Commitment

I don’t know if it’s just me or all of my generation, but I feel like I can’t commit to anything in my personal life. I see people on TV all the time like the following video:

A friend of a friend was telling me about someone my age, working in the same field that I am, who dropped out of college and is making $40 an hour. I mean, I graduated college and I make $14 an hour. Why can’t I be that committed to something?

I try to commit to things, like this blog, but I end up with a half-dozen unfinished posts and no traffic. I feel like I start something and am excited about it, but never stay committed.

My grandfather seems to have this same problem. He is committed to his job as a pastor, but has so many unfinished projects in his life. He had a 90’s magenta Ford Taurus that was rear-ended and not worth fixing. He started to convert it into a mini-truck, building the parts out of wood. He called it his “truck-let,” but never finished it. There was a basement in our church that he was trying to convert into a game room. He got the ping-pong and pool tables all set up, then covered them in donated crap and never got around to sorting through the stuff, so turning game tables into just tables.

I just wish I could have half the dedication that some people do. I have committed to various things throughout the years. I tried to learn programming, but once I got an application to be barely functional, I basically gave up. I’ve tried to blog before, but just quit one day. I go on and off with my commitment to exercising.

Does anyone else feel the same way as I do?

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A Week with a Smartphone

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Although I went a week without a smartphone and basically without tablets and learned much about myself and smartphones, I am happy to have my phone back. This week I have learned a lot about myself again and what smartphones do to me.

  1. Smartphones are super-convenient – I love having the ability to search Bing, send a text message, compose email, sync with my calendar, or use Nokia Here maps at my fingertips. Just today, I was going to my Mom’s wedding – congratulations to her btw – used maps to find my way there, listened to music that I wanted to listen to, and was able to call hands free while driving by voice command.
  2. Smartphones shorten my attention span – This is something I need to work on. During our weekly meeting at work, I got bored and was playing on my phone. My boss suddenly says, “Matt, what have you been working on this week?” Embarrassed, I said what I was doing and moved on, but it seems like having the smartphone gave me more opportunity to tune out. I need to focus on paying attention, even when it seems unimportant.
  3. Smartphones drive me crazy – My phone has been having trouble streaming music this week, when I’m in my car. It makes me curse it out, then I think of the week that I didn’t have a smartphone and just switch to listening to the radio. I’m still dissatisfied, but I know that I should calm down.
  4. Smartphones make me less personal – I tried to make rules that I would not send texts, search Bing for things, look at Twitter, etc. while I was in the car or with other people. This has been a hard goal to accomplish. I would always think of things to search for in the car or people to text and do it at stoplights. I actually followed through with this part of my goal and was able to focus more on driving. I’m getting better at not constantly checking my phone when I’m around people, but I did text my roommates while I was hanging out with my grandparents tonight. Sorry, Papa, some of your stories are boring.

Overall, I’m so glad to have my smartphone back, and am working on having better social etiquette with it. I read an article this week – can’t find the link :( – that was talking about how to battle people who are glued to their phones in the work environment. They talked about, if someone were to be rudely using their phone during a meeting, to ask to reschedule the meeting. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be genuine and able to communicate well with people in person.

The Rest of My Experience Without a Smartphone

On the last few days of the experiment, Wednesday through today, I have learned about smartphones and what they do to me. Smartphones fill the lulls in life. The times that I am in the elevator, waiting on a computer to install or uninstall a program, waiting in line at the grocery store, or other various situations where I am in limbo between one task and another.

I discovered that elevators are awkward places without smartphones. Sometimes I would get out my phone, check the time, change the background and put it back in my pocket. This is the only sort of game I have on my Samsung SGH-a157.

As I leave my dumb phone to again return to my glorious Nokia Lumia 920, I leave myself with the following knowledge:

  • Focus on people, not your phone. Even with my closest friends, I used to use my phone all the time. I would check Twitter, text other friends, and Bing various things. I felt like these things were so important that I had to get them done at that point. I would like to change this. I don’t need to check Facebook, Twitter, Vine, etc. while I am chilling with my friends. Even if all of them do it, I don’t need to.
  • Bathrooms are awkward without a smartphone. I want to let this one be clear. Using the bathroom to do a number two without a smartphone sucks.
  • I can do it. As nervous as I was for this experiment, as much as this goes against my nature, I can go without a smartphone. It doesn’t control me. I can live without it. It’s convenient, yes, but it can consume my life. #balance

I also learned that my digital life was clogged up. I had too many social networks, things I was following, etc. Yesterday, I deleted about half the apps off my iPad, today, I will do the same thing on my phone. I had too many news sources that I was following. Too many Twitter accounts I was following. I’ve thinned my following list from 153 to 78. I need to go through my Facebook friends and have a similar reaping.

I could have switched yesterday afternoon back to my phone, but I decided to wait and I’m glad I did. I’ll kind of miss this crappy phone. T9 is amazing by the way.

Another blogger commented on one of my previous posts with the following video. I believe it speaks well to what I learned from going a week with a dumb phone.