As an engineer living in a city with fairly bad public transportation and an ever increasing expense situation, I find it difficult to maintain myself as years pass. These days there’s little to no protection for employees in truth and the economy has become unstable. So if you get a project that causes you to work ridiculous hours, you’re screwed. How can one deal with such a problem? Find balance in your life.
For one, you have to accept that you simply cannot control every little aspect in your life. Some days the shit will hit the fan unexpectedly and there’s nothing you can do except accept and deal with it. That’s the first thing I’ve learned as an engineer. You can’t plan out things too far because you’ll create unrealistic expectations in your life that you cannot fulfill. There’s no amount of inspirational posts that you put on your Instagram that can defend you against that feeling of life fucking you over.
On top of that not meeting your own expectations can be insanely depressing. We all want to feel that we have control over our lives but the truth is that the world keeps moving in a single direction and none of us are super powers that can turn back time. So you have to face that reality.
On top of that being depressed is natural I feel. Everyone is going to deal with depression or at least the feeling of being low at some point in their life. And it’s not something you can compare between yourself and another person. Everyone’s low is personal because it’s partly what defines you. But don’t fear depression and sadness. Embrace it from time to time because it will happen. And don’t feel obligated not to feel sorry for yourself. No one else in this world honestly will unless they want something out of you.
The key is to not dwell on things here too long. Give yourself enough time to mourn whatever problem you have. But don’t stay in that period for too long. It’s a dangerous place and very hard to leave. On top of that, make sure you have good, positive friends around. Kick out the bad ones who make you feel like shit and just find the ones who really understand you and encourage you little by little in whatever way you feel comfortable. But move the fuck on at some point. Give yourself a deadline.
Sometimes part of the problem is feeling overwhelmed. I find the divide and conquer method to work best when I get that way. Make a task list and break it down into smaller pieces. That’s how many computer science problems are solved. We cannot handle huge, overwhelming problems, so we solve them in tinier, bite sized task. Completing a task give us a sense of accomplishment that motivates us to do better for ourselves. Don’t even try the hardest ones if you can’t do. But do something to move forward.
Now, let’s talk about concrete ways to balance things. First, you absolutely have to put your foot down when it comes to your life. Don’t be afraid of your peers and bosses. Your health, sanity and personal life exceed any type of stupid project people throw at you. If no one else can understand these aspects, then fuck them! Seriously, tell them to fuck off, get AIDS and die. They deserve it because these people don’t help society and are themselves causing the cancer.
Next, start doing small things to improve the basics in your life. You need some level of exercise and nourishment. You don’t always have to eat healthy, but make it a point to at least eat healthy a few times a week. Stop worrying about calorie counters. Instead, focus on the nutrients if it makes it easier for you. Whatever it takes to get you to that goal of living a little healthier do it.
For instance, I’m not a huge healthy person. I can eat healthy when I force myself. But getting in that habit and tricking myself are the most difficult things to do. So what I did was I went out and bought a blender. No joke. Cost $129 for a Ninja. Totally worth it. I know I needed more strawberries and raspberries in my diet for the anti-oxidants. But I often wasted them whenever I’d buy them so I stopped for a long time. Instead, with the blender, I can toss them into the freezer then make a fresh smoothie which is like getting a Jamba Juice. Better yet, I can choose whatever I want to put in it. That’s far better than Jamba Juice! I can add a multivitamin, etc. By doing it this way, I don’t have to worry about forcing myself to eat the fruit at a certain time along with swallowing the vitamin (I have a very hard time with this). Instead, I can make something that’s delicious with ingredients that I have 100% control over.
For exercise, it’s hard and I know it’s been a thorn in my side for a while. But one guy at my work takes jogs every day by the beach. He doesn’t care what other people think because he’s smart and eventually he gets his work done. Everyone recognizes that so they leave him alone. If your employer prevents you from getting exercise, you should call them out on trying to kill you. I’m dead serious. America has a huge issue of not protecting their workers. Engineers face this a lot because tech isn’t run by a union. So there’s little to truly protect us from ourselves.
Nonetheless, you still need to do something so you don’t fall over from lack of cardio or whatever. Do what my coworker does and pick a time to get out and take a walk. Humans weren’t meant just to sit in a chair all day long. We need to move but we also need to force ourselves to move and we need others to give us the freedom to move when we need to.
For myself, I’ve tried all types of workouts. Most times I found myself getting discouraged because a gym is too crowded or that I don’t feel good for one reason or another. What I’m going to try is going to my little workout room around a certain time but not over do it. Every article you read tells you not to over do your workout. Before I was trying to do too much. I’m not a professional so I really don’t need that level of effort. But getting some exercise in is better than nothing. So I’m thinking between 40-45 minutes of cardio is good for me. Less than 30 is too little and 60+ is overkill.
Obviously, keeping myself to this kind of schedule will be impossible. But I have to use the few opportunities given to me to make those efforts to try and do something. It’s really true what they say where you have to want these things in order to do it. No one wants to really be a fatty and sickly, but you have to also want to at least meet some kind of minimum standard for yourself. And that minimum stand for me is a careful sense of balance in my life between work, play and striving for self-improvement in my health and mind.