It’s a pretty common refrain to speak of taking a step back to make two steps forward. It’s not a bad thought – every now and again we probably need to take stock, reset where we are on something in our lives and then let that step back lead to even better progress than when we started. The tricky piece is that even when you logically know that you will be better off after the step back, it’s still sometimes a challenge to do that. Why? Because who doesn’t want to be advancing all the time. We like progress – we fight against regression.
Today’s vlog is about how I am not taking one or two steps back, but perhaps many. It’s not easy… not at all. Personal pride is a very powerful force, but I think it’s going to be right for me in the end.
As an added bonus, you get to see me act like an utter lunatic for a few seconds. Sunday fun for the whole family!
For as long as I can remember, my Mom has always scolded me a bit about how I take things too far. I am known as the most emotional one of the three boys in my family and I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. I can be all or nothing, no doubt about it. When I am focused on something, everything else falls away a bit. This can be both incredibly useful and less-than-helpful – useful when I am diligently applying myself to a positive task and bad when I push myself to the point of burn out. It’s for this reason I try to keep myself much more even keeled… with varying degrees of success, but I do try.
But sometimes? I completely don’t give a single rip about balance, moderation or anything in that bland milquetoast middle that I sometimes see people getting sucked into (and I have as well at times – full disclosure). There is a time for a balance and there’s also plenty of times not to settle. To push the boundaries of both good sense and what you thought was possible for yourself.
Sometimes, you have to have moments like this:
What happened here? Oh, it’s a pretty simple formula: sunshine + 30 degree weather + less-than-bright guy x Prowler = flat on your back, staring skyward. And feeling utterly alive. Gasping for breath and woozy, but really, really alive.
I don’t recommend this on a daily basis or even weekly… but you will never get the chance to see what you can be until you get to the edge of your comfortable boundaries and begin to nudge them a little. Or maybe more than nudge them… maybe run into them headlong with wild abandon.
You may very well get knocked flat on your bee-hind. I did, as is so obvious. However, I also learned that I could do a little more than I thought I could. Next time it will probably be easier and now I will be standing at some new point and thinking, “Hmm… now if I made this a little harder… then what?”
You don’t need to be Herculean or superhuman or possess the steely nerve of an Old West gunslinger. What you need is nothing all that special and you probably have felt it before or feel it right now. What is “it”? Just a bit of an itch to get out of the everyday and into something special or different. That’s it. That and the catalyst to act on feeling that way.
But admittedly… being a little crazy doesn’t hurt either. And just think… if you do hit that wall and end up on your back, you may have a beautiful view of a bright blue Winter sky like I did. How could you let that pass by?
Jonathan is someone I have only learned about recently and have not had the chance to read his book, but he has a great post about what caused him to make a leap most would describe as “freakin’ insane” as well as the challenges in doing so. But here is the quote that grabbed me:
I’d realized what makes me happy isn’t money, power and prestige, but rather the opportunity to:
Engage in activities that make me come alive,
Surround myself with people I can’t get enough of and
Earn enough to live well in the world.
Short, sweet and one pretty darn good list, wouldn’t you say? What’s fascinating about it is I think most people would have a hard time arguing with it. What’s not to like? It’s practically motherhood and apple pie.
So then why do so few of us actually do this?
From my own perspective, I would say because I make it waaaay too easyfor myself to get distracted by 1,001 other things. Does that make it OK? Aww hell no. Every time I stop and reflect, I want to kick my own behind from losing sight of it… again.
One thing to keep in mind with the list above is that you don’t need to up and leave your job, move to some brand new place and make a hugely radical change at all. While that does work for some people, that kind of sudden shift is not going to work for most. What we can all do (me too!) is begin to figure out our end point of happiness and begin to redirect towards that goal. Maybe it’s some small changes where you work and how you interact with your boss and then making more time for those activities you love, but just seem to neglect.
But then again, you could just trade in your wingtips for flip-flops I’m just sayin’.
I firmly believe in the value and power of crazy. Maybe not so much in the wearing hair shirts in public while declaring Fred Savage to be the antichrist kind of bat guano crazy… but more the kind of crazy that causes people to stop and stare a little bit while walking away shaking their heads. The value really lies in the idea of doing something others either do not want to do or will not do because it looks hard or might be a little embarrassing.
More often than not, I have found these are exactly the kinds of activities that have a more beneficial aspect than not for your life. Whether it’s dancing in public, acting like a complete idiot in a toy store to make your kids laugh or (in my case) doing some kind of really weird exercise… as shown in the video below.
Before I got this contraption (The Prowler in case you were wondering), I used to go out into this same parking lot and push/pull my SUV for exercise. It’s an absolutely fantastic way to combine strength and conditioning into one efficient activity… but you need to accept the fact that (a) people will stop and stare at you; (b) people will without fail ask you if your car needs a jump (which is actually a very nice confirmation of the inherent goodness in humanity); or (c) the local police will slowly cruise by and stop to say “Look… just don’t get yourself run over.” All 3 of these things have happened to me and I love it.
If I let the potential for embarrassment get in the way, I would have missed out on a really great exercise. Now that I have my Prowler, I am still going to get the looks… just no instances of people asking if my car needs a jump. No police encounters yet, but give it time. I have only gotten to use it 4 times so far. Those will come… I just know it.
The same with this blog. If I was worried about any negative comment someone might write on my posts, I would miss out on doing something I enjoy thoroughly and get a lot out of. So on I write and keep hoping that each post is better than the last. And Lord only knows I wouldn’t put up videos like the one in this post on YouTube if I was going to mire myself in what everyone else thinks because I know some people out there like or appreciate it, and that’s good enough for me.
So get out there. Be a little more wild than mild. I’m trying to do so, although some areas are easier than others. I feel no hesitation in doing certain athletic things that may cause an occasional raised-eyebrow, but believe me… in other areas? I’ve got a lot of work. And anyone who wants to join me for some Prowler pushes in the snow, just let me know…