Changes & Toll | Stream of Consciousness #2

So here we are, end of April, and a lot of things happened since the first stream and I’m still quite surprised about the magnitude of the changes, the impact on my mind and energy. As my mind is clogged again, it was time to relieve a bit the pressure and put things in perspective to be able to go ahead with a clear head.

Professional Life

Things went to evolve in unexpected ways and I’m glad they did. I’m taking a new role as real Lead in my professional life, having to manage 5 people and ensure their well-being. While it’s quite interesting, I’m a bit concerned about the fact that all those people are quite great. Don’t mistake me, that’s a great team to manage, but I learn to grow through difficulties, and I’m afraid I’m not learning enough without at least one black sheep (but when I’ll have one trust me I’ll hate myself for writing this).

I also gained a supportive role in my company, being able to welcome newcomers, set a nice welcome path, but also to create growth opportunities for them and anyone who’s not afraid to grow. Working hand in hand with others, we started to create a growth e-mail course to be able to maximize the potential of our new recruits and we’re going to implement it quite soon (still beta testing some of this).

I gave a talk about the impostor syndrome, something I’d never think I’d do. It went really nice, in fact I wish I had the ability to duplicate myself regarding all the discussions that this talk sparked. So much great people, so much shared experiences, this was really a great moment (even if it was frightening at first). The talk is available here. I also had the chance to write some articles for my company, but there’s still a lof I want to write about.

As for the company, I still love it quite deeply and don’t regret being a part of it. However, as for all companies, there’s some things I’d like to change, see evolve, and aim for a better. But this time I have the chance to make a change, so I’ll do my best to invest myself in proposing and implementing those changes for a better. And I really hope this will do a lot of good and improve a company I already respect quite a lot.

However, I have to handle a lot of politics and related topics, so this is taking a toll on my mental state, leading me to be quite exhausted. I’m slowly trying to distanciate myself to be able to take back my energy and jump back on my feet. While being an empath is great and transform you in a touchpoint for everyone in need to talk, I still have to find a correct way to declutter my mind and distanciate from other’s problems. Ongoing…

Personal Projects

I’ve got a lot of ideas in my mind. As I’m reading quite a lot of books during the year, and keeping notes in a common place book (in fact it’s more of a file), I’m wondering if there was a way I could capitalize on that. So far I’m thinking about either a newsletter (… and it’s done !). I’ll give it some thoughts, it’s something I could work on this summer.

On the side, I’ve decided to go back to code, so I’m trying to learn how to handle javascript in a better way and aim to start a framework just as Vue.js. I also started to experiment with UI to improve my skill set, but both those are for my personal life. Unfortunately, I discovered that the more skills you have, the more roles are expected from you and this is something I don’t want. I had parts of my life where I had to work several roles, and it lead to not being able to do any of those correctly because of a lack of time. This is something I won’t do again.

Growth

I read a lot of things lately that help me grow and made up my mind on some things. A new cardinal rule I set for people is now Acta non verba, meaning that if a person doesn’t act and just keep on a talking, his words aren’t worth shit. Same goes for talking about values and not living according to them. I’m tired of people spending their days giving by morality lessons on how society / government should behave while not implementing those changes in their personal life. Be the change you want to see in the world, is still the biggest motto ever.

Same I don’t believe in society as a separate entity. Society is a set of people, therefore it’s important to implement changes on the people scale. Expecting the “society” to implement it is reliving some unsolved daddy issue. If we want to change society, we have to do it on our level, than go all the way to the top.

Skin in the Game — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Love life

Things happen when you don’t expect them too, and I guess this is true. While I decided to stop worrying about dating and things like that, I met someone really great. The start of our relationship hasn’t been the best, we both hoped for a cleaner start, but I must say that the last 3 months have been really great and this relationship is everything I could expect (kudos to him ❤).

Next Steps

Some things I want to implement for the next months

  • Meditate again everyday
  • Push ups everyday (Kaizen way)
  • Start the newsletter
  • Cook more instead of eating outside
  • Learn to distanciate myself through meditation
  • Write more when I need to empty my mind.

Changes & conscious choices | Stream of Consciousness #1

I’ve been living in Paris now for more than 6 months. The reasons that made me leave my country were multiple: lack of intellectual stimulus, feeling of getting stuck in a career path too soon, uninteresting professional landscape and way too much memories everywhere. After six months, my mind is a bit clogged and need some relief to structure things a bit.

Professional Life

On this part I must say that I got everything that I expected. My career evolved in the most interesting way and at an incredible pace those last months, and the coming months promise interesting challenges I couldn’t expect to find in Belgium. It seems that in order to evolve you have to break things and dare to jump. While it has been a bit frightening, I’m really happy with the results.

Concerning the French professional world, things are quite different. I think the main part is how much the personal side affects work and how everything is tied to human relationships (and no clear division between work and its producer). From time to time I have the feeling of being stuck in a Game of Thrones episode, which isn’t quite pleasant as I’m usually the kind of person that tend to avoid conflict when it’s unnecessary and who try to be honest. Politics and powerplay makes navigating into the French professional landscape quite strange.

Colleagues & friends

While I always thought myself as more of an introvert, I discovered that I needed people around me way more than I thought. And on this side I’ve been quite lucky, the people have met until here, mainly thanks to my work and social networks have been both intellectually challenging and profoundly humans. I discovered tremendous people and some of them already play a big part in my life and in the span of 6 months became really important for me, some of them I can really call close friends. I’ve also discovered friends with whom I can be totally myself, without any needs for barriers or anything, which felt quite as a relief when I lived most of my life using a fake self persona to go through social life.

However, there’s a dark side to this. While work helped me to connect easily with people in an interesting way, I found the way people behave here in Paris quite strange. I tried to connect outside my circle but always felt that you somehow need to gain the right to talk to some people. After some time trying to engage into unilateral conversations, I decided to dedicate my time to my friends here and colleague and avoid some areas (I’ll develop).

Gay places, apps and lgbt life in general

I’ve always had troubles getting into the LGBT life, and wrote quite a lot about it. But after some years of trying, I’ve decided to take some radical decisions and cut the ties with anything related to it. I’ve deleted both the dating apps (which helped me rebuild my self esteem and personal energy) and quit the LGBT associations I was part of.

The main reasons were both the fact that I didn’t felt I needed to keep on trying to have conversations where I had to gain some divine right to talk to the person. In fact, I was exhausted to always be the one leading the discussion without any feedback. This hit me after meeting a friend’s friend for the 4th time and when he realized he didn’t knew a single thing about me… because he never returned any answer.

The second reason was the perpetual drama. As I said I hate conflict, especially unnecessary conflict. I couldn’t take anymore the relationships drama going all around, keeping in mind who wanted to talk to who, who was deadly enemy and things like that.

This also lead me to leave my main Twitter account and focus on my professional one. Since then I feel like I’m able to breath and feel generally better about myself.

Rebuilding a social circle

With all this I’ve rebuilt a social circle of what I consider to be people both intellectually challenging but also benevolent people. Being with them makes me grow, evolve and learn. And I’m assured that any drama coming my way won’t be unnecessary but something that requires time, dedication and help to grow.

I’ve taken steps to remove all the toxic people from my life, but also the people who hurt me even not willingly. I have enough good and close friends to keep on hurting myself.

Dating

I’ve deleted the apps to give myself a bit of breath but also because I realized several things. The first one is that the reason that make me synchronize with a human being are quite blurry, and hard to define. This lead to a lot of search on the dating apps to find those special people I could connect to. But spending a lot of time on those apps takes a deadly toll: self esteem destruction, constant comparison toward society ideals, rejection, … The fact was that I was investing a lot of time on those for maybe 1% return of investment. Not a great idea.

The second reason was that I realized I needed time for myself. The previous years haven’t been kind on the sentimental level and I was barely able to stand up again. While I think I have a lot to offer, it’s time also for me to meet someone who’s ready to invest into a relationship as much as I am. I realized that those things would come in time, but that now, I didn’t have any energy left, nor the capacity to handle another failure. I can accept to welcome things as they come, but can’t invest in this area of my life all by myself at the moment.

In contradiction, I’ve realized that I was ready for someone to enter my life. While it’s still healing, my heart finally stopped aching. I’m still in defensive mode, so the next one will have some battles to fight, but still, I’m ready to accept someone for who he’s and not because I’m in pain. And that’s quite an evolution. The thing I expect from a soulmate became also quite precise which helped me quite a lot.

The next steps

I thought I’d stay 5 years here, but reconsidering some parts (mainly how the society works and things I’ve expressed here), I think I’d switch to 3 years then see another place. I realized there was much to discover still and places to go, and I’m too eager to stay in some place I don’t really love.

I wanted to tackle a master in management, but I realized that this was important only for the French society. The competences I’ve gained and will gain in the coming months will be more valuable than any paper I could gain, and the financial and time costs would be way too heavy for what I could gain. There are other ways to evolve that will suit me better, so I’m still giving me sometime to think about.

And that’s aaaall for the moment.

P.S. : Thanks to Yoan for this idea, it indeed helps a lot.

2017 : The Road So Far

With this year slowly ending, I felt it was the time to have a small look back and see the road I’ve travelled on different aspects of my life in 2017. While this has been quite a difficult year, it lead also to a lot of improvements, learnings, new habits useful to share and to discover new improvements paths.

Health

I started the year with a weight of exactly 80.2kg and a 22% Fat Mass. 12 months later, thanks to several improvements, I’ve reached 68kg and a 15% Fat Mass. I still have some work to do (especially dive into fitness and weight lifting on a more regular basis), still I’m quite proud of the work accomplished.

I’ve reached this by taking some simple steps: cutting sugar from my food intake (and most related carbs… well except for pizza. You can’t refuse pizza.) and adopting a ketogenic diet. This lead at the beginning to some headaches but finally I feel more energized, dynamic and less nauseous overall.

Based on some readings, I’ve also started to take some supplements: magnesium citrate & krill oil mainly. Those helped me to get a better brain health. Since I take them, I’m able to make connections between things more quickly, but also I’ve gained a capacity to focus on things, which was quite a challenge due to my ADHD troubles.

I’ve started 2017 by removing coffee and alcohol from my alimentation. Since then I’ve started to slowly reintroduce coffee (mainly for the taste), and I’ve lost the unfortunate side effects. I drink it less than before, and I don’t need it anymore to feel energized. Alcohol has been reintroduced quite quickly mainly due to two things : first I spotted that some of my depression events where provoked by either life events I didn’t want to acknowledge or simply by reacting to some kind of alcohol (bye whisky, it has been quite a ride), secondly I’ve noted that when you’re the only sober person in a party, it’s really hard to keep a conversation with someone drunk without wanting to kill them.

Spirituality

I tried to keep the pace with daily meditation (depending mostly on daily energy and mood) and must say that it really helped me to sort things out, keep my mood under balance and be able to analyze some events and encounters in a more clearer way. This is still something I’d recommend to anyone regarding the improvements it does to one’s life. I’ve divided the meditation in several parts (and learned to use mudras to improve my energy flow):

  • Mindfulness: take the time to acknowledge the time and space you’re in and how your body is feeling, what thoughts are going through your mind and labelling them
  • Premeditatio Malorum: imagine what could go in the worst possible way for the day ahead, experience how it’d make me feel
  • Projection: picture what I want to reach on several level, and be able to set steps to get there by projecting ahead
  • Forgiving: take one person in my life that hurt me, relive the moments I felt hurt and then forgive this person, and letting her go.
  • Reverse gap: take some time to acknowledge the road I travelled so far and express gratitude for all the things I’ve done until now.

I kept the habit on journaling almost every day on my life. This transformed a lot from a place to empty my thoughts to something more structured. Nowadays it’s divided in several parts I’m able to go through quite quickly:

  • Acknowledge 3 things I’m grateful for in other people
  • Acknowledge 3 things I’m grateful about myself (this is quite hard)
  • Try to remember parts of my dreams (this helped me acknowledge some things that were bothering me but that I didn’t want to bring up to the conscious level)
  • Set 3 things I want to accomplish for the day.

Brainfood & Mental Health

I’m finishing this year with 128 books read, and I’m quite happy with the result. While I was a bit afraid at the beginning of the year concerning the quality of the books I was reading, this year end has been really fruitful and brought to me a lot of books I’d totally advise:

  • Progress, Ten Reasons to look forward to the future (Johan Norberg): lately I’ve seen a lot of people being quite negative about the world we live in and the state of our society. This book help us to develop a more objective view of our times and to see that things are, in fact, going better and better in every possible way.
  • The Code of The Extraordinary Mind (Vishen Lakhiani): This book really helped me setting some things straight. It shows how you need to change the way you look at things and how to adopt a more healthier way to go through life and its events. It also forces you to examine some rules you live by and to destroy them. I’ve developed a spreadsheet to help you question the 12 areas of life balance exposed in the book, available here.
  • Homo Deus & Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari): I can’t express how much I’ve learned from those two books and how it changed everything I learned until them. From the beginning of our stories to the way our cultures have been shaped, those are truly eye opening. For everyone interested in our common history and future, those are must read.
  • Gaïa : A New Look at Life on Earth (James Lovelock): The Gaïa hypothesis is something I was deeply convinced before encountering this book. James Lovelock exposes here some scientific theories about it and gives a new look about the planet we live on. Mind blowing in every possible way.
  • La route du temps — Théorie de la double causalité (Philippe Guillemant): Time as we experience it seems like a finite dimension on which we have no control. In this book, Philippe Guillemant shows that things might be different than we think they are and that we have some control about both our past and our future. It also shows that our minds are way more powerful than we think they are.

Based on an idea from Buster Benson, I’ve started to write my Book of Beliefs, it encompass everything I believe in in a perpetual draft state. Everytime I learn something new or that I change my mind about something, I edit it. It’s already well developed and some readings and experiences lead to dramatic changes, but this really helped me setting things straight in my mind and establish some basis for discussions.

I’ve also finished writing my second book. While it’s still under correction, the draft version is available here. It was a real help in getting through my breakup and learning to let go, and I’m quite happy with the result (and the fact that it’s now out of my head).

After some time for myself, I’m keeping my listener role on 7 Cups. There’s something highly efficient in helping others get through life events, and I’ve found there some way to give back to the world and help people around me. I’ve discovered that it was something I was really happy to do and, in some ways, needed to do. So if you ever need some anonymous help, don’t hesitate 🙂

Work

A lot has changed about this during this year. After some time freelancing (which allowed me to finally gain a real confidence in my capacities and about what I wanted to do), I’ve decided to take several decisions.

Things started thanks to a friend who opened my eyes. For a year, I was supposed to search for a flat to buy. After 6 months, she simply asked me how many flat I had visited. Two. Two flats in six months. She then asked me if I really wanted to buy a flat. This is when I realized that deeply I didn’t really want to buy a place but that was something I was supposed to do. And then I digged deeper.

I realized that I wasn’t happy at all in Belgium. While for years I’ve put this on being in a relationship or single, I slowly realized that, in fact, I wasn’t finding anymore what I was looking for where I was living. I was, in a metaphoric way, dying. I wasn’t learning anything anymore except through books. While on the economic side things were bright, on a mental state I couldn’t live like that anymore, not at almost 30 years old.

There was only one thing I could change: where I was living. After some self examination, I’ve ended considering several states around Europe. For the first time in my life I wrote a real motivation letter, send it and things went really well. In the space of one month and half I moved to Paris and started to work for a company I admire, UX Republic. Since that, I’m finally challenged on the professional level, I’m able to discuss and debate about ideas I couldn’t in Belgium. There’s still some steps I want to take, but I’ve never felt so alive.

The Road Ahead

2018 will begin for me in this new country, new city. I’ve already started to make some friends and encountered a lot of different people. I’ve set my intentions for this year in a more clearer way, and based on things depending only on myself:

  • Keep learning and evolving, teach and transmit: I’m slowly giving back more and more through some internal conferences, and this is slowly I want to expand more. I’m also setting things straight to be able to start a master in management and innovation sciences, something I’ve been willing to do for years but always refused.
  • Be surrounded by love & Help people: While I’ve decided to be happy in the present moment, I’ve also decided that I wanted to deepen my relationships. Finally I’ve learned that love wasn’t only based on my soulmate relationship, but through all my relationships. I’m eager to meet new people and build new relationships. I’m also still willing to help as much people as I can this year.

All those are depending only on myself and doable. While there are things I want to reach for next year (fitness based for example), those are not the most important things for me and this is something I’ve finally learned. I still have a lot of time ahead of me, so many things to discover, test, learn, so many people I want to meet and things I want to see. There’s only this moment, and in this moment, I’m finally happy being myself. See ya next year!

“This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”
Steven Pressfield, The War of Art