Using Your Addictions for Good

Oh hi there… I had kind of forgotten I had a blog. I was considering not posting anymore, but now I see that people have actually been visiting. Sadly, there hasn’t been much for them to read.

You see, I am a starter. I get excited, I start things, and then they die. Everything is always so fantastic in my own head. I’m sure it’s a pretty common occurrence among humans. I also have a bit of an addictive personality. I need focus and outside influence.

I’m learning this about myself in my so-called Retirement. I’m learning about my habits. I’m learning that my addictive personality is most likely just the fact that I’m a creature of habit. I can ignore most everything around me and just keep doing what I’m doing. This makes me fairly adaptable, which can be a good thing, but it can also make me lazy.

In a way, these simple habits turn into addictions: I have a hard time walking past my office without stopping at my computer. I have a hard time not checking my e-mail on my phone every morning. I have difficulty keeping my office clean. I could get used to something (like a broken toilet, for example) and never bother to get it fixed. When I clean, which is rare, I do it compulsively. I sometimes do the same things over and over.

MMM is the exact opposite. Not working is easy for him. He has goals, dreams, things to do, places to go, people to see! Yeah, he gets in a funk sometimes like we all do, but he does something about it right away. I would happily sit around all day not getting anything accomplished. I like being alone. It makes me happy. Or does it?

Nope. It turns out it doesn’t make me happy at all.

If you’re the same way as me, the solution is simple: use your addictions for good. It takes a little while to figure out, but it works. I quickly became addicted to Crossfit. I now have a lifetime of fitness ahead of me. I can learn things quickly, because I become so engrossed in them – using my addictive personality for good, I can get through a ton of Spanish duolingo courses or obsessively learn the guitar. I can learn to make a Thesis theme or learn Sketch Up from scratch. I can get engrossed in the most minute details of learning until I perfect something. I can become a master of anything if I apply the right focus over time.

I can also shed my addictions very quickly. Two weeks away from my computer and I’m cured – I never need to look at another screen again. On the flipside, two weeks away from Crossfit and I never need to do another deadlift again.

Because of my addictions (ie. electronic devices), I’ve learned that I need to start my day off with an outdoor activity in order to have a productive day. That resets my rhythm away from technology and towards nature and exercise.

I need a daily schedule. I know exactly what it should look like. I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I follow it, but some good things are happening:

– I exercise regularly
– I eat healthy, even though I am still a lazy cook
– I make my bed every morning
– I never use my phone when I’m out (thanks Airvoice! lack of data plan is just what I needed)

It’s a work in progress… our lives are a work in progress. But taking the time to figure this stuff out is important. I may never figure it out completely, but knowing myself is important to me and to my relationships with others.

Don’t know what to do when you retire? Can’t imagine life without a 9-5 job? You may need to go through this exercise too. Give yourself some time off and see what happens – you may learn that you’re more interesting and complex than you think.

{ 19 comments… add one }

  • Dallin Morris September 25, 2013, 11:10 pm

    Glad to hear that it isn’t just me that can drop an obsession as quick as it came. Although I bet if I just had a little more diligence, like you, I could accomplish a whole lot more.
    We’ve all got to find our basic “righteous routine” of health and fitness and then build it up from there with our passions and talents. Lots to work on.
    Thanks for the post! It was fantastic!

  • Viverl September 26, 2013, 12:00 am

    Hello Mrs MM!

    I always look forward hearing from you. The second and especially female perspective makes Mr MMs stories more whole.

    And you and him seem to behave like my boyfriend and me, just vice versa!


  • Steven September 26, 2013, 12:12 am

    Valuable and insightful – especially for someone with many of the same traits (see: me).

  • Caro Hardy September 26, 2013, 3:11 am

    I can totally relate! I get addicted very easily and it doesn’t matter what it is: cigarets, TV series, sugar… The good thing however is that it is also very easy for me to replace them by other addictions like crossfit!
    Exercise has now become one of my key-stone habits without which life falls apart (eating unhealthy food, and I can’t keep focus, meaning nothing gets done).
    Cleaning however is still hard. I basically only clean when people are coming over but I am slowly moving towards creating habits in this area. The process does include a lot of trial and error. It is part of the game… Same for blogging. Keep it up!

    • Mrs. MM September 27, 2013, 10:54 am

      Yes, I agree on the cleaning. I’m the same way. The solution is to invite more people over! :)

      One thing I’m working on is doing small amounts of cleaning every day. You can get a surprising amount done with just 5-minutes of cleaning. Starting is always the hardest part, so throwing that into your daily routine can help you form a daily habit.

  • Li September 26, 2013, 9:09 am

    Great post. I feel like you are describing me to a T. So, I think I’ll just try to apply some of your solutions to create some of my own positive addictions:)

  • jp September 26, 2013, 10:24 am

    Very insightful Mrs. ‘Stache! How about funneling that addictive personality of yours into writing more blog posts?!

    • Mrs. MM September 27, 2013, 10:51 am

      Haha – done! I just wrote another one. Thanks for the motivation. :)

  • Kevin Worthington September 26, 2013, 10:35 am

    Hey Mrs. MM!

    I’m glad to see a new post from you. I can really relate to the electronics addiction. It seems like if I’m not staring at a computer monitor, I’m staring at my iPhone. The ‘nature first’ method may be the key. I’m going to try it and I’ll let you know!

  • Laura September 26, 2013, 4:09 pm

    Yes. Exactly – interesting and complex. It’s complicated. I haven’t had a 9-5 job in 20 years (I’m 52) – raising two kids was my primary job. People have often been puzzled at what I do with my day, especially now that my kids are no longer at home. I have to laugh, it’s such a silly question, I mean, do they not know what to do on their weekends? It’s like that, only every day. I am always learning, creating, reading, exercising, communicating – and not in any specific daily routine or order. One thing is for certain, I am never bored. I wake up without expectations. I have never been one to fill my days with chores or volunteer work. I have never needed organized activity to feel accomplished. Quite the opposite actually, organized anything always made me feel like a cog. I work efficiently, so chores are done as needed, my talent is that I create relationships – which is how I give back to my community – one person at a time. My lifestyle confuses people. They get that I’m smart, but how can I not be working? or at least volunteering? Where’s the pursuit of goals or success? Don’t I need some kind of reward? A job title? Money? What fulfills me? I am highly spiritual so I have an inner sense of peace and I tend to shift to happiness quite readily – this has taken some practice, but it serves me really well now. I also don’t have a huge ego, which helps. A lot of the things I value still equals hard work, it’s just not the kind that is paid, or rewarded with a title, or even points to a body of work. And most of the people who are puzzled by my being fulfilled at home, have yet to find that sense of fulfillment for themselves- even after 30 years of working? So kudos to you for starting to figure it all out. You are way ahead of the curve. And it’s complicated.

    • Mrs. MM September 27, 2013, 10:43 am

      I love this comment, particularly this part: “my talent is that I create relationships – which is how I give back to my community – one person at a time”. We all give back in different ways and are fulfilled in different ways. It sounds like you have yourself figured out.

  • Justin @ RootofGood September 26, 2013, 8:07 pm

    I get it. I just pulled the plug and “retired” (I struggle with the correct descriptive name) at 33. You have to focus on what you want to accomplish every day or time just kind of passes you by. And with kids, you have to split the time between personal interests and spending enough time with them. It can be a challenge even when you don’t have to work any more and have all the free time in the world.

    I’m working on French in duolingo for fun, but sticking to 3-4 quick sessions per week. I figure the info will pile up slowly and stick around in the brain longer.

  • Lisa September 26, 2013, 8:41 pm

    Great post – thank you. Sharing information like this helps us figure things out. I used to think I was lazy but I’ve come to the realization that what I do is avoid. Avoiding makes us unhappy. “The obstacle is the path”

  • Trish September 27, 2013, 7:29 am

    Always great to read about life from your perspective Mrs. MM! Enjoyed the blog post.

  • Gerard September 27, 2013, 8:46 am

    I too have trouble walking by a screen without wanting to dive in, just for a minute or six hours or so. Just lately I’ve started not turning on the computer in the morning. I seem to have a more peaceful start to the day, and then I’m computery as soon as I get to the office. Kind of a lamer version of your Nature First thing, I think (we’ve just had 75 cm of rain in the past 20 hours, so right now I would like Nature to F off).

  • Lauren October 4, 2013, 9:09 am

    You just described my fiance and I, except opposite. We’ve made a goal of doing at least one thing outside on the weekends (he is a teacher and works long hours, which is why the goal is on the weekends). We’re lucky in that there is a large river less than a five minute walk from our apartment which has been a great resource. He is also ADD and he says spending time outside seems to help him with that as well.

    I, on the other hand, am currently unemployed, so while I’m far from retired I still can relate to the “Not having a schedule so what the hell do I do with my time?” feeling. I’ve tried to keep myself busy. I stated an Etsy shop earlier this year selling homemade soaps, lotions, and salves, which I love doing but often needs an additional income to afford all the supplies I want to get for it. I also am planning on posting flyers for a dog walking/pet sitting business, and I’ve started work on a ebook about cooking for those that never learned the basic skills in the kitchen, along with ultra-simple recipes that have worked for me.

    I have a set of post-it notes on my kitchen counter that I write a list of things to do that day, that I add to whenever I think of something. If I ever stray in what I’m doing I just refer to the list. I highly recommend something like this to help you out as well.

  • CTstash October 10, 2013, 7:34 pm

    You described my obsessive personality so well in the quoted text bellow. I now realize that I need to not drop good habits once they start. Sometimes I let a good habit that I’ve had for months slide. Two weeks of not doing it and I loose interest. Then I loose it for good, or at the very least much longer than I should have.

    Glad you’re writing again. It’s helpful to see this world from someone with a different personality than Mr. M.

    This is exactly how I operate too: “I can also shed my addictions very quickly. Two weeks away from my computer and I’m cured – I never need to look at another screen again. On the flipside, two weeks away from Crossfit and I never need to do another deadlift again.” – Mrs. M

  • Joyce February 16, 2015, 2:47 pm

    Hi Mrs. MM,
    I am binge-reading your blog (thanks to the link in MMM’s article today). This article is great! You really started to open up. I am on my way to FIRE and it is great to hear your perspective. My husband is much like your husband. He is great at keeping himself entertained. You and I, on the other hand, need more structure. I am looking forward to more posts like this one. I am interested in what your typical day is like and how you keep using your addictive personality to your benefit. Thanks for sharing with us. You are one hip chick!

  • Karen February 29, 2016, 9:18 am

    Like Joyce, I just found your blog and I’m grateful and relieved to see your work. You have great insight and honesty. This article is a spookily accurate parallel of what I live. I’m in the transition to semi-retiring and working on a diploma from home, and I can’t get myself on a disciplined schedule (although I’ve learned a lot on taxes and investing, a guitar solo, painted my cupboards…). If you have any new insights about what has worked for you in the past couple of years we’d love to hear about it. Thank you so much .


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