Alcoholism #4

This continues my story with alcoholism.  Past posts here: https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/alcoholism-1/      https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/alcoholism-2/ https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/alcoholism-3/

While all of this was going on, my work was still going well.  The commander of my unit selected me for a competitive job to handle all the personnel issues, basically having delegated command authority.  It was a position of trust and responsibility that I was surprised by, but my commander thought that my experiences with drinking would give me a good perspective on discipline issues.

I tried really hard in the job.  I wanted to make my commander proud, but I felt like a fraud due to my shame over my history.  About this time I had learned that one of my friends, who had been an outstanding officer, had gotten a DUI off a few beers the year prior.  He ended up passed over for promotion and forced out of the military because of it.  It was a weird situation, but my guilt grew with the sense that I was lucky and no less guilty than he was.

One day, my commander stopped me as he was leaving for the day.  He told me that I just needed to be happier, I was a leader and people looked up to me.  This really struck me.  I had always thought I was a happy person.  I was always the energetic one, seeing the bright side of things, or so I thought.  Was I really a grouch at work?  This didn’t sit well with me.

Soon afterwards, I took leave to visit my brother, another bachelor officer.  We had a great time, partying it up.  I just drank with abandon, feeling in a safe place.  Finally it came time to fly home.  Even that I drank for, there was still football to watch!  I remember drinking in a wine bar during the layover.

Finally I got home.  I started to think about what a great weekend I just had.  But then I realized I couldn’t really remember any of it.  It was just a blurry haze.  That was my vacation, that was what I was striving for?  Suddenly I was struck.  No.  This can’t be me.

Not any more.

 

 

Continued here:                           https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/alcoholism-5/

 

Overwhelmed

I don’t do a good job balancing.  I’m not sure what caused it or when it happened exactly, but for whatever reason I love to constantly throw myself into work.  It seems to be an escape mechanism.  If something isn’t working out relationship wise, or I struggle or have uncertainty for whatever reason, all I know how to do is work harder, which probably isn’t the correct response.

Even when it is work that disappoints me, such as not being selected for a competitive job or training program, my response is to just be very disappointed and work harder.  Since I’ve learned a bit about psychology, it would seem like those times would be the times to reach out to my support structure, family, friends, etc.  But I typically don’t.

Sometimes reaching out makes all the difference though.  Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed by work, school, etc.  I was talking to an ex-girlfriend now friend, and started complaining about my situation.  She promptly mentioned that her mother was dying from cancer and I shouldn’t complain about work that I voluntarily took on.  That quickly put things in perspective.  I didn’t feel so overwhelmed anymore.

~dmitri

Passion #3

This is a continuation of one of my experiences with passion.  For earlier parts see here:

https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/passion-1/  https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/passion-2/

I stared from across the deserted hall at her and she stared back, her mouth half open.  Not knowing what else to do, I quickly walked up to her, gave her the flowers and hugged her.  She was incredulous and weakly hugged me back, asking what was I doing there.

We had a brief conversation as I followed her out to the car, I could barely talk as she rambled about stuff.  In the end she agreed to try things again, and we would make plans for the weekend.  I was overjoyed, the ride back home felt like floating on air.

The very next day I ended up accidently leaving my phone in the car and got slammed at work.  I completely forgot to check on my renewed love interest.  When I came back she had sent me a couple flirty texts during the day.  Uh oh, I thought, I screwed up.  I tried calling her back, but could only reach her via text.  Still things seemed fine.

Early the next day I had to teach some training sessions.  In between sessions, I received a text, “To tell you the truth…”  uh oh, my heart jumped, and then the next one hit, she didn’t think there was a connection and she was done with the situation.  I was crushed.  I remember walking back and trying to half heartedly teach two more training sessions, then I sulked the rest of the day.  How could this happen?  I was so close!  I was desperate.

I raked my mind.  She had a mom she was close with.  Maybe her mom could help?  Her mom was asian, she would certainly want her daughter to end up with a nice officer like me! as my mind spun.  After getting home I searched facebook, then linked-in.  I found the mom’s email address.  Quickly I started typing… “Help, I think I’m in love with your daughter and I need your help.” …

~Dmitri

 

 

Continued: https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/passion-4/

Saving

This is a self-improvement post.  See all here: https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/self-improvement/

We had previously talked about investing money, we should take some time to specifically cover savings.  A very interesting book that pops up on the personal finances reading lists is “The Millionaire Next Door”.  It’s a little dated, but still valuable info.  Basically some researchers tried to figure out what the average millionaire looked like as far as spending habits, in an attempt to better market luxury goods.  What the researchers found though, was that the average millionaire looked pretty, well, average.  They didn’t live lavish lifestyles or buy exotic items.  They were frugal, and saved what they earned.  In fact, people with the expensive cars and homes were more often at a much lower net worth than appearances would have indicated.  Why?  When you are worried about social status, you tend to spend a lot of money, often all the money you earn.  A plumber who makes $100K a year from running their own business is much more likely to end up a millionaire than a lawyer who makes $100K.  Lawyers tend to have other lawyer friends they feel pressured to keep up with.  The book was eye opening, and frankly just made me feel guilty about quite a bit of the money I squandered in my 20s.

There’s another interesting psychology concept called hedonic adaptation, which basically says that we eventually balance out to the same level of happiness regardless of our life circumstances.  Lottery winners are initially elated, but after about a month they are right back to the same level of happiness they were before.  So basically all that money we are spending on status isn’t making us happier in the long run.

Given the above, I’ve chosen to start a much thriftier lifestyle.  Ideally I can save enough money to be secure and have career flexibility down the road.  Some people take this particularly hardcore, I suggest checking out Mr. Money Mustache’s blog: (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/).

As far as myself goes, some of the steps I’ve taken are:

-Prioritize what’s important to me on housing, and compromise on the others.  I live in a 1 bedroom, but nice location.  Smaller place also means you buy less stuff.

-Avoid large purchases when possible.  I drive my car longer, and also buy used vehicles

-Generally get out of the habit of buying stuff, and make an effort to reduce unneeded items.  Paying for storage of old stuff is a waste.  A trick I use when going for an impulse buy is to think, “do I really need to buy this right now or can I wait a week?”  If I can wait, then I do, and typically the impulse is gone by then.

-Seriously commit to making food.  I’ve recently found the joys of cooking quinoa in a rice cooker, pretty cheap and healthy.  Eating out needs to be avoided.  If you develop the habit of making cost effective food then you always have it on hand and the temptation to eat out is reduced.

-Cut back on costly habits.  I conveniently don’t drink alcohol any more.  There was a time where I was easily spending over a $1k a month on that, so that can be a big difference.  I’m in the process of cutting back on caffeine drinks (diet soda) and sweets also now.  Caffeine drinks can be deceptively expensive, especially if they become a crutch to get through a long work day.

-I generally travel enough for work that I don’t feel like I need to take exotic vacations.  When I do take off I’m traveling to visit family or friends, so I have a place to stay.

-I’ve set defined reach goals to stretch for on my savings.  Overall I’m trying to achieve a savings rate of close to 50%.  Right now I’m at 42%.  And not overly cheap if you can tell by some of my other posts, but just try to cut back where I can.

Just some thoughts on habits that have helped me, any other good ideas?

Cheers,

~dmitri

My other post on investing:

https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/personal-finances/