Plugging the leaks

“I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go
I’m filling the cracks that ran through the door
And kept my mind from wandering
Where it will go”

The Beatles, “Fixing a Hole” Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

For years I’ve thought of it as ‘plugging the leaks’ and in a mainly poker environment. It goes back to an article I read by a poker writer (it may have even been Daniel Negreneau; to be honest it’s been so long I can’t remember, but he gets the billing) about, fittingly enough, plugging the leaks. It’s pretty self descriptive; basically one has to look objectively at their game and figure out what they’re doing wrong on a regular or habitual basis, and then plug those leaks. Seems simple, right? Well it’s not, for a number of reasons. Mainly, its very difficult for most people to look at things objectively without some outside help. That’s why we all ask for an ‘objective opinion’ all the time. Also, we often don’t want to admit our ‘leaks’ to ourselves. It’s easier for many people to blame the opponent than to take responsibility for losing.

It’s one of the onion layers of poker that makes it such a challenging and rewarding game, and yet another reason how poker mirrors life. In life we have to take a step back once in a while and fix our own leaks, often leaks that have developed through years and years of practice and avoidance. I know some of mine, I didn’t know others, and I hadn’t admitted still others. But I’m 40. I’ve recently had a quintuple bypass, which is a mortality check. A while back I met the perfect woman, and someday soon I’d like to have a family. My career is on the precipice of phenomenal personal success, I just need to actually do it and not drop the ball. So I need to think about growing up a bit.

Some events this week have triggered this thought process, this introspection. Without getting into detail let me just say I’m at serious risk of losing an extremely important piece of my life right now. It may have happened already, and it’s just a matter of time til the hammer drops. But I’m not about to give this aspect of my life up without a fight. So I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to kind of itemize my ‘leaks’ and look at the best ways to fix them. Some are obvious (such as my somewhat cumbersome debt load) with obvious fixes, and for whatever reason i’ve coasted so long on them that the leaks have become huge torrents of paralyzing yuck. Which breeds more coasting and procrastination which feeds on itself to become part of a circle of ugly.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve never fixed one of these leaks in my life…I did quit smoking last year and completely turn my diet around this year… I’ve begun an exercise program as well, and just this week I reached a weight milestone I’ve been looking at for a few weeks. But…there are so many other leaks that are just as important as these physical ones; spiritual and soul leaks that over the years have grown into unruly monsters; things that have become almost habitual. I think back to some years ago, and how I had goals and conquered them, how i had a kind of blueprint to achieve them and, although it was somewhat fluid to account for change or uncontrollable circumstances, overall I stuck to it. It got me to Vancouver, got me to a fairly good career in the music industry at a big conference, then after that peter’d out and i wandered for a bit it got me into my telecom career path. I gained some real success in a real short time in the early days of my mobile career… and then…

I dunno…somewhere I fell off the path, hard. Then I got spun around, dizzy, and have spent some time trying to figure out where the path went. This is not something that happened due to any health, substance, or outside influence, at least not that I can really see, but was rather probably a sequence of small things that I didn’t even see happening. Or maybe a sequence of big things that I didn’t realize were connected. I don’t know. All I know is that in the summer of 2000 I was mostly debt free, making a good income, and had a 3 year goal for home ownership (well, mortgage-ship). I had a hefty amount of RSP’s and was an active and somewhat fit guy. I even owned a really nice car, and not a cheap one. And somehow I got from there to here. Things fell apart, and I can’t even see why.

What I can see is that in those almost 8 years I’ve given up doing alot of the things that made me successful. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned other skills in the meantime and they’ve given me some measure of success…but not to where I was and not without their own pitfalls. The key now is to put the old planning style with the new skill set and take myself to the next level. Yesterday I started seeking out some financial planning; not seeing anyone right off that I could say “yes they get where I am and how I live and can merge the two”, I started doing a bit of my own thing today. I put up two spreadsheets on Google Documents. One is a weekly expenditures chart which I’m going to track every day for a few weeks, and the other one is a household budget chart. See the first thing I need to do is figure out how much I make and how much I spend, and where I can cut the dumb spending.

This is not rocket science. Ruth told me to do this months ago. And I had intentions to…but then “something” was coming around the corner to alleviate the financial stress, so I didn’t bother. And of course, as happens in life, that something didn’t show up. Then I was bummed and pissed off. And did nothing. And then “something else” was coming around the corner. Guess what? It didn’t come either. Duh. I’m an idiot. So this time, even tho I think there is something that might come around the corner, fuck it, I’m going to be prepared if it doesn’t arrive. BIG ASSED LEAK: Don’t put off doing something today cuz tomorrow something is supposed to come that negates the need to do it. This is a leak I had even when I was a planning fiend and it’s going to take some discipline to plug.

Obviously that’s not my only leak, but it’s one of them with a readily visible solution.  Anyways, I’m beginning to ramble. The short side of the story is that I see the path again, and even though I’m a couple miles back from where I was, if I can get to the path without breaking my neck in a ditch I should be back going where I want to. It’s going to be a process, and I may stumble here and there, but I feel I’m up for the challenge. Almost a year ago I wrote a post about some of these thoughts, and it’s really taken most of that year to actually get anywhere with it. Correction: it didn’t take a year, it took a life threatening open heart surgery. Anyways, so now everyone who is around me please bear with me as I molt; it may get a bit interesting!

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