It’s kinda fun putting together a plan to improve yourself for the long term. It’s not as fun – at least in the beginning – implementing the plan itself. Persistence is the key. Lord knows I need more of that.
I’d like to build myself to the point where I can attack something as crazy as this:
I wrote this for an audience of one, a long time ago. My daughter has heard me break things down like this many….many….many times. I figured I’d share it. It’ll be the closest thing I’ll ever draft that could remotely be considered sound advice.
Have a goal. Make sure it’s big and bold, so it scares you a bit. If it doesn’t scare you – it’s too small.
OK – you have a goal in mind? And it scares you a little? Excellent. Now develop a plan. Draw up the path to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Write it down – don’t just think about it.
So – you now have a goal AND a plan? Good. Now break the plan down into manageable pieces. Take your time. Go step by step. Be patient.
Don’t just treat your plan like a bunch of items to be checked off on some list. Focus on each step you take to get closer to your goal. Fall in love with the process. Let it become a high priority in your life and give it the level of attention that your aspirations truly deserve.
Celebrate the wins. That can be something huge that you accomplish along the way to your ultimate goal (like running your fastest mile while training for a marathon), or something smaller (like stepping on the scale and seeing that you’ve lost a pound or two on your way to your goal weight).
Forgive yourself when you don’t accomplish all that you wanted in a day. Just promise yourself you’ll work a little harder tomorrow. If you are dieting and you find yourself giving in to a craving for Oreos (speaking from experience here), forgive yourself and simply do better tomorrow.
Remind yourself that the only person you are competing with is the person you were yesterday. When working on your goal, go into a bubble. Focus on the simple task in front of you – not a call you need to make later this evening or a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. When working on your goal, it is the only thing that should warrant your attention.
Don’t be afraid to “plus” your goal while you are working toward it. It’s OK to make your goal bigger while you’re on the path to achieving it – it may take longer to accomplish, but the juice is worth the squeeze in the end.
Don’t be afraid to share your goal with others. Your allies will ask if they can assist you in achieving it. They’ll keep you focused and motivated. And if the person you share your goal with responds with something like “oh please – that’s impossible”, then just smile back at him / her while understanding that the goal may be impossible for them because it’s not their’s. It’s YOUR’S. “Impossible” is just a big word thrown around by small men.
And last but not least: when you achieve your goal, whatever it may be, don’t forget those that were in your corner all along the way, helping you get there. When you receive the recognition, pass the credit.
It’s kind of cool, when simple positive actions become habits…and then the results of those habits begin to be noticed. Simple things like taking a minute here and a minute there to do as many push ups as possible before jumping back on to the laptop and continuing to work, or taking 30 minutes out of the day to focus on learning something new – from how to measure acidity in a glass of wine to the origins of old sayings like “what a fiasco!”
Just a note: the term “what a fiasco can be traced back to several stories – and here are two of them:
Google’s primary explanation: “The French faire fiasco (to fail) was adopted in turn from the Italian far fiasco. When the term “fiasco” entered English in the mid-1800s, it meant “a failure or break-down in a dramatic or musical performance,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.”
Ah, but there is more to it than that….
Fiasco is one of the Italian words for a bottle (it’s related to English flask) and the idiom far fiasco, literally “make a bottle”, developed first among Italian theater and opera people in the eighteenth century to mean perpetrating a bad performance. Why? Because some of the actors would down a bottle or two before hopping onto the stage and performing their version of Cats. The result was a car-wreck of a performance.
Here’s another tidbit: some say that the term “what a fiasco” comes from the fact that some bottles of chianti wine are really poorly designed. They cannot stand on their own. So….they need to be encased in a wicker sheath. So the term basically sounds like sarcasm: picture 2 Italian guys drinking a bottle of chianti, when they remove the wicker wrapping from the wine bottle. They then try to stand it up, it immediately topples over and spills all over their Zenga suits. One looks at the other and says “hey paisan – look at dis! Wadda fiasco, eh?”
Last note: this month’s Runners World magazine has an article that simply rocked. This dude is my hero.
Signed up for IRONMAN’s VR6 (Virtual Race #6) this weekend. 3k run, 40k bike, 10k run. I also signed up for Rock n Roll Marathon series’ virtual race, which is an 8k. So….lots of time outside running and riding.
I’m also finding that taking time consistently throughout the day to complete sets of push ups, kettle bell swings, body weight squats and leg lifts helps raise the metabolism a bit while working. I’m already feeling some of the benefits that comes with consistency.
Using an application like MyFitnessPal has made policing my dietary intake a bit easier. I’m surprising myself when it comes to the increase in self-discipline lately. While I do have cravings for all things tasty and NOT good for me, I’m finding that it’s becoming easier to reign myself in a bit and not give in.
Progress is slow. Very slow. But it’s there.
I’m beginning to try yoga more and more, simple 10 minute sessions that still kick my butt. I need to focus on flexibility – right now the only way i’m gonna be able to touch my toes is if someone snips them off my feet and hands them to me.
Now is a great time to develop a plan for your training, if you haven’t done so already. If you haven’t exercised in a while, this time of quarantine provides a stellar opportunity to begin building yourself back up (if it’s been a while since you’ve been on a training program) or take your game to the next level (if you’ve been going through the motions and not seeing significant speed and / or endurance results).
Start with the basics. Don’t be embarrassed about pace or distance covered – the only person that needs to know the stats is you.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You aren’t them. They aren’t you. Instead, just compare where you are today to where you were yesterday.
…and be able to forgive yourself. If you miss a workout, don’t blow off the entire plan; instead, just promise yourself that you won’t miss a beat tomorrow.
Positive changes often come by first overcoming adversity.
You can do anything you set your mind to.
See those statements I’ve just written above? Well I’ve taken each of them to heart. I’m on a mission to completely rebuild and reinvent myself. I first needed to draw up the parameters of the person I wanted to be, both inside and out. Then I drafted a game plan to effect change the inner me (attitude, personal priorities, and a private oath to myself to live my life in a way that brings honor to my grandparents, great grandparents, and all those before them. Once I began embracing those positive habits, I drafted my game plan to improve the me that others see on the outside. Slow and steady progress. Stick to the plan. Execute. Evolve.
I’ve gone back over the past several years of my blog entries, and I’ve seen just how many times I’v begun to challenge myself, and how many times I’ve failed to produce the results I was looking for. Each time I’ve failed, I’ve learned something. Each time I’ve failed, there’s been a take-away…a nugget of information that I hadn’t previously taken into consideration in the planning and / or execution of my efforts to achieve a given result. Well this time, I failed to stay focused on my intermittent fasting plan simply because I began feeling sorry for myself.
Now don’t get me wrong – this past month has been an emotional roller coaster. I’ve swung and missed entirely with people that are important to me, with work, and even with my kiddo. I’m better than this, and I know it. And I need to find myself yet again. You think that, at the age of 48, I’d at least be on the path from where I am to where I want to be; however, my internal Google Maps has been getting ZERO bars and I feel lost. This has happened to me before – but this time it has cost me dearly. Looking back, I now have learned that I should have been more firm with regard standing up for myself, because the result of allowing myself to be pushed around cost me in ways I cannot even describe here. But I’ve learned two valuable lessons:
LESSON LEARNED: Don’t be like me. If you have a plan, act on it. Words are hollow. Don’t just allow the days to go by while you throw your life into “Survive and Advance” mode (meaning just Survive today, and Advance to tomorrow). Procrastination is a killer of dreams, and it can rob you of happiness.
LESSON LEARNED: When someone throws a massive monkey wrench into plans that are truly important to you without regard for how bad that monkey wrench will hurt you, don’t allow that tool to lodge itself into your agenda. Fight like hell to yank that damn thing out before it causes some serious damage, and carry on with your plan. Why? Because it’s YOURS. No one else’s. If it’s important to you, you FIGHT FOR IT.
Rather significant personal items screwed up my eating patterns. I broke my daily fast and I couldn’t find my focus to get things back into a the rhythm that I needed. So I failed in this dietary change as well (by far, the least of my issues). I’ve taken several HUGE losses lately. But its times like these that I think of one of my favorite motivational speakers – Les Brown:
So my plan is simple: to first be the change that I want to see in myself, and then, in the words of Gandhi, be the change I want to see in the world.
Step One: stop feeling sorry for myself. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve lost, HUGE. I fell into a deep depression and I felt like I was circling the drain, questioning the very value of my life to society. But damn it, this was just Game 1 as far as my life and goals are concerned. It’s a 7 game series and I’ve got my aces warming up in the bullpen. Bounce back and win the damn series.
Step Two: How do I rebound from a game 1 loss this rough? I gotta be like Stella, and get my damn groove back. Kick it off with the physical aspect. Train harder. Go to bed earlier. Demand more of myself physically and, by default, my body will demand higher quality fuel to keep me going. Demand more of myself physically, and the weight will begin to say adios. And, most importantly, demand more of myself physically and the endorphins will kick in and keep the fire lit everywhere else. Demand more of myself physically, and I’ll begin to demand more of myself in other aspects of my life. Motion creates emotion.
Step Three: List out everything I need to address, and don’t just stare at it on paper….TAKE ACTION. In my personal life, in my professional life, and as a father: STEP IT UP. This means making some tough calls – but tough calls are part of the game.
Step Four: Stick to the calendar. I need to take the time to plan out all of the goals I have for myself in every aspect of my life, develop a plan to achieve each one, and stick to the rather strict time budget that this will require. Some of my goals are physical (races, weight, speed, yada yada yada), some are professional, some are very personal, and all require time and dedication to achieve. So sacrifice the easy and work toward the great.
As a side note: if you are feeling depressed, don’t ignore it. Address it. Talk to someone. Anyone. But TALK. Don’t hold it in. Life is going to hurt. Life is not going to go exactly the way you want, 100% of the time. But it’s like that old saying says: life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I didn’t react well. I didn’t fight for what I wanted. I allowed my plans to be materially altered without doing everything I possibly could to not permit it. I haven’t been the consistent positive influence my kiddo deserves. I know how it feels to fail, and fail HARD. I know how it feels to come up short with someone. All of these things absolutely suck. But just mistakes don’t need to be permanent.
I allowed myself to feel sorry for myself. I didn’t talk out my issues – I didn’t address them the way I should have. Depression makes you feel like you are worth more dead than alive. I know this, because that’s how I felt. Well that’s horseshit and each of you know it. Each of us are fracking special. Each of us are unique. Each of us have a purpose in life and its our responsibility as individuals to work our asses off to find out what your purposes are and strive to attain them. So you’ll screw up royally – that’s a given. But – in sticking with the baseball metaphors – if you have an out left, you can still win the game.