Tag Archives: rationalizations

This Year—Write it Down, Track it, Celebrate, Repeat.

Using the Walk Tracker app for the first time this morning, I discovered that it’s actually more than a full kilometer to the next farm down the road. (My car had registered .9 km several years ago when I measured.) And it’s .5 km to the first treeline and 1.51 km from my front porch around the corner to the third telephone pole past the sumac trees. ( and I must check out the great things sumac is good for!)

With all the news about the dangers of sitting down for hours at a time and here’s me, who has to spend hours at the computer or the piano or the art table, and knowing that walking or, exercise, improves blood flow to the brain (and don’t we all need more of THAT!) and knowing that, unless I actually wrote it down on paper and made myself ACCOUNTABLE, I wouldn’t do it….

(drumroll) One of my goals this year, 2013, is to walk 2000 km. Minimum. That’s a bit of a walk, really, when I think about it. That crosses a big chunk of this country. It’s almost the distance from Saskatoon to Barrie, or from Thunder Bay to Kelowna. (and I could walk from London, Ontario to Sackville, New Brunswick and still have a few hundred kilometers to spare!)

And how do I propose to do it? How does one eat an elephant (goes the old adage)? One bite at a time. It works about to a nearly 5.5 km a day.

  • Take a piece of graph paper that already has blocks of 25 squares marked out
  • Mark off every 25 km, working DOWN from 2000, not UP TO 2000 (reasons below)
  • Use different colours each day and colour in the little squares, one for each km you walk.
  • Put a marker or a sticker or something every 25 or 50 km
  • Create small rewards every 50 or 100… or less if you need to keep up the motivation.

I started a day or so before New Year’s and today I passed 75. I’m 3.9 km ahead of schedule. (At 100 km I’m going to splurge on a brand new pair of comfy walking socks!) I’ll post a photo of my chart later (once I find my currently, um, hidden little camera)

The actual goal isn’t important. But these things I know to work:

  • write a goal down and make it specific. Get it out of your head and onto paper.
  • I like START dates better than END dates. It makes the starting of the thing important. End dates make sure it actually ends.
  • track it. Use stickers, colours, paper and pencil.. make it visual. Get it out of your head and mark something down. Remember how much you liked it when your teacher put a sticker on your work?!
  • make up a game and rules about it.
  • reward small wins.
  • be kind to yourself— there will be days!
  • be true to yourself— on ‘those’ days, do the thing anyway. Tell your complaining mind to shut up. Better to do something than nothing.

Some Thoughts:

I count DOWN… because the numbers get smaller. SO!! YAY! I only have 1923 km left rather than YAY! I’ve gone more than 75. Try it either way. Doesn’t matter to me, but isn’t counting down to something more celebratory than counting up?

Rationalizations will get at you. It’s gonna happen. But then, hey… there’s another goal or project or new habit to form! I did that for a month. No excuses. At all. I made some, but having that in mind made sure I picked things up off the floor, put things away, went to the gym even to do SOMETHING.

Here’s a fun game. I’ve done it with meditation practice and mantra meditation practice.

  • Decide on a new habit (it takes from 21-42 days, depending on who you talk to , to create a new habit. With things like mantras, it’s often a 40-day cycle. Just choose.)
  • Repeat every day
  • TRACK and count the repetitions
  • When you miss, start again at one, with the aim of repeating the new habit 40 times in a row.

Think about this. You start today with the aim of walking 1 km a day for 40 days. Everything’s great for about 10 days. You get your little stickers or coloured dots on your calendar and they start to add up. And then you miss a day.

Start again at one. Do this every time you miss a day.

Now, you will be saying, as you miss a day and are wont to start again,  “But, I can’t get to 40 days in a row! Why bother?”

Here’s the thing: you may get to the end of the year and never have hit 40 days in a row. That’s not the point.

You may have missed a day a month or even a couple of days a month. That’s not the point. And YET…

You’ve walked 1 km a day every other day of the year. That could be 300 days that you DID walk! Why focus on the 65 days you missed?

Celebrate the 300 days…. then, start again.

Write it down. Track it. Celebrate. Repeat.

Oh…. and be kind to yourself.

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Beyond the “Follow Your Passion” Paradigm

As I was mumbling yesterday about the whole “follow your passion” career illumination theory, I went poking around for other words that might work better. Words are important. We need to use the right ones and I was saying that I didn’t think “passion” was the right one. So.. what did I come up with?

 

ZESTY ENTHUSIASM
“Enthusiasm” came up in several of the quotes that I listed in the post. “Zest” was another one. Both were interesting and have possibilities— and limits.

 

Enthusiasm was originally connected to religious fanaticism, but it’s more common contemporary use is for “strong excitement or feeling.” It can refer to ardour, zeal, fervour, ambition, alacrity, obsession, eagerness, and yes, passion. It can also refer to a short-term enthusiasm or buzz— a one-hit wonder, or cultural blip in popularity.
OK, helpful and needed. One must have SOME modicum of enthusiasm for one’s work, wouldn’t you say?!

 

Zest and other food-related words seem to have more oomph! Other than the lemon zest variety, listen to these wonderful foodie words that have migrated to describe “an enjoyably exciting quality.” Piquant, relish, gusto, zing… and then… keen, invigoration, stimulation and thrill. (thanks, Merriam-Oxford Dictionary)

 

I’ve focused on these words for a bit because, really, the words we use are important. The foodie words above certainly give us bright shiny images in our imagination. While imagination is mucho importante, I’m still not convinced.

 

We toss “passion” around so flippantly. I wonder if it’s become so popular because it immediately grabs us by the gut and pokes at our emotional centre. These words are evocative and who doesn’t like to evoke a provocation?

 

“Passion” has a flame to it. And if people are sitting on their laurels, pining after their dream job, then, maybe lighting a fire underneath them is a good start.

 

But then what? As one reader here pointed out, passion burns out. The reader was commenting on relationships and expecting fireworks all the time, which was not my point at all, but it’s pretty hard to stay full steam ahead merely on a hotly lit match. Something else is required.

 

STEVE MARTIN TO THE RESCUE

 

Steve Martin

Steve Martin (Photo credit: lincolnblues)

 

We all need a little Steve Martin in our lives!

 

One reader posed a link to an article on <a href=”an excerpt from Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.” title=”Steve Martin’s Advice” target=”_blank”>lifehacker in an excerpt from Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.

 

And there—well, a start. SKILLS! And then ACTION! This SHOULD be a blinding flash of the obvious, but it isn’t. Maybe if we said, “Act on your passion,” it might help. It could also get someone killed (as in “crime of passion). In any case, the big problem with the phrase “follow your passion” is that you can follow it all day, over hill and dale, to the far reaches of the earth and over the rainbow, but unless you grab the darn thing and DO something about building the skills that will make you valuable and useful, it’s a useless, nay wasteful pursuit.

 

Steve Martin’s advice was to “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.”

 

And being so good that “they” can’t ignore you requires work. The day-to-day kind of work that we all hate at times. As any successful person will tell you, it’s the daily grind of showing up and doing what you don’t really feel like doing all the time. And doing it over and over and over and…

 

Well, it’s a start. I’ve kind of got the “P-word” problem resolved, at least in my head, but I know there’s more.

 

Still need to focus myself on what I’m to do with the next part of my life, though! More later. In the meantime, I’ve absorbed all the time I’ve allotted for this little passion… have to go act on the list of other things on the list that inspire zeal, fervour, eagerness and zing in me today.

 

Comments welcome! We really need to sort this thing out so more of us can get our butts in gear (and our ‘buts’ out of the way) to make this world work better.

 

Three Months is a Long Time…

…to go without making any excuses.

Can I pay attention to and dramatically decrease my capacity to make excuses for not doing what can be done?

I’m pushing myself. It’s not easy. I can find all kinds of reasons not to drive in to work out—or, once I’m there, to just do a little. It’s late, I tell myself, I didn’t bring the right shoes, today’s just a treadmill/bike/elliptical day, I’ll just do arms, it’s too busy, I didn’t bring the iPod…I’m listening for them and heading them off at the pass. I hope.

I’m also looking for times when I’m mindless. I need to finish that up so it doesn’t go bad, even though it won’t. I can leave the dishes for tomorrow. I haven’t been home all day, I’m tired.

Then there’s business. I’m not ready for that step yet, I need to plan a little more, I’ll get to that after these other things are done, there’s a lot of work to get to that level.

I think what I may do is write a whole list of all the excuses I give myself. Write them right out and, because I KNOW I’ll not have a perfect 90 day run, I’ll check off the ones I use… and even better, the ones that I am TEMPTED to use… and don’t! Wouldn’t that be cool!

Think I may also have to extend my perception of excuses… how about making good meals rather than throwing something together? not picking things up? putting things away rather than leaving them out?

The list continues…

It’s all about awareness. And not being an absolute wimp.

No Excuses. For 90 Days.

A list of possible excuses. Among the ones that I will not be using for the next 90 days. (I’m feeling a little punchy and pissy about excuses and what they really mean.) I know this is going to be a challenging 3 months. I’m getting tough on myself. Mostly, I simply tired of listening to myself, as quiet as the excuse voice is. Because it’s a pretty quiet one. One that runs like a hum, like the electrical buzz you don’t notice until the electricity goes off in a storm.

I’ve done this on a smaller scale before. But never for 90 days. That’s sustained and persistent.

I forgot. (No, you didn’t. You didn’t bother.)

Sorry, I’m late. (No, you’re not. You didn’t plan well enough.Especially from people who are consistently late.)

I didn’t finish the dishes last night ’cause it was late. (find a better time to do them. You hate seeing dishes on the counter in the morning.)

I woke up late. (And so? Get going.)

I don’t feel like it. (Too bad. It has to be done. Get on with it.)

I have to drive ALL the way into town. It’s too late to go to the gym. (Stop it. Three times a week. Plan it. Do it.)

I don’t have time. (Yes, you do. You just haven’t set your priorities properly to get done what you said you would. Or, you really don’t have the time. In which case you’ve over-committed. About as bad.)

Just this once. (Yeah, right.)

I can have just one. (ditto!)

I’m not good enough.(We use this to keep our dreams small. Stop it.)

I haven’t got the right stuff. (Either get the right stuff, if that’s really true, or just get on with it)

It’s too cold. wet, windy outside. (Layer, bundle, cover. Go. Unless it’s -30, there’s a tornado or a flood. Then it’s just dumb to even think about going outside.)

Really. I sent that email.(The equivalent of “my dog ate my homework.”)

I meant to. (But you didn’t)

Excuses are rationalizations we use to live small. In doing so, we often evade the hard work or even the five minutes it takes to do something properly.

I’m not sure how many times a day I’ve used an excuse to keep me from doing something that would advance my business, my health, or would add beauty and order to a place. I know it’s a subtle form of subterfuge and I’d like to eradicate it.  And I think it’s endemic in our world. We all make excuses for things.

Time to stop it. So, here come 90 days of no excuses. At least if I use an excuse, I’ll catch myself.