Day 79: Stop Fighting the Old

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I saw this quote on Facebook today and loved it.   It really makes you think about change, particularly when you try to create it in your life.  Too often we try to change our old habits, and wind up failing (more on this in a few days).  What we really need to do is create new habits.  Let’s fill in the time our mind and body would focus on whatever it is we want to change.  If we give our time and energy to a new endeavor, not only are we more apt to stay the course (because new is fun), we’re more apt to overcome any additional obstacle because we don’t know better.  Soon, we’ll have forgotten about the old way of life and be consumed with the new.

That Socrates was a smart guy.  Someone should write that in a book.

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 52: What’s Holding You Back

So the first 50 days of 2013 have come and gone.  Even if you allow a day or two to recover (New Year’s parties, etc…) we’ve still stared down more than enough days to tell if we’re really serious about changing ourselves.  So let me ask you the question:

Are you?

Are you serious about bettering yourself?  Have you committed to your goals for the year?   Have you been on course to achieve them?

Or have you begun to listen to that nagging voice that says you can’t?

If you’re on track, whether physically, mentally, spiritually, or any other -ally, here’s my kudos to youYou’ve already begun K’ing some A this year and you will love the results.  I’m interested to hear how things are going.  I receive a few emails a week from people who are encouraged by this blog and want to say so; the truth is that I’m more encouraged by their words and effort than they are by me.

But they’re not the ones who need encouragement.  The ones who need our help the most are those who believe they can’t or won’t achieve their goals.  Is that you?

I don’t know what your goal is.  I don’t care if it’s to be able to lift 100 lbs by the end of the year, to drop 5 dress sizes, to read War and Peace, to finish school, to open your own restaurant, or to study the Bible in depth.  Only you know what your goal is.  And YOU are the key to this entire equation.

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There is no one who can hold you back more viciously than you will do to yourself.  There is no one who can cheer you on more victoriously than you will do for yourself.  In the end, you are all that matters.

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Remember, whatever you desire is yours to achieve.  You just have to put in the work.  In the end, you need to say on simple sentence to yourself: motivation

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 37, Babe’s and Quick Shots

Today would be Babe Ruth’s 118th birthday.  In honor of the birth of one of the greatest ballplayers to ever live here are a few words to live by, from George Herman Ruth, Jr himself.

“Don’t let the fear of striking out get in your way.”

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Quick Shots: As I mentioned before, I finished Captivating a week or so ago and have moved on to How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.  I’ve also picked up Beautiful Outlaw, by John Eldredge.  I read this month’s Imprimis essay last night.  I’ve selected the French Silk Pie recipe I will be making this weekend (finally), and the desk is coming along wonderfully.  I hope to post the full write-up on the woodwork tomorrow night since I want to get the finish work done on the desk.

I’ve still been able to get in a workout every day so far this year.  We identified another new species of bird the other day – the American Goldfinch.  And I’ve been pouring a lot of energy into work so far this year.   So I’d say I’m still on track.

Finally, one last quote to chew on, from another great man who shares today’s birthdate.

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As always: This is simply my journal, nothing more, as I try to better myself.  I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself somehow.  Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 33, Desk Action

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It’s a messy weekend around the house.  I tore out the old buffet area in our dining room so I could make a “mommy station” for my wife.  The plan is to put in a desk with several hanging file drawers for all of our bills and expenses, and several other multi-use drawers.  I want to make sure she has enough outlets for her computer, the charging stations for the camera and video camera, and whatever else she might need.  I also will be installing shelving units to help her stay organized.

The test of this entire thing is that I’m not doing it prefab.  I’m building the desk, drawers, shelves and facing from scratch.  I’m using this as an opportunity to help complete another skill I’ve been dying to improve upon: my drafting/woodworking ability.

I designed the desk last summer, but this was the first opportunity I had to actually try to complete this project.  It’s very cathartic to be doing something that has been on the to-do list for so long.  Honestly, it’s kind of an analogy for my life so far this year:  I’ve finally gotten off my duff to do the things I’ve always wanted to do.  I don’t know if the desk will turn out exactly like I how I picture it in my mind, nor do I know if what I will be like when this year is over.  But I do know that my home will be better off with this desk, as will my life with my commitments.

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ONE MONTH GOAL UPDATE: In one short month, I’ve already begun to see changes in me.  My concentration and focus have improved, as has my desire to do my job better.  Physically, I’m already clearly in better shape.  My wife even commented that I look a little larger physically, and I can put in two miles at a good hard pace without tiring as easily as I used to.  I’ve upped my pushup routine to 60-75 per day minimum, and I’ve added chair dips and single leg squats to my routine.  I’ve been able to get in some sort of a workout every single day so far.

I’ve also kept up with my readings.  I’ve done my daily devotional every night, knocked out two books so far and started two more.  As mentioned, I’m going to get some of my woodworking goals taken care of this weekend with the desk. I’ve run 14.5 miles thus far, and if I were to count by the average of .5 miles per day, I should be at 16.5, so not far off.

Most importantly, I’ve really begun to learn some things about myself.

  1. When I put my mind to something, I can do it.
  2. I work best when I’m holding myself accountable to someone else.
  3. I used to waste a LOT of time.

I’m disappointed because I haven’t done either of the following: finished any of my 13 classic movies or mastered any of my 12 dishes.  The movies are less concerning to me because if push came to shove I could knock them out in a few nights.  However, I like to really take time with learning my food, so I do need to get on the horse with my cooking.

Finally, we’ve really begun to have fun with our bird watching.  It’s become a contest between my wife and I to see if we can identify any new species that show up.  Today we finally ID’d a house finch that has been hanging around the last few days, so I’ve added him to the list.  It’s funny how you never notice things until you look for them.  Appropriate in more ways than one in our life.

“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.”
-Albert Einstein

“A bird doesn’t sing because  it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
-Lou Holtz

Day 22, The Why (Rated PG-13: L)

Last night, my wife looked at me and asked me point blank, “Why are you doing this?”

I had to think about that for a second.  I know what I’ve said before about why I am taking this challenge upon myself: I want to push myself, I want to be better, I want to remain motivated, yada yada yada.  But that wasn’t her question.  Her question was why am I doing this physically, mentally, spiritually and personally, all at once?  Why push myself in so many directions?  Why not focus on one aspect or focus in one direction?

Why, indeed, am I doing it all at once?

Hold on, let’s pause.  I need to gather my thoughts on this one…

(Now that I spent 5 minutes making a spiced apple cider to accompany this slice of Thin Mint Pie -healthy!- I’ll continue).

Consider this:

“He who is an athlete only is too crude, too vulgar. He who is a scholar only is too soft. The ideal citizen is the scholar athlete, a person of thought and a person of action.”
-Plato

I have my college football head coach to thank for turning me on to that quote.  Coach Pole may have been quoting the philosopher as a means to implore us to go to class, but knowing the kind of man he was, he was also pushing us to think a little deeper.  What exactly was Plato talking about?

Was Plato decrying either athletes or scholars?  I don’t think so.  I think he was instead exhorting his fellow men to do it all.  Plato was describing the jack-of-all-trades, master of none.  He’s stating that you don’t have to be oxen-strong to succeed, or be grandmaster-smart to make it.   He was preaching balance.  I think it’s something that is dreadfully missing in our society today.  America has become a service driven economy, where you are only as good as your best skill, and that’s what you earn your money for.  As a result we are a society of individuals who, if thrown to the figurative wolves, couldn’t survive because we’ve honed our skills with rarely more than one or two focuses.  Unfortunately, in keeping up with the Joneses, we lose sight of a balanced life.

I didn’t want to be like this.  Yes, I have my skills for which I am rewarded in my business, but I am NOT my job.  To hearken back to a movie I posted a few quotes from two days ago –

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Chuck Palahniuk’s Tyler Durden is uncouth, uncensored, agnostic and nihilistic, but he’s also right in so many ways.  The only thing that defines me is me.  I can choose to let myself deny that and become defined by my job, my income, my neighborhood, car, family, or any other of myriad things that could define me.  Or, I can choose to define myself.

I choose to define me.

Plato said it: scholar and athlete, thought and action.  This is why I choose to do it all.  Because I can.  I want to be stronger, faster, fitter, and look better for my wife.  And I can.  I want to be more well-read, hopefully understand things better and increase my knowledge.  And I can.  I want to have more skills that I can draw upon if and when I need to.  And I can.  I want to know my God better, love my family better, show my friends that I care more, and improve myself for future opportunities.  And I can.  I want to have more memories, look back with more fondness, and realize a better future as a man.  AND I WILL.

So why am I doing this?  Because I want to.

Manliness.

Manliness.

Quick Goal Updates:  I finished Captivating two nights ago, and have begun Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.  I ran another 1.5 miles today on the treadmill (because it’s freaking -14F outside!) and did a light, and I mean verlight, yoga workout tonight after putting the kids to bed, before eating the aforementioned pie.  Between my wife and I, we’ve been identifying a lot of birds at the backyard feeders; we’re up to 7 different types that visit us regularly.  I’m already sketching out a new feeder I want to build to entice jays and orioles.  I can’t remember if I said this already, but my friend Jon and I have already picked out the 14’er we’ll be climbing this summer: Mt Bierstadt in Colorado.  I lost temporarily misplaced the devotional book my wife got me for Christmas, so I have been reading a different devotional online every day.

I’ve begun linking up to blogs and sites that I like to check for motivation, insight and inspiration.  If you’re a guy reading this, chances are you might like this site:  The Art of Manliness.  It’s a great site for out-of-the-ordinary ideas and lost skill sets, all done rather humorously and easy-to-read.

As for me?  This is my part of the journey.  I would love to hear about what is driving and motivating you.  We’re starting to creep up in numbers, so let’s keep up the good work and motivate each other.

As always: This is my journal. I hope it inspires you. Make 2013 your year.
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