Thursday, September 18, 2008

Taking some control

As I was writing an email to a friend tonight, I realized that I have recently made a lot of changes for the better. In the past 18 months or so, I have:

  • Taken control of my own mind as I realized that I am free to believe what makes sense to me, and I no longer believe in the church. I have pretty much come to terms with what I do and don't believe, and why. I like who I am, and my family still loves me, and that's really all that matters.

  • Taken control of my finances. We've been focusing on paying off debt for the past 17 months, and in 12 days from today, we will be totally debt-free except our home. I think the feeling of freedom that comes with paying off debt is one major contributor to my reassessment of where I am and what I want to do with my life.

  • Taken control of my health, by paying attention to what I'm eating and by exercising. I've lost about 30 pounds in 4 months, and I now run 3 miles every other morning, whereas a year ago I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath. I feel so much better, and it just adds to the feeling of empowerment over my own life.

  • Started taking control of personal organization, after reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. It's basically a system for getting everything out of your mind and into a written system so you don't have to worry about everything you're doing or not doing at any particular moment. I haven't gotten too far into it yet, but I can already tell it's going to be a very positive change. The simple act of capturing my thoughts on paper instead of trying to hold them all in my brain has been very freeing.

I feel like all these positive changes are part of the same phenomenon that's happening in my life, and they all support each other. It's like I'm systematically finding areas of my life that I'm unsatisfied with, and consciously making changes to improve them. It feels a lot like cleaning out 10 years worth of garbage that has accumulated through laziness and negligence, so that I can move forward and actually do something positive. Like filling in a bunch of holes I dug for myself, so that I can finally start to build something.

About two years ago, I remember sitting in church and writing down the question on a piece of paper: "What do I really want?" I thought about it for a while, and finally I wrote the answer: "Freedom." By this, I didn't mean freedom from anything in particular. I meant freedom to dream and to dare, freedom to explore, to create, and to achieve. In all of the areas I mentioned above, I can see how something was holding me back (religion, debt, laziness, disorganization), and I can see how eliminating that thing has given me more options. I feel like I'm starting to experience more freedom in all these areas, and it's because I decided to change my life in order to get what I really want. I'm not sure what caused me to stop and write down that question two years ago, but I think that was the beginning of all these big changes.

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