View Full Version : Learning how to relax

03-15-2015, 07:16 PM
I'm about one week into the real world at age twenty four, and so far it's not as bad as I was told. I spent about five years in school working two jobs to pay for college then a year of grad school, got deep in charity work to fill in the rest of my time, weekends were spent fencing. Cutting loose from school, I ended up having to live off my savings for six months as I went through about forty interviews and a lot of dead ends. Savings went away even being frugal. Spent two months working a gun counter (only work I could find, seasonal for hunting season) at a big box store to pay the rent, while still putting on charity events and benefits on the side. Spent my days either praying for job interviews or being jeered at bad customers and managers who ruled with an iron first for ten bucks an hour. Money got tighter, the days got longer.

Finally getting a real job at a nonprofit association was incredible. Flexible day hours, no more weekends, working wage, the ability to sit while working, being trusted to work instead of watched closely like a minimum wage liability, health insurance...And settling in, I only found I loved the job more and more. My bosses all the way up are fantastic, my cube-mates are wonderful, the work is engaging, fulfilling, and creative. I'm just about to hit the four month mark. That first paycheck was unreal. Savings began to creep back into existence, my mood and perceived health improved, I now have a full pantry. Most importantly, I'm just happy to be doing something and making a difference for my coworkers and hopefully our clientele. They have to drag me out of the office some days, I simply love what I do. When my old car finally died with a bad trans, I was able to drive off with a new tiny import that gets great mileage.

This last week, I pulled five days in a row doing eight hours of work during our busy season, then driving a ways out and running charity events each night. Lot of people suddenly quitting or scrambling to make events come together, not a good week. I'd crawl in between eleven or midnight. By the end of the week I was spending my lunch breaks sleeping in my car to stay sharp and keep putting in a worthy effort. I spent Saturday...sleeping, and today was similarly spent. I have an Action Pistol match on Tuesday after missing the last couple, but was too exhausted all day to drill at all. I'm now too tired to pursue my only enjoyable hobby. I've always been busy as long as I can remember, but this is a crossroad.

Have notified a few of my charity groups of how my last week went, and have made it clear I need to back out, back down, or be backed up. My job thankfully was untouched by my exhaustion, but I can't risk that again. Starting with this match on Tuesday I intend to take last place in, I'm getting back into USPSA and IDPA because damn it I want to pretend I'm a badass when I'm not in a cubicle or ushering at galas. Those charity parties? I need to spend a few simply attending and meeting people instead of volunteering early and late. Spent some time today hand-washing my matchbox car in the driveway. Next May I may be able to make it to a carbine course with shoestring gear and make a weekend vacation out of it. I've been busy for so long to try and get to this point in my life, I need to actually try living.

03-15-2015, 08:33 PM
If you let the quality of your work and, for that matter, your life lessen to provide quantity you will not like the results. Maybe time to reassess your priorities.

I have learned this the hard way! Take the time to decide what/where best to invest your time. Things are always changing and may cause the need/desire to change your priorities.


03-16-2015, 12:52 PM
You have to take care of yourself, if you want to take care of others.

Greg Nichols
03-16-2015, 01:22 PM
I work full time in a high pressure position inside a major banking company.. I barely get 5-6 hrs of sleep a night, at your age you should be able to go all night + 2 hours. Get your energy up bro and your stress down.

1) eat right
2) lift big
3) get laid
4) have a coctail before bed while you read for 15 mins

I find these important because the slow my mind down prior to sleep. Lets my body settle and allows the sleep I do get to be more effective.

03-16-2015, 01:46 PM
Highwayman, your last statement "I need to actually try living". The need says it all. No sense burning yourself out, even if you're achieving good things (charity work, etc.). You have to take care of # 1 - you ! The rest will fall inline when that happens. Once when I was your age, I was working 60+ hours a week, until 2 years ago. Got to a point that things were falling apart, both physical and on the home front. Once I quit my other 2 jobs, keep my full-time 40 hour main job and now getting back to me and the family; Life is grand ! Agreed, you got to that point in your life and its time to reap the benefits.

03-16-2015, 02:55 PM
I hate to say it but there are groups out there who will take advantage of your generosity and run you to death for their own good; then drop you like a hot rock for the next chump. Be sure the organizations you are helping are not one of those kinds. Sounds like you need to cut back on the freebies. Pick one or two and limit what you do with them. Killing yourself will only make you dead- it won't help anyone but the undertaker (and that is for only 1 day!)

03-16-2015, 03:51 PM
Ragsbo is onto something there. The non-profits I've interviewed with wanted to pay a lot less than market rate. I guess they thought the staff should be "doing it for the children". So I don't work at those places. I work where I can make the best use of my time, and send charities a check if I'm in the giving mood.

03-16-2015, 05:12 PM
"I need to actually try living"

Brother, you wouldn't believe how many folks never come to this realization!

What's the point of making money if you don't spend it on nice things for yourself/family once in a while? Similarly, what's the point of learning to fight, if you haven't got a life worth fighting for?

I go to the movies and work out regularly with the wife or by myself, that helps me wind down and relax. I go shooting regularly and do dry practice.

Have a drink, read a book, watch a movie, get laid, whatever helps you!

03-16-2015, 05:27 PM
Looks like my match got cancelled, so much for that. To elaborate a bit, my job itself is comfortable and doesn't pull the 'we're a charity' angle. We're professionals who simply advance a field rather than a company. What's killing my nights away is various other groups for various causes which keep making more offers and requests as I become more capable. All volunteer, if anything my work is more relaxing than my 'hobbies' at this point. It simply has to be knocked off. I have retired guys and guys calling in sick with a cold, but they still lecture on what could be done better in their absence.

The saddest thing is, my dreams are a tad low after beating poverty. I'd love to get a garbage bag of new gear trinkets I may never use, or an old beater gun to try a new sport or division, find some one to go to a discounted opera with. I'm not an eater or a drinker, it gets pretty cheap.

03-16-2015, 07:29 PM
Sounds like the biggest thing you need to do is learn to say "no" to all the people asking you to do things. Another viable thing to tell them is "pay me".

After that get use to it as life isn't going to get easier lol.

Sam Spade
03-16-2015, 08:46 PM
“Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please—this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time—and squawk for more!
So learn to say No—and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)”


03-17-2015, 07:07 AM
+1 for Heinlein.

Problem is when you say yes to something and help out enough, they start to expect it. "Ask ZeroTA, he'll do it." Then they get pissy when you say no. As a new home contractor I get asked to do projects all the time. My polite way out is to say, "I'm not sure when or if I have time. If you need it done immediately I can give you a bid through my company." I'll put you on the schedule if you make it worth my time.

Like my church. They ask me to do stuff all the time. Some I do, some I don't. I'm glad to help but they want to replace ten doors, tear out some old paneling, and redo some rooms. I said this is not something I can swing in and do on a Saturday, here's a (heavily discounted) bid from my company to do it. Truth be told some folks didn't like that.

03-29-2015, 10:49 AM
Ended up going 2.75 weeks without a night off, and that was skipping three events. Spent my first full day off yesterday hiking about fifteen miles despite the cold, only one event this next week and it's a casual one with a free meal. At least three groups are being nixed based on these last few weeks. The worst part of this all was even when I was getting home, sleep issues became visible, and I was literally dreaming about working and emails. This needs to stop. Hopefully the next week restores some peace of mind.

03-29-2015, 01:26 PM
It can be hard to make a change like this! Hang in there and it will become much easier, and you will feel much, much better. Soon you will once again enjoy your life.

03-29-2015, 02:15 PM
As someone who is just out of school and starting your "adult life," you're more of a blank slate at this point in your life than you will be at any other time. In my opinion, it would benefit you to spend a lot of effort in the near term thinking about how you want to live your life and being purposeful about the trajectory you set yourself upon. What are your goals? For the next year, 5 years, 20 years? Put them down on paper. Spend some time figuring those out, and only then start filling up your time. Time is the only real commodity we have in this life.

03-29-2015, 06:07 PM
At this point, you need to focus on your paying job, then keeping yourself functional for the long term. Then, and only then, do you do charity work. The one exception I might make are those charity jobs that let you network for work purposes.

Have a time budget. Budget time for yourself.

And make certain you get enough sleep. Sustained sleep deprivation will ruin you.

I've got an extremely high-stress job (flight testing, to be specific), making sure I got enough sleep has been critical.

03-29-2015, 08:35 PM
What's killing my nights away is various other groups for various causes which keep making more offers and requests as I become more capable. All volunteer, if anything my work is more relaxing than my 'hobbies' at this point. It simply has to be knocked off. I have retired guys and guys calling in sick with a cold, but they still lecture on what could be done better in their absence.

Lots of people want to be part of a charity, but few of them want to make a commitment or do any real work.

This means that the few (like you) who *will* get dumped on.

Pick one charity where your work can do the most good and give them a certain number of hours a month. For everyone else, they get a check when you can. If you feel bad the go back to working the gun counter seasonally and donate *all* of that money to one or more charities, at least then your time commitments are bounded.

03-30-2015, 06:59 AM
My opinion:
1.) Get your mind right. You deserve everything the world has to offer you just have to take it.
2.) Continue to grind but focus on things that will get you into a better financial position. You can do ALOT more for others when you are successful and have your own life in order.
3.) any spare time needs to be filled with things that make you better. Shooting, lifting, sleeping etc.
4.). Spend your efforts lifting up those around you by being the example of success. They are depending on you more then you will ever know.

Zed Stewart
03-30-2015, 12:55 PM
Looks like my match got cancelled, so much for that. To elaborate a bit, my job itself is comfortable and doesn't pull the 'we're a charity' angle. We're professionals who simply advance a field rather than a company. What's killing my nights away is various other groups for various causes which keep making more offers and requests as I become more capable. All volunteer, if anything my work is more relaxing than my 'hobbies' at this point. It simply has to be knocked off. I have retired guys and guys calling in sick with a cold, but they still lecture on what could be done better in their absence.

There are people like this all over. The thing I was never taught when I was a kid was how to get paid. I always worked hard and thought that I would be fairly compensated by honest people. It's not so. Charities want it all donated and that's fine if they want an all- volunteer troop. You need to put a value on your time and effort and get paid for it! They can afford it. Don't let them say they can't. They are paying somebody.

Its biblical to get paid not evil. God says so.

Redneck Zen
03-31-2015, 11:06 AM
Like many, I was never taught how to negotiate for my money and I trusted that I would be fairly compensated for my work. Wrong. Talk is cheap. You always hear, "It's nothing personal; it's business." Whatev. Regardless of what it is, you have to learn to stand up for yourself and value your work and the time you have on this planet.

I'm about to retire after nearly three decades in state gov't work. I love my job -- well, 90% of it. That other 10% is a pain, but it's manageable. I've been able to do a lot of good, help our troops and their families, right some wrongs, take part in a lot of programs that put our agency on the map, save the taxpayers money, plus have a lot of experiences that make for great storytelling. I'm gonna miss parts of it, but other parts, not so much.

The main reason I'm leaving is money. I cannot get a raise or promotion without leaving my agency, despite being told I'm "invaluable" and "the core of the operation" and "we really can't afford to lose you." The problem is the structure of our agency; the guys who pay me aren't the ones who "appreciate me." So I'm moving on and out. If I stay another year I only get another $100 a month on my retirement, and so on. If I need to work some to supplement my hobbies and travel bucket list over the next 20 or so years, no problem, I can do that. I do wish I had enough moolah to do more for others, but that's all right. We ain't rich, but we're comfortable.

My son, on the other hand, is already in better financial shape than I am. He's self taught in IT, plus he's getting a ton of electronic and mechanical training courtesy Uncle Sam. We talked openly about our finances in front of him from an early age and he picked up on it, in spades. I told him -- and continue to reinforce -- that if he is not getting compensated for his services to move on ... and up. It paid off. When he was 20 he bought his first house. While he was deployed he and his wife trade up to a much larger, nicer estate on five acres in the country. She's got a good paying job, they buy want they want/need and do it responsibly. Both he and she are saving their pesos so they'll have a nice nest egg when they have kids or are ready to retire, etc.

The bottom line is having a true sense of self worth on you, your abilities and your potential. Do be charitable, but be smart. Don't be a doormat. You only got so many days on this planet, so many nights ... so many heartbeats. Is what you're doing worth one of those precious days? Those non-refundable heartbeats?

Another thing: Everybody gets paid somehow. And everything is negotiable. If you're set on working for charities, tell them you can't work 100% for free. Negotiate. Ask the guy/gal you talk to how they got paid. People love to talk about themselves. Play to their vanities, ask questions, take notes and learn. You might find out you don't really wanna work in that field after all. Hmmm ....

Regarding standing up for yourself, be bold. Like I said, everybody gets paid. Talk about that openly. Why not? Your potential employer started out somewhere, right? Quick story: My son didn't get paid for two pay periods while on active duty. I told him to a) ask the f*cktard readiness NCO when was the last time HE got paid and b) report his ass to the battalion commander. My son got paid within a couple of days after those conversations.

Also, always .. ALWAYS under promise and over deliver. Make sure you give them their money's worth. Make yourself indispensable. Only hold them to it -- make it so they WANT you. If they don't or can't compensate you, move on.

I learned the hard way. I had fun and got to do a lot of cool stuff, but now I gotta deal with the consequences of my (in)action. And I'll do okay, now that I've fulfilled my obligations and have a little income to fund some projects.

Good luck and be safe!


M1A's r Best
03-31-2015, 03:01 PM
I have known (for me anyway) for many years that the first thing to do after work (on those really shitty days when all the stupid comes out and tries to force you to be stupid right along with them) is to go to the parking lot. Fire up the car (my work cars over the years have been 73 Laguna, 81 Z28, 86 IROC Z28 and 11 Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track) and raise hell down the road from the parking lot and have fun on the way home. My wife says she can tell the difference when I've been driving the pickup for a few days due to the weather.

Then, another great stress reliever, for me, is to go shooting. Few things are as satisfying, to me, as shooting. Fishing is good, but not as good as shooting.

07-20-2015, 09:33 AM
An update on how things have gone since I started this thread. Now that the yearly officer elections have passed, I've backed out of five small local charities and am devoting my time to the one I chair for the region as well as the autism campaign I simply love working. Got into car camping with some friends using borrowed gear, may soon own a small backpacking tent. My shooting tournaments still suffer a bit, finally making time to drill and practice more. The biggest achievement is being asked to take on a committee position where instead of paying to attend yearly voting conferences including hotel and meals...I coordinate the crowds and registration, get my room and meals paid for, and they toss in a small stipend so even though I'm making money while on a paid vacation day from work.

By all means the charity work was worth it, but at this point I'm focusing only on outlets where I can utilize my existing skill set from my job where I'm most effective. Headed back to school part-time on my employer's dime, this gave me the perfect exit plan for the smaller groups I left. If I really crank it with a scholarship or two, I'll finish off my half-done Masters in a year and a half. I end up with better chances of promotion, my bosses get to write off the educational reimbursement on their taxes, and my charity groups get a more skilled volunteer instead of a tired one.