Another blog written with the baby sprawled across my lap, but this time, at least, the Shift key is accessible.
As we reach the end of the third week of the Ten Year Self Improvement Challenge – leaving, let me do the maths quickly, just under ten years – I thought I’d summarise my progress in the little auxiliary challenges I set myself. They’re all things which are smaller and more specific, so more achievable on a day-to-day level, than my main Holy Grail of becoming more optimistic. But they’re all things which in their little ways will contribute to that goal.
The portion of the Forum devoted to personal TYSIC records will soon be operative, but in the meantime keep up the blogging and I will publish a general summary as soon as I can. Once again there have been some fine efforts this week.
Get back to playing drums – despite some offers of help I’ve done precisely zero percussion work these three weeks, unless you count rocking the baby rhythmically up and down to promote sleep (his, not mine). Hitting things doesn’t go all that well with raising an infant. I remain upbeat – at least, mid-tempo – about my chances of increased sticksmanship, especially as a number of people in the Challenge are making or learning music and I can surely smash away in the baackground at some point in the decade. As a yardstick I’d like to have played once in public, OR several times in private, by Christmas.
Less boozing – This has gone fairly well, even if admittedly it’s largely been forced upon me by the responsibilities of fatherhood. I’ve not been properly drunk for some weeks. On Monday I hosted the Chortle Awards, a comedy industry backslap with a free bar, and drank a reasonable amount, but still only about a quarter as much as I normally would. I’ve also managed not to reach for wine in response to problems these past three weeks, which tends to be one of my Achilles heels.
Meet Obama/get into space – Nope, but it’s early days. A Commenter pointed out that a better objective for the next ten years would be to campaign against space flight, which is massively wasteful and ecologically unsound. I agree, really, but the thing is, I’d love to go into space.
Compliment every day – As described yesterday, this has begun well. Today it was just my wife but they were well-judged, timely compliments.
Stop comparing self to others – This is the hardest task of all and probably the key to my entire TYSIC. I’m in a career where comparison with others is almost inevitable, and where almost every day brings me into contact with more talented and/or successful people. This ought not to matter, because it’s not as if there’s only room for one person to ‘win’. It’s just that being a comedian is a bit like being a supermodel or something: because of the frailty of your ego and the cut-throat-ness of the industry, the excellence of others always amplifies your own failings.
Feelings of failure have followed me around for all my life so far: I always tend to feel that I’m not good enough at whatever I happen to be doing, and focus too much on my shortcomings rather than successes. This is a very bad habit and it’s a still worse habit to mix up that neurosis with paranoia about others. Nonetheless, I am tending to do that almost every day at present. It’s got to stop. I’m not sure how I will stop it, but we’ll see.
I apologise for being self-indulgent enough to air these thoughts. My excuse is that quite a lot of people participating in the TYSIC are taking on quite difficult and discouraging emotional terrain. I think it might be good to know that optimism for me is just as hard. But hey. There’s ten years.