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Buster Benson

No advice column.

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Laughs and Kicks #1: advice and modern etiquette for lost souls
f is for fox
I have a “good” job, it allows me to pays the bills, is reasonable work, but the soul killing aspects seem to be getting me down lately. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels doing work that doesn’t matter. I want to quit, take a year or so off and just goof around and figure out what I want to do when I grow up. But I’m hung up on losing the security that I’ve build up by working and saving etc... If I sell my house to fund my year of discovery what if I can’t ever afford another one? Will I be living in a horrible apartment when I’m 65? How do I balance security / stability with growth?

"Good" is not good enough.  "Reasonable" is a way to hide fear of the unknown.  "Spinning wheels" is lack of momentum and direction... a double whammy.  "I want, but" is self-induced paralysis.  "Security" is an illusion caused by the mixture of fear and familiarity.  This is the only life we have, my advice is to to for more than "good".  Be smart about it, but not cautious.  Smarts require preparation, swift, determined action, and fearlessness.  Caution can be confused with smarts but is usually more of a fear mask.

How can I make sure I keep the motivation to write a thesis this summer when the weather is going to be gorgeous and I’m going to want to go outside? In other words, how can I create a schedule I can stick with and won’t blow off at the first opportunity?

Wanting to want something isn't the same as wanting something.  "Motivation" is created on the thing you want itself.  My motivational trick when I want to want something more than I actually want the thing itself is to stake my reputation on doing things by publicly telling people that I'm going to do something that I don't necessarily want to do.  By staking my reputation on, say, writing my thesis this summer, and not only do it but do it awesomely, the pressure to actually stay in and do it rises exponentially.  This is part of why we don't make promises to do things, because we know that the act of promising might actually influence our need to do something that we don't really want to do.  Instead of creating a schedule which you won't follow and which will only make you feel like slacking off even more, tell people that if you don't finish your thesis this summer that you'll clean their rooms and scrub their bathrooms and take them to the airport whenever they need to.  At that point, fear of failure might motivate you to create a reasonable schedule.

I have a pattern of going for guys who aren’t really into that whole “longterm commitment” thing. Is this because I'm not ready, myself? Is it because I feel validated when relationships end, telling myself that I was right all along that men are dogs, or that no one will want me, etc? Would I flee or choke to death a relationship that involved someone who really wanted to commit? Is 33 1/2 years old too young to spend my valuable time worrying about such matters?

A pattern is just a pattern.  We get stuck in patterns for no reason... it's strangely comfortable to fail at something familiar.  It's terribly horribly awful to fail at something unknown.  Of course we'd choose the former over the latter whenever possible.  Familiar failure validates your fears, strengthens the pattern, and feeds the comfort.  If you want longterm commitment, then you're ready for it.  Rather than being wishy washy about it, demand it from life.  Demand commitment from yourself.  If you're afraid of yourself you'll be your pattern's slave.  You'll continue to reinforce bad patterns, and continue to rely on familiar failure for comfort. 

Is there really a way for me to become more organized to the point where I don’t dread paying bills so much that I just don’t pay them at all?   Can you fix that?

You don't need to be organized to pay your bills.  You just need to pay your bills.  Blaming a personality trait and expecting that you'd need to change a giant part of your self-identity in order to do something as mundane as writing a couple checks every week makes writing those checks exponentially more difficult.  Once you're paying your bills the slow and tedious way (the disorganized way), becoming organized will be an added efficiency that you can work on in order to save time.  But wait until all that work makes sense... go for the low-hanging fruit to start.

Have a question for me about advice or modern etiquette?  Add an anonymous comment to this entry.


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