20 Jul 2018

Accountability and hope

Submitted by Stephen Winters

For most of my life I have been extremely averse to the whole idea of accountability. To me, it had the feel of someone standing over my should and watching everything that I do, waiting for me to do anything wrong, then to jump on me. I have avoided any groups that talked being accountable. It had the feeling of someone else trying to control me.

In the mean time I've been getting older (I'm 67 years old) and have been discouraged with so many things in life. I've also been becoming discouraged with myself. I work at home and I've been distracted by so many things. I have not been able to work effeciently. In fact I've been doing increasingly less and less productive paying work. Fortunately, my wife has gone to work to help with her social security.

 Now, to digress a little. I was raised in a family with very little financial accountability. My dad was a hard worker, but a terrible money manager. As a consequence, from time to time, Dad took us and ran from the creditors, multiple times as I grew up. He finally started in a business and grew it from a little business until over a period of 14 years it brought about $900,000 during the last year. Then the whole thing collapsed. As I said, Dad was a terrible money manager. He also wasn't accountable to anyone (except his creditors). Again we ran and hid from the bill collectors.

Now, back to me again. In 1986 I got my first computer, which was an Atari ST. It was all that I could afford. I have been in love with (using) computers ever since.I spent a lot of time on the computer (word processors, programming spreadsheets, desktop publishing, databases, etc.) I was able to try out a number of various software for it. Fortunately, I love to write (on the computer) so that has been a blessing in many ways, but not financially.
 
After getting married, neither I nor my wife had any financial training. We had our own issues with not having money enough to pay the creditors, which went on for a few years. And, to add to that, my wife hated computers. So, I did not talk to her much about computers. However, when we got married my computer was already a few years old. And then, as the years passed my computer got older and older. Since it was an Atari (and the Atari company had went broke) I was unable to get any more programs for it, and I could get any stand business and finance type of programs for it. As my computer got older I kept hearing about all that was happening with the personal computers. I so much wanted to get a computer that everyone else had (IBM compatible), but, because of my wife's feelings about computers I didn't dare ask to purchase a new computer. Besides, we didn't have the money and the only way that we could get a new computer would be to purchase it on credit.
 
Well, my wife loves to write letters, and send cards and notes to people. Ever since we have been marr.ied she sends out some almost every day. Back during that time I don't think that the Internet existed. But there were online BBS's (bulletin boards) that could be accessed through a modem. I had been accessing free BBS's for a few years. Then I wanted to sign onto one that cost money to sign on. I asked my wife if I could sign on and pay the fee. She replied, "I know you. If you join then you will be on it all the time." Even so, she allowed me to sign on. (One note here, I forget if it was before or after I registered at the paid BBS, I had told her about the homeschool BBS's that I had found. Since we were homeschooling the children that really interested her. Then she began to use the computer to access those BBS's.) As I got to using the paid BBS I found out that with that BBS we had an email account. After doing a little research I discovered that Emmy's mom, who was teaching at Cornell University, also had email. Then my wife began emailing her mom and other relatives, and was so pleased that should could send an email and get a response back the same time, sometimes in just a few minutes. And, as my wife accessed the various homeschool BBS's she read about all the homeschooling online groups that were online. This was the birthing of my wife's interest in computers. After a while she came to me and said, "Stephen, we need to get a new computer!" She wanted to have more access to all that was available online. (Our Atari ST computer was not capable of accessing those things.) So, we bought a new IBM compatible computer, on credit, and her interest in using the computer has grown and grown.

Well, we now had a mainstream computer which had lots of software available for it.  We eventually bought QuickBooks and Quicken for our business. It took me about a year to learn to use Quickbooks. Well, as I learned better how to use it we ran all of our business finances through QuickBooks and our personal finances we put in Quicken. This gave me (and us) a much clearer picture of our finances than I had ever had before. Using this understanding of where our finances were really helped to turn around our finances. Although we didn't have any more money, we began using it more wisely. We didn't spend money as foolishly as we had in the past. Consequently we stopped having problems with our creditors. I saw how bringing our finances into the software... It was bringing everything into account so that it balanced, and brought peace into our lives in the area of finances, which I had never known before. This whole business (of bringing my wife together in being willing to obtain and use a computer) has been a process of us both learning to submit to a healthier state of financial accountability. As we learned more and more about it, I willingly submitted to it. And, it a larger sense, I've been learning to be accountable to myself and my own best interests.

Computer usage has become one of my main passions and interests. You could almost say that I love computers (althought that's not technically correct). I can do things with well-written programs on a computer that I couldn't do otherwise. Bookkeeping only one example. And over the years there have been many free or demo software program that one could freely download. One of my hobbies has been just downloading and trying out various software. So I have downloaded and tried out probably hundreds of software programs. Partly because I have tried out so many programs, and partly because I am very detail oriented, I can recognize well written software and don't spend much time using ineffecient or cumbersome software. It doesn't take me much time to evaluate whether or not a program is worth my time in learning it. However, even with all of its benefits, the computer has also been a big distraction from my doing as much productive paying work.

Another area where I have been struggling for most of my 67 years has been in the area of my weight. I've been overweight most of my life and I was overweight we I got married. After my marriage my weight had eventually go up to 268 pounds. Since that time I have gradually, on and off, lost a lot of weight, only to gain some of it back, and then to lose it again. Over the years I kept "trying to lose weight", but never could get to my goal weight of 180 lbs. Over the years I have weighed myself every day, so I knew where I was at. My main tools (or ideas) were my scale and a thought to "eat less". I was never consistent. Eating less always felt like a resistance of my constant desire to eat more. And so it has been for much of my life. I had heard about counting calories, but that seemed like a lot of work: keeping a calorie book with me, writing down everything that I ate (how would I know how to guess the food weight), looking up the calories, adding them up for each meal. Then adding up all the calories for the day. Then, how many calories do I need? To me, that whole process seemed ever too confusing.

Well, a number of years have passed since then, with just more of the same yoyo dieting affect. Would that ever end? Would I ever be able to get down to and stay at my "normal" weight? 

Within the last year I discovered some health apps for my phone. I have tried several, which require me to log what I eat. With my eating and logging everything that I eat, I've noticed some things. During the times when I am consistant about logging what I eat I am successful about losing or maintaining my weight. However the first ones that I tried out looked nice and seemed to have most of the functions that I wanted, but they were more complex to keep logging the food items, so I would quit using it. For a while I felt bad that I couldn't seem to be very consistent at logging my food. After a while I kind of gave up, but then would try again to again fail. Then I learned something. Sometimes I don't recognized an unsuitable method, process or app until I find a better one that just works for me.

So, after all of this failing, I finally found something that seems to be working. There is a lot more to the process I use than what I am writing here. I'm in the process of writing out another more indepth article about how I use MyNetDiary, but for now, what follows will be sufficient. I found an app called MyNetDiary, that has both a MyNetDiary android app and a MyNetDiary website, which are linked together. Whatever I enter into the app shows up in my account at the website, and whatever I enter on my webite account shows up on my phone. You can see a Youtube video about it here: MyNetDiary Overview.

Using the process that I use with MyNetDiary I'm down below my goal weight, for the first time in years. I have stopped the constant snacking. I'm quite content with eating less food now, and I'm OK with that, and I'm not hungry. I'm not always thinking about food.

 

As I'm logging everything that I do, it helps me to keep asking myself, "Am I doing what I want to do at this moment?" In addition, knowing that the timer is running on the logging app, it's like a constant reminder, "Keep focused, keep working."

 

In making out plans of what to do, I've been very good at making out plans of things that need to be done. But I've been terrible at tollowing them through. I haven't  done those things on the lists. I've been distracted about so many things.

 

This app list many of the everyday things that we do and lets you time each thing. Using this app to track everything that I do is like having a multitude of tiny goals, one at a time. I'm learning to accomplish each tiny goal. It's like that running timer is saying to me, "keep focused, keep on track." It is helping me greatly to keep diverted into many other things because I have to keep working in the focus of the timer..

It is giving me new hope that I can accomplish some of my dreams. But maybe first, I need to dream. What are my dreams and my hopes.

 

 

Being Accountable to Myself.

One of the most important thing that I have been learning is the I must be accountable (being in account, in balance) with myself first. I can always put on a good front to other people and pretend that everything it going OK. But I can't fool myself.

Then,   However, the computer has also been a big distraction from my doing productive paying work.

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