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Day 39. I thought I'd sleep longer to recover from the week. I did but not as long as I thought. I woke up and stayed in bed, thinking some things over, until I felt good about getting up. Since then I spent all day with my family.

Coming back from the park we met a family we'd like to get to know better. We invited them for the afternoon and they came. The children played together while us adults checked each other out. Yes, we get along, no major deal breakers ;) So we are meeting again next week, most probably with another family all of us already know. The efforts in building a support network are finally starting to pay out.

I noticed I'm putting in practice some advice from the book Superhuman Social Skills. Being more mindful of the way I communicate is having only positive effects.

Gratitude journal:

  1. A Sunday of full, active relaxation.
  2. My family being so happy I'm back.
  3. Finland for giving me great music and friends lately :)
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Great to have you back with us, Tom! The Wisdom of Psychopaths looks interesting, I may need to pick it up soon! 

Thanks Cam! It's great to be back. If you read that book let me know what you think of it. So much food for thought!

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Day 40. Woke up early and, instead of writing my dream journal, I went straight to meditation. I'm starting to question the dream journal thing. As cool as it is, I'm starting to wonder whether I should just sleep longer. The fact is that I get so tired, especially at the end of the week, that my quality of life suffers. I'll try 9 hours and see what happens.

Regular working day, which I tackled with a little less enthusiasm than usual because I'm still tired from the event. I did what I had to do and that's what matters.

My workout was good. I struggled quite a bit but I met all my goals.

Well, that was pretty much it since as soon as I was done with work and workout I went to lie down a bit... and it was lights off until the next morning :)

Gratitude journal:

  1. Joe Satriani teaching humanity that there are so many sounds an instrument can make!
  2. Laptops that make me work where I want to.
  3. Lapsang Souchong making me mindful. The more I drink it the more I ask myself whether I like it or not ;) Can't stop!
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Day 41. So I woke up to help the children get ready, saw my wife was up, and fell back into bed until right before the time to go out. No remorse: if I need rest I'm going to take it. Morning walk with the little one and then straight work.

An idea I pitched was received much better than I thought: the guy wrote a whole plan around it and is working to make it happen. This got me thinking. I was never afraid to speak my mind and this brought me major trouble when I was growing up. I always wanted to do things my own way hoping that I would find a better system that could benefit everyone. This has been labeled as cocky, out of place, disrespectful, more times than I can count. I kept doing it though. Rather than changing myself, I changed my circumstances. And in turn those circumstances affected me greatly, in a virtuous circle, and changed me. Until the point where I'm the right person, I'm in the right place, at the right time. Luck sure takes a lot of work!

Gratitude journal:

  1. My wife made me breakfast today. And it was really tasty!
  2. Guinness with a friend in an Irish pub.
  3. Customer service. A voice on the phone can make your day.
Edited by Tom
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I relate to the not afraid to speak your mind getting you in trouble growing up. I think that has a lot more to do with the silly expectations we have of kids and the poor school system (in my experience) than it has to do with our willingness to speak up being a bad thing. If anything, it's a sign of leadership. ;)

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Day 42. Today was sluggish. So many priorities competing for time. It took quite a while to get everything done. I did dedicate time to my family though, and had good fun playing with the children.

Gratitude journal:

  1. Trello, my whiteboard, my notes. Having everything planned is the only way to get things done.
  2. Nice autumn days.
  3. Pictures to take the mind back in time.
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Day 43. A day of rest. I worked in bed for a while (I know it's not a good thing to do - bite me :P) and spent the rest of the day watching anime and playing with the children. Went to bed early as usual, feeling already much better. I'm still working on optimizing my energy levels as I tend to dedicate myself completely to what I do and to never let go until completion. But if there's something I learned from weightlifting is that rest is just as important as exercise.

I was talking with my wife about how quitting gaming has made me more present and less distracted. There was also a component of shame in gaming that made me hide. No gaming, no shame, no need to hide, more husband and dad for my family. I still need solitude, although not as much as before, and I'm less cranky when I'm tired. Since everything else in my life remained constant, I can only credit not gaming for my increased happiness.

Gratitude journal:

  1. Leiji Matsumoto for his incredible impact on Sci-Fi.
  2. Having invested in a great bed. We're spending at least 30% of our lives in bed after all ;)
  3. Chocolate!
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Day 44. Woke up later than usual to get more recovery time. Throwing off my morning routine is not a terrible things as long as it's deliberate. Still managed to do everything in time in the morning, although rushing a bit. I tried to minimize stress during the working day and managed to do well.

The highlight of the day was the evening. My wife and I had been asked to curate this month's TEDx. Our program has been a great success. Engagement from the public was stellar. Many attendees came to congratulate us and thank us for an evening well spent. Joining the TEDx community was the first action I planned when I quit gaming. And it was the perfect activity to do together with my wife. Never in my wildest dreams I would have thought that we'd get along so well with the organizing committee. Doors are opening so often when we take the courage to knock!

Gratitude journal:

  1. Cam is truly involved and affectionate with this community. That means a lot.
  2. Meeting many interesting people at TEDx.
  3. Business is good.


Edited by Tom
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Day 45. O joy! The children let me sleep in! And then we had a quick breakfast and went all together to the swimming pool. It was great! We might have found the perfect weekend family activity. It's cheap, next to home, healthy, and fun for all of us.

In the late afternoon we hosted dinner for two other families with little children. It was good! Excellent ethnic cuisine, good company, the children bonded and had a blast. It was over too fast! We are already planning the next dinner at another family's place. I'm so happy that we are finally making friends.

Gratitude journal:

  1. Decaffeinated coffee making for a trouble-free, delicious evening drink.
  2. Sturdy boxes. The best toy ever.
  3. Obstinacy. The only way to make and keep friends in your thirties when you have a family.
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Day 46. Bad weather and a need to recuperate after two social evenings playing host turned me into a full-time reader. We still upheld the weekly family tradition of making pizza.

I started working on energy management. One shouldn't be completely drained on weekends. I'm aware that it's mainly intellectual strain and stress I accumulated over the years.

The origin is clear: an unbearable financial situation that forced me and my wife to redesign our life from scratch, including changing countries and careers. Since then I'm still on red alert. It's fear that fuels me. Fear of gravity: I feel that, if I won't keep pushing up, the ground will claim me again. And I'm not letting that happen.

However I must recognize that we have built good safety measures. Our new country is stable and fair. I'm doing great in my new career. We live healthy and happily. So why am I still clutching the throttle like there's no tomorrow? Has fear become a habit?

So, let's use the cue-routine-reward framework I learned from The Power of Habit.

  • Cue - perceived deficiencies, e.g.: money, marketable skills, support network.
  • Routine - productive activities, e.g.: side projects, courses, networking.
  • Reward - measurable outcomes, e.g.: career advancement, certificates, social activities.

Gosh, it seems I'm doing everything right! How can I change my routine if it's a good one? Is it a problem of perception? Of priorities? Let's dig deeper and find the real cues behind the cues.

  • Money
    • Situation: not rich, not poor, debt almost gone.
    • Fear: going broke.
    • Cue: emergency fund too little, no investments.
    • Routine: limit expenses and keep saving.
    • Reward: reach target amount in emergency fund, then start investing.
    • Routine working: YES.
    • New routine/behavior: stick to routine and be patient.
  • Marketable skills
    • Situation: I'm on top of my game, with more certified skills than my peers.
    • Fear: being stuck and becoming obsolete.
    • Cue: while my responsibilities have grown dramatically, I still have the same title of when I was hired.
    • Routine: work until exhaustion, attend internal and external courses.
    • Reward: get a new title.
    • Routine working: NO.
    • New routine/behavior: talk to my boss about advancement, attend only internal courses.
  • Support network
    • Situation: just starting to build meaningful connections with families we met recently.
    • Fear: being lonely.
    • Cue: we are not friends with other families with little children.
    • Routine: take the lead in meeting people, organizing activities.
    • Reward: feel part of a community of friends.
    • Routine working: YES.
    • New routine/behavior: stop actively looking for families, build existing connections.

There you go! I should probably just take the time to congratulate myself and my family with our progress. That, and a gigantic dose of fuck it, that's enough for today.


Gratitude journal:

  1. Journaling is a powerful weapon.
  2. Having overcome many obstacles in life.
  3. My wife's patience and ability to run the house all by herself when I'm exhausted.
Edited by Tom
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Day 47. Haha, like the bald guy. I used to always store my stuff in locker 47 at my old gym, as a tongue-in-cheek motivational joke.

Today my routine was a bit off but I still got everything done. Since my wife had classes I spent all evening alone with the children. The first of a long series. It was good fun and I'm sure we'll find ways to enjoy it even more.

My weight training session went good. I had a small imjury that prevented me from training two out of three times last week. I'm glad I listened to my body and rested. Now I can give it all I've got again :) My goal is to beat my PR three weeks from now.

Gratitude journal:

1. My wife bravely going after her dreams.
2. Alfred J. Kwak being a surprisingly educational cartoon.
3. Dimmable screens making writing in bed less annoying.

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Day 48. The day was a bit sluggish due to technical problems (Joe, you know something about it...). I also really wanted to catch up with you guys on the forum so I spent a long time reading and replying here. The result was a stretched-out working session that pretty much just ended. I spent almost no time with my family. I got everything done but I didn't use my time efficiently. So I'll try out an idea.

Exactly every hour I will stop whatever I'm doing. I'll look at a point far away and take a deep breath. And I'll ask myself this question: "is this what I'm supposed to be doing?". I'll call this an alignment check.

Gratitude journal:

  1. Soup is reentering my diet. I though I didn't like soup. My wife is proving me wrong.
  2. We live in a quiet neighborhood. No crowds or trucks keeping us awake.
  3. My friends in Paris are safe.
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Day 49. I woke up before the alarm clock and got going right away. I took the chance to move my weight training to before work rather than at lunch break. A nice relaxed breakfast with my family and the day started in the best of ways.

Alignment checks are working nicely. I was more focused and wasted less energy switching between tasks. I'll keep doing them.

Gratitude journal:

  1. I had the chance to meet some new colleagues.
  2. I helped a person understand a complex situation and saved her quite some time.
  3. Leather keeps wind and rain away.
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Day 50. Time flies! Actually I did play a game tonight in a dream. It was good at the beginning but I got bored after a little while. I guess I have better things to do when sleeping :)

My productivity has been clobbered by technical problems. I spent half a day with support, then left and found a workaround on my own. Now it's all about getting back on track.

Gratitude journal:

  1. A contractor did a great job in the house.
  2. Being a nerd saves me a lot of time.
  3. Cam sent me a nice sticker and handwritten note!


Edited by Tom
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Day 51. Nights are still hit-and-miss. Well, more hit than miss considering the little intruder who likes to lodge himself between mummy and daddy, and his bigger brother every now and then. Oh well. But mornings are consistently good. We decided to take it easy, to sleep longer and just have a tighter, faster routine to get ready.

What didn't went well however is that I snapped at my wife. I was working in the living room, waiting for her to come home. But I was frustrated with a number of technical problems, so in retrospect I realize that I set myself up for trouble. I should have stayed in my office. I was there because I wanted to talk with her and I got annoyed because... she was talking to me while I was working. So I felt like an idiot and apologized.

As for the technical problems, at least I understood what needs to be fixed and how. I'll do it tomorrow.

Gratitude journal:

  1. Having learned to apologize right away. Course corrections are better done earlier than later.
  2. I'm almost through a long, boring, utterly necessary task.
  3. My workout went well.
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Day 52. Saturdays are now our swimming pool days! We went there early and found out that it was the nudist's slot. So we are coming back tomorrow. We went to a small neighborhood's event for the kids, which was OK. Back home I finally fixed everything that was wrong with my workstation! So I spent time with the children while my wife was away on errands. We played and told each other stories. A nice change of pace!

In the evening my wife and I caught up on how we are doing. Turns out we're both fine, even under the magnifying glass. I found it very useful to have a relationship check-up every once in a while.

Gratitude journal:

  1. Our family is solid.
  2. The mandoline is quickly growing to be my favorite kitchen tool.
  3. I'm reading great books. I just finished The Wisdom of Psychopaths and I'm more than halfway through The Martian (thanks Travis!).
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