Friday, July 02, 2004

 

I'm doing it again

Prime example. Somewhere along the line, something extinguished my fervor. Whatever it was that prompted me to write about how perfect my life is going to be in a year has taken a back seat to the normal pathetic mediocrity of every day life. I had some good days, but they were average-nothing-went-wrong days that

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
- Albert Einstein

Monday, June 28, 2004

 

Another Monday

Mondays are strange. Gloomy. Hard to get started. I don't feel like doing anything today. I have to get out of this funk. One would think that I could instead take a deep breath and get ready to conquer the new week. But I'm not the only one bringing myself down. Nobody wants to get going today. What have we done to ourselves? Is work really that bad? Ideally, work should be integrated into our lives in a way that keeps us going, not in a way that brings us down. This is about the time we all need a motivational kick in the ass. My cynical brethren and I, however, would rather flip the happy people "the bird" right about now. That is if we can find any happy people. Even the buoyant and normally pleasant morning show radio hosts have an underlining drone in their voices. And if anyone tries to break free from the misery, someone makes a Monday-esque dose of reality type comment to bring everyone back to Earth. Does this mean that we're in the wrong line of work? Does society make this happen? Do we want to be miserable on Monday? I think so. If we tried, Monday could be a good day. But I don't think we want to try. Society has taught us for years to dread Mondays. So why not join in?

There's 3 things I could do here. I could join in the collective disdain for the new week. But that's not what I'm trying to do with my new goals. Every day has to be a good day. If I do this, I'm doing what everybody else does and my whole motivation for this endeavor is not to be like everyone else. I think in the past this is one of those places I went wrong. I let society tell me how I should feel about the present moment and although I have good intentions, the "present feeling me" overcomes the annoyingly positive "but this is how I really want to be, let's make things happen, I'm going to be wonderful me".

I could start bouncing around the office with the intention of trying to push back against the norm with all my might. This is my first instinct. After reading tons of motivational theory, the "DON'T LET OTHERS RUN YOUR LIFE" mantra starts running through my head. But let's be honest with ourselves here. There's something bigger at stake. People don't want other people to be happier than them. If someone is getting things done or working out or losing weight or making money, people naturally try harder to lure those people back into the herd. Even people who love and support each other have trouble letting go of other's success as a protection mechanism from their own inadequacies. Eventually, you'll be brought down. Either that, or you'll be viewed as a stubborn happy-go-lucky asshole who doesn't heed advice like, "don't be too happy, you might make the rest of us look bad".

That brings me to the 3rd thing I could do. I could wait. I could watch people, be patient and look for my opening. In the meantime, I could prepare for when the real work needs to get done. What will be asked of me in meetings this week? How many miles will I be running? What bills need to be paid? What do I have in the refrigerator so that I can bring lunch into work in lieu of spending another $50 dollars in 5 days on fast food? Soon the sun will start shining and people will start getting into the groove. The trick is to be more prepared than the other squirrels who didn't save enough food for the winter.

"These are the moments that nobody sees."
-Lance Armstrong

Friday, June 25, 2004

 

My Goals

So it's time I considered my own goals going forward here. I've decided to take a real long look at what I really want so that working toward it won't be an anomaly. I feel as though I'm pretty good at setting realistic, attainable goals as recommended by your more popular self-help gurus. I know to make them specific. I know to make them challenging but not so challenging that I can't achieve them. I know to put a deadline on them. So here's my year goals to that will coincide with my plan going forward into this journey and beyond.

Family
- Keep my wife involved in family matters. Meet with her daily to discuss situations about my day, her day and our children's day. Plan each week according to both our schedules and be sure to keep the lines of communication open on a daily basis.

Self
- Take 2 classes per semester until Associate degree is earned and then transferred to my chosen Bachelor Degree program. Exercise consistently in accordance with the proposed triathlon training schedule to be determined.

Finance
- Save 10% of all income. Open savings accounts for the kids by July and teach them to save 10% of all of their income. Do not play with or invest this money until a consistent savings habit is established.

Professional
- Work hard on a daily basis in anticipation of opening up opportunities for my future. Throughout the day refer to my daily schedule and concentrate on completing my To Do list. Schedule the next day before leaving or going to bed at night. Clean desk each night before leaving the office.

Spiritual
- Tithe (4%), Meditate, Relax.

Not bad. I'm sure there's holes, but anything can be refined and this will be too. What I'm probably going to do is spend the next couple of days (the rest of June), going into each goal category in detail. Then, I will explain where I expect all of these goals to take me beyond one year.

"An average person with average talent, ambition and education, can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society, if that person has clear, focused goals."
-Brian Tracey

Thursday, June 24, 2004

 

The goal setters

Probably the most influential person that I've read about over the years is John Wooden. Many people tell wonderful stories about the UCLA basketball coaching legend, so if you don't know anything about him, there's plenty of information out there (I recommend, "They Call Me Coach", his auto-biography). I don't want to go into his theories, his sock speeches or his pyramid of excellence, although I believe in much of what he has to say. Instead I'd like to point out what amazes me about his story. His integrity. Is it a natural born gift to be able to push toward a goal day in and day out without getting discouraged to the point of giving up? Where does the strength come from?

I would say that I can be passionate about something new for a total of about 3 weeks. By the end of 3 weeks, I either get discouraged, bored, unmotivated or pissed off. After 3 weeks I tend to either give up completely for a while or start another plan from day one.

John Wooden, on the other hand, was able to plan for success at the beginning of a basketball season, or maybe even a coaching career, and then pursue that success for the whole year. Then he was able to build on that success year after year until he won 10 national championships. I can't even get up early enough in the morning to work out for more than one week in a row. I can imagine that Coach Wooden was quite stubborn at times and difficult to get along with. But that's what happens when you have faith in a future that others may not even be able to concieve at the time.

That brings to mind another coach that I admire for similar reasons. Herb Brooks, the coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. I had heard stories about Coach Brooks all my life. His players hated him, but they loved him at the same time. They trusted him and that trust paid off as we all know. The story of that team was, again as we all know, Disney-ized and then beautifully told in the movie Miracle. After watching that movie, a few times, and watching the DVD extra-special features, it dawned on me that Coach Brooks had planned to coach that team years before he was even chosen for the job. He also did research on the players that he wanted on the team, before he even knew whether or not he would get the privelege to choose them. What kind of person does this? A crazy one until the end result is successful some would say.

What intrigues me about these stories is the avalance of success that came from working hard toward a goal. Both of these people would probably tell you that luck came into play when the success turned out to be bigger than the journey. They knew that they could give it thier best shot and by doing so, day in and day out, they enjoyed the benefits of thier hard work 10-fold. I believe in what they did and how they did it. I just never practice thier integrity in my own life. Who knows what would happen if I did.

One of the featurettes on the Miracle DVD set is an interview with Coach Brooks before the movie was filmed (Coach Brooks died in a car accident during the filming of the movie). During that interview, Coach Brooks, a hockey coach, mentioned his favorite coach... John Wooden. I'd venture to say these people admired each other, not because of sports, but because of thier understanding about what it takes to achieve goals. Amazing.

"This cannot be a team of common men. Common men do common things. We have to be uncommon"
-Kurt Russel as Coach Herb Brooks in Miracle


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

 

Blog kickoff article

It would be impossible for me to accurately count exactly how many motivational articles, books and websites I've read. Nor would I be any more sure of the total number of self-help tapes I've eagerly lended my total attention to. I haven't kept track. If I were to guess, however, I would have to say the number has to be in the thousands. This is after calculating 2 a week every week for the past 10-15 years. The sad part is I'm still not who I want to be.

I picked up my first self-help book, during the early 1990's, which some people happen to refer to as the "Self-Help" decade. I find this interesting, because it proves that I fell victim to the foray as I joined the millions of people responsible for contributing to the bank accounts of, Brian Tracy, Steven Covey and the enigmatic Anthony Robbins... among others. Now, almost 15 years later, I find myself writing down a new set of old unaccomplished goals in a notebook page that bears the all too familiar title: "DAY 1".

Maybe I should have become a motivational speaker. So far, the only success stories I've come across about people who've become successful after using the tools that the motivational speakers preach about are the stories of the motivational speakers themselves. What better way to become successful than to talk and write about your own success? We all envy it. We all feed it.

I think its about time someone takes a look at personal success from another angle. I want to read about someone who isn't successful and then take a journey with that person into the promised land. It's time for us to see results, not promises. I agree with motivational theories. All of them. Goals are king. Family is special. The mind is more powerful than we can possibly imagine as is the beauty of the human spirit. There's something missing, though. Something keeps me fat, depressed and scared. Every once in a while I show a glimmer of greatness and then I'm right back in the normal guy prison. It's tough to break out of the societal mold.

I come to you as someone who would probably be considered as successful by most definitions. I have a beautiful wife, beautiful kids, a good job and a nice house. This past Sunday, father's day, I finished my 3rd triathlon. Not bad for someone who thinks he hasn't amounted to much. But that's what you see if you look at me on the outside.

On the inside, it's a constant struggle. I wander around constantly depressed. I am always looking around for ways (legal and moral ways) to make myself feel better. I rarely take time to enjoy what I have accomplished because I feel like I didn't really accomplish those things on purpose. Pursuing my wife was easy. She's everything I've ever wanted and more. Love kept me going so well during my courting of her that I barely remember who I was then. She certainly didn't see who I am now. My kids are the same way. Granted, being a parent isn't the easiest thing in the world, but if anything can motivate me to do a good job it's an innocent gaze from one of them. I'm never happy with the job. I want to ride first class now... not later. Donald Trump seems to be the only one allowed to fly in his own helicoptor even though he's billions of dollars in debt. I'm told I have to pay my debt off first. The sad fact is, no matter how much money I seem to pull in, I always seem to be riding on the bleeding edge of financial ruin. Most of the time I mean well, but somewhere along the line, I have to get serious about my financial future. I'm not getting any younger and neither are my kids for that matter.

As for the triathlons; OK, I can be happy that I finished the first one, because after all, mere finishing should always be your goal when attempting your first triathlon. The next 2 were pathetic. I meant well, but trained minimally if not too little. The goal was never to just finish. The goal was to set a goal and work toward it with passion. That's not quite how it happened. For example, after the 1st just finishing triathlon, I had a full year to train for the next... A goal setter's ready-made situation. In practice, however, I barely trained and limped across the finish line only 12 minutes faster than my previous year's just finishing time. So I looked ahead to triathlon number 3, meant well, but trained maybe even a little less and finished 3 minutes slower than year 2. And these aren't intense Ironman distance events either. I'm talkin' tiny sprint triathlons that the real athletes are finishing in just over an hour, the average people are coming in at an hour and a half and where I'm bringing up the rear in almost 2 hours. Oh, did I mention that I managed to gain over 30 pounds while allegedly training for triathlons? This is 30 pounds on top of the 20-30 pounds or so that I'm over my "ideal weight", as if ever seeing someone's calculation of my ideal weight again is humanly possible. I know, I know, muscle weighs more than fat... trust me, it's not muscle.

So here I sit, trying to piece together where another year went wrong. Kind of like New Year's day isn't it? I learned a long time ago not to wait until New Year's day to resolve to do things better. There aren't enough years to wait a whole year to start eventual unfinished endeavors. I also learned somewhere along the line that I can't just work on one goal if the rest of my existance is something that I'd rather ignore. If I'm not happy with my financial situation, there's no way I can be a better father, or work out consistently. All my goals must feed off of each other... I know that much.

My opinion of myself has come to a head. I'm tired enough of everything to use next year's triathlon as a place in time to work toward in anticipation of attempting to reach all of my goals again. This is the year. The perfect year. Does the perfect year really exist? Probably not. But, can I look back on a year and think to myself that I did the best I possibly could? Hopefully.

"The good 'ol days weren't always good and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."
-Billy Joel

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