Tag Archives: goals

Dissatisfaction and The Value of Your Life

I’ve never seen the movie “Network“, but I’ve seen the pivotal scene from the film more than a few times and I was drawn to finding it today on YouTube.  If you’ve never seen it, here it is:

But what was it that brought me to this?

This is seemingly the 3rd post that jumps to mind for me that deals with some kind of rage (see “Choking On Our Own Rage”) or being pissed off (see “Non-Stop, Full Tilt, Every Day Mayhem” with Ray Lewis’s speech on being “pissed off for greatness”) or today about being mad as hell.  Am I just some kind of bitter angry person?  One of those cranky old curmudgeons who shakes his fist on his front porch at the kids to gell off of his lawn?  The guy who finds nothing to be happy about, but more than a little to complain about?  Thankfully, no… I am none of these things… although who doesn’t enjoy a good moment of declaring how things were so much tougher/better when they were growing up and how kids have it SO easy these days?  It’s damn therapeutic, I tell ya.

Shake it up!
Determined to shake myself out of lethargy

However, the video came to mind for me as I thought about the power of never feeling too satisfied with the state of things.  We all get incredibly busy with work, family, friends and rushing around at a hectic pace.  I may be just imagining it and maybe its just my own life, but everything feels to be at an accelerated pace over the last year or so.  More to do and less time to do it.  Doing this for a few days or weeks is manageable, but over longer periods of time, it’s easy to forget about everything going on around you… because you haven’t really stopped to take a look.

And that’s why… every once in a while… we each need to feel truly dissatisfied and maybe get mad as hell.  Not angry in the sense of being pissed off at your fellow man or mindlessly shouting to the heavens for some kind of ephemeral justice.  No, it needs to be that dissatisfaction with our own lots, lives or situations where we get pissed and think, “No more senseless autopilot… there’s got to be something better out there…”  Or in the words of on-the-edge news anchor Howard Beale in the video above, you need to say “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”

Because when you get to that point of being dissatisfied, you suddenly improve the opportunity for a change to really occur.  Really and truly to happen.  The alternative is to just feel that nothing will ever improve and whatever you are experiencing at this moment is just as good as it’s going to get.  Is that what you want?  I don’t want that for me and I certainly don’t want that for you.

So the next time you feel that gnawing sense in your gut that you should be able to have something better… there should be more than what is immediately in front of you… don’t stifle it out as a kneejerk reaction and don’t feed it as anger for the sake of anger.  Both are senseless and can be destructive (or in Stars Wars, lead to the path of the dark side).  Instead, let’s make it that extra push to shake us from our complacency and get a little more for ourselves, our families, our friends and anyone else we care about.

The present may be tough, but since the only constant in life is change… why not make that work for us?  We’re human beings.  Our lives have value. And settling belittles all of us a little bit at a time.

What’s Your Top 5?

T-Shirt? Check. Baseball hat? Check.
T-Shirt? Check. Baseball hat? Check.

Fired up a video yesterday when a flash of inspiration struck… plus I was in a shirt and tie and felt I owed it to y’all to not look like an utter slob in every single piece of media that ends up on this blog (such as this fine sample here).  You’re welcome, friends.  Also, I am just running a ridiculous streak on this vlogging.  I know I will return to more writing soon (since it is profoundly important to me to write as much as possible), but damn… this is just FUN.

Today’s vlog is all about priorities and why we all need a Top 5.  I hope you enjoy. -Kuz

Dear 2012…

Dear 2012,

Hi – I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself. I’m Kevin. Since we are going to be spending 366 days together (you sneaky leap year, you!), I thought it was best if we spent a few minutes getting to know each other. But I guess that’s actually the first lesson of the year isn’t it? The fact that our relationship is completely one-sided in every way, shape and form.

I will tell you everything about me. You will tell me nothing about you until the moment it happens.

I will give you my heart, commitment and best effort every day. You will give me absolutely nothing.

I will expect nothing from you. You will expect and demand everything I’ve got… and then some.

Anyone who would look at our relationship from the outside would immediately classify it as hopelessly dysfunctional. In some ways, they’re certainly going to be right.

But mostly? I disagree and do so vehemently.

See, despite the fact that you may be great or indifferent or just a flat-out raging SOB, you are the only option I have… but more than that, you are what will challenge me, inspire me and knock me down, thus giving me a chance to pick myself up, dust myself off and be better than I was before lying flat on my back.

2012-01-02 10.31.08

I have plans for us, 2012. I really do. Oh I know you find that amusing. It’s funny in the vein of the quote attributed to Woody Allen of “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I get it, but plan I shall and will bob and weave to take on the wrinkles you will throw my way.

I know a lot of people in their Facebook posts or blog articles are talking quite a bit about how they will dominate 2012. That’s not as much my style, but not because I don’t want to do that.  Rather, I will give it my best every single day and test my limits as often as I can. I don’t look to dominate you, 2012… I look to dominate me.

So here’s to the next 365 days of our relationship. You will not willingly give me anything and I will willingly give the best of me. And that’s just fine in my world.

Love, hugs and kisses,

Kevin

P.S. Don’t get cocky, 2012. I might be humble, but I’ll be damned if you think I am just rolling over for you…

January 1, 2011 – The Obligatory “Kick Off the Year Right” Post

Today is a funny kind of day, if you ask me… which I am going to assume that you did by virtue of reading this post.  Yeah, I am taking more than a little bit of license with that assumption, but seriously… I am whoop-ass incarnate and can pull that kind of thing off.  Or at least that’s what I tell myself from time to time.

Anyhoo, the last few days are the time of year when people all around the world taking time to look back on the previous year and look ahead with a bit of hope towards the new year, most often in the form of making resolutions, goals and promises about all of the glorious things they want to do differently.  The very notion of only reflecting and goal-setting once a year is anathema to a lot of people, but I don’t tend to get quite so fired up about the process.

First, I think it’s good almost any time we stop to think things over, so if there is a time of year where people decide to stop (even for a moment), I can get behind that.  Second, I think all of us are very influenced by the calendar anyway, whether in our work lives (where goals, deadlines and all sort of shenanigans are completely calendar-driven) or in our personal lives as well (bills come monthly, taxes are done once a year, etc.).  A continuation of that calendar-affected behavior seems fairly normal to me.  That being said… if you just pick a single day to think things over and never consider it again during the year or don’t tweak your goals to accommodate changes in life, well then that’s just plain silly.

Plus, I actually like doing some resolutions.  For reasons I have never been able to fully fathom, I tend to do well sticking to them, even when I don’t keep them in my face all year long.  Weird, I know.

This year I am approaching it a little differently by thinking about overarching themes for the year and then building more specific goals and actions to go along with those themes.  My big themes are as follows:

  • Happiness (yes, I know… can I be any more broad???)
  • Simplicity
  • Inner calm
  • Belief in the power of action

Photo on 2010-08-15 at 18.51.jpg

Happiness is really a big piece of what drives the other 3 themes, but my focus there is about doing what I can to find my own sense of happiness (i.e. from within as opposed to externally-driven) and doing my best to spread happiness to those closest to me.  This notion of my liberally sowing happiness akin to a self-help Johnny Appleseed is really about something I’ve noticed about myself that, truthfully, I really don’t like.  What is that?  Mostly the notion that I will tend to have less patience and be less polite (at times, mind you) to my own family than I would be to someone who is either a stranger or fairly removed from me.  That’s gotta stop… now.  And yes, this photo on the right is a perfect example of pure happiness… well, that and complete idiocy on my part.

In terms of actions I plan on taking this year to get at some of these items above?  I am still working out a more concrete list, but a few of them are:

  • Meditation
  • Reading more, watching TV less
  • Fighting and fighting hard against anything that even has a whiff of procrastination about it
  • Keeping up with my blogging/writing.  As a more concrete goal, I want to get an article published over at EliteFTS (if I can figure out something to write they would actually want to print).
  • For my training/lifting – not placing any kind of self-limitations on what is truly possible.

There are more specifics here, but I am going to avoid going into inordinate amounts of detail to bore you to utter tears… umm, that’s if I haven’t done so already.  I am one wordy sonofagun.  Stunner, I know.

If you are performing your own goal-setting right now, I’ve been fortunate enough to either run across some nice links or even have a semi-original thought of my own to assist you through the process:

  1. If you are looking to get in better shape or lose weight, DO NOT just join a gym if you do not belong already.  Seriously.  I am fortunate enough to lift in my own home gym as well as at a private training gym, but I’ve spent an enormous amount of time in commercial gyms and joining in early January is a huge mistake.  Why?  First, you will be lucky enough to join hordes of others doing the same thing, so the gym will be crowded beyond belief.  Super fun!  Second, I can remember being in the gym during this sad time of year, looking around and thinking with a sigh, “Man… 90% of these people will not be here in a month.”  And that’s just the truth.So what to do instead? Find a smaller private place with a qualified training (preferably one with a NSCA certification, especially the CSCS cert).  Will it be more expensive to follow this route?  Hell yes.  Will you actually have a really good shot of meeting your goal?  Umm, hell yes again… and isn’t that the point of having the goal in the first place?  I might even make an entire post about this later in the week to really hammer this one home.
  2. If you are in charge of managing, leading or supervisor other people, read this great post by Bob Sutton, Stanford professor and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss and The No Asshole Rule.  It’s a short and excellent piece about what good bosses think.  My favorite is #1 – “I have a flawed and incomplete understanding of what it feels like to work for me.”  Pure truth.
  3. Look back before looking forward.  Felicia Day (the pipe dream of comic book and gaming geeks across the globe) put up a great post about… GASP!… learning from what 2010 taught her versus focusing too much on what she plans on doing in 2011.  And she learned a few nuggets that you can apply to just about anything in your own life.  Nice huh?  Plus it’s fun to read the comments from all the dudes have a full on nerdgasm from looking at her photo.

So to 2011, I give you my warmest welcome.  My arms, heart and mind are all open… now it’s just up to me to make it special.  God help me, I will.

Embrace the Team

Throughout my life, I’ve been on a wide variety of teams.  As a kid, they pretty much involved sports of one kind or another, from a formal Little League team to whatever teams we would cobble together to play pick-up football, baseball, Wiffleball, street hockey, basketball or the always classic “war” (which involves 10 year old boys running around with pretend guns blasting the bejeezus outta each other).

I’ve always loved the team environment, which is a bit interesting because I am an introvert at heart.  Some people recharge their batteries hanging out with big groups of people whereas I need some quiet time by myself to decompress properly.

But still, the dynamics of the team (especially one that works well together) has always resonated with me in a deeply satisfying way.  These days I end up on teams in the workplace to a degree, but I maintain most of my outlet for teaming in a competitive sports venue with soccer.  I play on two teams, one of which as just a player and the other as the captain (see our handsomeness from a few season ago here):

Best looking team around

Admittedly being the captain is sometimes akin to being a glorified secretary and babysitter (yeah… that’s right… babysitter… stuns me to think the extent to which I have to shoo along people in their late 20’s and up to get them to the damn games), but I do love it.

So why all this team talk?

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to opening up my home gym to anyone else who wants to come and train.  It’s been a bit of an interest process of contemplation for a lot of reasons.

  1. Who would I open it up to?  Friends?  Complete strangers, but people who are as committed to training as I am?
  2. How would it work?  This is at my house, so what if I was unable to train one day.  What would the other people end up doing if they came to rely on my gym as their sole training spot?
  3. What happens if it’s not a good fit and I get people who are not nearly as focused as I am or are just complete douchebags?
Legendary bodybuilding training partners, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu

In the end, I can’t help but think what I am missing out on by training solo.  Don’t get me wrong – I have seen a helluvalot more benefits to training at home versus a commercial gym.  I can do any lift I want, play any music I want, be as loud as I want and do so without any… umm… “distractions” (that would be the fairer sex whom I love to pieces, but can completely throw any rational guy out of his rhythm in the gym… that’s just science.  But I would definitely have women as training partners – no doubt).

And getting beyond just thinking about the team as a means to measurable results, I think there is just a ton to be said for the relationships forged as part of a group striving for a common (or at least very similar) goal and being there to push your teammates along the way.  I miss that camaraderie to a big extent, so I might be looking for a few good men and women to join in the quest to do a little better, be a little stronger, push a little harder and go a little farther than any of us thought possible.  Isn’t that one of the great joys in life anyway

So who’s with me?

What Price Greatness?

You have probably had a conversation with someone at one time or another where the other person talked about wanting to achieve some kind of greatness.  I know I have.  My first thought when someone says that to me is “Do you really understand what it costs to achieve real greatness?”  I’m not honestly sure most people do or if they did, they would still feel the same way about making a run at the mythical brass ring.

There have been a few high profile cases recently of the potential costs of going for greatness.  First, there was the leave of absence (which was later borderline retracted) by University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer.  Meyer is a tremendously successful and incredibly driven coach who has brought success to Bowling Green and then Utah and then finally Florida where he won 2 National Championships.  However, as Coach Meyer has himself admitted, all of that stress and constant pressure did take its toll on him to the point of suffering chest pains and passing out.  So, he first announced taking an indefinite leave of absence… but now it sounds like he will be back in time for next season.  Hmm.

The more recent news (and really huge news here in Connecticut) is University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun taking a leave of absence for undisclosed health reasons.  This has not been the first time something health-related has affected Calhoun, a three time cancer survivor.  I’m a UConn basketball fan and season ticket holder, so I have come to expect at least one time per season, a game where Coach Calhoun bows out part way through the game with some vaguely understood form of illness.  In fact, ESPN has a listing of all the health-related issues that have come up for him over the last 2 years and it’s not short.  Not good times, eh?

Or how about Michael Jordan?  He’s the best basketball player I have seen in my lifetime and is generally accepted as the best, period.  But you know what else?  He has quite the reputation for being a complete jerk because of his hyper-competitiveness.  How competitive?  I remember a former college teammate of Jordan’s, Matt Doherty, telling of a story where Michael came over to his house during college.  Doherty caught Jordan cheating in a game of Monopoly against Doherty’s mother.  Let that sort of marinade for a while in the ol’ gray matter.  I can wait… good and soaked in now?  OK, on we go.

So back to my original premise – at what price greatness?  When does it become too much of a single-minded piece of your life that can wreck anything else that gets in its way?  This reminds me a bit of my piece on how everyone wants happiness, but does 1,001 things that move them further away from it, like a high-powered businessman who earns great money for his family’s future… but he’s never home.

I’m not one to discount greatness at all and feel that those who shoot for that pinnacle of pure excellence in their chosen fields are really a beacon of inspiration for others.  Heck, in my own way I want to achieve a form of greatness, but in a much different regard: I want to a great life which is balanced in terms of personal and professional, as well as in mind, body and spirit.  That balance is what I want greatness in and, at least in my mind, that is something much healthier to strive for.

So feel free to shoot for greatness with every fiber of your being… just be sure you know what exactly you are getting in that pursuit. It can be pricey.

A little bit less of you

As I’ve mentioned here before, I went on a diet for around 10 weeks recently where I dropped 16 lbs., but basically kept (or even improved in some cases) my strength levels.  It was a pretty interesting experience because I have not done anything approximating a formal diet for a very, very long time.  However, I felt sluggish all Fall in soccer and just did not want to go through that for this upcoming Spring.  So, I hired a nutrition coach (the excellent Shelby Starnes) to guide me to a lean, mean and uber-sexy new me.  Now, I plan on writing a longer piece on this and maybe (just maybe) showing the before and after photos, but I cannot say I am super excited at the prospect of dropping my shirtless self on the Internet for all to see… at least not when I have a full-time job for a conservative Fortune 50 company. 🙂

But I did feel like there were a few quick hitter items before the longer piece, mostly because I notice I tend to write rather long and wordy blog pieces. So here are some things I learned along the way on my diet odyssey:

  1. Earn your carbs. This one is just something that makes a lot of sense once you give it a moment of thought.  My diet was one of carb cycling, which meant I would have certain days of high carb intake, certain days of medium carb intake and certain days of low carb intake.  The high or medium days would fall on days I was lifting… in other words, on days I was earning those carbs.  On off-days or pure cardio days?  Low carb all the way.  This is a very simple change to make to your diet, but it works incredibly well.
  2. Carbonated drinks are a godsend when you are hungry. Shelby helped out on this one because he suggested having sparkling water drinks with Splenda because the carbonation made your stomach feel fuller, especially between meals.  If you are concerned about artificial sweeteners, just use some kind of flavored seltzers.  I mean, those taste awful to me and Splenda really doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
  3. Lift weights. This is not so much something new I learned, but I cannot think of how many people I know for whom a diet is cutting way back on food and then doing a ton of cardio.  I can pretty much guarantee they will fall into a yo-yo trap with their diet and their weight will go back up when they finish.  You should be lifting weights regardless for a lot of reasons (strength, bone density, improved lean body mass, better posture, etc.) but you need to maintain the good (lean muscle) while ditching the bad (body fat).  So for the love of God, do some lifting when you diet.  It’s a better long-term route to leanness. funny-pictures-cat-waits-for-bird
  4. Weight loss is not linear. This is pretty much a direct quote from Shelby,  so I am not taking any kind of credit for it.  The point is that you may lose 3 or 4 lbs. one week, 1 the next, stay static and then boom! Lose 3 more in a week.  It’s a rather unpredictable thing, so it’s critical not to lose hope when you are not losing the exact same amount of weight every single week.
  5. Create accountability. This can take on a variety of forms.  For some people, it works well to tell family and friends so they will keep you on point or remind you when you slip.  The idea is that the more public you make it, the worse off you will feel if you slack off.  For me, it was hiring Shelby and it’s something I would strongly recommend to anyone.  First, you have someone who will answer your questions and steer you back into line if you begin to veer off the path of positive progress.  Second, it’s a little hard to claim the diet is “too hard” when you are dealing with someone who is a competitive level bodybuilder and who has eating discipline light years ahead of your own.  Thankfully, Shelby is a reasonable guy and understands his clients have lives, will mess up at times, etc.  I have hired coaches before on a distance consulting basis (for training, not a diet) and they tended to suck because they had such machismo issues, if things did not work as perfectly as they planned for you… well… then clearly you are not worthy of their time or their AWESOME level of knowledge.  Give me a f-ing break. Obviously, this is not Shelby.
  6. It will be hard. Nothing too radical there, eh?  You will be eating less than you are used to and there is little fun about that.  For me, the hardest part tended to be less about my eating plan and more about the mind-numbing boredom of the cardio I was doing.  Towards the end of my plan, I was doing 60 minutes of cardio 6 times per week.  Now, if we are talking about playing basketball or soccer for an hour?  Sweet.  But grinding away on an elliptical machine with your stomach growling and the sick freaks in your gym leaving on a giant TV screen to the Food Network?  Decidedly less than good times.
  7. You don’t need supplements… but they can be helpful. You don’t need to get too crazy.  Fish oil is great for a variety of health reasons and a nice protein powder blend is handy, especially when you are in a bind for a quick meal.

So there ya have just a few quick points to ponder.

Politics, religion and resolutions

Politics. Religion. Beef-lovers vs. vegans. The notion that anyone is a better James Bond than Sean Connery.  In my life, I’ve found certain topics to always engender impassioned debate and are considered taboo in some polite circles.  The other topic?

New Year’s resolutions.

People are all over the map on these and whether they are of value.  Some love them and look forward to mapping out all of the ways they will scrub their life clean of past disappointments and be born again in a shiny new year.

A common argument against them (which I think makes a lot of sense) is that why must you pick something as arbitrary as the start of the year to make positive changes?  Isn’t any moment of any day just as good?  Why wait?

Fair points.  I’ve long liked New Year’s resolutions for myself (more on this in a moment) because it’s very easy for me to get rolling along and not find particular moments to stop and take stock of what direction I am even rolling in.  Don’t we all get like that?  Don’t we all get sucked up in work, family, friends and the general fast-pace of life in 2010 and forget to stop and ask “Why a second… is this even where I want to be headed?”  I am trying to work more of these stop-and-think moments into my life this year, but it’s always good to know that one time per year, EVERYONE seems to be talking about what they should be changing or doing better.

The reason I emphasize why I like the New Year’s resolution for myself is that I usually do a half-decent job of keeping some of my resolutions in mind.  Sure, I don’t nail all of them, but I have cleaned out old drawers and found resolution lists and was pleasantly surprised that I got about half of my resolutions taken care of.  Allow me a moment to bask in my own complete and utter awesomeness…. Ahhhh!  Refreshing!

But go to any commercial gym in America in the month of January and you will see the inevitable mob scene of people looking to start off their resolutions to get in shape and lose weight.  What happens in February?  Probably 9 out of 10 of those people give it all up.  So clearly this approach is not working for everyone out there.  Let’s just all get on the same page and collectively hope that Lindsay Lohan can meet her resolution for 2010.  I think that is a cause we can all believe in.

So my own resolutions?  This is not a completely finalized list just yet, but this is the general scope:

  1. At least one posting for Fierceandmighty.com a day.  So far, I am en fuego.
  2. Finally go snowboarding for the first time.  My GF got me a really nice full-on boarding outfit from Burton.
  3. Attend a seminar on entrepreneurship.  I just find this topic endlessly fascinating and would love to learn more, irrespective of whether I decide to up and take the plunge into my own business at some point.
  4. Attend a strength/conditioning seminar.  I went to one about 4 years ago, had a lot of fun and have been meaning to go to another ever since.
  5. Trying to figure out my weight training goals right now.  I have some general ideas on lifting figures (315 bench, 500 deadlift and 500 squat), but those need to be balanced against all of the soccer and other sports I plan on taking part in.
  6. Finally stake my rightful claim as lost heir to the Polish monarchy and begin my inevitable march towards world domination through the power of kielbasa and pierogies.  This one almost feels like a foregone conclusion.

For a nice top 10 list of suggestions on how to get your resolutions to stick, go on over to this post at Lifehacker (numbers 1, 2 and 5 are my faves).

Now go out there and get cracking on your lists… and if you hate resolutions? At least take a pause moment and assess your life’s direction. 5 minutes of honest reflection is a precious, precious thing.