The Road Ahead

Four recent reads.

A neat concept from Pasricha is to view a week as three bins of time.

  • 168 hours in a week.
  • Splitting into thirds, we get three bins of 56 hours.
  • Most folks drop two bins (112 hours) into sleep, work and commute.
  • Leaving 56 hours for everything else, which happens to be the subject of his book.

The author encourages us to have a look at our allocation. Here’s mine…

  • Sleep and unscheduled personal time – 65 hours
  • Kids — meals, bedtime, homework, housework, dad time and school drops – 40 hours
  • Exercise, strength training, time in nature – 21 hours
  • Admin, taxes, legal, finances, writing – 15 hours
  • Travel, Driving – 15 hours
  • Open, Reading – 12 hours

When I bring energetic action, time and expert instruction to an area of my life… I get results.

If it’s not happening then it’s not a priority.

Better to tell the truth — especially to myself!

Younger Next Year was written for Baby Boomers but I found it entertaining and useful.

Around 2030, I’m going to have a 40-hour slice of time land in my lap. Leaving my desk job in 2000, I have been through much of the author’s story. What I haven’t dealt with is aging and decay!

This winter, I learned to ski well. Learning to ski was humbling — I found myself lacking in absolute power, power endurance and quickness. Add that experience to the gradual deterioration of my vision. Aging and decay!

Through an explanation of Harry’s Rules, the book reminded me of other potential gaps in my life — connection, commitment, passion.

“Kids” have taken a big slice of time in my forties. Because we’re likely to have another 15,000 hours to come, I’ve been working on up-skilling everyone.

Some day the “kid” slice will be gone. My marriage will remain.

The two books by Gray (as well as The Soul of the Marionette) were fabulous and challenged the narrative my local community tells itself.

When I’m doing, connected and engaged…

…I don’t overthink any passing emotional state.

It’s worth making an effort to fill-the-gaps.

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?

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.

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.

Pay The Price

2016-12-01-08-24-06Yesterday’s bullets are the price I pay for my current life:

They are not what-it-takes to be a good husband and father.

The bullets are my “to do” list to have the capacity to improve.

If you invert the list: fatigue, poor nutrition, no exercise, interact with family when stressed, be miserly, focus on external validation… …then I start heading towards a different outcome.

An outcome many consider both normal and highly successful. The alternative outcome never felt right to me.

2016-11-18-08-30-18Before starting down the path of becoming better I had to create the capacity to sustain gradual change.

Telling myself that I was going to stop my “bad” habits didn’t work. Replacing my habits did work.

Salads, exercise, nature, acts of kindness and spending time in my best environments….

…taken together they displace a lot of poor choices. Choices that reduce my capacity.

Sleep and no-compete…

….increase my overall capacity.

Paying the price to change is uncomfortable but not changing is worse.

2016-11-18-07-43-14

What I Learned This Year

2016-11-23-18-33-09-2The #1 thing is to make choices about time allocation based on how it impacts my mood.

Continually, and gradually, phase out sources of stress. I’ve been chipping away since 2000.

Making an effort is worth it — having an exceptional marriage, loving kids and a lot of self-directed time requires a commitment to gradual self-improvement.

Twenty years ago, I was lousy at most of what gives me pleasure today.

2016-11-08-09-33-49What is the system that gives me the energy required to endure the discomfort of change?

  • Sleep
  • Eat huge salads
  • Daily movement in nature
  • Relate to the world in my best environment
  • Perform small acts of kindness
  • Don’t compete

There’s an article in each bullet and I’ll get to them December.

2016-11-18-07-06-50***The stuff we put in our lives is important for what it displaces***

We are really poor at seeing the cost of the status quo.

At 47, athletic competition inserts fatigue, removes me from my children, impairs my sex drive and eliminates my willpower.

If you are a sociopath with tendencies towards addiction, promiscuity and petty crime… then adding athletic competition might be a very wise move indeed!

Pay attention to what works.

Then, pay attention when it stops working.

2016-11-19-20-10-53Finally, I’m a good parent but I don’t always enjoy parenting.

I think we should be more honest about the way things are.