This is Why Every Job Has a Shitty Part

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My job’s pretty great. It wasn’t long ago I was shooting with swimsuit models and crisscrossing the globe on multi-thousand dollar contracts. That lifestyle doesn’t work so great for me anymore (and this is why), but I had a good thing going. It was easy for others to be envious. They didn’t see all the hard work below the surface.

Yes, I’d shoot world-class conferences and their eventual afterparties, but they never saw me cabbing to a backup site in a faraway hotel at 2 in the morning when I needed to be up again to shoot at 6. Yes, I photographed models, but people never saw me working with an awkward 14-year-old model who seemed like she was forced into it by her mother. Yes, I shot extravagant weddings that I adored, but no one saw me editing for 15-hour days for full weeks at a time. I went kinda batshit. I once went so insane I’d edit for 15 minutes, THEN JOG AROUND THE FUCKING BLOCK before I could edit another 15 minutes! I was twitching like a meth addict. It was fucking hell. And you know what?

It was still a great job.

Like mopping at my liquor store, I found it far too easy to complain about shitty tasks. It wasn’t until speaking to people like my programmer roommate or film industry friends that I realized I was being a baby about it.

“Oh, you spend 15 hours a day editing in a warm room where you can sneak a beer anytime you want? Life must be SO HARD.”

“You don’t have a boss and get final say on your images? Try having to communicate with six other people working on the same project, and making that project WORK. Fuck off.”

I’m paraphrasing, but the sentiment is genuine. The shitty parts of my job were negligible to other people. To them, I was already living the dream, and here’s why: I GOT SO USED TO ALL THE DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF MY JOB, I SIMPLY CHOSE THE LEAST ENJOYABLE PARTS OF IT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT. I had a great job all along!

No one’s denying there are parts of your job that suck. It just helps to have perspective from people who have it worse off than you. I hated mopping. Tell that to a janitor. He hates cleaning urinals. Tell that to a sanitation engineer at a wastewater treatment plant. She hates unclogging pipes in literal human waste. Tell that to a “manual scavenger” in India with no protective gear. YOUR JOB DOESN’T SUCK. YOU’RE JUST SO USED TO HOW CUSHY IT IS, IT’S MADE YOU A WUSS.

Surely, maintaining your composure as a customer asks for EVEN MORE extra olives on their sandwich isn’t cause for hara-kiri, and overtime on Christmas might actually be okay once you account for stat pay. If you’re in North America and working for above minimum wage, you actually have it pretty good. What’s shitty to you is a dream to someone else! Even my friends who work in the Downtown Eastside do so as a passion project, and THEY HAVE THE CHOICE TO LEAVE.

Stop complaining. Love your job. Difficulty doesn’t suck, it helps you grow.

THE ONLY REASON YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR JOB AT ALL IS BECAUSE YOU HAVE IT SO GOOD, YOU FEEL THE NEED TO FIND SOMETHING NEGATIVE ABOUT IT.

Prove me wrong. Go ahead and tell us why your job sucks in the comments.

Livin’ la Vida Local

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Any place you go to regularly should be within walking distance of your home. Otherwise, you’re being wasteful. Too harsh? Read on. I might just convince you to move.

Remember when I told you all about my home? As awesome as it is already, I forgot to tell you about its OTHER awesome benefit. IT’S CLOSE TO LITERALLY FUCKING EVERYTHING. I’m not kidding! Within a block, here’s the list of everything I’ve got: a Safeway, a Shoppers, a produce store, a pizza joint, an Italian restaurant, two places to get your hair cut, a post office, a neighbourhood pub, an RBC (my bank), a TD (my roommate’s bank), a liquor store, a bakery, a Subway, an AWESOME sushi restaurant, a phở place, a walk-in clinic, numerous dentists, a gas station, and a 7-Eleven. Did I miss anything? Probably! I live next to an urban oasis. If I want beef teriyaki at 4 in the morning, I can make it happen. It’s a goddamn paradise.

The only thing that isn’t close is the liquor store I work at part-time, and even then, it’s 6 KM away and on a bus route. I drive there, but it only costs me $1.20 there and back since my 2008 Corolla sips fuel. It’s actually cheaper than taking the bus since I live so close! Did you know the average Canadian commute costs $7,540/year? That’s the equivalent of 6,283 there-and-back commutes for me! WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU ALL COMMUTING SO MUCH?!?

The best part about choosing a great neighbourhood is having an expanded radius of comfort. If you live in the suburbs, your radius of comfort is likely limited to your own home. Every time you need something, you have to leave your bubble. Whoops, forgot the mustard! See you all in half an hour! Choosing to live near places you need is entirely different. With a Safeway across the street, my “fuck, I forgot the mustard” moments are minor inconveniences instead of an ordeal. Also, the pub across the street is practically an extension of my living room! Don’t feel like entertaining 20 people because they might trash my place while drunk? Take ‘em to the pub! It’s insane how much my new place has simplified my life. I don’t even know how much I’m saving by living here instead of deep in the suburbs like I used to, but I’m sure it numbers in the thousands each year. Live close to the places you use. Drive less. Move if you have to.

You’ll have to find a balance though. It’s likely rent will be higher in convenient areas, so you’ll have to do some math to see if it’s worth it. Then again, my ex-girlfriend used to live here for $316.81, so it’s possible to get the best of both worlds. You just have to do your homework. Also, choose jobs that are close to you. Each mile you live from work costs you $795 in commuting expenses per year.

Where do you go most often? Can you live closer? Tell us on our Facebook.

Prepare for Failure

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As you may recall, I set myself a few goals last month… They didn’t go well.

Am I disheartened? Yeah, a little. Did I fail? Some might say so. Am I giving up? NOT A FUCKING CHANCE, and here’s why.

Using lessons I learned from Jason Bell’s excellent ebook “Agile Timelord”, I now see setbacks as opportunities to reevaluate goals, and I always strive to keep them malleable enough to be achievable. After all, as long as progress is being made, I’m winning. I know setbacks are inevitable, and as long as they don’t derail the spirit of my goals, I can live with them. You kinda have to! You don’t quit an entire diet just because you had a moment of weakness and annihilated 30 McNuggets while drunk. You have to keep going so you don’t die the NEXT time you eat 30 McNuggets while drunk! Discipline can waver. Goals, and the habits that come with them, SHOULD be forever.

I fell short in my goals this month by not reaching 10 alcohol-free days, and not exercising every two days. I found I often liked to have at least one beer after a long workday, but I really don’t have a good excuse for the exercise. I’m just lazy, I guess. The reasoning behind 10 alcohol-free days was I wanted to cut my alcohol expenses down by a third. Seeing as how I somehow spent $1,120.27 on booze in January, I started getting more strict with my alcohol spending. I opened up my September expenses and tallied up the wobbly pops: $571.86. It’s still far more than any reasonable person should spend on alcohol – $19.06/day! – but the point is I’m trying, and I’m actually seeing progress. I can do better, and I will not be derailed. With my exercise, I still strive for one workout every two days, but one workout every three days is also acceptable in a pinch. In my mind, working out every three days allows me to maintain my fitness. Working out every two days is when I’m actually increasing it.

What I’m trying to say is self-development should be flexible. It should be fun, and you should allow for occasional “failures”. The point is to make a habit of continuous progress in a way that’s sustainable. I realized not being able to have even ONE beer after a long workday was making me less happy, so I’ve changed that goal for now. I’m now trying to simply decrease my alcohol consumption by a third, which was the point of the goal anyway. As for my fitness, ANY working out is better than what I was doing before. I kept within the spirit of my goals, even though I needed to reword and rework them! You can set big goals, but it’s more important to make continuous self-improvement a habit. Changing small habits and maintaining them over a lifetime is where real gains are made.

TLDR: Make your goals and habits sustainable, and reevaluate them when needed. It’s one thing to create a sustainable habit for the rest of your life with some flexibility built in. It’s entirely different to set goals so rigid and impossible that it lowers your quality of life and burns you out in three months.

What do you think? Am I off the mark? Am I simply going too easy on myself? Comment below.

Snowflake Your Debt

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I read a LOT of articles on personal finance and personal development, but for those of you who don’t, I thought I’d share “snowflaking” with you since it ties so well into what this blog is all about. All this time, I’ve been trying to tell you just one less, or get a roommate, or optimize your lifestyle, but without a clear goal in mind! Well, since roughly 75% of Canadians are still in debt, here’s the goal: Get to Zero, ASAP.

I’m in debt too, and snowflaking that away has been one of my main priorities. Simply put, snowflaking is what personal finance nerds call it when you make small, one-time payments towards your debt to kill it off. Came in under budget on your groceries by $20? Snowflake it in! Made $300 selling old crap at your garage sale? Sprinkle that on your highest-interest credit card! Decided you didn’t need a $5 latte today before work? That goes in too! Obviously, none of this works if you’re still accumulating massive amounts of debt, but here’s a strategy for that as well.

Let’s say you owe $6,000 on a 20% credit card and $4,000 on a 15% credit card. Go to your bank and negotiate the lowest interest you can on a credit line or card, then transfer all your debt to that account! (I’m at 7.69%, which isn’t great, but here’s another low-interest debt strategy you may not have thought of.) With your previous numbers, you’d be paying $1,800/year and making no dent in your debt, but now that you’ve negotiated a better interest on your credit line, you’re probably closer to 9%, HALVING your debt payments to $900/year. That’s just an example, but they’re realistic numbers. You might even be able to do better! Another snowflaking opportunity? Hell, yeah! Whatever your numbers, the sum of your debt is now a very clear Debt Number to attack. You’re no longer allowed to rack up a balance on any of your credit cards, and you are now 100% devoted to snowflaking the fuck out of your credit line until that number is Zero! Simple, right?

Every $100 you knock off your Debt Number is a cause for celebration. I still think of each $100 as a Happiness Unit, and you should game this as much as possible. Every time you save or earn a small slice of cash, snowflake it immediately towards your debt. It may be easier to place it into a savings account first, then transfer it all into your debt at the end of the month if you think that’d be better. This can be a great psychological motivator as well! Try and beat your high score every month!

Think of every snowflake as a small win. Do this often enough that it becomes automatic. Squirrel away your money before you get tempted to spend it. Let’s create a goddamn blizzard.