Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Developing a Template and Momentum for 2018

When you watch a lot of sports you get a sense of the power of momentum.  It's a very weird thing to witness.  One team seemingly has control, but one play later and things can change.  That one play leads to another.  Everyone can feel it.  Players that weren't making plays, start making spectacular plays.  The ball starts bouncing their way.   Momentum is powerful.

"Momentum solves 80% of your problems. "  John Maxwell

This is about building some momentum going into the new year 2018.  People want to think that a new year is a new you.  There hoping that some extra magic happens because they watched a glittery ball drop.  

Instead of starting from scratch, prepare, get it going.  Preparation is the key to getting where you want to go.  Most peoples new year resolutions revolve around being more healthy.  That is hard to define.  So take the time to define it.  Perhaps it means losing 15 pounds.  Getting your blood pressure low enough to get off medications.  Complete a 100 mile bike race.  Do your first 5k.  Walk a 12 minute mile.  Eat 3 servings of vegetables a day.  The list is endless. 

Step 1.  Define in very specific details what you want to accomplish.  
This needs to be written down.  Research has shown that what gets written by hand is a much more powerful way of doing things.  Buy a journal/writing pad that can be used daily for a year.  Get a pen with blue ink.  Research says we remember blue ink better then black ink.  (It can't hurt!)

Now, one can have more then one goal, but it's hard to have 3 or 4 specific and different goals.  But, some goals become very similar when you break them down.  I'll have several people tell me they want to get to the gym more, eat better, lose some weight.  At the end of the day, they are all kind of the same goal.  Write a book, lose weight, attend all my kids games, make more money.  These are all very different goals.  So choose wisely.  

Step 2.  Figure out what you are going to give up.  This is the power of negativity.  Example is giving up smoking.  Your not doing anything extra, but your stopping doing something that isn't healthy.  Perhaps it's giving up your happy hour with friends or one night out a week.  Giving up TV, cable.  Giving up buying a treat with your coffee.  Make some time for what your trying to do.  At the very least, by examining your week/day hour by hour, you will be much more conscious on how you are spending your time.  

"How we spend our days, if of course how we spend our lives.  What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing."  Annie Dillard 

Step 3.  Make a list of all the Micro things it takes to accomplish your goal.  
Take the Micro and make it Macro for awhile.  I call this the consistency beats intensity.  We all know the person that is gung ho for a few weeks and then fades like a shooting star 3 weeks in.  They stuff every possible new habit into the day.  Wake up early, eat a crazy smoothie, hit the gym, run, cook every meal, do yoga, no TV, go to bed early, read that book.  3 weeks later, they are stressed out and burned out.  

Take what you envision to be your ideal day and mold that day into a week.  Instead of cooking every day, pick one dinner out of 7 and cook that one.  Get that one meal down.  What to buy for it, what to keep in your fridge to make it.  Did you cook that one meal one time in the week.  That is a check mark in your journal.  

Instead of hitting the gym everyday.  Get to the gym one time. (Gym is just a word for lifting weights)  Work out for 45 min doing something you enjoy.  Did you do that one time this week.  Check it off in your journal.

Did you floss your teeth one time this week?  Did you elevate your heart rate for 30 min one time this week (aerobic stuff).  Check those boxes off.  Wake up early one day, go to bed early one day.  Check those boxes. 

The idea is to make a checklist of what your vision of a perfect day is.  Then expand your day to a week.  So it's not about burning out day to day, it's about building slow growth over the course of that week.  Get momentum, (there's that word again).  Create consistency with smaller commitments that will most likely bleed into bigger ones.  Also check those boxes, for real.  Are brains are wired to achieve pleasure in marking off things done.  They are victories after all.  

Step 4.  Remove Restraints
Listening to Freakanomics Podcast on Behavior Change and they interviewed Daniel Kahneman.  He had a great idea that he credited to Kurt Lewin, that peoples behavior is driven by two main forces.  Restraining and Driving and our behavior is the equilibrium between these two.  There are two ways of going about influencing behavior.  Get rid of the restraining forces or increase the driving forces.  Increasing the driving forces is a poor choice, getting rid of the restraining forces is the key.  

Instead of trying to figure out how you can eat more vegetables, figure out why you aren't doing it in the first place.  This goes for everything.  At the end of the day, we all have more then enough information.  We need more application.  One by one address the answers that pop up with the question why not.  Remove the restraints to make moving forward easier.

I never have vegetable in my fridge when I get home from work.  (Every Sunday I'll buy vegetables)
I go to make them and they have gone bad.  (Ask the groceries or Google what are the best vegetables that last a full week or how to store vegetables.  
They taste bad.  (two recipes on google with spices that create an enjoyable eating experience)
Clean up is annoying and tiring (aluminum foil on a cookie sheet)

Step 5.  Create Discipline
Look at your week and write down when you are going to do what.  Obviously make sure that it's a real time commitment.  Can't hit the gym at 530 if you routinely get out of work at 545.  No matter what, commit to what you put in writing no matter what you "feel."

Feelings at the end of the day are irrelevant.  I don't feel great, so I'm going to skip the gym today.  I feel tired, so I'm not going to cook tonight.  We have all said that and done that.  How many of us have said I'm still tired I'm going to lay in bed and not show up to work?  My kid is really bothering me today, I don't think I'll take the time and get dinner for him.  Can you see how silly that sounds.  We can keep commitments when they are obvious.  Just eliminate feelings as a choice. This is how discipline is created.  Doing what you said you would do.

"Discipline Equals Freedom"  Jocko Willinck

Get started now, create momentum to hit the ground running in 2018.  Don't wait for the glittery ball to drop.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Patience in 2.5 Unit Increments

There are a lot of quotes on patience.  A quick google search will brings hundreds of memes that extol patience.  We all know we need it, very few of us want to use it, even fewer of us want to be in situations that require it.  I speak from experience.

 We all know it's useful but unless there are concrete actionable steps to take, be patient becomes just another saying.  Want to be successful, early bird gets the worm.  Cool.  Wake up early and then what?  See what I mean, memes and saying look nice on a quote board, but unless a plan is in place, sayings are just poems.

I came across an article about a man learning to use the 2.5 minute rule with his kids.  Every task, partition an extra 2.5 minutes because kids are slow, less dexterous, and some things aren't memorized motor tasks.  Ask them to put their shoes on, extra 2.5 minutes.  We can slip our shoes on literally in a few seconds.  Not so much for young kids.  Tasks like this.  Give yourself and your kids this leeway.

I learned early on that you need to partition extra time when you are taking your kids somewhere.  I learned it so well almost 6 years in with kids, that I'm only late like 3 out of 5 times.  Of those 3 times, I'm sure I was a bit stressed and I'm sure I stressed them as well.

There was no plan.  If you don't have a plan, you ultimately don't succeed often, when you do, it's probably by luck.  Give your self "extra" time is just arbitrary.  2.5 minutes is concrete.

When I first started lifting weights.  The only principle I understood was that if I put more weight on the bar then the last weeks effort, I was getting stronger.  If I kept doing this, I'd get to where I wanted to go.  So I used those small 2.5 pound weights every single time for my last set.  If I beat my last weeks effort, I'd go up 2.5 pounds on each side the following week.  If I didn't I stayed there.

Those 2.5 pound weights got me where I wanted to go.  They also taught patience.  You don't go from squatting 135 pounds to 405 pounds in big increments.  Your body needs time to build up connective tissue, motor unit recruitment, cross sectional muscle development, vascular networks and loads of other physiological adaptations.

One of the things I've noticed with myself is the lack of patience with some of my bigger lifts in the last few years.  I've also noticed lack of progress.  Part of it, is just being content at staying at a certain weight.  Part of it, was just lack of patience.  Wanting to just get
in get a lift in, but not having the patience to commit to slow progress.

With winter coming, patience in 2.5 unit increments is becoming a concrete goal.

"The two most powerful warriors are Patience and Time."  Leo Tolstoy