather than artificially cutting myself off with a time limit.

Still the question remains for other areas of life. As another example, I find that on occasion I can get a healthy impatience to get stuff done that I'll literally run to every destination I want to go to, but then I'll get petered and not do it for several days. And so on.

The ultimate question is: What's the best way to speed up and be thorough in recovery for a more intense lifestyle, from things like running everywhere to Deliberate Thinking?

Not recognizing that problem was probably why I lapsed so much on my intellectual goals for 2012. I would set up a very intense goal, attack it intensely, get intensely tired, and recover so slowly that the habit died in the meantime, failing to gel and stay. I would grow WAY more as a person if I knew how to sustain hard-core effort without exhaustion killing the habit.

2.) How does one stay on guard against getting worn down by bad people and frequent frustration?

Deep down I am an optimist that believes preserving struggle will eventually result in one winning in the long-run, getting what you want against the odds and overcoming hardship, both natural and maliciously put forth by others. However, I still find myself not so well equipped to deal with the hardships I do face, and do find myself worn down by frequent disappointment, which does affect my personality and overall lifestyle habits.

For instance, I experienced a LOT of emotional turmoil in my job before my last one, as it was an abusive place where a lot of people were hostile to me. It was a chain restaurant where nobody, not even the owner, was really interested in being in the restaurant industry, and that made me stick out like a sore thumb since I was otherwise interested. Many coworkers resented that I worked harder and had more ability, because my stronger interest led to me developing myself in ways that they wouldn't, and removed resistance from working hard since I was so interested while they were incredibly bored. That contrast made other people feel bad about themselves, so they tried impeding, even bullying me, and overall made my work-life miserable. It was a horrible, tormenting place, and it strongly affected my habits and lifestyle since I lost motivation after getting spat upon for working harder, and just being maliciously prevented from achieving my goals. The result of working there made me bitter and distrustful, and I stopped working hard at developing my abilities, especially in things like studying at home or practicing cooking. They wore me down. Other things contributed, such as being unable to get ahead in the restaurant industry, which has dampened my passion since I've been lied to, misled, let down, neglected, and so on. I ought to be a line cook by now, but am still at step one, all while I see other people get ahead, and that's dragged me down to the dumps.

So how can I make myself more robust against such events aside from knowing their remedy? How can I prevent myself from getting disappointed by unrelenting, mean-spirited people who intend for me to wear down emotionally, or by, for a time, being unable to reach a certain goal? I know that if I keep struggling I can eventually get myself away from those people or obtain my goal, so it's the meanwhile that I'm worried about. I don't want to drop a likable personality because I'm surrounded by low-lifes, or to lose heart and passion in pursuing a passionate career because I'm surrounded by lousy prospects.

3.) How does one temporarily bear unfulfillable needs?

I've mentioned before that I have a loneliness within me. It exists because I'm surrounded by people who, at the time, can't satisfy the deep value-needs within me, while I still have friends. For the time being, these needs seem to be unfulfillable, but, of course, ought to be fillable sometime in the future, if not sooner in the short-term. For the time being, I must grin and bear it.

So: How? What will make the situation more palatable, to deal with a need that cannot be satisfied?

Now, I know I've mentioned video blogging. That may, for a time, be a good way to go halfway with the need and take off its edge until I do find some deeper, more satisfying prospects.

I ask because sometimes dealing with unmet needs can give rise to anxious, counter-productive behaviors. For instance, excess time on Facebook. Most of the people I'd like to meet are in multiple states, and sometimes this is as close as I can get, which, unfortunately, make social networking websites a stronger temptation given the loneliness perspective. It does not satisfy, but it does make me aware of the need.

If I knew better how to tolerate or at least halfway satisfy needs I cannot fully meet, then I ought to be a lot better at preventing anxious behaviors that get in the way of a healthy routine.

* * * * * * * * * *

Again, if you'd leave input on those questions, I'd appreciate it.

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Alright now, what of actually 2013? What shall be its theme?

Well, to start I'll say that I've learned my lesson with making goals too dependent on a hierarchy. A lot may be necessary, but if too much of the list is set up that way, then I may screw up royally on my new year's resolutions like I did with 2012. Because so much depended on me dealing with my emotional health before all else, I slipped drastically in other areas and slipped in general.

This coming year will move away from hierarchy and focus solely on diverse character changes, for I see no need to set concrete career goals if I alter my character in the best ways possible, as in optimizing the deep fundamentals within me should make everything else worthwhile flow, including career advancement, money, accumulation of desirable property, and so on.

I'll theme 2013 the Year of Prime-Moving.

I'm not sure if Ayn Rand really has an extended write-up on it, but the term “Prime Mover” is something I got from her, which is, I believe, an Aristotelian concept. She applied the term to represent the best humans of mankind: The people who are self-motivated and independent, and who influence the world in its material progress and in the philosophy it rotates by. Men who move themselves, others, and the world. True leaders.

Applied to myself, I'd like 2013 to not only be the year in which I get over lingering irrationalities, but also move so far beyond them in progress that I can start moving things in my environment, meaning becoming an influential employee within a business, an able leader able to unite people for a cause, and move people further still as a leader who practices his ideals and shows their material goodness, and is able to move people to strive for those same ideals. A giant is as a giant does, and I'd like to start doing some gigantic stuff, for once.

Here's the most complete-to-date list of my resolutions, with just one or two left out for privacy. Additionally, I'm categorizing this year.

* * * * * * * * * *
Most Significant Goals:

* Habituate networking practices

Being unemployed sure has made me think of my character flaws that led to the collapse, what constitutes good business practice, and what deep changes need to be made. Most striking to me is that my introverted lifestyle could really be working against me, as I don't have a large social network, and definitely am sorely lacking in good business references to enable me to move around or find good prospects.

Aside from the character changes, probably the biggest lifestyle change I could make for myself is to learn how to make networking a regular practice. How much further ahead could I be in my career if I knew the wise ways of scoping out prospects, and of rationally treating people within a business context to be able to earn those opportunities at a quicker pace? Why, lots probably!

Currently my lifestyle is pretty darn reclusive. I still have my friends, and I certainly don't hate people, but I am capable of managing vast swaths of alone time without getting terribly bothered by it, and perhaps that's really holding me back since I'm not making myself known or learning how to be a good influence on others.

It'll take a lot of thinking and practice, but to start I think I would do well to take note of all culinarily significant events around me, like special dinners and whatnot, and learn to mingle at them. Perhaps needs for friendship and romance may get satisfied that way, also. First off, gotta get a basic job or two to be able to afford those dinners! I'm excited to see how much this could actually advance my life. It'll definitely call for some major upheavals in my current social habits and ways of treating people.

* Master putting thoughts to action

Kind of a broad productivity goal. I find one of my biggest problems in productivity is that sometimes I like to think too much, divorced from action. I think it was, in fact, sometime last year that I gave up my major years-long hobby of taking a daily walk, because I found it put me in such deep thought that less and less was getting done. Thinking in whole is definitely a very good thing, but if it means less writing, less doing, less earning money – it's time to rethink those habits! At least, I need to remaster thinking so that more often than not it's actually resulting in material results, even as simple as a piece of paper getting filled up with writing. I want to avoid “free” thinking, separate from a material activity, except at times when I get overworked and engaging an introspective mood would be healthy recreation.

* Pay off all debts

Simple enough. I might get a second job where I use the separate paycheck entirely towards paying off debts. In getting more successful at networking, who knows what's possible?

To force in an activist point: The United States government may not be paying off the national debt, but that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't my own. The more and more I think about it, the nation saving itself from ruin is mainly, deep down, going to be about the individuals that compose the States getting their lives together. Think: Do we have spendthrift politicians with constituents who are otherwise frugal and thrifty? Probably not: Many individuals may have their own big share of personal debts, such like the government has the national one. If we, altogether, work harder and harder at living rational, healthy lives, in things like paying off our own debts, then sooner or later that could spread into good change in politics.

In other words, the national debt will start getting paid off once American citizens dedicate to paying off their own. Even if you don't want to be an activist, to have a positive change on the world I say: Live well, even if you don't wax philosophical on it.

Professional goals:

* Stop washing dishes and become a prep cook/line cook, or something else intellectual; just get out of manual labor

I know this could be placed alongside the networking goal, but hah: A reminder that I want to stop washing damn dishes! Or, at least, I'll tolerate it if I can cook or do prep to a significant degree. Or who knows else what? Even though I'm set on getting a fine-dining education, I don't think I want to own my own restaurant in the long-run. I do want to stay in food, but I don't know what. Perhaps I might get a second job – which I should – and perhaps it might be some other fraction of the culinary industry, like hunting. Who knows? I've got to live strenuously and have desires before I can analyze what those desires are.

Goals for the mind:

* Do a session of “Tell me everything you know” every night

This is a small, short little routine I want to establish. This was a technique identified by private school owner Lisa Vandamme. It's a way of boosting one's memory of a subject and thoroughness of understanding by picking up a topic, like a chapter read in a book, and stating literally everything you know about the topic. Literally everything.

For awhile, I made a habit of doing this aloud in the car on my drive home from work, and I found it did, indeed , at least boost my memory on the subjects I rambled on about, and the more and more I practiced it the more organized my mind became, the more of my days I remembered, and the deeper my understanding got. It's a good, very broad mental technique that's useful for learning a lot of things, and I want to make it a regular spot in my daily routine in pursuit of making myself as intelligent and cognitively strong as I can.

To further elaborate, it's techniques like these that I look for in increasing the powers of my mind, the ones that are so broad that you can use them for a great many things, like a great many subjects all in one session, that's easy to insert into just about any lifestyle. I've split hairs before about proper methods, frequently panicking as to whether one may be too narrow to be useful to my life, and methods like these are a godsend.

* Do vocabulary exercises everyday, and do a weekly vocabulary and “Blossom Detective” quiz

This one could use some fussing, as perhaps the vocabulary and BD quiz could be fused into one.

Anyhow, a lot of you by now are probably aware that I really value good speaking skills! For years I've been fussing with a vocabulary exercise which is actually slightly more advanced to be called a vocabulary exercise, but I call it that for simplicity's sake. I'll just say that it's more intensive in that I strive to find out what the term is related to in reality, rather than simply learning its definition, so that I can be certain of the truth of the concept, which is good for my writing, speaking, and psychological-epistemology. Despite my having set up an extremely good exercise program, I still have a heckaof time doing it regularly, and have essentially been sitting on this awesome technique that I constructed years ago. I might perhaps make a separate post on how I've changed the exercise after all these years, but for now I'll say that I want to start doing it again on a daily basis.

Furthermore, building upon the “tell me everything you know” technique, I might also benefit from doing a weekly vocabulary quiz, to boost my memory. I think one of the major reasons why I've faltered in doing my vocabulary practices is because I didn't have a good feedback mechanism to tell me whether I am actually intellectually growing through this practice or not, so I give up since it feels like I'm going nowhere. If I set up a quiz where, say, I would write questions on vocabulary terms I did two weeks ago, then I could see if they made an impact on my mind, hone my understanding, see which ones I've forgotten or did ineffectual exercise on, and what have you. I could also further enhance the quality of the quiz by perhaps inserting such questions as why I decided to do that term, why it interested me, and so on. More bang for the buck.

Now, as for “Blossom Detective” quizzes, those would be quizzes set up from things I research as prompted by my audio recorder. My recorder has four files lettered A, B, C, and D. I categorize different kinds of content into different kinds of folders so clearing the folders is faster and less messy. All vocabulary terms, for instance, go into folder C, which I've made to stand for “Concept.” Anytime I come upon an interesting thought which I want to follow up on, I'll put the files in folder B, for “Blossom.” (A metaphor for blossoming thoughts.) Anything else that prompts future needed research and action, such as a boss telling me to go home and research something, I'll put in folder D for “Detective.”

I've still yet to toy with a rough draft of the kind of quiz, but I figure I could also further benefit by doing quizzes on material I get from my B and D folders of my audio device. This could potentially be the ultimate catch-all solution to my worries about studying in a busy life: Just squeeze everything I want to learn into a single quiz, and that alone can be my memory tester, understanding sharpener, and feedback mechanism for how I'm progressing or where I'm faltering. I'd have them once a week, but only on material two weeks old to increase the challenge.

Stuff like this deserves a separate article, but perhaps my inability to study in a more physically laborous lifestyle is solved. Use Deliberate Thinking during the daytime, vocabulary exercises once daily, and one session of “everything you know” before bed. Then, a weekly vocabulary test and Blossom Detective quiz at the end of the week. That should cover almost any intellectual need, no?

Goals for health:

* Get up on waking up

One of my top morning vices: Laying in bed until a set time. Sometimes I so want to get up at nine AM that I'll stay in bed even if awake before that. Not good for maximizing productivity and making the most of finite life. Get up when up!

* Take an ice bath once a week

You all know I love ice baths. I do them for well-being, physical appearance, and health. Cold showers really don't count in Texas, as the climate warms up the plumbing way too much. Even in winter I still have to toss in oodles of ice to get it frigid. If I lived in a more wintry climate I'd be taking cold showers two or three times week as a substitute and an ice bath every now and then, but for now it's only possible to do cold water therapy in Texas in either an expensive cold plunge or by icing down bath water. It takes about a week to get enough ice, which is why I want to set myself on doing it weekly.

Oh, I'm good at taking regular ice baths. Just, not at staying PERFECTLY consistent with them, however. 2013: Be strict in freezing!

* Write, type, meditate, or mentally rehearse once a day

Primarily related to mental health, and a tricky one given that whole mental balance thing. I find that in order to stay at my most effectual and emotionally healthy, there are certain things I need to do daily, like writing or meditation, or I go bonkers. However, I'm still going to have to learn more about what it means to be balanced for me, such as whether I could write and meditate both daily, or if I should write exhaustively one day and meditate another, or whatever. Again, certain mental practices only lend themselves well after certain conditions are met, such as meditation needing me to be exhausted. Additionally, perhaps I may need to add to this list to prepare for some other facet of myself I may not be aware of now.

As for mental rehearsal? Eh, ask if you'd like details, but it's a subset of meditation, to be clear.

* Practice a fighting style

Mixed martial arts, a particular martial arts, or whatever! I want to learn how to fight and defend myself for three reasons: To maximize the speed, strength, and flexibility of my body; to increase my confidence and have it endure in adversity (like dangerous situations); and to, of course, know how to defend myself.

For years I've done weight lifting without really understanding what I wanted in the long-run for my body, but now I've identified that I desire the most function out of my body possible, the maximum mix of speed, strength, and flexibility I can get out of it. Aside from an exercise routine, I think picking up a fighting style of the sorts would be a natural extension into this territory.

Furthermore, I think I'm a bit of a coward when situation get tough, for while I'm not a mean-spirited guy, I do semi-regularly come into constexts with people who take offense – at my appearance, I guess – so that they want to physically intimidate me. I think, in a way, I've got a face that makes the most irrational people want to fight me, or at least put me at risk for it. At that abusive workplace I mentioned I did almost get into a fight on at least three different occasions with people who mishandled their emotions. In a way, I feel like I'm almost always in potential danger, and would like honed fighting skills to be prepared in case things finally do go too far, sometime. I never intend to aggravate, yet I do “successfully” too often.

Activist goals:

* Live a good life and be visible about it

Or blog more? Not sure how to put it. This one is probably the most symbolic for the Year of Prime-Moving. It simply entails mean setting up a rational lifestyle, and being vocal about how it benefits me. That could include how ice baths benefit me, how treating people right (networking) gets me ahead, how practicing a fighting style boosts my bravery, and so on.

One activist strategy I think that is sorely neglected is the simple act of putting out there how you're practicing the ideas you advocate. Lots and lots of people will talk about the ideas they advocate, but not so often in regards to how they're practicing, or, most importantly, actually benefiting from them.

Ideas are more moving and persuasive when you can hold up your own as a demonstration of their good nature.

* * * * * * * * * *

Ah, and those are my resolutions for the year 2013, the Year of Prime-Moving! The world may be getting in worse shape economically and politically, but intellectually and technologically this is the best period in human history, and there's a lot to live for.

If I want to live a long, happy life in a safer, better world, then I need to pull myself together, get over my goddamned vices and stupid resentments, live well, treat others well, and be visible about it!

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