Seriously on the Right Track

by Mike Olsen about a year ago in advice

The Passive-Aggressor's Change of Outlook

Seriously on the Right Track

I really don’t know why I am writing this. It’s the same old thing told once again—this time in my own words. How revitalizing! Not really. Then maybe this is my problem, and has always been my problem, my amazingly passive-aggressive attitude. My outlook hasn’t been stellar for some time, and the funniest part of that confession is that anyone who knows me would have never once thought that about me. That’s probably one of the greatest skills I have mastered with years of theatrical training (if that’s what we can call it). Ugh! I did it again. I spew passive-aggression and half the time I don’t even realize I am doing it.

Professionally, I am a struggling teacher/performer (two of the same if you ask me) and if you’re still with me at this point, you have probably come to the realization that I am hitting a brick wall in my life. Yes, there is no way that I could have gotten to where I am today without some hard work and motivation, but I am afraid that I have hit the hamster wheel mode of my life. Working hard and never getting anywhere. That’s somewhat hyperbolical, but you get the point.

I think I should start with saying that I love my life, wife, and all the hype that two kids under the age of two can bring. And to say that I’m not going anywhere is not true. My beautiful little family and I moved across the province to start over and get a new start. I also wish to clarify that the move wasn’t a do or die situation. This wasn’t a drastic measure to save a marriage or easier transition into the witness protection program. It was a family decision to move closer to family. Sorry for the anticlimactic reality of my circumstances.

We knew there would be challenges with moving and leaving work and friends. Many questions were asked of us, and with that came a lot of unsolicited opinions and suggestions. Granted, I didn’t so much mind the constant state of 20 Questions I was living in for a number of months, it just validated the fact that we were making the right choice. No, it was most certainly not the easy for pack up our lives and vamoose. It was a very hard decision because from the outside, I was set. I had a secure teaching job for once in my life and a work family I could actually tolerate and, dare I say, like. But from the inside, my own family trumps everything on the outside—and I agreed to that willingly when I married the love of my life. It takes two to tango, and my wife really is the source of greatest happiness in my life. Her and our amazing kids.

Enough with the mushy story of love and family. That’s not obviously why you are here reading my words. What it comes down too is the fact that the move was just as much for me as it was for my family. I hate change, always have. I also hate how change is good for you. Change is like vegetables I guess. Most the time you don’t want it, but it pays off in the end. When you work at something for so long, and you learn to play the stupid game and try and try to get it right and then you do, only to learn that you’re an idiot and the grass wasn’t actually greener after all or that the fence you just climbed over was the wrong one and it didn’t actually get you where you wanted to go. Yeah, that’s me. In retrospect, I look back without regret on where I’ve been and what I’ve done, but with pride.

Sure, I’m not where I thought I would at 30 years old. In some ways, I’m way better off than I thought I would be. And yes, hitting the bottom of the teaching totem pole doesn’t come without some cringing and head shaking. Here is where my achilles heel of passive-aggression comes in to play. Optimism! How do I remain optimistic at this point? How do I embrace the words of affirmation and positivity that every self-righteous condescending do-gooder will offer me and be a better me… or better yet… the the me I should be? Easy, I do something I have never done before.

I don’t know who said it to me, but I have a tendency to remember little infuriating comments made to me over the years. At this moment, the comment is: “The only limits you have are the limits you make for yourself.” Beautiful, right? In other words, Stop making excuses for your sorry butt and do that one thing you don’t think you can do.

Annoying comment number two: “Wow, you’ve really let yourself go eh?” How elegantly put, don’t you say? I’d say, you can’t let yourself go when you were never holding on in the first place, (insert expletive here).

So here is the motivation portion, I swear it is. You don’t need a change of scenery or circumstances to make changes in your life, no matter how irritating changes can be. I’ve taken it upon myself to make a change I have always wanted to make. A healthier and happier me. With years of working towards job security and stability, I’ve neglected the most important key to true stability.

Annoying comment number three: “You must always put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others with their oxygen masks.” I realized that I have to take care of myself, no one else is going to do it for me. By the point the oxygen masks have fallen from the sky and we are being instructed to use them accordingly, we’re most likely already plummeting down to whatever is next for us, be it the ground, or water, or make-shift landing strip. We have no clue really, but what we do know is that our chances of survival without oxygen goes way down. We need to do the things that will set us up for success, not for convenience. I have learned that most the time, when you take care of yourself first physically, mentally, spiritually, supernaturally then everything else falls into place.

I’m working on me. Here it is. I’ve always struggled with my weight, always. Other than a few failed attempts at fad diets or bad ideas, I can’t say I’ve ever been really successful. The one time I actually felt good about myself—was after a few years of actually taking time for myself everyday. I wasn’t hitting the gym everyday in guilt, I was hitting the gym everyday because I loved who I was and what I was doing. It made sense for me to do some gym time because it was part of my life. It was hard, but it was worth it. I wasn’t tracking my calories or my gym days, or my pounds gained or lost. I was just working on me. Discovering me, being real with who I was at the time. It wasn’t some major religious ceremonial wakening, although some would disagree. I just did it… until I stopped. I stopped… because life changed. I just never got back to it. So here is my list of five tips to motivating yourself to be better. If weight isn’t your issue, then that cool. I sort of hate you, but I don’t at the same time because I don’t even know you. What I am saying it this list can be used for overall wellness and being less of a waste of space… in the nicest words I can muster.

  • Try New Things: You can’t improve you don’t put yourself out there.
  • Eat Green Things: I hate vegetables as much as the next person, but there are loopholes and they are totally awesome.
  • Get Going: Keep moving, at your own pace. Just push yourself and set a new pace when you start getting comfortable (NO PAIN, NO GAIN).
  • Do Something Good: Do one thing for someone else everyday and never seek validation for it. Don’t bring it up. Don’t track it. Just do it.
  • Set An Adaptable Routine: Consistency is great, but being adaptable to your 9-5 daily schedule will keep things fresh and unpredictable.

I’m not saying to print this off and stick it on your fridge or bathroom mirror, but you can if you want. At the end of the day, the teacher mantra of A for Effort actually has some merit. I’m not even telling you to find balance or zen. Although I’m sure that’s nice too. I just saying don’t be mean to yourself or others. Circle yourself with good people who love life. Final annoying comment… I promise….

Number Four: Misery loves company. I scoff, but it’s so true that it sometimes hurts. It’s tough, but if someone isn’t gunning for you then make a slick exit. Yes—maybe that means ditching everyone unfortunately. There is strength in numbers, but not when those numbers are resentful and bitter nincompoops. Yes, people can change, but no it’s not your job to make them. As you and I already know—it’s hard to motivate oneself. Don’t take on more than you can chew. Oxygen Mask.. right?

So here’s to a better me and and better you. I’ve got work to do—and I can say I have seen some results in the short time I have recommitted. It’s possible. No, it’s reality.

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Mike Olsen

Write what I think and I think what I write. All good things, all good things - most of the time.

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