Posted on Jul 11, 2012

What did I learn from a seven thousand mile bicycle trip? More than I thought, It’s really changed my outlook on life. So much so, I’ve made some big decisions this month, and so far I’m sticking with them. This is just the beginning of my new way of life.

Now, I’m not telling you to live your life this way, I know this idea isn’t for everyone, but so far, it seems to be working for me. So what am I trying to achieve?

Why I needed to change.
I’ve been back for about a month now, settling into the New York way of life, you know, eating bagels, drinking coffee, moaning about the F Train. The mornings were spent job hunting, the afternoons I would procrastinate on the internet, for hours upon hours. during the first week I snapped at myself for wasting so much time. A quick google led me to theminimalists.com/. This websites aim is to make you live the minimalist lifestyle. I’m not following their 21 day set program religiously, but they do make some interesting points that I’m happy to try out.

I don’t need stuff.
There was a time in my life (Most of my twenties) where I needed to be surrounded by stuff, an abundance of shiny toys to keep me distracted until the updated version came out. iStuff, cameras, gadgets, the list goes on. But I realize now, that material things only bring you a certain amount of happiness for a very short period of time. On my bicycle adventures, I can only carry a limited amount of equipment and would only replace something if it was worn out or broken. I was never tempted with new gear or gadgets, because I didn’t have those temptations around me. No CDs, DVDs or books, no video games. I’m now left with, 2 bicycles, a few film cameras and a small amount of clothes.

My electronics have been halved.

  • 11″ Macbook Air + External drives for Backup.
  • Panasonic GH2 Digital Camera.
  • GoPro Hero 2.
  • Kindle.
  • iPhone 4 (soon to be replaced with a standard phone).
  • iPod Nano.
  • Nikon CoolScan 5000ED.

Did you know that the average American watched 34 hours 39 minutes of TV per week in 2011? Not in our apartment, we don’t have a TV. I don’t have anything against them, Christ, I’ve worked in the TV industry for 11 years. I just think my time can be spent more wisely.

The Minimalist Mac
The biggest distraction is my computer, it’s also my main tool I use on a daily bases, so there’s no getting away from it, for now. I’ve switched off any notifications – Tweets, updates, etc. I’ve also replace the background with something clean. simple. minimalist.

A minimalist task bar. By removing all the distractions at the top of my screen allows me to focus on the task in hand. I found myself glancing up at it every five minutes or so. If I need to know the time, I hit F4 (Three finger left swipe) to bring up my widget page. If I need to connect to the wireless, then I have to go into my system preferences.

At 18:00, my Firefox & Safari lock me out of the internet. The only website I can access is my own. My mail client works, but I’ve made a rule that I can only reply to them in office hours. I use LeechBlock for Firefox and Waste No Time for Safari.

Exercise Daily
If you know me, you know I don’t like sport, never have, I don’t like playing them, I don’t like watching them, I just can’t see the point of them. I’m not a competitive creature. I never really used to like exercise and the idea of spend time in a gym makes me shudder. Then I hit my late twenties, ate way to much dark chocolate Toblerone and piled on the weight. Something had to be done, and that was cycling. I love it so much, well you know the rest, I cycled around America, blah, blah, blah.

For the past month I’ve been trying to cycle every day, I don’t have a job yet, so procrastinating on the computer just seems like a mammoth waste of time. I’ve also taken up…… running, yes you heard me right. R-U-N-N-I-N-G!

Running is a strange thing, I don’t enjoy it as nearly as much as cycling, and I don’t really get it. The only thing it’s useful for is out-running zombies. When the zombie apocalypse finally arrives, I should be in good shape and be one of the last standing. I don’t think I would of taken it up, if it wasn’t for a few reasons.

  1. My Wife: She was always a runner and not a cyclist, she took up cycling because of me, so I thought, why the hell not, i’ll give it a go.
  2. Nike+ for iPhone: It feels like i’m in a live action video game, as I try to beat my high score, In this case the high score is my distance and speed. It’s very addictive and keeps me focused. Oh, and I love it when Ellie Goulding congratulates me for a personal best. Swoon…
  3. The approaching zombie apocalypse.

What do you do for fun?
This is New York! so blatantly there’s a lot to do. It doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg either. Use my bicycle to explore the city. I practice my photography and video editing. Go for walks, chill in parks, mosey on down to the beach, go to the movies, read. With having so much time on my hands, I can immerse myself into the city.

You’ve turned into a boring hippie.
Nope, I think I’ve become more interesting, more creative. With more time I can focus on the things that really matter to myself. Where my next adventure will take me, or start a new photo/film project.

Sneak preview of my next short film.

What does the future hold?
Ideally I’d like to get rid of the internet from the house, but that’s not possible just yet. Deleting my personal Facebook page, once I can figure out how I can keep my fan page. Getting rid of my iPhone once my contract comes up in a year. I’ve cut up all my English credit cards and will close the accounts in the next week or so. I might not stick to all the goals I’ve set myself, but I’m going to give it my best.

“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Note: I’ve just got to the bottom of this post after re-reading it, it sounds all a bit negative and angry. I promise, I’m not angry, I’m not very good at putting words to paper. Blame the dyslexia, and now I have more time to fix that as well ;-)

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