As we are moving past the time when most people have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions, I offer this subtle reminder. THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED. It is sometimes a difficult thing to swallow. Goals and resolutions are pretty and shiny when we create them. Everything will go great! You’ll be able to maintain this level of excitement until you get to the end! The problem is that we usually forget or don’t know the following.
When you set up a goal or make a resolution it is much like ordering your favorite dessert. For me that would be the classic chocolate milkshake. Unfortunately you forgot to read the fine print. Before you will be served your delicious dessert, you have an appetizer of pain coming. That will be followed by a main course of discipline with self-sacrifice sauce and side order of humility. Once you are able to choke down those mammoth size helpings of something that YOU DIDN’T ORDER, you’ll finally get that thing that you wanted.
Just remember that THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED, all of it is part of the deal. Embrace it. You’ll actually find at some point halfway through the main course that you like the taste of it. Those things that you overlooked on the menu are actually something that you want for yourself. The problem is that most people retreat too early because THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED! At the end of the meal you’ll have to settle up the check. If you stuffed yourself full with meal and goal, the bill is paid with PRIDE. If you left your meal unfinished, then you have a debt of REGRET that is difficult to wipe away.
Decide on what you want from the menu!
Things are obvious until they’re not. Then they become obvious again. The world was obviously flat until it wasn’t. Now it’s obviously round and some people want to go back again. Obviousness is not a measure of truth but an accessibility to proof. Meaning that the proof is so easily accessible anyone can see it. The problem with the obvious now becomes that everything is now easily accessible. Both the proof of the true and the false can be found with a few swipes of the finger. Like a bank vault filled with half counterfeit and half legitimate money, it is no longer the receptical that matters. We are going to basically the same place for most of our information. It is our ability to discern the fake from the real that matters most.
Personally I am not interested in making my beliefs, your beliefs. I put my words out there in the hopes that they resonate with some people, not everyone. For example, I’m not sure that they exist but I think it would be really cool if there were people who still believed in the Greek gods like Zeus. It’s obvious to me that those gods don’t work for me but for someone else, they may work great (provided they’re not hurting others). One of the keys to this life is figuring out what works for you, not what the “best practices” or “top ten tips” are. No one else can live your life and therefore no one else should.
Whatever it is that you decide to do, you need to OWN IT. If you believe in it, don’t shy away from it. The words that you say, especially to yourself are important. They are almost important enough to tattoo on your body but make sure that first you tattoo them in your mind. Obvious Words No Intentionally Tattooed! Whether it’s a dream or a lifestyle or relationship, you must OWN IT. Regardless of what the rest of the world wants. Because the rest of the world is not your world.
Oprah Winfrey Network Internal Technologists was the original name that I had in mind for this post. I’m an odd bird but my oddity is mine.
Thanks. Make today your day!
Each of us has a potential amount of fire power in a given year. If you think of your energy to finish projects as gunpowder, some of us have a barrel full and others could barely fill one of those Chinese novelty snap pellets. While knowing how much powder you have is helpful, it is also important to divvy it up intelligently. Even the barrel-full may not be sufficient if divided a thousand times and put into the wrong weapons. By contrast, an intelligently used pinch could be life-changing. So how much firepower do you really have and where are you going to use it?
At the end of this year will you be basking in the glory of your successful hunt? Or will you be left standing with your Red Ryder Carbine in denial that you’re full of hot (but compressed) air? That’s completely up to you and it starts right now. Pick out your targets, if you haven’t already. Write them down and decide how you will take them down. Although truly ‘How’ is very rarely the problem. It is usually getting the focus and commitment to the target that people fail to do. So write them down now!
Once you have your targets, then you can plan out how to systematically deal with each one. It’s a simple enough process once you commit to it. What you need to do is “fall back on superior firepower and superior intelligence. And that’s all she wrote!”
It’s a throwaway line from Star Wars: A New Hope. The purists will point out that the actual line is “This R2 Unit has a bad motivator!” but either way it is enough to stop the red droid in his tracks. At that point, it’s back in the sand crawler with the Jawas. There is something all too familiar about this situation. At times motivation seems like an illusive force that some people have the power to wield while others struggle to find it. There is nothing supernatural about it. The reason to do or not do something (don’t get me started on trying) is a mixture of chemicals that are released in our brains and the story that we tell ourselves. So if you’re not doing something that you want to (or know that you should), it’s because you’ve got a bad motivator.
In our society, we are rarely threatened by starvation, predators or a lack of resources. These were the things that motivated our ancestors. Theirs was a life linked heavily with necessity. Our needs have been replaced by our desires. Unfortunately for those with bad motivators, most of the things that are easily acquired come with bad side effects. Also the things that have true value often require a decent amount of effort. So the choice becomes do very little to gain the trivial or find the motivation to get the things that matter. The motivation that you seek is in the story that you tell yourself about your desired outcome. If you don’t have it, then your story sucks!
The story has to be consistent, compelling and relevant daily in order to get you to act. For example, many people continue to smoke despite the impending health risks. The story that they have for smoking must be very strong while their quitting story must be weak. Since the story that you have is made up by you or at least approved by you, you also have the power to change it. The power is in your belief. If you believe that you need to lose 20 pounds before October 15th or you need to donate $100 to an anti-charity, you will (I did that). It was surprisingly simple once the story was in place. I didn’t change the story for anyone. The monetary amount was enough to make it compelling. It was an important part of each and every day. I’d made myself the main character in a success story that I wanted to see come true. That was enough.
So do you have a bad motivator? Tell yourself a different story about that important thing that you want. It’s the most important thing to get this right because you’re the main character in the movie of your life. Why in the world would you settle for a crappy script? Start small with the chapter of today then build on that success. Most likely the only person stopping you is you.
Those looking for the EASY WAY will find out the HARD WAY that it doesn’t exist.
That’s it for today.
In these hot summer days of New Jersey, an air conditioned house, store or office is a sanctuary. Relief from the pounding heat and humidity seems as if it is a necessity. I often think about our “pre-AC” ancestors and how they reacted to days like this. Most likely, they had to be slightly more intelligent about breaks, shade and water. The prospect of artificial cool was long off in the future. Like so many of our modern conveniences, the advancement of technology seems to come attached to a double result: the desired effect and it’s opposite.
An air conditioner is thought of as a cooling mechanism, unless you visit the back end of the unit. There you will realize that the AC unit is producing almost as much heat as cold. So the cool factor is for a selected space and temporary. When the heat and cool reunite, the entire equation is most likely a wash. The effect for us as the recipients is not particularly a wash. The perception of cool and hot becomes skewed. While we have in theory “beaten the heat” by creating air conditioning, we’ve made ourselves less able to adapt to it when it is thrust upon us. This inverse relationship is evident in many areas. The internet has connected us all but we are losing our ability to communicate. Everyone has a phone in their pocket but people are talking less. We have more information than ever about the human body and how it works best but obesity and diabetes are rampant. It is as if we have forgotten something that could bring us back to the center. The thing that we have forgotten is that we are animals. Specifically we are mammals who were intended to find an equilibrium with our surroundings in order to survive.
The technological advances that we have created have brought us off of our center where we feel like we need to adapt. The world is supposed to adapt to us, right? Not quite, when we forget our heritage, not too subtle reminders will be visited upon us. So my message is pretty simple: Find out, without! Find out who you are without all of the gadgets that you use to cause comfort. Think, plan and execute some time in an outdoor environment that slightly tests who you are as a human animal. An overnight hike, a day without air conditioning, a period of time with no cell phone or any other exercise that allows you to come back to a natural center. (Yes! I realize that I’m asking you to unplug while writing an article over the internet. Hypocrisy? Only if I did this without doing what I prescribe.)
So find out, without! Find out whether or not you can have a face to face conversation with one of your Facebook friends. Find out if you really would shrivel up in this heat or do you just need to have a plan for hydration and find shade. The human animal has conquered this world and found now that his biggest adversary is himself. Don’t get crushed by your comfort!
See you along the path!
My cousin who is fifteen years older than me used to go on vacations with my family each summer. At the time, I was a teenager and he was in his early thirties with a very successful career in retail. Despite my seemingly inferior station in life, I was able to change his life for the positive with little more than a few words. I’m hoping that the process can give some hints about making big changes in your life.
It was completely unintentional but it sticks out in my memory as if it were scripted out. My cousin was and is pretty fanatical about health and fitness. He would run everyday, do push-ups and sit-ups in order to maintain his chiseled physique. Despite this relentless pursuit of fitness, he had a habit that seemed out of place to me. He used chewing tobacco daily. It wasn’t anything that particularly bothered me. I had friends who used it. The thing that felt out of place was that it seemed contrary to all that he valued. So as we were driving home from North Carolina and he got his spit bottle ready for his next lip full of tobacco, I made the simple statement. “It seems odd to me that you do that. You are so healthy in all other parts of your life but you do something that you know is horrible for you. I just don’t understand.” That was all that it took. He didn’t tell me until much later that he had quit using tobacco and that was the reason.
Many of our decisions break down to the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves. It could be true or it could be bullshit. The main thing is that the story is effective at moving life forward in a positive manner. The reason why my simple statement was able to change my cousin so quickly was that it showed an inconsistency in his story about himself. In that situation, I knew his story about himself and showed him how the tobacco didn’t fit. People want to stay consistent with the image that they have of themselves. That’s the entire reason why the term “midlife crisis” exists. Men (usually) make poor decisions in order to maintain an image that they have of themselves as young, cool, etc.
The first step to changing a behavior in yourself or someone else is to know the person’s story. What is an identity that they want to uphold at all costs? Is their family the center of their world? Do they think of themselves as an athlete? Do they think of themselves as successful? Once you know the story, take that thing that needs changing and flip it against their story about themselves. I keep saying they but I really want you to do this to yourself. So if your family is extremely important but you are obese, then you actually don’t care about them very much. If you truly cared, you’d do your best to guarantee that you’ll be around for them. The combinations of stories and behaviors is infinite.
The key is to find the one that works. Results are what we are after, not an excuse to feel bad about one’s self. Your mind can play tricks on you. It is time for you to play tricks on it to help you get where you want to go. The possibilities of your tomorrow need to be forged in the thoughts that you have today.
Have a great day!
My son and I have taken a few trips down the Musconetcong River in an inflated two man boat. The first two trips were successes. On the third trip, I completely misjudged the river conditions. We ended up popping the boat, walking much of the trip (in and out of the water) and my cellphone ended up getting waterlogged. The trip was not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. As usual we were dropped off at the river several miles from our house and then left to make our way home. The low water levels did not become a true problem until we were about a half hour into the trip. At that point, it is too late to turn back. Luke and I had anticipated a few bumps along the way but we got a full on shipwreck and I’m so glad that we did.
Neither of us enjoyed the trek that we made down the river. Half of the time we were in the boat, half we were out and eventually when it popped we had to walk the river without an exit to the road for a while. Regardless of our poor circumstances, we kept chatting and dealing with small problems as they arose. It was not the trip that we wanted but that didn’t mean that we had to hate it. This was not taking lemons and making lemonade. This was slogging and knowing it was slogging but moving forward anyway and not lamenting it. It was something that had to be dealt with.
All too often life hands us poor circumstances. In the natural world, lamenting your circumstances gets you nothing. It is only in our overly cushy society that complaints do much to improve a situation. Generally speaking, the world is not interested in your comfort, preferences or desires. It gives you circumstances and you can choose to whine or choose to move forward. A shipwreck is not particularly a death sentence or even a negative occurrence, unless you decide that it is.
The movie “Fight Club” is not for everyone but there are a few scenes that are extremely memorable for me. Probably the most memorable and applicable is the scene with Raymond K. Hessel, the unfortunate store clerk who meets Tyler Durden. With a gun to his head, Raymond is forced to give an accurate representation of his life. He lives in a small basement apartment and works a meaningless job after dropping out of Community College. During his time in college, he had mainly studied biology in order to become a veterinarian. In that moment, he is given a gun to the head choice. Tyler Durden tells him that in six weeks he’d better have taken steps toward being a veterinarian or he’ll be dead. Then Raymond is told to run home.
The gun to the head choice is an easy one because there are only two options something or nothing. Although completely fictional, I’m pretty sure that (if real) Raymond would have started on the road to being a veterinarian. People find resources that they never knew they had when put face to face with their mortality. In our daily lives, it is easy to distract ourselves from the fact that we are not moving forward only perpetuating our present level of existence.
So with the gun to your head, what is the thing that you’re not doing that you really need to be? Are you twenty pounds over weight? Are you suffering through a bad relationship because you’re afraid to be alone? Are you stuck in a job that you hate but see no way out? Gun to your head moment, feel the barrel against the back of your head, better or nothing, what is your plan to get there? What you’ll most likely find is that all of the limitations holding you back are create by you. You’ve gotten comfortable with being fat, lazy, angry and tired. Your life doesn’t depend doing it, so it’s easier to stay the same. Don’t kid yourself, you are dying right now. SLOWLY. But when you think hard about the possibilities that you’ve not taken hold of, doesn’t it feel like life is slipping away faster than it would if you were on track?
So who is going to put the gun to your head? No one but you. Your friends, family and coworkers will never pressure you to be much more than you already are. Only you know that thing inside that needs to be drawn out with that gun to head choice. Better or nothing? It’s time to choose! Go be a veterinarian!
As the spring season grows closer, fields are being lined, nets are being hung and young players are practicing their skills. These are all normal steps in the preparation for a season of practices, games and championships. Each of us has our own role to play in this system: player, spectator, coach or referee. That role heavily influences our perspective on the process and the game itself. The game of soccer is always the same, two teams, two goals, a specific number of players and specific period of time. It is a finite game with a result that is measurable.
The sporting culture is based principally on the finite game. We are enamored with the result and the perceived spoils that come with it. Players, coaches and spectators focus on the result of the finite game, often as if that was the only thing that mattered. The unfortunate thing in youth sports is that the hyper-focus on the finite game has made us forget about the ultimately more important infinite game.
Infinite games are not played to win or lose. They are played in order to keep playing. “Playing catch” is not a competitive endeavor. You don’t throw the ball to make the other person miss. The enjoyment comes from process and the intrinsic benefits that come with it: progress, togetherness, etc. Life is another infinite game that we play. The goal of life is not to get to death. The experience of living is the benefit that playing the game provides.
The value of the finite game is in its contribution to the infinite game of life. The players, coaches and spectators who only see the finite game will eventually find the game to be empty. It is only when those infinite game benefits come out of the finite game that it is truly valuable. Trophies, ribbons and plaques are worth only as much as the memories of those who were touched by the process.
If the goal is only to win on that day, then the victory is a loss. It is only when the component pieces of the win are ingrained into a person’s soul that victory is truly accomplished. Teamwork, focus, progress, sacrifice and a slew of other infinite game lessons are the reason that we play. Trophies are hollow wood, metal and plastic if the spirit that earned them does not live on in the hearts and minds of those who earned them.
The true value of today’s game shows up in the coming years.