Life / Can Do

Helpful tips to living a better life

Posts Tagged ‘Goals

How To Keep Going When You Aren’t Feeling It

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For the past few days, I haven’t been feeling the excitement that I usually feel as I move towards my fitness goals. I’ve hit a plateau in my strength training and my percentage of body fat is so low that progress in that area is not perceptible. In other words, I’m in the best position to take it to the next level.

I’m at the point where most people give up. I know that moving forward when I’m not feeling it, is what success is all about. When I look at myself in the mirror, it’s obvious that I’ve achieved a level of fitness higher than most men in their 40’s. In my current circle of family and friends I’m at the top of the fitness curve even when I factor in the younger members.

The thing that keeps me going is that I know I can do better and I want to do better. The standards of the community are not as important as my standards for myself. It would be easy to take it easy knowing that I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished, but that’s not the path I’ve chosen.

I’m not a competitive bodybuilder or fitness model. I have little extrinsic motivation to push myself beyond what is needed for general fitness and health.  But I know if I stop pushing forward when I have more to give, I’ll be disappointed. I’ll always wonder what I could have achieved.

When you are not feeling it, know that you are at the point of greatest potential. This is the beginning of your journey, not the end. If you get past this slump, you will have achieved something beyond your usual limits. Once you do that, you will question other limits you think you have.

I know this because I’ve gone past other self-imposed limits before. I remember feeling like I was done and that I couldn’t possibly move forward, but I kept going anyway and found I was just getting started. The first time I did that, it was a life changing experience and made me question the limits of what I could achieve.

When you  aren’t feeling that the excitement and passion that got you started, this is when you must lean into it and embrace the challenge of getting past it. Once you do, you’ll find a new and deeper level of passion and determination that will drive you even further towards your goals.

 

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

Staying On Course During a Crisis

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As most people, my health and fitness journey has had its ups and downs. I would commit to eating right and exercising regularly but then would drop everything when a crisis occurred. Even regular events, such as the holidays, would distract me.

Below is a list of a few crisis situations that would derail my health and fitness goals:

  • Car accident
  • Death in the family
  • Sickness
  • Job loss
  • Looking for a new job
  • Getting a new job
  • Buying a new home

My wife and I no longer allow myself to get distracted when a major life events happen. We’ve given up on giving up. Since we made this commitment, we’ve had several life events and managed to stay on course during each one.

To accomplish this required preparation and planning.The first step was to examine our crisis behavior in the past. We looked back at particularly tragic episode in our lives and asked ourselves if putting off our diet and exercise during that time actually helped us cope. We both agreed that we would have handled the situation better if we had continued with our healthy lifestyle. In fact, the unhealthy food and lack of exercise made the situation worse and contributed to the grief and anguish we experienced.

We had given up on healthy eating and exercise when we needed it most.

So now, regardless of whatever happens, we always make time for exercise and continue to eat a healthy diet. It’s been something we’ve come to rely on during times of crisis. It makes me happy to see my wife hop on the treadmill after a tough day at work as a way to unwind rather than sit on the couch watching TV.

One thing that was tough for us to accept was that no matter what happens, our healthy lifestyle is not negotiable.

Currently, my 6 year old daughter is sick. She has a fever that’s been peaking at 104.5 and needs our constant attention. For the past 3 days, my wife and I have had to wake up several times a night to care for our daughter. Last night at 1 AM, she was crying, vomiting and her fever hit 104. It took us an hour to calm her down and get her back to sleep but I stayed awake longer just in case. Despite all that, when I woke a 6 AM, I dragged myself downstairs and ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes – not my best workout but priceless considering the circumstances.

Would it have hurt if I missed my workout this morning? Physically, there would be little harm missing a workout or two. Mentally, if I missed a workout it would have set me back. It’s a slippery slope when you choose to miss a workout.

Nobody would fault me for taking the day off when dealing with a sick child. But, it is just a fever that kids get and I’m not dealing with anything that millions of parents haven’t dealt with before. Missing a workout due to my child having  a common fever would just be an excuse.

There may be times where workouts will be missed for valid reasons. We just have to be honest without ourselves. As for diet, I can think of any reason why one would need to mess up their diet due to a life event. Having a bad day at work is not an excuse to eat more.

When you are committed to a healthy lifestyle you have to plan on what to do when life tries to knock you off course. You can’t go forward with the expectation that nothing bad (or great) will happen. You have to tell yourself that when (not if) an unplanned life event occurs you will still find time to exercise and continue to eat healthy.

 

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

Working out When You Don’t Feel like It

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When I got home from work today, I did not feel like working out. I did anyway.

After I was done my workout, I realized how right I was to ignore the urge to sit on the couch and watch TV. I did what I had committed to do and now my life was better for it. If I hadn’t worked out what would I have gained? I could have done something else worthwhile but I would have been fooling myself if I used that as a reason.

We have to be honest with ourselves and realize that there are going to be days where we aren’t inspired to work towards our goals. It’s easy to do something meaningful when there is a fire in our belly. Doing it when we rather not is what really determines long term success.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

January 28, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Try myfitnesspal

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One of the tools I’ve used to maintain my weight successfully is an online calorie tracker called myfitnesspal. This site helps you manage your weight by tracking the calories you consume and the calories you burn. It will recommend a daily calorie target to help you reach your goal weight. I’ve done it and when I can accurately enter my calories, my weight changes at the predicted amount when tracking for a significant period of time. There’s no mystery or secret here to weight loss, just simple physics.

The difficult part is in getting used to tracking your calories. The site has a number of tools to help. There is a community forum where you can communicate with other members. I’ve made a few friends and we give each other the motivational support we need to reach our goal weight.

I suggest you start out slow and just get into the habit of tracking your calories without trying to change your weight. If weight loss if your goal you may find that simply tracking your calories is enough to lose weight early on. There’s some kind of psychological trickery going on here but it works. When you know you need to log your calories you will think twice about the food you eat, it’s simply human nature to do better when you are holding yourself accountable.

Not only is this site helpful, it is also fun. I got a kick out of tweaking my calories to lose a pound or two. When it comes off, a single pound feels like an accomplishment.

The site also graphs your progress over time so you don’t get discouraged by natural fluctuations in weight throughout the week. You can check the graph and know that, on average, you are on track.

Don’t expect any kind of quick fix here. If your goal is to lose more than 5 or 10 pounds, you can expect this to take a few weeks. The site recommends losing only about a pound a week so someone looking to lose 50 pounds will need to have perseverance. Personally, I think losing more than a pound a week is acceptable if you are heavier but the site is more geared to helping you achieve long term lifestyle changes rather than rapid weight-loss and that is worthy guidance.

Even if you are at your optimum weight and have no weight loss goals, it is still worth tracking your calories on this site. Knowing your calories consumption is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you are not eating right it could lead to other issues besides weight gain such as fatigue and mood disorders. Some of the members I’ve met are extremely athletic with no weight issues but they track their calories to stay at peak condition.

The site also offers free mobile versions on both Android and iPhone/iPad. I would use the Android app for regular tracking and only go to the site to socialize or track my long term progress.

I am not affiliated with myfitnesspal, nor do I receive any type of kickback for promoting the site. It is just a site that I use to help meet my physical goals and maintain my weight. If it wasn’t the best that I found, I would be promoting some other site. If you know of a better site for tracking calories and staying in shape, please let me know.

 

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Fitness, Life

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You Can Do Anything … Or Can You?

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The other day my wife and I watched an episode of Saturday Night Live which had a skit that was a hilarious take on a topic that had been on my mind lately – unrealistic self expectations. See the skit at: You Can Do Anything

This current generation was raised in a culture that promoted that idea that a person could be or do anything they wanted to be as long as they believed in themselves. We’ve all been told to do what we love. Whether you like philosophy, basket weaving or Victorian glove making then you should have a career that lets you do that. There’s a problem with that line of advice and college graduates soon find themselves with no marketable skills.

In the computer programming field I’ve worked with people who had once aspired to be something else. Below is a short list of broken dreams I’ve heard:

musician, elementary school teacher, physicist, librarian, guidance counselor, music therapist, poet, park ranger, video game designer, artist

Now these are all viable careers to some extent but each of them required a level of sacrifice that the dreamers were not willing to make. At some point the need to earn a living overrides the be-anything-you-want-to-be attitude. If they really and truly wanted to have these jobs, they wouldn’t be working 9 to 5 in a corporate office.

I’ve wanted to be a computer programmer since high school so I lucked out. I am doing what I love and getting paid well for it. There were times when I considered alternate paths. For a few years I wanted to be martial arts instructor and later a fiction writer. Fortunately, I had something practical to fall back on as I soon learned the odds of making a good living from those careers were slim to none.

When my nephew was first contemplating what major to take in college this is the advice I gave him- “You can be anything you want to be … once you are able to support yourself and pay for your dream job.” He majored in business, graduated and is now doing very well for himself. He is still young and now he has the financial stability to consider other careers if he decides to do so. As it stands now, he is very happy doing what he does.

Rather than “Doing What you Love”, we should strive to love what we do. My wife has a job where she has to do deal with finances for a medium sized company. I guess she’s like an accountant or something, I don’t get it. I remember when she chose to switch jobs to do this. There was no financial incentive for her to do so as her previous job paid well and had potential for even greater opportunities. But she saw an opportunity to do something that she enjoyed while still contributing to the household.

I guess my wife and I were too poor when we entered the business world to afford to “do what we love”. We had to settle for doing whatever put food on the table and kept the lights on. Now years later, with the financial stability we’ve work hard for, we are very happy and fulfilled doing what we do.

Any career can be rewarding if you put your heart and soul into it.

As a disclaimer I will admit that I am only talking from my experience and observations. I accept that I could be wrong and would be open to hearing opinions to the contrary. As I’ve said in the beginning this is a topic I’ve only started to contemplate. I had yet to find any worthwhile references that would support my observations.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

January 26, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Responsibility

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The group I work with had a bad quarter financially and it was my fault. We had lost an important client and failed to bring in enough new business to cover that loss. I am not a director or a manager and it is not in my job description to make the decisions that would directly affect the bottom line, but I still accept a share of the responsibility for the loss. It would be easy to believe that the results were out of my control or to blame it on the current economic conditions. I could even argue that my projects were extremely successful and the work that I did reduced costs while increasing business value. However, the truth is that I am part of a team and when that team does not do well, I do not do well.

As individuals, we have to own our part in the success or failure of the teams we work with. I am proud that the work I did may have helped mitigate the negative numbers but I regret that I could not have done more to help others achieve the results we needed.

I asked my manager about what we did or did not do to cause us to lose that client. He didn’t know. How could he not know? How could something that was so significant not be communicated clearly and to everyone?

So I am taking responsibility for something executives at the company did not care to share with me. There was no lack of communication when we were all told that bonuses and raises were going to be reduced due to this unknown failing of ours.

I will not accept this lack of communication. I will not grumble, complain and blame the higher-ups for the lack of fairness. I will keep asking until I get an answer. When I do get that answer, I will ask another question: “What could I have done differently that would have helped prevent the loss of the client?”.

I believe we were not told because the executives believed it was their own fault and not that of the employees. I believe it is shame and not malice that makes them reluctant to share the information. They have a responsibility to make the right decisions but they should not take all the blame any more than they should take all the credit for the results we produce.

I decide how much I will contribute to the success of the business. I decide if I’m going to do just what is assigned to me and I decide if I’m going to go beyond what is expected. If I am treated unfairly and my pay does not reflect my contribution, it is my decision to accept it or to look elsewhere for work. The only thing my employer really has control over is whether or not to keep me on the payroll during a layoff. I do whatever I can to make keeping me on the right choice.

I blame not just myself but everyone in my group. I blame those who do only what they are told and don’t ask questions. I blame the employee who follows a process just because it has always been done that way. I blame the project manager who is only concerned with meeting his project’s deadlines. I blame the person who leaves early because their work is done while their peers are overwhelmed with work. I also forgive them because I have done the same in the past.

There is no doubt in my mind that we will come back from this setback. It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. A successful business is not one set of quarterly results or the loss of one client. A successful business is the cumulative success of the individuals working in it.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

January 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Aspects of a Successful Life

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How to improve the quality of your life?

We all desire a happier and more rewarding life. In that we often strive to improve specific details of our lives – get a better job, own a bigger home, spend more time with our friends and family, get in better shape, and so on. While it is important to work on these focused goals, it is important to take a step back and look at our lives as a whole and determine if our individual goals contribute to our long-term happiness. It is easy to assume that a goal such as striving to get a better paying job is something we want, but we may find that we are just following a pre-programmed path set by the expectations and influence of others or even the media. It would be a tragedy to struggle for years to achieve a goal only to find that is detracts from you happiness instead of contributing to it.

Big goals and small tasks

Once you take a step back and consider what you want to achieve in life, the complexity of the problem can be daunting. When faced with a large goal the best thing to do is attempt to break it down into smaller more manageable goals. You may need to establish another levels of goals below these as well if they are still too daunting. Once you have a list of goals, you will need to determine that actionable tasks you need to achieve those goals. Even then if there are tasks that appear too big to tackle, you can break those tasks down into smaller sub-tasks. There is no limitation on how small the tasks should be. They need to be small enough so that you feel that you can easily accomplish them. This is just a high level overview on the process of goal setting and tasks. We will expand upon the topic of goal setting in a future article.

Mind, Body and Spirit

The first step that I take when editing my life goals, is to consider the three main aspects of my being that I want to improve which are mind, body and spirit. While the more pragmatic may feel that this is little too “new-agey”, I want to assure you that I will strive for practical advice based on both quantitative and qualitative research as well as my own personal experience. The word “spirit” has religious connotations, but in this context this word encompasses the topics of passion, drive, motivation and purpose. The concepts of mind, body and spirit are very useful when setting goals. In practice, however,  most goals will address more than one of those. Though exercise is often considered a way to improve the body, it also improves the mind and spirit as well.

Maintain skepticism

Most of the advice I will provide on this site will be based on work done by others. For years, I have researched the fields of self-improvement, productivity, business and anything else that would help provide the answers I had been looking for. I will continue to research in my endless mission to improve my life and the lives of others. In those years my life has had many challenges and I attempted to apply what I’ve learned to those challenges. I’ve achieved great things as a result. I’ve also found that some of what I’ve learned was faulty or incomplete. I don’t begrudge those who shared that faulty information as I believe most offer the best that they know and it was up to me to find my own answers.

I will do my best to share what I’ve learned but it is important that you remain skeptical to my advice or the advice of anyone else. You have to find what works best for you, but to do that you need to consider what others have to share. If you figure out a better way of doing things, I ask that you share that with others.

Nobody has all the answers. We often see experts publish a book one year only to produce an expanded edition some time later. Were they holding out on us? I don’t think so. The publish a new edition because they’ve gained more knowledge, more insights and have had more time to apply their ideas in the real world. I’m sure they also get feedback from others about how their advice didn’t work as they expected and that they needed to make changes to meet their personal circumstances.

It’s up to you

Not only do I not have all the answers, I still have many more questions of my own to figure out. Still, I am absolutely certain that if you try some of the ideas I will share with you, you will learn ways to improve your life. When you do experience success, it won’t be because of anything I’ve shared, but rather due to your own efforts to apply what you’ve learned.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

January 8, 2012 at 11:23 am