Understanding The Problem

I'm learning something about motivation.

It comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors. It can light your ass on fire and keep you focused for weeks. Bu it can also buy you a day and dart away the next. It can open your eyes and give you that extra "oomph" to get started.

But what do you do it disappears, leaving you wondering where and how to keep going?

Do you just wait until it comes back or do you keep progressing towards whatever goal you set?

I'm learning that motivation needs discipline to maximize results. The discipline principle in this situation is what makes motivation work. Motivation gets you started, discipline keeps you going.

"Motivation, broadly speaking, operates on the erroneous assumption that a particular mental or emotional state is necessary to complete a task.

That’s completely the wrong way around.

Discipline, by contrast, separates outwards functioning from moods and feelings and thereby ironically circumvents the problem by consistently improving them."

wisdomination

After years of programming myself to rely on this paradigm, I've found it incredibly hard to remain focused on anything for more than a few weeks, at best. I get so bored. I have declared several times throughout this blog and my social media that I am a chronic procrastinator. It is awful.

I want to quit. I'm tired of it putting me in positions that become increasingly harder and harder with each passing day of incompletion of the task. I need to understand why I procrastinate.

Is it because I'm just genuinely lazy? Maybe. Or is it because I'm relying too much on feeling like it rather than just doing it? After making procrastination apart of my everyday life, I feel a sort of anxiety upon completion of the task at hand thus disabling the above process. I will never feel like doing it because I'm always anxious about it.

Am I too focused on short-term pleasure rather than focusing on the end goal? Probably. Browsing Facebook, Reddit, playing Xbox, etc. — basically whatever distraction is at hand to continue avoiding what I need to get done. It can be so bad that I feel myself in idle mode, then I proceed to think about changing that, but I never do.

Learning the root cause of whatever it is you're trying to change about yourself is always the first step. I have to remind myself of this. Over the years, I've become so accustomed to this lifestyle that trying to change is incredibly hard. Yet, I've already proved to myself several times over that I can change, it just requires work.

You have to let go of instant gratification. You have to let go of your ego. You have to let go of the concept of "quick results." You have to let go of everything you've believed in and break new boundaries. To be the person you want to be, you absolutely have to put your 100% best effort into it or your results will never come to fruition.

Don’t Be Afraid

I was initially working on a post titled Why Life Can Be Terrifying, then I realized it was pointless. When I write, it's usually because a moment of inspiration hit me and I need to get it out or it's gone forever. When I began working on the aforementioned post, I was overwhelmed with the weight of life.

You see, my fiancee and I just bought a house. Yes, we are twenty years old, still in school, and we bought a house. Its out of the norm, but this has been one of the happiest, proudest moments of my life. I've found myself standing in the middle of my living room staring around in awe, amazed that this entire house is mine.

But life reminds me that buying a house comes with a lot of responsibility. It's not just paying a house payment and a utility bill. Just in our first week of homeownership, we've replaced a stove, fixed our fridge, and ripped our new kitchen floors doing said projects. Another todo on my list of ever-expanding things to get done. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

However, upon contemplation of all the things I need to get done (bills, home-owning, wedding, relationships, school, work, this, that, etc.), anxiety tends to swell up inside of me until I feel like I could burst. I get overwhelmed and my mind's like "Bro, you got a lotta shit to do" to which I respond, "I'll get it done tomorrow."

Ah, the procrastinator's conundrum. How many times have you promised yourself you'd get that super-important-thing-that-needs-to-be-done-now done tomorrow? Then when tomorrow comes around, you tell yourself you'll have more time later all while browsing Facebook and not getting much else done.

Why do I do this? Because it's easier to put off the responsibility when I promise myself I'll do it later even though I probably won't. A form of instant gratification by pretending to be productive. You see?

Yeah.

Point is you'll never be who you want to be if you keep putting things off. I am (self-proclaimed) the world's biggest procrastinator. I'm getting better — hence the recent influx of posts — yet it's a struggle. I have to remind myself that this is a journey, and I'm the only one leading the way.

Life isn't always going to be sunny days and beautiful roses, it's going to throw you down in the dirt and stomp on you while you're down. It's about getting back up, learning from it, and becoming a better person. If you let it, life will keep you down forever. Get up and take it by the horns or you'll forever have a tainted image of the world.

 

Accepting that you don’t always have to follow the rules

My fiancée said something to me the other day and I can't shake it. We were discussing what I should write about for the blog, and she said, "I think you should focus on things that matter. I don't think you should have a set topic."

Initially, I was apprehensive because I was sure that the only way to have any kind of success blogging is writing into a niche. That's all I've ever read when researching, and of course, everything is right on the internet.

However, I've been thinking about what she said and I think she's right. If I stop trying so hard to focus on one topic, my writing is better. Whenever I sit down and just start writing, no matter if I had a topic in mind, the quality of that piece is usually ten times what it would have been had I limited myself. I'm not saying that you should never niche, but I'm saying that it's okay to just write about something that isn't your primary focus.

But this has a bigger picture.

Life is full of dilemmas. You're going to be faced with hard decisions, problems with seemingly no way out, and moments where you feel like you just can't win. Life is hard, so you need to break away every now and then. Do something you enjoy.

In today's day and age, breaking away from the traditional 9-5 is at an all time high. The internet has paved the way for entrepreneurs and the like to become whatever they want! They didn't follow the rules, they did something they enjoyed, and they took risks! The new workforce is already here and it's in the form of social media. How is that? I'll mention it again for you.

They didn't follow the rules.

And it worked. If you just do what you love to do instead of focusing on minor details, you just might be surprised at what comes of it.

Self-Reflection

I’ve taken an indefinite hiatus on writing and doing something I truly do enjoy. I don’t know why I stopped writing or why I haven’t started back. There’s a part of me that yearns to sit down and just write, yet every time I find myself typing a few sentences, erasing those sentences, and just staring at an empty screen. Why do I put myself in this situation? Do I have nothing to write about? Or is something holding me back?

Even when I was writing on a semi-regular basis, I always wrote on easy topics, and by easy I mean topics that didn’t require any actual work. For example, when I first started this website I decided I’d focus on flash fiction. Why? Because it required the least effort. FF required minimal research (if any), they were short, and I could jot them down in ten to fifteen minutes.

At that time in my life, I was searching for a sense of accomplishment. I was being lazy, unmotivated, and honestly, I didn’t give a damn about anything. I thought that trying to do something I enjoy and creating something with it might help me get out of my slump, but it didn’t because I didn’t enjoy writing it. I didn’t even try to make it something fun for me.

Fine. That was my mistake and I learned from it. I stopped writing flash fiction and decided to write about something else… except I never did that. I just wrote what was on my mind. Half the time, it never had a point. It served as more of a diary than anything except it wasn’t personal or heartfelt. It was just something to fill the space, another post that I didn’t have to try and create something unique and original. I just stopped writing after this because I was disappointed in every piece of “work” I made.

I made myself hate writing.

That turned out to be one of the best mistakes I’ve ever made. When I realized what I had done to myself through laziness and procrastination, I saw what else it was affecting in my life. I had become bitter. I was lazy. I was unmotivated. I had no discipline. I didn’t care about anything. My schoolwork faltered. I pushed my fiancée away. I disconnected myself from friends. I lost contact with family. I was in terrible shape mentally, emotionally, and physically. And the worst part of it all is I didn’t care. I just kept letting it happen. Self-imposed torture; a reel of potentially life-altering decisions and mistakes kept playing themselves out day after day. I had to change.

I realized that if I wanted my life to change, I had to quit blaming my faults on external sources. I had to look within myself and find what was wrong with ME. Change comes from self-reflection. How did I become this person? Why did I go down this path? As I began answering these questions, I quickly realized that I didn’t have a reason for any of it. Sure, there were certain circumstances that might have helped influence my behavior, but I got to this point in my life on my own accord and that made me uncomfortable.

Is it really that easy to screw up your life? It is. It’s so, so incredibly easy to fuck up when you’re left to your own devices. And it’s going to be ten times more difficult to change your life for the better, but in the end it’s so worth it. I am, by no means, at the end of my journey. I have a lot, and I mean an enormous amount, of work to do. However, I am such a better person in my own eyes. I had to put myself into view and work on me before I could move forward in my life. I learned that putting yourself first is the best thing you can do for yourself if you’re struggling.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve got a long way to go. However, I want you to understand how I feel now vs. how I felt almost a year ago. When I think back to those times, I felt as if my mind was cloudy; my thoughts were shrouded in hopelessness, the mental fog was fueled by low self-esteem, and I felt almost numb to anything other than when I sought instant gratification through spending hours on social media, reading pages upon pages of useless information, and obsessing over changing but never actually changing. Those fleeting moments were evidence of dopamine chasing. I used these stupid and pointless acts to feel something… anything.

Regardless, I never want to feel that way again. Now my mind is clear and I can focus on whatever task is at hand better than before. I seem to experience life in a new light. It’s weird, but everything seems more colorful and brighter. It took me a long time to understand what was happening to me once I began this journey to better myself.

In the posts to come, I’m going to discuss what it is I did to get to where I’m at now. I hope to help anyone whose reading this and can relate. Just know that if you’re lost and you haven’t found yourself, there is hope. You just have to work hard for it. I’ll be here along the way.

Since I started this blog, it’s underwent two major redesigns. Well, it’s going to get another one. This one feels… clunky and outdated. It’s also dark and moody — a reflection of how I felt at the time. It’s time to change again. I’m going to update the color scheme and layout, and I’m also going to be archiving my old posts. That way they are still accessible, but not the first thing you see when you come to my website. I’d like to keep them to display my growth as not only a writer, but as a person as well.

To all my family and friends who I haven’t talked to or visited like I should have, I apologize. I just needed some time to myself to try and figure this crazy obstacle course called life out. I’m finally becoming somebody I can be proud of, so I appreciate your patience. I love you all.

One more thing: I would like to give a special thank you to my fiancée, Miranda. Without your love, support, and patience, I don’t think I would have gotten this far. I’d still be in that dark place, so for all that you’ve done, thank you. I love you so much.

Thank you all for reading if you’ve gotten this far. Stay up to date by following me on Facebook and, if you have a wordpress account, on here as well. More to come!

Progress

I am a constant work in progress. 
2016 was a quite a year for me, to say the least. I pretty much got really caught up in the moment so the future wasn’t something really on my mind even though it should of been. I was just caught up in procrastination, laziness, and sleep deprivation. I let grades slip, friends fall off, let relationships with family members deteriorate, and gave Miranda a run for her money. I decided that staying up too late and doing everything possible to avoid what I should really be doing was more important. I decided that I was just going to live life the way it was. I would lie and tell those around me that I had big goals, that I wanted to do this and become this. At the end of the day, I would look in the mirror and know that I was lying. 

I had no motivation because I had stopped looking at what I had in front of me. Instead, I would focus on what I didn’t have. It polluted my image of my life, and I honestly thought myself inadequate. I told myself I wasn’t a good boyfriend for Miranda or that I deserve my education. I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough for anything because I failed to see what I had: a beyond amazing fiancée, a loving and supporting family, a free education, a good job, and good people to call my friends (Chase, I’m thinking of you). 

A lot of things have led to this point in my life where I’m constantly striving to be better. For a year, I decided that I wasn’t going to try. This year, I’m deciding that I’m going to accomplish everything that I want. I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I’m ready.

Social Media

Social media is a drug. Millions of us each seeking the attention of our friends, each of us competing to have the best lives shown through our pictures and status updates. I’ll catch myself asking the question, “Why can’t my life be like this?” Often times, I will even get angry or upset because it seems so unfair that I can’t have things like they have it. I get angry because it seems so easily attainable to others, that perfect life that they’re living. I have so many goals for Miranda and I, for our future. I have so many things I want to do, places I want to travel… But then I get on Instagram or Facebook and see so many others achieving the same things I want.

Truth is that the moments we choose to share with our friends are usually the best moments. The highlights of our lives. No one ever shares the darkness, the sad moments, the moments not worth showing because it’d ruin the false image we like to project to others. Online we can be anything we want you to think we are. Social media dilutes our image of one another.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not saying I have a hard or bad life. I have a great life; I have a wonderful and loving fiancée, a loving and supporting family, a decent paying job, and a good circle of friends. All that I am saying is social media forces me to raise the standard of my own life because I am constantly watching the lives of others. I am constantly comparing myself to my friends, to complete strangers. I become so immersed in this false competition I can lose sight of my own damn life. I become so obsessed with the idea of “they have it easier than me” that I forget to work towards my own goals.

I think that my problem is a problem common to many. Or maybe it is just me. Regardless, I am done comparing. I am done seeking some sort of gratification or reward for a status update, picture , or whatever. I am done comparing myself to others. I am done watching the lives of others go by while mine sits still. I am done wasting so much time on social media.

It’s time I get my life together.

Life Can Be Difficult

Life has this funny way of sneaking up on you when you really don’t need it to. One week you feel on top of the world, the next you’re lying in the Mariana Trench. That’s just how it works, especially if you’re me. As my girlfriend puts it, my highs are high, and my lows are low — there is no in between, no middle ground. That’s all fine, however.

I think that I require a bit of self reflection. The last few weeks of my life I have spent a good amount of time trying to figure out a way to get going again. I’ve become accustomed to sleeping way more than I need, procrastinating on copious amounts of homework, and being an all around lazy ass. I’ve just gotten so sick of the same cycle: denial of my issues, self doubt of my ability to resolve my issues, and self loathing of my inability to solve my issues. One day, I’m motivated and ready to change everything. The next day I sleep 10 hours and skip school. It’s really embarrassing, and I feel ashamed of how I’m handling this.

A large portion of my chronic procrastination comes from no repercussions from said procrastination. During all four years of my high school career, I didn’t do anything and I excelled in school. I procrastinated every single assigment, never studied, and my senior year, I barely showed up. Guess what I got in exchange for all of that hard work? A full ride to a good university in my town. How convenient. And then there’s college. This quote summarizes my problem:

“You may be poor, but the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to fuck up your life whatever the way you want to.”

— Jonathan Franzen, Freedom

 

My parents love and support everything I do. Now they have known that I will always take care of my school work, and for the most part, they never had to worry about me doing well in school. They just assumed that I’d always do well. In high school, that was the case. Now, however, that I am in college, things are so very different. I have found myself attempting to study (something I am NOT accustomed to), struggling with homework and projects, and not always getting perfect grades. The only thing I excel at here is writing. School has never been hard for me, and college has been a damn wake up call. Honestly, I still am trying to find my groove. With working almost full time hours and going to school full time, I’ve let myself fall into this endless cycle of motivation and demotivation. I go through periods of intense dedication, then I’ll get some kind of reward (i.e., do well on a test), and then decide that I deserve a break for all of my hard work.

Except that break is far longer than it should be, and thus begins the cycle once again. Everyday I feel that weight of disappointment in myself get heavier and heavier, but damn, why can’t I just get up and grind like everyone else? My girlfriend works two jobs and goes to school full time. My best friend gets up at 6:30 AM everyday, works and then goes to school all night. I met a fellow last semester that was a full time high school teacher going to med school. They get their shit done, why can’t I? What am I doing wrong? Some days I just don’t understand it. I’m learning to just fake it ’til I make it, and maybe one day it’ll just click.

I digress. I’ll be posting another story this week hopefully. With the recent election, I think it’ll be inspired from that. I’ve never been more proud of my country and to be an American, so a show of patriotism might be prevalent in the next story.

Thanks,

Cody.

Memories

From r/WritingPrompts:

[Reality Fiction] I watched the clock tick over from 11:59 to 12:00. Another day, gone, just like that.


 

Long drives were my pastime. I always went on my drives when I needed to get away from life. Sometimes I’d pull into an empty parking lot to sit in the silence. I knew it was dangerous, but here I could reflect on my day or whatever it was that was bothering me. I could see all the positives and all the negatives. Most of my life’s major decisions were made in the silence of Dad’s old truck. Maybe that was why I loved these drives so much. It was like spending time with him, something I will always regret not doing. This truck was still here, and he wasn’t.

I pulled off into the parking lot of a local grocery store, and made my way around to the back. It was dark back here, and that’s why I visited this one so much. There wasn’t a soul in sight. Hell, it was almost midnight. My wife hated when I went on these late night drives. Usually, I’d head out around nine or ten and be back by eleven. Tonight, however, my wife and I got into an argument. It was over something stupid as usual, but with work and the day of my dad’s passing approaching, it got to me more than usual. I needed some time alone, plus it had been a few weeks since I had last traveled into the welcoming night.

Dad was a good man even if he had a temper. He was the most hardworking person I’ve ever known – something I’ve tried to replicate all my life, but I’ve never been successful. If he had his mind set on something, you’d bet he’d get it done. I remember shortly after buying he bought my first car, an old, red beater SUV, and I broke the key off in the ignition. It was cheap and had it’s share of problems, but my dad worked his ass off to get me a ride. He always made sure to take care of me, no matter what he had to do. Unfortunately, when I broke the key, the rust bucket was still running and I couldn’t turn it off. I panicked knowing that he was going to freak. Upon calling him I heard a fair amount of expletives and there was some name calling, and I knew he was pissed off.

I honestly don’t know how he got the key out of the ignition. It was wedged impossibly far in there due to my failed attempts at getting it out before I called him. After I had heard him curse my car and me with it, I decided to just go in the house. A couple minutes later, he comes in my room resolved and drops the broken key into my lap.

“Now you’ll know not to put your keys on that damn lanyard,” he sounded irritated. I remember being so angry at him for being mad at me for making a mistake. Looking back, I know he was just irritated at his luck.

I looked down, and rubbed my thumb across that broken key. Over twenty years, and I still have that damn thing. I took a glance at my watch and noticed it was getting closer to midnight. I told my wife I’d be home by now, but I think I’ll just sit here a bit longer. It was nice out. The breeze flowing through my open windows kept me cool, and the gentle hum of the grocery store’s air conditioning made for a relaxing melody. Its funny how often one’s perception changes. During the day, the sound of that old unit might have been more annoying than relaxing; however, couple it with nighttime and a breeze, you could fall asleep to it.

I guess it was time to go back home. I cranked his truck up, and listened to the engine purr. It really should have been a piece of junk by now being so old, but I liked to think his spirit preserved the youthfulness. Or it could be my meticulous care over it. Nonetheless, it was beautiful and left just as he wanted it. On my way home, more memories of my dad rushed through my head. I remembered the way he hated social gatherings — something that rubbed off on me — and how he seemed the happiest when he was working on something. I remembered all the times I told myself I’d go see him before and after he got sick and I never did. I had let life get in the way, and that affected my parents. Mom was still here, though, and I tried my best to spend my days with her. Dad was gone. I felt it was my fault. That somehow he got sick from me not seeing him, from not just spending one day with him. If I could go back, and just get one more day to tell him I love him, or maybe just a thank you. A thank you for all the lessons he taught me, all the times he picked me up when I fell, and all the times he showed me how to be good man. A man who sacrificed himself for everyone else’s happiness. A man who never told me how much it hurt when I’d go months without seeing him. A man who told me he loved me and that he was proud of me on the phone just moments before he died.

A tear found itself in the corner of my eye, and made it’s way down my cheek.

Pulling up in the driveway, I checked my watch. I watched the clock tick over from 11:59 to 12:00. Another day, gone, just like that.

I miss you, Dad.


 

Wow, this one really got me in my feels. Just to clarify: my dad is alive and well. I’ll probably give him a call here soon. I went with this prompt because I wanted to test something new out, and then this story kind of just flowed out. I’ve never experienced such emotion when writing. I think this is what it’s all about.

I hope you guys liked this one as much as I did. It was hard to write.

Thanks.

Head’s Up

Just a short post here.

I decided to repost my entry earlier because I’ve pretty much changed my website from the ground up today. I’m finally in a groove, I think.

Here’s a list of changes I’ve made:

  1. Changed url from codysideadump.wordpress to just codywrites.com. I did this because I feel like the direction I wanted to take the blog has changed.
  2. Chose a new, more professional and fitting theme for the website. As I stated above, the purpose of this blog has changed. I want everything to fit with the atmosphere and flow of my website. The theme before really was lacking, in my opinion.
  3. Updated my About Me page to be a little more professional.
  4. Updated Menu options, hopefully with more to come in the future as I expand.

That’s about it for now. I’m sure in the coming weeks more things will change, but I think I am finally content with the way things are now. Also mentioned in my post earlier, I announced that I was working on uploading a short story to the site soon. I may or may not. As I stated above, the direction of this blog has taken a slightly different turn, so expect more quality content in the next few weeks not necessarily limited to flash fiction.

Let me know what you guys think of the new design, and read some of my previous posts if you haven’t already!