I've been tired for almost as long as I can remember. In fact, I can't really remember not being tired. I have a general feeling of lethargy that is only gone when I am engaged in the most enthusiastic activities such as programming (thank god!), working out, talking about movies, walking around, hiking, and learning new and interesting things. Of course, this is not exactly surprising; it makes sense that things about which I am not interested would make feel tired and the things about which I am highly interested would fill me with energy.
The major problem with this is that I have learned to use Tiredness as my ticket to get out of things that I am either not interested in, or, more importantly, to get out of things that push me outside of my comfort zone. In retrospect, I believe that this is what my ex girlfriend, Emily Goodman, was referring to when she said that being tired was my "Winning Strategy" (this was some sort of psych term she learned in graduate school); tiredness was my strategy for staying well within the borders of my comfort zone. It was what allowed me to not push myself to new levels.
This weekend, I listened to the audio book, The Magic Of Thinking Big, by David J. Schwartz, Ph.D. (thanks Clark Valberg). It was an excellent book and I highly recommend it to anyone who, deep down inside, knows that they are holding themselves back. In it, Schwartz talks about the three major types of "Excusitis"; these are:
- I don't have time to do that.
- I don't feel well enough to do that.
- I am too old / too young to do that.
While all three major forms of excusitis do talk to me on some level, number #2 really hit home. The idea of being Too Tired to engage in activities feels so pervasive to my life that I don't even notice it anymore. But, hearing it being called out as one of the major forms of self-limiting behavior really shocked me and gave me the ability to stand outside myself for a moment.
What I realized is that this cyclic behavior of being tired, then telling people I'm tired, then feeling tired to fulfill the prophecy is really holding me back and needs to be put to an end. So, what I decided Friday night was that I will never again tell people that I am tired or use tiredness as an excuse to limit the things that I do. In fact, going forward I am going to create a "Swear Jar" for myself and every time that I tell someone I'm tired, I have to put $20 dollars in the swear jar.
I'm not sure what I will do with the money that accumulates. Hopefully no money will go in the jar, as I am just going to start telling people that I feel great when asked. Just the activity of telling people that I feel great should increase my mood level, and I will actually start to feel great no matter what I am truly feeling at the time.