It wasn’t enough

When I follow my own advice, life is better.

At the back of my mind, especially with kids, I have a desire for life to be “easy.”

My desire makes me chuckle because my “easy days” are often boring.

Based on eight years of parenting… easy is not going to happen so focusing on “better” is a smarter option.

From time to time my appetites come up with ideas to make my life _even_ better.

  • These ideas might be small — five beers, two burgers, large fries and couple desserts
  • They might be large — a vacation property with a cost of ownership that doubles my core cost of living
  • Many fall in between — clothes, vacations, sports equipment, alcoholic beverages, risk-seeking friends

These desires pop up as an emotion associated with pleasure, excitement or release.

Certain choices, situations and people are associated with bad outcomes.

Despite an association with pleasure, excitement or release… many of my desires are highly-likely to lead me to bad outcomes.

To tame my appetites, I pause and consider the last time I gave into that specific appetite…

I ask myself…

Was it enough?

It was never enough. Not even close!

I remember always wanting more, even while I was getting what I wanted.

My desires are frequent, but my specific desires are fleeting.

They come and they go.

If it wasn’t enough then maybe I should find a better way to live….

…and that’s the system that I’ve been sharing.

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What’s your system?

Is it working?

Small Acts of Kindness

Another tactic within my current system for living is small acts of kindness. Kindness has the greatest return of any choice I make.

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Think back to the last time you were disappointed after helping someone.

What was the nature of this disappointment?

If you are seeking external rewards then you might benefit from a change of mindset.

Here’s what works for me.

Each day, all sorts of thoughts run through my head.

When I’m under stress, I think about retribution, anger and violence.

This sort of thinking is particularly toxic when directed towards my kids. Not-acting on my thoughts exhausts me…

…especially when my negative experience appears to be caused by situations, and people, outside of myself.

But is it?

Who created the habits of my mind?

Regardless of the source of my habits (maybe it really is everyone else’s fault…), there’s only one person who’s going to be able to improve my inner experience.

Positive, and kind, actions despite the noise of daily living.

Sometimes the best I can offer is not giving voice to the negativity I am experiencing.

Anyhow, if you’re giving and expecting reward // or // not giving because you don’t see the benefit…

…then consider a change of approach.

I help in small ways to prove that I’m a good person despite my mental habits.

 

Too Tired To Change

2017-02-07-08-11-04Picking up from last year

What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?

  • Keep it simple
  • Do it daily
  • Set a low bar for success
  • Stretch your limits when overall stress is low

As a coach, I used the above with regards to athletics => better nutrition, sleep and emotional control. Sort those components THEN crank specific stress.

The challenges facing a new parent

  • life stress never feels low
  • we start with no skills
  • we have unreasonable expectations

If you’re facing challenges in your family life then I’d encourage you to acknowledge the above.

Being honest about my limits makes it easier to improve and cope with the inevitable errors.

If I pay attention to my errors, they are most often associated with being tired. You may find this in all areas of your life (emotional control, food choice, substance abuse). You might also have other triggers (hunger, anger, loneliness).

I really like being tired. Fatigue settles my mind and helps me fall asleep.

The trouble comes when I make a big unforced parenting error before bed!

Errors can haunt my consciousness for days.

So this post is about fatigue and change. However, if you look deeper, it is about how I am choosing to invest my emotional energy towards success.

Our values are reflected in where we are willing to make an effort. My values are greatly influenced by peers, environment and media inputs.

So doing a better job at home meant letting go of areas, peers and situations where I used to compete.

Who sees my best self?

2016-12-12-15-26-09Another component of the price I pay is to whom I direct my best self.

The answer cuts through all the BS I tell myself.

What do my kids actually see?

What does my spouse actually experience?

2016-12-14-10-43-23When I was trying to win an Ironman, my coaches and training partners saw my best self. These people were essential to my success and we had a great time doing what it took to improve.

Not coincidentally, I met my wife while training. During the summer of 2004, the only place you could find my best self was training for triathlon.

With the birth of my first child, success was frustrating remote. My internal life was frazzled, angry and exhausted. If I opted out then I would strain my marriage.

So I asked for help and studied experienced preschool teachers.

I paid attention to what was required to present my best self to my kids, and my spouse. [the list I shared]

I paid attention to the conditions present when I fell short (noise, conflict, hunger, fatigue).

Noise and conflict are inevitable with young kids. However, there are many opportunities to get support and stretch my emotional limits gradually.

2016-12-07-06-56-12Like the rest of this series – it makes more sense when we invert the advice.

Good people won’t stick around in the face of our worst selves.

 

Managing Exceptional People

2016-11-18-15-12-34While certain personality types tolerate constant correction, it’s corrosive to a relationship with an Alpha Child.

Here’s what works…

One Thing – What one thing, if it happened, would take performance to a new level? Pick your battles (or you will be constantly battling).

Default Position – When managing the highly competent, what’s your default position? Is it frequent, small doses of approval backed by admiration? It should be.

Skill Acquisition – Your Alpha Pups are keen to please by learning skills and completing tasks. ABC => Always Build Competence.

Mistakes – Make mistakes visible, teach a different approach with better outcomes then get back to your One Thing. Learning to forgive your own mistakes will help you forgive others.

If in doubt keep my mouth shut and work on my own one thing.

2016-11-22-07-14-18If you were taught constant-correction management (particularly in childhood) then it’s going to be tough to change.

Keep It Simple!

Pause.

Ask yourself…

What’s my One Thing, here?

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With my oldest…

  • One Thing – reading
  • Default Position – let things happen
  • Skill Acquisition – swimming, camping, sailing, enjoyment of nature, aerobic capacity, strength, reading, math, writing, persuation
  • Mistakes – teach via mantras AFTER the energy of conflict has left

The main thing people need is love.

Damage Limitation Strategies – Nutrition

2016-12-09-16-30-38My mind has the tendency to ascribe meaning, and narrative, to my daily choices/actions/words.

Properly managed, this desire to “make sense” is a powerful tool for positive change.

2016-12-08-08-27-44Nutrition has NOTHING to do with nutrition.

What we end up eating has a lot to do with appetite, habit and availability.

I’ve watched nutritional science change so often, and so dramatically, that it has lost its credibility with me.

Here’s what I’ve noticed…

  • Exercise is the best medicine I can give myself
  • Excessive stress results in poor choices
  • Prior food choices, sleep and exercise impact my neurochemistry

The above can work together in a positive, or a negative, feedback loop.

Regardless, they are always working.

2016-12-07-11-23-01Why does “Eat Huge Salads” work?

  • Buying healthy food makes you a healthy person
  • Preparing healthy food makes you a healthy person
  • Unlike ice cream, cold cereal or beef chili with rice… I have to chew a salad – chewing slows me down (habit creation) and increases my satisfaction beyond the next meal (appetite moderation)
  • A mixing bowl of salad makes subsequent poor choices physically painful (adverse consequences)
  • Large amounts of fiber keep me regular and there is a emotional release from good elimination
  • Salad is the food choice with the lowest number of calories per bowl
  • It works because it works – while my explanations might be back fit-BS, the results are real

Whatever you eat for the next three years, you will come to believe that your choices are delicious. Don’t believe me? Listen to people who think differently. We are hardwired to believe in the merits of our prior choices.

Pay attention to your mantras – what you say after you eat, what you say about food, what you say about yourself.

Choose wisely – our minds are always watching, listening, rationalizing.

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Apples!!!

Two to three apples is a quick way to get a similar effect to a salad.

Displacing a poor choice is easier than resisting one.

Appetite

2016-07-29-10-30-41

Before nutrition, consider appetite.

Appetite is an interesting variable — it starts as a source of pleasure. However, its ability to give satisfaction is reduced as I feed it. Eventually, it becomes a source of pain.

During the holidays, we often reinforce:

  • Competitive binges (turkey!)
  • Manufactured scarcity (gravy!)

Well channelled appetite can be a source of tremendous energy. I’ve used my energy to win triathlons, achieve financial independence and, more generally, get stuff done.

But, I have also experienced varying degrees of ill-effects — functional alcoholism, obesity, metabolic syndrome, work-life imbalance, promiscuity.

 

2016-08-14-19-41-30My appetite touches all aspects of my life.

  • Binging (exercise, alcohol, food, sex, fatigue)
  • Scarcity (fear of missing out, fear of loss, envy)

In order for my nutrition strategy to be effective, I need to manage appetite across all areas of my life.

2016-08-15-16-34-57I seek to model what I teach my children:

  • You’ll get everything you need…
  • Unlimited fruits and veggies…
  • Never praise binges – no eating contests, no comments when we stuff ourselves, no keeping score via food…

While my teaching is designed to break the chain, my nutritional approach is a damage limitation strategy rooted in my personal reality!

2016-07-13-20-42-19The first two of our family mantras are designed to moderate appetite.

  • We’ve already won
  • We have more than we need
  • It’s OK to say “no”

By way of illustration, a father rarely needs to encourage a teenage son’s sex drive.

It’s a lot like that with my appetite.