My Mental Weakness

I left Lebanon and have been back in Egypt for over a week now, and generally my time in Egypt is an interesting introspection as I tend to spend a lot of time alone and without significant obligations.

But, the more I am spending time with myself, the more I am realizing a very apparent weakness in me, and is something that is becoming more and more painful for me as time lingers.

I am in a state of mental weakness. I lack firm opinions, I leave decisions to the very last minute, I give up easily, I easily get distracted, and my mind is dominated with negative emotions. Not to mention that a lot of the “plans” I make are often better classified as “wishful thinking” at best.

I don’t think any of the above is actually new. It has been creeping in me over the last couple of years at least. Now, though, that I have more time for introspection, that reality is more often than not hitting, slapping, and punching me in the face.

For me to do anything worthwhile in life, I need to overcome this state of mental weakness. Not only is it a blocker for practically anything I do, but it’s also causing me to suffer.

Here’s a recent example of my mental weakness. When I flew out to Egypt my goal was to spend two weeks working on side projects. Here’s what came out of it:

  • I decided to build a simple alarm clock app that greets with refreshing bird sounds. The primary driver behind this is I have never done any mobile dev and thought it would a nice gentle intro to get a feel of what mobile dev is like. I worked on it for a bit and didn’t finish it.
  • I decided to build a speech recognition system for understanding how people say the time in Egyptian Arabic – I wanted to use this as a building block to speak with my phone in Egyptian Arabic and have it wake me up at certain times. I read some papers and downloaded some datasets, but also never fully committed.
  • I decided to put all three routers in our home on one wifi network (as opposed to three separate ones). I thought it would fix a small nuisance and I’d learn a few things about networking while doing it. After a few hours of triaging problems, I actually set up the network. There was one issue though: a device connected to one router would stay connected to that router even if the signal is very weak, as opposed to switching to the much closer router on the same network with a stronger connection. I was supposed to figure out a fix for that problem, but I never did.

Or, consider for example my workouts. When I left my job almost three months ago I wanted to spend more time focusing on my physical fitness, as it’s something I haven’t been putting as much attention to as I’d like. Here’s how things evolved:

  • I came up with a plan that I wanted to train for Half Iron Man and be ready by next Summer.
    • I ended procrastinating and didn’t do much training, but a big hindrance for me was that a big pool was inaccessible. Traveling to Lebanon and not sticking around one location long enough makes it more difficult for me as well to commit to a gym for pool access.
  • I changed my plan to do something very simple but over an extended period of time. I decided every morning that I’d spend a couple of minutes doing ab workouts, following the guidelines of the book Convict Conditioning.
    • That plan lasted (with many misses) for 40 days, but relocating several times and the sheer ease of the workout didn’t make me feel like I was actually working out, so I subconsciously made the decision to stop.
  • The whole workout plan fell apart.

So far during my stay in Egypt there has been precisely zero projects that I took to full completion. This is dangerous, as it could spiral into further mental weakness.

I bring this up here because I have been thinking of ways to build up my mental toughness. More to come on that.

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