Stop netflixing your life away

Netflix. Such a great invention. The ability to access millions of movies and series at the press of a button. Even better now that you don’t have to change for a new episode, it just continuously runs.

I recently made the brave move to delete my Netflix. Why you ask? Well, Netflix is a distraction. It distracts us from our goals, from our vision, from what we want to achieve in life. This may sounds extreme, but think about it. See the below infographic as provided by the Business Insider:

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Here we can see how long it takes to watch an entire series. I have spent hours upon hours watching series after series and I kid you not, some series three times (Gossip Girl in case you were wondering). With this knowledge I decided to do a little calculation. Using this website ‘The Binge Clock’,  I could calculate how many hours I have spent watching Gossip Girl. Well, the truth is, I have spent over two weeks of my life watching Gossip Girl. TWO WEEKS. Lets put that in perspective:

15 days 3 hours = 363 hours

363 hours could have been better spent:

-> Going to the gym every day for a year (and would still have an extra 7 hours);

-> Sleeping more (I am constantly giving out about how little I sleep and how tired I am);

-> Taking up a new hobby such as learning to play the flute, or learning a new language;

-> spending more time with friends or family by giving them a call;

-> working on your side hustle.

But why do we watch it? I think one of the main enjoyments I derive from watching Netflix or any other sort of television series provider is the ability to live vicariously through the lives of others. Take Gossip Girl for example, I get to get a glimpse into the elite world of Manhattan socialites that I would never otherwise be allowed into. And this luxury makes me forget for a second (or for forty minutes) all my problems and brings me into this world of luxury where I almost believe, I am part of that world. Furthermore it is a distraction, a distraction from my current worries and problems, a way to ignore my issues and pretend everything is fine. Netflixing our weekends away is a modern-day phenomenon which is leading people to numb their lives by distracting themselves from their problems and not leading the life they could live.

 

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Now this article is not meant to make any one cold-turkey themselves from Netflix, but just to highlight the amount of time that is wasted on Netflix which could be used far more productively. There is a lot of good to be said for watching series as it is a great way to shut off for a while, but the bring home message of this article is to simply be aware of the tiem you are spending Netflixing especially if you are complaining about not having enoug time to do things.

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Growing up: The realisation you are an adult

This moment may come as a startling realisation to some or as a series of small realisations to others. To me, it was a mixture of the both. Moving out of home into my student residence, I had the realisation that I was growing up, moving to a foreign country – growing up, becoming financial responsible for myself – growing up, booking my first doctor’s appointment –growing up, getting my first ‘real adult job’ –growing up. 

But today, I was faced with the realisation that I am now actually an adult. No quotes around the word adult, no use of the verb ‘adulting’ which I aways used to suggest that this was a temporary phase, I was not an adult, I was just currently being an adult for the purpose at hand. But today, I realised, I am an adult.

This realisation came to me today as I was in my bed, off from work sick and I got a phone call from a headhunter asking me if I was interested in a new job. For this job, I would be paid significantly more, would be using my linguistic as well as legal skills but would be required to relocate leaving a city I love and a job with a very good law firm. When I got off the phone, I thought of who should I ask for advice? And that is when I realised, this is my decision. No matter what anyone says, this is my life and it is up to me to take full responsibility for it. And that my friends, is being an adult. Having the freedom to do exactly what you want, but also having to take all the shit that comes along with it.

Overcoming out your limitations

Everybody has limitations. These limitations which have been imposed on them by other people. Limitations formed long before you had the ability to rationalise what you have been told. Limitations defined to you by your parents, by your teachers, by society in general. The danger about these limitations is that you don’t even realise you have these limitations. They are buried deep in your subconscious, hiding from you but at the same time limiting you and your achievements in life.

Your conscious thoughts and ability to rationalise and filter your beliefs only develop as you hit adolescent years. Think of when you were younger, you believed that a fat man in a red suit travelled around the world in a flying carriage and climbed down the world delivering gifts to every child in the world. Not only did you believe this, but you believed it occurred within a day. Around the world in one day. Seriously? As you grew older, you began questioning this. You began to think about it rationally as your conscious mind developed and you realised *spoiler alert* Santa does not exist.

The point of the above example is to show the lack of filter that children have and how easily they believe what is told to them. The older you get however, your bullshit filter develop and you are able to distinguish between what is real and what is false.

As Jen Sicero said it in her book ‘You are a Badass’: It’s not your fault you’re fucked up. It’s your fault if you stay fucked up. So yeah, everyone has these beliefs and these beliefs lead to a definition of yourself, but that does not mean you don’t get to say, I refuse to accept this definition and I refuse to live within your definition of me. This is your life and you have the power to choose exactly who you want to be.

So how do you discover these limitations if they are buried deep within your unconscious?

Step 1: I want you to grab a pen and paper and then I want you to identify exactly where you are lacking in life, be it money, be it love, be it fitness and then I want you to write down the first five to ten words that come into your head when you think of that word. For example:

Love: vulnerable; suffocating; controlling; run; inescapable; flee; real me not loveable

Step 2: I want you to go into the deeper meaning of these words. Try form a sentence on why it was these words that came into your head.

For example: Being in love makes me feel vulnerable as I feel as though everyone I love always leaves, from my biological father to my adoptive father to other people in my life. No one ever stays. They don’t want me in their lives. Maybe I am truly unloveable, I have built a facade of happiness and fool people into thinking I am a great person, but as soon as they see one flaw they flee, they realise the truth, that I am unloveable. And therefore they leave. So you can never rely on people because they leave so why let yourself be vulnerable and experience love when it is futile and is going to end anyway. Also love is suffocating, having to adjust your lifestyle for someone else, he tells you what to do, what if he extinguishes your dreams and desires in life as you become so eager to show you are loveable that you focus only on his dreams as its easier as you are not even sure what your dreams are anyway and then you wake up one day and realise your to do list for the day contains tasks such as put on the washing, iron his suits, make his lunch for work, take the kids to school, clean the house, while he is out working in a bank and probably having an affair with his secretary which is probably your fault as so much resentment has built up that you don’t find him attractive anymore and sex is the last thing you want from him. And you find yourself living a life governed by to do lists and parent-teacher meetings and then you wake up that day and realise all the dreams you once had, have been extinguished by him and you live to serve him and his needs.

Step 3: I want you to contradict the above using your rational sense. The above is everything I believe that is part of my subvonscious. No bullshit filter was used with the above. It was just pure emotion. So now put it through the bullshit filter.

Being in love is about being vulnerable. That is one of the points of love. It makes you vulnerable but if you are with the right person, being vulnerable is okay. They will make you safe, and they are probably just as fucking afraid of being vulnerable as you are and if they are not, they have other hangups in life. Your biological father did not leave you because of you. Him leaving his pregnant girlfriend is not your fault. You weren’t even fucking born yet mate. Get a reality check. Your adoptive father deserting you, was not your problem and you want it that way. You decided you did not want him in your life as he was like poison ivy poisoning all happiness in your life. Your mom did not leave you. She died. That was not her choice. I’m pretty sure she would have loved to see you grow up and get married and have kids. But cancer decided to kill her. Your friends did not leave you. They followed their dreams which led them to living in different countries and cities than you. They keep in contact, would they do that if they did not love you. Cop on. Its good you stand on your own two feet and you are well able for it, but its also good to realise that there are people there who love you and a lot of them. You are loveable.

Secondly everybody has their flaws. Show me Mr. Perfect and I will show you a robot. Its not possible, and your flaws is what makes someone relatable and human. I love my friends with their flaws attached. Its what makes them them. You are allowed to have flaws, you are allowed to be you and you are allowed to not be perfect the whole goddamn time.

Thirdly love being suffocating. Yes. Love can be suffocating sometimes. But if you have to give up your dreams in order to be with a person, then you are with the wrong person. End of. When someone truly loves you, they will support you in whatever endeavour (as long as its within their morals) you wish. Real friends support you no matter what. If you want to be a tunafish, then its my job to encourage you to be the best damn tunafish that you can be. Real true love is about compromise, support and encouragement. It a two sided affair and is not about one person giving up their life and dreams for another. Its about both of you encouraging each other to live your dreams together.

So do you see from the above example how I debullshitted my imposing belief about love. A belief which was instilled into me from a young age, from taking in the world around me sans bullshit filter. From seeing my parent’s marriage, to depictions on tv of love etc etc.

And that is how you destroy these limiting beliefs.

So to sum it up: pick an area in your life you are not happy about, jot down the words that come into your mind when you think about it, expand on those words and then apply the bullshit filter. 

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section and what areas you have applied the bullshit filter to.

What I learned when my mom died

A lot of people have that aha moment. That moment of clarity where you realise how fragile life truly is and how pointless 99% of the things you do in your life are. My aha moment was when my Mom got diagnosed with cancer. She died shortly afterwards (and by shortly, I am talking weeks).

The greatest lesson I took from her death was to stop waiting. She always was waiting. Waiting until she had more money. Waiting until we went to South Africa. Waiting until I went to go to university. Waiting until I left university. She lived in the future never fully appreciating the present. Perhaps the reason for this was that her present was too harsh a reality for her to live in, and therefore she chose to live in this fairytale future. Who knows. I will never know.

But we all have to stop waiting. I see it with my friends. I see it with my family. And worst of all, I see it with myself. I wake up in the morning and I cannot wait until the day is over. Its a Tuesday today, and god I cannot wait for it to be the weekend. In two and a half weeks I go to South Africa and I feel myself counting it down. My brother is worse, he cannot wait until he retires. Its all he talks about. Sometimes I stop. I hit pause on the treadmill of life, and I sit there and I realise is this it. Is this what life is, a series of shitty days which you endure in order to get to the day you have been waiting for, be it Friday, Christmas, holidays, retirement etc. Thats not good enough. I do not want to wait. I want everyday to be a day that imbues me with such joy that I truly am in the moment. 

I want to stop putting off all those things I said I would do like go pole-dancing, read books, date, travel, have fun. Stop making excuses and waiting for fun things to happen, and just do them now.

I think my brother put it best when he wrote on the day my mom died:

“What I can take from this is you have to do the things you talk of now. Cause later might not come. So kiss that girl on the first date, tell your wife how beautiful she looks, buy that puppy and have the baby girl you always talk about. Tomorrow I will continue with my life and make every day one to remember. As for the rest of you. Go hug your mom.”

 

 

Discovering yourself: Who am I

More often then not, we let other people define ourselves. Before we are able to form our own idea of who we are, we are told. This is why it it is so important to define yourself in order to achieve the life you want.

Today’s exercise to help you discover your true authentic self is to fill in the blank: I am _______

Write down, without consciously thinking, what you are. Are you a lawyer, a mom, a student, a friend, tired of life, bored, interested, ambitious etc. Look at these words and decide, do these words/labels correspond to the life you want to live, to the goals you wish to achieve?

 

Budgeting 101

Saving money, having money, watching my money is something I struggle with. I developed some weird habits with money from being dirt poor in uni. I would always pay everything off that needed to be paid and then I would spend the remainder of my income on whatever I wanted. Sounds like a good plan? Well, yes back when I had very little surplus income, it was a great plan. However, now that I have joined the adult world, I need to figure out how to deal with my money like an adult and that means budgeting. Below is the strategy I am using so far:

  1. Write down a list of your income on the one side of the page, and on the other side of the page your expenditure. So for example for income, it would be pocket-money, grants, salary etc and for expenditure, it would be food, rent, phone bills, clothes, socialising etc.
  2. 50/30/20: The 50/30/20 rule states keep 50% of your income for necessary things e.g. rent, food etc. Save 30% and spend 20% on fun things. Look at your own spending habits and see how fitting your own spending habits are to this model, and try make them look like that. For example:

Say Joan earns 2000 euro a month. 1000 euro goes towards all her necessary expenses such as her phone bill, her rent, her grocery bills etc. She then has 1000 euro left over, 600 euro she puts away for savings. She then has 400 euro for fun things. This can cover going out with friends, going on holidays, buying new clothes, getting your hair done etc.

3. Now that you have your plan of how you want to spend your money, use this plan. As soon as you get your income in every month, try pay off your pressing expenses such as your rent, credit card etc and set up a direct debit to pull your money into a savings account before you have a chance to spend it.

4. Another thing I have started doing recently is making a note on my phone whenever I spend money and a rough idea what I spend it on. I have only been doing this for the month of February but I am already shocked at how much the little things at up and can see very quickly where all my money is going.

5. Every two weeks, check how you are doing. Check your notes to see how much you have spent and see if you are on target. If you are not on target, learn to pull back a bit. If you are on target, rejoice and use some of the fun money to buy yourself something cute or go out to the movies with friends etc.

So there you have it, make a plan with your money.

 

The treadmill of life

I feel like I am stuck. Stuck on this treadmill of life. The alarm goes off. I get up. I get dressed into my black work clothes. I eat my breakfast. I walk to work. I am in work from 9-6. I leave work. I go home. Plans to meet up with friends forgotten. Plans to go to the gym long forgotten. Far too tired. I make dinner. I watch some Netflix. I wash my face and teeth. I get into bed. I check my Facebook for the tenth time that hour. I look at other people’s lives envious of them. I turn off the light. I go to sleep. The alarm goes off and it starts again. Every day.

I cannot live this life for the next forty years.