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

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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.

Big Leaps, Little Leaps and All Kinds in Between

Themes sometimes run through my mind and because of that, they also end up on this blog.  The post I had from Friday was all about the Global Corporate Challenge and how, despite my initial snobbery at the notion of 10,000 steps a day making any kind of difference to super-fantastic and ridiculously awesome ME… well, I am finding benefits in spite of myself.  Go figure.  Well, that theme of steps continues today on this beautiful Sunday over the Memorial Day weekend.

It’s obvious that my interest in health, fitness, exercise and diet exceeds being just a hobby for me – it’s something I feel strongly about both from the standpoint that far too many people seem to neglect the gift of their health and also because of the unbelievable carry-over to other parts of your life you get from being active and healthy.  That’s one of the biggest themes of this blog – how the elements of mind, body and spirit interplay with each other and bring transformative benefits to each other.  A strong body can give you confidence.  A determined spirit can push you through in the gym.  A sharp mind will allow you to think through problems that would otherwise stress you into a bad physical state.  You get the idea.

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So yesterday I decided to take a leap, the length of which I leave to you, gentle reader, to decide upon.  I dropped a decent chunk of cash for all of the study materials I would need to prepare for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  The CSCS is considered one of the most respected certifications if you are interested in working with and training athletes.  There are equivalents for personal training as well, but this was the one that jumped out at me most because of its reputation and because of my own personal belief that you can taking the specialized training of an athlete and adapt it to the general population (provided you don’t act like a complete lunkhead and assume a 53 year old business executive wants to play middle linebacker for a NCAA Division 1 football program).

All of this was a bit inspired by some e-mails and comments I’ve been going back and forth with the author of the blog, SlackerMom. Jessica has recently take the leap from the big law firm world into being a massage therapist and has been documenting a lot of her process of working through that on her blog (which is very good – I recommend).  In one of our notes back and forth, she talked about how she needed to make some firm steps in order to get herself going towards her own goals – they didn’t need to be massive steps, but there had to be some definitive action with sacrifice and consequences.

I had been thinking over ordering the CSCS study materials for quite a while decided to get off my lazy behind to do it yesterday.  So I dropped a bit of a chunk of cash and the training manual, audio CDs, practice tests and all of that good, happy fun should be arriving soon.

The larger question is what I will end up doing with all of this… well, besides the obvious of studying for and, hopefully, gaining my CSCS certification.  Assuming I get it… then what?  Truthfully, I don’t have an answer to that just yet, but it feels like the right step for me on a few levels.  First, I just find this stuff interesting and want to truly learn it.  Back in college, I was so freaking grade focused, I occasionally wonder what I would have really learned if I was a little more concerned about the process of understanding and absorbing what I studied as opposed to a jazzy report card with lots of A’s all over it.  Second, maybe I will end up training people one day in some context.  I can’t tell you the date or time of this, but it feels like something I will explore soon.  It might only be to help along some friends and family and that really may be more than enough, but I’ll never know how much I like it until I start doing it in earnest… so why not be as best-prepared for that as possible?

So, yet again, my own personal ego is foiled and that’s probably a good thing.  Friday was about admitting via YouTube that I don’t have all the answers and even counting your daily steps has unexpected benefits.  Yesterday and today were about thinking through how to continue the steps and movement towards something positive and having a chance to learn and grow a bit (God forbid).  And that’s my “leap” of the weekend.  It’s not exactly some kind of massive sea change… but as I keep coming to realize… the small, but consistent steps, truly do add up.

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