After never being able to complete an entire 30-days challenge before… I decided to take on 12 30-days challenges in a row! Crazy? Yeah, probably.
See you next year!
Going through my notes on my notebook, I found this entry from one of the times I was in London.
It’s interesting how we repeat ourselves. We live our lives in cycles. We forget what we were thinking, what we were filling, what mattered to us only a few months ago. And then, when we go through the same thing again, it feels like it’s the first time. Like life has never been this hard or the difficulties we’re facing are new.
That’s why writing and revisiting what we wrote is such a cool, eye-opening exercise. I don’t know about you, but I love reading what I wrote before. It’s like reading a letter from a dear, old friend.
And I keep wishing I could tell myself that everything would be alright. Things always do. Even if I’m still facing a thousand and one issues, the things that used to worry me so much back then seem like such a tiny problem. That makes you realize that the monster you’re facing now, that seem so huge and diabolic and unbeatable… in a matter of a few years or even months will be only a fraction of a memory.
The main reason I write is to take things out of my head and onto a canvas where I can make more sense of all the feelings and thoughts. My words are the things that make me who I am. They are the thoughts that push me forward and that hold me back. They are the closest thing to a snapshot of what makes me, me. Going back and revisiting my words from the past are such an amazing way of seeing how I changed, evolved, grew. It would be a pity to have all of this information stored but never examined. That’s basically what I’ve been doing so far.
Now, I decided I’ll start revisiting these old notes and making a summary of them. I don’t want to keep pile stocking all my old notebooks, but I also don’t want to lose those insights. So a summary seems like a handy way to deal with it.
My goal is to go through my notebook and lost notes on my phone twice a year. This way I can remember things I planned, evaluate if my priorities changed, double-down on things that matter the most and get that refreshing dose of “Wow, that problem wasn’t really much of a problem, looking back”.
Do you like journaling or just putting your thoughts into words somehow? If so, what do you do with what you write?
What do you do when you’re doubting your past decisions – the ones that affect your future ones?
Right now, I’m more than halfway through my undergrad degree. That means it’s time to make some important decisions. Will I pursue a master straight out of here? Should I abandon classic casino games and focus more on educational things? Or will I work before? If I go for a masters program, what should I do it in?
The thing is, the course I am doing right now… I’m not so sure it is the right thing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole experience I’m having. After all, I left my country for this. But sometimes I keep going back to those thoughts, dangerous and deliciously seducing: the what-ifs thoughts.
Before leaving Brazil and coming to Portugal to study Communication, I was enrolled in an Engineering course. And I started getting demotivated after my first year there was done. I was demotivated by the course, by the research, by the people I was surrounded by and by the prospect of having an academic/research career.
I was quick to judge and decide, as I normally am. I decided the engineer’s life or the researcher’s life was not for me and bailed out.
Was it the right decision? It felt like it was at the time. It didn’t take long for me to start doubting it, but I was still happy with the new possibilities and fresh beginnings. So I just ignored the bugging question and went on with it.
Throughout the past year and a half, I’ve realized a couple of things. 1) I miss my numbers. I miss the logic and the quiet piece of working alone a bit. 2) I don’t like journalism. At all. 3) All of the other bazillions of possibilities are still a blur to me. Would I like Marketing? Management? Data analysis? AI? Becoming a Kardashian? Maybe this last one is the answer.
So that’s how we arrive at where I am now. Thinking about the future and the past. The decisions I made in all the best intentions, although in a blind hurry. The decisions I’ll soon have to make and not having a damned clue about it.
Maybe I should just choose one thing and stick to it. Not think too much about all of the other endless possibilities. But how to make sure that I’m not rushing into a decision and not going mad thinking and rethinking about it?
I don’t know.
Maybe trying to get some hands-on experience is the best way to go. Get an internship in my area of study, see if I like it in real-life or not. At the same time, go into a course or a class on data science. Talk to people that work in both fields. Find out what their daily work schedule is like. Think about it, write about it, talk about it… for a set amount of time. Say, 1 month actively searching and thinking?
And then, BOOM. Decision time. All or nothing time. Not really all or nothing, but an I’m-going-to-commit-to-what-I-decide-for-at-least-some-3-years all or nothing. Because if I don’t give myself a more or less set amount of time to commit to my decision, I’ll be constantly rethinking and doubting myself and I think there is a point to the paradox of choice making us kinda miserable.
I don’t know if this will work. Maybe I’ll change my mind again in a week. But it sounds like a sound plan, right?
Well, if you have any advice on how to face this pivotal moment, I’d love to hear!
For the first time in my life, I’m not letting the compounding little challenges of daily life make me quit.
It can be disheartening to see how real life turns out so differently from our plans.
It can also be motivating and serendipitous.
I guess it really depends on the kind of person you are, your mindset and the way you face life.
I’m trying to become more and more the type of person who welcomes adversity, all the challenges that life throws our way and all the unplanned stuff. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I’m trying.
Classes have begun and when you put everything else in the mix, the days have been passing in a crazy, intense rhythm. Honestly, I thought I’d have a bit more time before things got this fast and demanding. I thought I would have time to get used to the new routine I designed, to the experiments I wanted to implement… And then, when I was already feeling comfortable and established, then things could speed up.
Well, things didn’t go that way.
And as a result, I’ve been feeling like I’m already falling behind. Falling behind on the habits I want to build. Falling behind on my sleep. And falling behind on achieving the goals I set.
So yeah… I am starting to feel a bit desperate.
But then, that’s when I remember that life doesn’t give a crap about my plans. My goals and beautifully organized schedule can serve as a guide, but they will never be perfectly replicated in real life. And that’s no reason to give up. In fact, it even brings a good thing with it: the permission to mess up.
The permission to fall behind is super important in the goal-setting process, at least as I see it now. I’ve fallen victim to the all-or-nothing mentality more times than I can even count. I know that it is not the way to go.
Having the freedom to acknowledge that things are not going exactly as planned, on the other hand… That can be helpful. Because it allows us to see, without judging and condemning ourselves, that there is room for improvement. At the same time, it gives us the space and time we need to know that results might not be as quick as we thought. Definitely not as quick as we wanted them to be. But if I keep at it, they will come.
Even if the results we want don’t come, something will arise. It might be only the learning experience. With a bit of luck and determination, it will be more than only experience, though.
Anyways, I do realize that, right now, I’m slipping a little. I’m not performing all of my tiny atomic habits every day. There are some of them that I’m completing on the clock, but I still have not been able to increase them, in volume or difficulty.
It makes me frustrated, no doubt about it. But that’s no reason to stop. No, in fact, that’s all the more reason to put some extra effort in it! Because by now, I had time to think more about them. Thinking why I want to create those habits, why they are important to me, if they are worth the trouble… And as time passes, I realize that they are.
Even if those habits only take 2, 5 or 15 minutes, they are also some of the best moments of my day. They let me confident, recharged and with this powerful sense of conquering the world. At least, the world within.
So if you are like me, and the unplanned mishaps really tend to put you down… don’t let them. Plan and add some space for when you fall behind. Remember the good you’ve achieved so far and visualize the amazingness that waits for you, if you only keep going.
I’m really curious to know how you deal when life gets in the way in your daily life. Let me know below 😊
Letting go of my expectations was the best thing I could do for my love life.
My first relationship was everything I had dreamt, as a 16-year-old. All the feels, all the drama, all the passion. I developed a crush and fell in love all before our relationship really started. I hurt, wrote angsty diary entries, rejoiced and lived intensely the good and the bad moments.
It was a pivotal moment in my life. Not only the relationship itself, but everything in those couple of years was intense, important, and felt life-defining. After high school was over and I was back home (this was my first experience studying in another country), I longed for those days. It felt like they were the best moments of my life, and now they were over.
All of that combined really fed a dangerous nostalgia. I didn’t realize until recently how that nostalgia framed so many aspects of my life. How it affected the things I looked for in friends, in the places I lived and in possible significant others.
Just so you have an idea, after that relationship was over, it took me 4 years to start another one. And when it did, I realized how I was still stuck in an idea of relationships that should have stayed in my teenage years.
Both consciously and unconsciously, I was looking for more of that afterward. If I didn’t fall heads over heels for someone after getting to know them a little bit, it was not worth pursuing. After all, I was looking for that right-out-of-the-movies romance, if I was ever to be in a relationship again. And that never happened.
I got used to being alone. It was so comfortable, to be honest, that the sheer idea of dating was… ugh, so troublesome. Sometimes I missed having someone there, by my side, but after all the first stages were already done with, you know?
And so I didn’t really bother. I thought love would show up, exactly in the same fashion as it happened the first time. I’d meet someone, magically, and immediately fall in love. Then, all the rest would follow.
When I met this amazing person now in my life, it still wasn’t clear for me that I was trying to recreate something that, in all honesty, shouldn’t be recreated. I fell in the trap of comparing every aspect of the relationship with the ideal I had in my mind, with how things went before and with how I felt before.
But time passed. Not even that long of a time, but it passed. Something made me start to ignore the expectations I have set so damn long before. And then, when I noticed, I was already in deep.
In a sense, it went in the exact opposite fashion to how I always expected an ideal relationship should develop.
Passion wasn’t the motor engine of what we were building. It was the result. And man, it felt so good. Even with all the challenges, the distance, the time… it feels so good and so real.
Only then did I realize how close I had been before to everything that did not meet the pre-established, fixed and incorrect criteria I set for relationships. They were still the things I daydreamed about when I was 15. And there is nothing wrong with that dream, except it is a dream. It isn’t realistic, nor very healthy. I mean, falling in love before a relationship even begins is pretty much a guarantee of falling in love of what you imagine the other person is, not what they are in reality. It’s falling in love with the expectations.
I’m still learning loads. It really is the first adult relationship I’m in, and it’s all uncharted territory for me. I wasn’t expecting to learn so much about myself by adding someone else in the equation, but boy, I am.
One piece of advice I can offer you is, don’t let your expectations define what your relationships should be like. I’m all for standards, but give yourself permission to experiment. To get to know people, without having a script of how things should develop if they were to work. You might surprise yourself.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give out this Valentine’s Day?
Accepting the now doesn’t mean settling for anything but rather enjoying the little nuggets of the ordinary day-to-day.
TED talks are amazing not only because they provide you with quality content, but especially because, in many cases, they really are thought-provoking. Hours and even days after watching a particularly good one, you’re still reflecting about it, still making connections between what you heard and your own life.
These post-TED reflections are proving to be rich and super stimulating, even if sometimes daunting and scary.
The talk that sparked today’s post is another oldie, from all the way back to 2004, in which psychologist Dan Gilbert talks about The Surprising Science of Happiness – and why it’s not exactly what we think it is.
His premise, which a user comment links to Buddhism, is that when we accept things in life, we tend to be happier. When we accept the choice we made, the opportunities we passed on and the place where we are right now… we are happier. If we learn to value more what we do have and let go of what we gave up on, we are constructing a happier reality for ourselves.
This is particularly interesting in this spot I’m in. A quick look at my past posts shows a lot of internal conflict relating to options, choices, and future. Well, soon I’ll be making those scary choices, that today seem to have the power to define my entire life – and my happiness. Therefore, if I can learn to embrace the options I take, my odds of finding fulfillment from inside out get way, way better.
What if, instead of applying Gilbert’s concepts only to future choices, I start doing it now?
It’s interesting how, when you have something on your mind, it seems like the universe conspires to sprinkle coincidences here and there. Or, in a less romantic, oh-the-universe-is-made-of-unicorns view, it’s awesome how our brains are more attentive to everything and anything that relates to the topic in mind. And so it happened yesterday.
I was talking with a friend about – guess what? – the next couple of years and the decisions we have to make. She started talking about how she changed her mindset during the past year, trying to really focus on the opportunities our university and this country (we’re both living in Portugal, having left our home country) offer. In other words, she made the choice to be positive about the place she’s at today, and make the most of the opportunities that arise, following up on them. And, honestly, she is very satisfied with the results of that change in mindset. Still ambitious for more, but satisfied with where she is right now.
Listening to her, I felt so inspired. How obvious it seems, in hindsight. Of course, if I insist on looking to the future, to all the places I could go to and experiences I could have… or thinking where I could be right now if I wasn’t here… Here and now never seem enough. The option I chose never seems like the best one. Even the choices I’ll make in the future, they already feel handicapped in some way.
That is not a life of happiness. And definitely not a life I want to live.
Always longing for something else, somewhere else.
If one of the secrets of happiness is accepting, valuing and (perhaps most importantly) being grateful for today, then that’s something at my reach. Something you and I can work on improving.
What I want to leave you with today is this: look around you. The place, both literally and figurately, you’re at. Recognize that this is the result of your past choices and that there is plenty of things to be happy about. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Don’t settle for anything. But you can only improve things after you accept them as they are. Look for the opportunities you have now, today. Happiness awaits.
Have you ever watched Dan Gilbert’s TED talk? What did you think about it?
Choosing always means giving up on something. When you’re at the prime time for so many possibilities, how to make the choices?
Yesterday I watched this old TED talk by Meg Jay on Why the 30s are not the new 20s. It’s a motivating talk, which I definitely recommend to any twentysomething or (soon-to-be) out there. As a very very shallow summary, Meg Jay argues that the 20s are the prime time to prepare and set up the life you want. Experiment with worthwhile opportunities, bond with people outside your immediate circle and chose carefully the family you will build.
Ok, all of that sounds good enough. After all, the twenties really are the foundation to much we will build, even if we still have plenty of time ahead. Differently from what we sometimes may think, they are not another stage of teenagehood.
But it also got me thinking that the 20s are the prime time for pretty much everything. In the talk, Jay mentions that the first 10 years of a career have an exponential impact on how much money a person is going to earn. The 20s are also the decade where, on average, we’re going to have the least responsibilities and the most amount of energy, making it a great time to pursue those dreams we always picture happening sometime in the future. For example, traveling the world on a low-budget, volunteering along the way and taking whatever opportunity shows up.
The question then becomes, how to reconcile that? On one hand, it seems like it’s the best time to invest in building the foundations to a long and prosperous career. It also seems like the perfect time to throw everything in the air and go live your dreams. What should be done first, then?
This drawing right here has recently become one of my favorites. It captures perfectly a feeling I didn’t quite know how to explain. It encapsulates one of my biggest fears.
The thing about laying the foundation to a career right now, right out of university is getting so caught up in all the opportunities and comfort that may arise, that the right moment to walk out never appears. Years pass without the decision of stepping away from that and following your dream. Even if stepping away doesn’t mean throwing it all away – being careful to not burn any bridges – it might be a bit too enticing to just continue focusing on building a career, especially if it has been going well.
And then I’ll be in my 40s, with more responsibilities, having to take care of my family, and the time to traveling the world, no strings attached has just… vanished.
But then, what about a career? Will I be able to build a solid, satisfying, successful (according to my own standards) career after two years outside the traditional study-work formula?
Plenty of people did, before me. It’s not impossible, hell, it’s not even that unlikely. The thing is that it’s not easy to shed those traditional images of what we are supposed to do from our heads. It seems the next step is working on loosening those mental constraints.
If you have any comments, pieces of advice or words of wisdom, please let me know 😊
The self-help gurus were right on this one: free-flow writing might just give you some interesting insights.
Being 22 years old is a funny thing. I feel like I’m at a crossroad, in the middle of the way somewhere. Only I don’t know where. And when I look around, I see a bunch of people in the same situation, but some do other things while they’re at the crossroad. Some get married. Some already have children. Some give up on uni. Some are starting to make some real money.
How many times are we told not to compare ourselves with others? That what we see on social media is not real? We know all of that, rationally we do. But, still, it’s easier said than done. Sometimes I just can’t stop comparing myself to that other person who seems to be treading the way confidently and surely, and wander “When will I be like that?”.
It’s scary being 22 years old and not having a clue about what you want. No plans. Looking ahead and seeing… well, not being sure of what I’m seeing. Not that I wish to have everything figured out, that’s not it. But a little clue of which way to head couldn’t hurt, right?
And here we are. Here I am. Halfway through my undergrad, looking forward to my internship in something, considering what are the opportunities I should keep an eye for. I already know I shouldn’t be looking for a Passion, with capital p, that one thing I’m meant to do in life. Instead, I just want to discover what is one of the things that have meaning to me, that would make my heart beat faster, that grabs me from within… Unfortunately, this answer doesn’t come in a fortune cookie.
What is the next step, then? Just keep going forward? I realized that, recently, one of the things I say the most is “Let’s see”. A symptom of this confusion within, it seems. Because “Let’s see” only means let’s continue and try to find out along the way. I’ve been living like that for a while now, making decisions I’m only half-sure of and then “let’s seeing” along the way.
Don’t get me wrong, things haven’t turned out terrible or miserable by doing that. But they haven’t turned out remarkable either. I have been able to get and enjoy some pretty sweet opportunities, but this “Let’s see” mindset meant that these opportunities didn’t result in something more. I didn’t grab those opportunities and worked on them until they turned into other opportunities, because… Well, let’s see where life goes.
Writing is also a funny thing, you see. What started as a confession of confusion became a self-discovery exercise. A mirror within, if you pardon this use of cliched metaphors. One thing that became clear in the process of writing these few hundred words is that I’m using my lack of direction as an excuse to half-ass the effort invested in opportunities. Talk about a slap in the face.
Regardless of your age or the source of your confusion, if you want to feel slightly mad and ashamed at yourself, as well as empowered and with a clearer vision on what’s going on in your mind, I recommend doing what I just did. You were a witness, a first-hand witness, of how just venting out can really give you some perspective. It just gave me some.
So, it doesn’t matter if you like writing, drawing, meditating, going for a walk… reserve ten minutes today to introspect and reflect on those knots in your mind and chest. It might be just what you need to understand the crossroad.
Have you ever tried some free-flow writing as an exercise? Or are you just feeling as lost as me and want to share some fears? Let me know in the comments!