Help me sort some problems.
November 4, 2013 1:26 PM   Subscribe

How do I make the changes I want and actually see them through? Breaking life long habits.

Ok so at present, I feel like my life is incredibly polarising, there are sections I'm content with. However these are often cast next to immense turbulence and feeling of discomfort.

1.) Work & Home Life - My current job is great. I get paid to cover my passion and it opens me up to esoteric experiences I could never get just sitting at home watching. I work with arguably the leader in my field, and my bosses have said some very kind things about my work. My LinkedIn has some amazing references (I'm freelance) and I feel like work is truly progressing in a positive direction.

The problem here is, I don't really want to be in England anymore. I've worked briefly in the US and it just clicks for me. I feel more comfortable in the country, and overall I prefer the lifestyle/culture there. I preface this with the fact I have done more than holiday in the country. Up until recently I dated an American for just over 3 years and we spent periods living/working together (I can operate remotely). There's days when I wake up, remember that I'm not where I want to be and get down.

2.) Relationships - As you will have ascertained I'm also the single one in my group. My friends to a man are all in steady relationships, preparing mortgages and settling down (we're 24/25). I just broke up with my fiancé. We were set to marry and after I attempted to call it off, she eventually did - dating a new man a week later before becoming serious 2-3 weeks into it.

That situation has left me with huge pangs of regret. In trying to date, I've actually ended up longing for what I had. My entire life I have never really connected with English girls. I've tried to date them, (even recently) and I never apply a prejudice, but it's crept its head up again. Subsequently, I find myself questioning whether I've let someone great slip by. At the time I thought she was selfish, demanding, clingy, and not always supportive of my work. Now I think there was actually a shit ton of good things about her and the fact she has been able to a seemingly great guy proves that.

Meanwhile I scrabble around a country I don't like, dating women I care little for.

3.) Weight/lifestyle changes. I'm overweight. My ex had admitted she wasn't physically attracted to me at least from the shoulders down. I've bought weights, I've joined a gym, and yet I can't summon the motivation to eat healthy. I want to cook and I want to read more I want to make so many life changes and grow as an individual, yet I can't seem to actually see them through - this has been a long standing problem and I'm desperate to change it. Like truly desperate.

I also want to drive, 25, without a car or license it's embarrassing.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, please help me work out how to fix my problems, because at present I feel as if they're piling up on top of me.
posted by Junghans to Human Relations (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The last one is easiest. Take driving lessons. I didn't learn how to drive until I was 21-ish, when I signed up with a driving school.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:36 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

This all sounds like complications of your breakup more than anything else. Will you care that much about moving out of England after you get over your American ex? Will you still be upset about your attractiveness once yo unstop caring what your ex thought?

Things like this:
dating a new man a week later before becoming serious 2-3 weeks into it.

make it clear that you're not over your previous relationship. I would let that settle and not make any drastic changes until you're comfortable being single. Moving to the US isn't going to help you get over your ex, it's just going to leave you in a storage place with none of your (presumably mostly-English) support group of friends and family.

When you're over your ex, revisit whether you want to move to the US.

But sure, take driving lessons, you'll never be at a disadvantage for having a driving license.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 1:48 PM on November 4, 2013

Re #2: You said in your last Ask (which was around two weeks ago) that you and your fiancé only broke up two months ago. That's not very long. I'd suggest giving it a bit more time to recover before you get yourself out there, since you state in both questions that you're spending time "dating women [you] care little for". Don't do that.

Did you consider the advice about seeking therapy or reading any self-help books that were provided in your other question? That is a great way of learning how to fix your problems.
posted by Paper rabies at 1:49 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've bought weights, I've joined a gym, and yet I can't summon the motivation to eat healthy.

You're blowing one thing up as an excuse to not do anything else that's even tangentially related to that thing. Your failure to eat right has nothing to do with whether you're working out. You're in a "shame spiral" where failure to do one thing makes you give up on everything (You've bought weights -- are you lifting? You've joined a gym -- are you going?). It sounds like this applies to everything on your list -- one thing goes wrong, and you use it as an excuse to not bother with anything else.

How do you break out of the shame spiral? That varies from person to person, but therapy can help. If you don't want to do that, make a to-do list. Fill it with small, relatively easy, helpful goals. "Go to gym" is less helpful than "Run/walk for ten minutes." And make the first thing on your to-do list each day "Make the bed." It's a simple thing you do right after you get up, and bang: you've already accomplished something.
posted by Etrigan at 1:51 PM on November 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

For the exercise thing: I cannot overstate just how important it has been for me to have a trainer, someone who will observe my progress and notice when I improve (or when I don't show up!) It needn't be a personal trainer. You just have to join a regularly scheduled class of some kind. I've done thai kickboxing, crossfit, and hula hooping classes, and they were all actually fun, not a horrible chore (like going to the gym was for me).

posted by showbiz_liz at 1:51 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well the good news is you have some goals, now is time to take some action on them. You can run through your items there and write some next steps. Just small steps: Take an hour to research visa options for 25 yr old Brits to live in the US for a while. Call three driving schools. Find a TDEE calculator and work out how many calories you need to target to lose the weight you want to lose. The relationship one .... well, tougher, but perhaps the next step there is just to make a date with a friend to talk it out.

After you take those steps, write down the next steps. And there are always other options. If you don't qualify for a US visa, consider whether Canada would be a similar enough culture to consider moving to for a while. If you really don't like lifting, consider whether taking up crossfit or something appeals more. Success in the driving and in fitness are really about turning up, consistency, and there are many posts here and on reddit about habit forming and willpower that you might like.

You sound like me, sometimes, one thing going badly wrong and turning you into a ball of indecision and panic. Slow down, take a breath and make a list. And you can make progress in some of these without moving to the States, don't fall into the trap of thinking all your problems would disappear if you could just emigrate tomorrow (speaking as someone who's lived in four countries myself ...)
posted by jamesonandwater at 2:05 PM on November 4, 2013

I just want to second showbiz_liz on taking a gym class. I was always afraid to look slow and stupid in class, but I realized that no one cared what I looked like, and it was more fun than trying to do a video at home or something. Start with yoga, if you like...gaining a bit more flexibility might help inspire you to be more active (it did, for me).
posted by cabingirl at 2:07 PM on November 4, 2013

For the health part, what helps me is to monitor myself.
Monitor my weight lifting progression, try to go for a constant progression. That way I'm looking forward to lifting more next time.

Monitor my speed over a certain distance ran, try to also progress, slowly.

Monitor my weight every day, to see results on the scale. Once it starts to work, you get addicted to success and actually start looking forward to seeing slow progression. (don't get attacehd to the day to day variations, but after a week or two you will get a feel for the fluctuations)

Take a pen and paper and chart this (or use excel or whatever) - and start writing down days and numbers!
posted by Riton at 2:14 PM on November 4, 2013

Response by poster: Just to answer one question - yes my desire to move to the US has outstripped my relationship. It galvanised it, but I've longed to live there for a long time. This relationship let me have the chance to sample it and I loved it.
posted by Junghans at 3:27 PM on November 4, 2013

You have 4 big goals:

Move to the US
Find a long term relationship
Get in shape
Learn to drive

Those are big goals so I'd pick one and attack it by itself for the next ~3-6 months. I usually start with whatever is easiest to help build my confidence. If you like hire a life coach, personal trainer, sign up for a driving course or do online dating. A life coach might be good for some of your goals. The trick is to break things down into manageable tasks and not to attempt too much at once and to surround yourself with some sort of support. That is easier than trying to do everything by yourself.
posted by wildflower at 12:57 AM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

You've just ended your first relationship with your first girlfriend; it's normal to be filled with doubt and regret because you're lonely and you have no blueprint for surviving a breakup. I wouldn't be surprised if the lack of motivation and helpless feeling is perfectly natural depression stemming from that breakup. I would be surprised if the women you are casually dating filled the void for you so soon after breaking up, and would consider you very lucky if you'd found someone compatible this quickly in the vast numbers game that is dating. I'd imagine it will take a year to feel better.

In terms of your goals, learning to drive is obviously the easiest one to pick off: sign up for lessons.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:49 AM on November 5, 2013

Response by poster: I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who took the time to answer this. Our lives are busy enough to begin with, so the fact you took time out without even knowing me is greatly appreciated.
posted by Junghans at 2:45 PM on November 5, 2013

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