Problem Solving: Always being tired
I spent a lot of 2015 and 2016 being tired and just as much time complaining about being tired. I have endless journal entries on the subject. “I’m so tired” “I’m tired of being tired.”I’m tired of writing about being tired "How do I stop being tired?” I’d reread these entries when I was tired and just feel even worse. I'd think 'Look at this whiny bitch complaining about the same problem over and over again.' I could’ve easily solved the problem by drinking coffee but I’m too stubborn for that. I don’t even take medicine when I’m sick for the same reason. I don’t want to be reliant on a cup of coffee a day to function. I think it fucks up your diet, your energy and perhaps even your career. Which I’ll get into at the end.
It was weird, I’d complain about being tired but I’d go over to my friends house and play dominion until 4am with no problem. I could podcasts for 2-3 hours until 1-2am and I'd feel great afterwards. If I was doing something fun the problem “magically” goes away.
I’m used to enjoying work but that was gone now. I was bored of poker, losing constantly and I felt unconfident in my game. When I’d sit down at my desk to write blog posts (an accomplishment in and of itself) it was painful. I had the perfect combination of perfectionism and ineptitude. It’s OK to be a perfectionist when you’re actually good but when you’re as bad as I was you can end up spending 30-40 hours on a 2 page blog post because you’re trying out every possible way to reword the same sentence, while simultaneously fighting the urge bang your head against the desk repeatedly.
I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I finished 2 or 3 of these 30+ hour posts, like I created something great but then I’d post it online and basically get no response. It felt like a complete waste.
I think my brain just didn’t see any potential reward in anything I was doing, so it became lazy. The word lazy just means “unwilling to expend energy.” Why would you (your brain) want to expend energy on activities that it doesn't believe to be in any way rewarding? Has there ever been anyone who has put in a lot of energy in an activity they didn’t view as rewarding or important in some way?
As I reflect on this now I feel like it wasn’t what I was doing that was the problem it was how I was doing it and what I wasn’t doing. There was nothing wrong with poker but it's going to get boring when you've playing as long as I have and you stop studying. You just revert to the same habits, every decision is automatic so you get bored and you also get shitty results. There was nothing wrong with writing but you will start to hate it if you spend 30 hours on 2 fucking pages. My writing became enjoyable again when I hired a writing coach instead of "doing it on my own". That led to me sucking less and writing shorter blogs with the mindset that faults are OK and that the more I post the better I’ll get. After that I became interested in writing again. What I wasn’t doing anymore was the thing I loved the most, teaching and talking to people. I rarely did podcasts coaching sessions. I used to have 10+ hours of this a week but during that time I averaged maybe 2 or 3. When I started doing this again it gave me content to write about, an energy boost and much needed variety throughout my day.
As much as I love obsessing over one thing I still need some variety otherwise I start to hate what I’m doing. I enjoy doing a bunch of activities that are interconnected to making me the best teacher possible. Finding ways to connect all these activities together is what I enjoy the most. My writing does that, my poker and problem solving coaching does that and my poker playing allows me to invest in coaches and improving my site.
I hardly complain about being tired anymore. I have bad days but I don’t have bad weeks. I think this is an important question to answer, how do you know if it’s what you’re doing or how you’re doing it that’s the problem? Or maybe it’s what you’re not doing. Maybe your job would be more interesting if you did other things besides just work, a creative outlet. What if you’ve never been interested in anything? Is it that nothing is interesting or you’re not approaching things with the right mindset to make it interesting?
I had this interesting experience with doing something with the right mindset a few days ago. I was decorating the christmas tree with my family, we had 100’s of ornaments in the typical green, white, red colors and I had the task of putting all the hooks in them. They were these dark green paper clip looking things and you needed them on the ornaments so you could hang them on the tree. Normally I’d find this task boring and monotonous because I’d just want to get it over with. Instead I focused on doing a good job. It was weird, I got into it. My daughters told me to get off the couch and come help them hang up the ornaments and I impatiently said “Let me finish all these first.” My youngest daughter (3 years old) was holding an ornmanet struggling to put it on the tree and whined “Daddy help me.” “One second! Go ask your mother.” I turned to my wife who was to the right of me and said "Go help your daughter.” Eventually I had to go help her obviously. it was interesting how something so dull could get my interest when done with the right mindset. I wonder if people could do that with their jobs? Would they find it more interesting if they tried to do even the mundane tasks with accuracy? I’ve certainly had this happen before with dull tasks but is it sustainable?
I imagine it’s a muscle that gets better with practice. I think it has a lot to do with practicing presence, which doesnt necessarily have to be done with meditation (link to great thread on meditation) . If you're trying to completely focus on that task you’re doing you’re cultivating presence and that will translate over to other activities. I think you test whether it’s how you’re doing something first before deciding it’s the what you’re doing that is the problem.
Avoid perfectionism (especially if you suck), study to learn new methods, try do it with presence and quality and add some variety to your life especially if you’re not doing something you love like I was. Being tired isn’t a bad thing, it’s a signal that you’re doing something wrong. That’s why I think it’s bad to mask that with coffee and energy drinks. Get to the root of the problem and that will have a much greater impact on your life.
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