#82: Same Me, New Goals
Nearly a year ago, I set a few goals for myself – A few of the goals were life-long goals that I always had in mind and finally was ready to give them a shot, and a few of those goals just felt like good ones in the moment. Regardless, I’m happy to share that I achieved each of them and more. It’s quickest to list out each accomplishment, but a list diminishes the time and effort it took for each item. That being said, my accomplishments aren’t the point of this post, so: I got promoted, I passed the Solutions Architect (SA) exam after 1.5 weeks of INTENSE studying, I passed the certified personal trainer exam in January (CPT), and I decorated my apartment like I said I would. Although I don’t consider it an accomplishment, I recently got a car and re-negotiated my lease with parking.
I’ve learned that others might congratulate me, but it’s entirely my responsibility to celebrate and be happy for myself. It’s better that I go all-out once for each accomplishment rather than passively celebrate over a period of time in order to avoid feeling frustrated that I didn’t celebrate, when in reality I used an accomplishment as an excuse to spend more money or eat dessert for a week straight. I also need to get better at not expecting reactions from anyone, and tuning out those who can’t be happy for me. Each of those things are a drain on my increasingly limited energy. Taking a step back, I realize that it’s really only a handful who upset me in this way. I’m hurt because I thought this group would be happy for me, but at least I know now. Anyway, I already spent too much energy on this.
There’s no doubt that I over-extended myself studying for the SA exam a few weeks ago. I studied outside of work hours, which meant that I had to balance work, gym and studying on a time crunch. I don’t think I took a break for more than 90 minutes from work / studying / gym that week. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I had to, but I shouldn’t work at 199% capacity just because I can. I’d burn out long before achieving any of my career goals if I did that beyond an occasional sprint. The feeling of being overwhelmed feels far behind me now that I’ve had a few weeks to recuperate by working at a normal pace. It’s so far behind me that I feel silly that I felt as overwhelmed as I did, but that must mean I’m recovered.
I don’t really know if I’d consider myself ‘happy’, but I’m living out new dreams every day. Having a car unlocked insane freedom. I no longer depend on anyone for any activity, and I don’t have to feel like people are questioning me for not having a car. I’m glad I experienced that. I had to embrace life without a car so that I’d appreciate life with a car even more. I knew was time to get a car when time became the limiting factor of my life more than anything else. The last (semi-reasonable) lever to drastically improve my quality of life was to get a car. I’m excited that I can play grocery store Bingo, hike, and visit friends outside the city. Growing up, the four of us shared my parents’ two cars. Having my own car was so outside the realm of thought that I never pictured what it would be like to have the freedom to go anywhere I want, whenever I want. I mostly only drive on weekends, but this kind of freedom is better than I could have ever imagined. I’m still in disbelief each time I see my car waiting for me.
Between attrition on my immediate team and studying for the SA exam, our busiest time of year doesn’t feel like the busiest time at all (yet). I’m actually excited for it to get busier now that I know I can handle it. I hate to admit it, but It’s been a few months since I was truly excited about work. The sudden changes and increases in responsibility were getting to me, but I’m excited that I’m adjusted to the challenge.
I spent last Saturday night working at my ~boyfriend’s~ desk while he played games with friends. If I told most people that I spent Saturday night working, they’d think that either a) I have nothing better to do; b) my job sucks; or probably c) both. As sarcastic as it sounds, I’m 100% serious when I say that this was another childhood dream of mine achieved for several reasons. 1) I didn’t have to play games (board games AND video games) that I definitely didn’t want to sit through, but he still got to do what he wanted. 2) I always wanted enough responsibility to keep me busy, and for people to depend on me. Working on a Saturday out of necessity means I’ve achieved that. 3) Most of all, anyone that follows my blog, even occasionally, knows how much I invested in both myself and into dating to decide what I’m looking for and find it. I won’t say too much, nor can I predict the future, but I so far, the investment was worth it. I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t allow myself to be excited until a relationship was official, in an effort to protect myself. A label doesn’t change my actions or feelings, but it means I don’t have to guess intentions anymore. I’m excited that I can be excited.
As I sat at his desk using my pink mouse, his mechanical keyboard and his monitors, working on the infrastructure that not even my team understands, life was absolutely perfect. My anxiety completely melted away for a few moments. I’ve wrote in detail about how you’ll never be happy if you think life is about resolving all problems. Life is about choosing the problems that you want to solve. This moment was a perfect example of solving the problems that I want to solve. With everything that’s happened in the last few months, I lost sight of that. I let myself get so overwhelmed and upset that I lost the ability (or forgot) to appreciate that I’m solving the problems that I not only chose for myself, but want to solve. I’m re-discovering my passion for work, and I have reasons to enjoy life outside of work with a new set of struggles, accomplishments, and skills under my belt. I feel refreshed. I filled an entire journal so far in 2023 alone, and the master word document of blog posts reached 120 pages of single spaced, 11 pt font. It’s immediately obvious how much I’ve matured, just from skimming posts that I wrote 3, 6, 9+ months ago. I’m a much better version of myself. I wouldn’t have been ready for everything that I have now at that time. Of course, I’ll always have room for improvement, but I understand that so far, life worked out the way that it needed to. I’ll save that for another day.
Now that I’m refreshed and completed my list of goals, I feel ready for new goal(s). My biggest struggle is… you guessed it… food. I was doing better when I wasn’t concerned with tracking or meeting a goal, but the minute I decide that I want to reach a weight / food related goal, I wind up gaining weight as a result of limiting myself. I know better than to set another numeric goal.
Instead, I’m focusing on taking care of myself. I can’t continue to consume sugar in the way that I do. For as long as I can remember, I’ve exercised such control over (nearly) every other aspect of my life that food was my only escape. I’d look forward coming home after a long day and tearing into a huge container of cookies and/or a pint of ice cream. I recognize that I’m not being fair to myself by eating this way. I’m self-sabotaging my progress and seriously risking my health.
That doesn’t mean that food can’t be my comfort – I’m nowhere near ready to give that up. Working out in the mornings frees up extra time after work that I can re-invest into enjoying the time that it takes to prepare real food that I want to eat. That doesn’t mean elaborate cooking each day, but each time I cook something mildly healthy for myself, I’m taking care of myself in the same way that I would for someone whom I care about. It would be foolish for me to stop eating dessert. I know that it would backfire, so I’m not going to limit myself. However, I’m challenging myself to enjoy dessert only in social settings for the next 30 days. Knowing myself, this is a massive undertaking combined with the impending review season at work, so I’m just going to focus on this one goal for now and re-evaluate at the end of the month.