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.

=====

What’s your system?

Is it working?

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?

+++

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.

+++

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.

Sleep

2016-11-26-12-06-54Sleep, exercise, kindness and childcare are the foundation of my marriage.

Here’s what works for us…

  • Optimize so every member of our family sleeps well
  • Train someone to put our kids to sleep so Mom & Dad’s nervous system get a scheduled 24-hour reset on our weekly date night(s)
  • Exercise the kids
  • Use the same routine — save energy for managing inevitable surprises

As a couple, the payoff is huge… more sex (!), better moods, less bickering, better body composition, more energy, better cognition…

If you’re looking for romance then start by improving everyone’s sleep.

2016-10-23-16-05-28Saying “no” to sleep deprivation is a difficult — you might need to say “no” to pets, friends, family, extracurricular activities.

2016-10-04-18-06-32We have a family sleep system.

Our kids (4, 5 and 8) nap on all non-school days. The minimum acceptable nap is 60-minutes alone in a dark, cool room.

  • Routine
  • Separate Rooms
  • Blackout Shades

The nap gives everyone an emotional reset and splits the day in half. Often, we need a fresh start!

Sleep is non-negotiable. Obviously, we can’t force the kids to fall asleep but we can exercise them, model the desired behavior and insist on their staying in bed without electronics.

We have colored digital clocks and everyone knows to stay in their rooms until the “Green Seven.”

2016-11-18-18-55-07

Once again, consider the opposite of the bullets (above). If that sounds like your household then you have tremendous upside!

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.