It’s funny how you can change your own mind when you start writing. I have been writing a long blog post about how hard it is to track macronutrients when you’re trying to get into shape. I went on about how challenging it is to record everything and how I was never able to hit my numbers despite my ‘best efforts.’ About 600 words into the post I decided that all my ranting was a bunch of crap. I hadn’t really tried hard enough to track my nutrition to say whether or not it was worth the effort. I didn’t put in that much planning. And I wasn’t really bought in on the results I wanted.
This got me thinking about how I have approached pretty much everything in my life.
It seems that most things that are worth pursuing require a healthy dose of planning and a mountain of desire in order to make real changes. Planning seems completely necessary because the only things that happen without planning are the things you’ve already baked into your life with your current habits. Your daily habits now have gotten you to where you’re at now–which is awesome if you’re in a good place. However, if you’re not happy with what you have or where you’re at, chances are really good that you’re going to need to do some planning to make changes. You have to plan for all the things that are not yet second nature to you. This may very well require getting help from someone else who’s further along the path.
The mountain of desire I referred to simply means that you have to want something really bad in order to fight through your own bad habits and through the discouragement that is absolutely going to come your way. Steven Pressfield called it The Resistance in his book The War of Art and he basically says The Resistance is the force that’s there every time you strive for something worthwhile. It’s a daily war that needs to be fought in order to make progress.
I say all this to emphasize how important I think it is to start with the proper mindset. Planning and passion begin in our minds and one of the hardest things I’ve tried to accomplish is to expect something different from life. It is so, so easy to live in the mold we’ve already cast for our lives. We simply need to maintain our current habits in order to stay where we are at. It is comfortable. It is nearly effortless. And making a real change means we need to break that mold and start to envision new things for our lives. Then we need to brace ourselves and start to plan accordingly because, let me tell you, this ride is about to get exciting and tough.
(p.s. That link up there is an Amazon affiliate link. If you buy something there I get a few pennies. You can easily search things for yourself on the site if you prefer)
There is so little time. Memories from when I were a kid can feel as vivid as if they happened yesterday. And, yet, I sit here at 37 years old. Those memories are decades old and all that time is gone, for better or worse. Sometimes I still feel like a kid, like I never grew up or matured. Knowing that 40 is right around the corner hits pretty hard when you still feel like you haven’t really lived in a meaningful way.
It’s easy to get into ‘survival mode.’
You do the things you’re supposed to do each day. And those days zip by at a subtly ferocious speed and you barely notice.
The toughest part about this is that you don’t necessarily feel older as these days go by. I feel as young as I did in my twenties, but hanging out with 20 somethings reminds me that, yes, I’m not as young as I feel.
I’ve had enough, though. I refuse to let my life be permanently set on autopilot. Each morning I get out of the shower and the morning light pouring in reveals the faint shimmer of my first gray hairs. It drives me now to be mindful of making the most of that day.
I know that when I am much older–God willing that I still have my memory–I will be able to look back on these days like I now look back on my childhood. I want to be able to say that I lived a good, full life. I want my family to be able to agree with that.
It all starts with a decision that you make today. Make it with me.
I’m a little sore right now after doing the 17.1 workout for the CrossFit Open today. It combined dumbbell snatches and burpee box jump-overs and right now I can definitely feel it in the muscles of my lower back. I was even careful with my form, but I suppose that many reps was bound to do it. Honestly, though, it’s really not bad. I’m just bitchin’ and moaning here.
While I was warming up, though, I had a moment to make a choice. Do I do the workout as prescribed (with a 50lb dumbbell/24″ box) or scaled (35lb dumbbell/20″ box)? The 50lb dumbbell would probably feel really heavy to me and the guy in front of me picking one up uttered an “Oh Jesus” on his way back to his wood box. I’m not the strongest guy in the box by a long shot so I said to myself there’s no shame in going scaled–which is 100% true.
However, afterward I thought about the workout and then wished I had gone with the prescribed weight. I don’t participate in the Open to take the easy way out. And the workout would not have been impossible. Other workouts are beyond my skill level or way beyond the weight I can handle so it makes good sense to scale them. But that wasn’t 17.1.
I may sound like I’m being unreasonably hard on myself, but I promise there’s more to this than a simple dumbbell choice.
It’s about the challenge
The reason I do CrossFit at all is because I want to deeply challenge myself. Until a few years ago I didn’t realize how little grit I had. It was easy to give up when things got tough. It was easy not to start because I knew the road would be long. I didn’t do the hard things in life because it was way easier to avoid them. The problem with all that, though, is that those choices make life boring, hollow and very lonely.
There’s a longer story here (which I need to write about soon) but it boils down to the fact that pushing myself to do hard things makes me a better person. Tackling a big project means more if it’s a project that might fail in the end. If it is a more sure thing then it has less value. And most of these things aren’t related to fitness, but our fitness ties together with all that we do in life. Our health is connected to all we do.
So I do the CrossFit Open because it’s a big challenge that ultimately makes me a better person. Next time I’m looking at 17.1, I’m going to go with the 50lb dumbbell.
When I struggle to define what I want for my future…
When I can’t really even tell you what I do for fun…
When I don’t have anything specific to look forward to…
When I wonder if I’ll be remembered for anything…
When I wonder if “this is it?”…
…Then I believe it is time to reinvent myself. Or, better yet, remember who I am and reinvent what I’m doing with my life. I’m convinced it’s never too late to start over. We get one life and we need to make it count.
Have you ever wondered if you were doing the right things in life? I definitely have and it’s kept me up at night on more than one occasion (and maybe even led to an argument or two with my wife).
Lots of people wonder about what to do in life and I have found that there is no single answer for this. It totally depends on you. The strengths you have; the interests you have; the emotional baggage you’re carrying around; your season in life; among many other things all impact what you need to do in life.
Are you focused on the right things?
I have come across some ideas though that have been really helpful. The first is the idea of essentialsim. It’s an idea in Greg McKeown’s book “Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” The basic idea is that you need to focus on doing less–but better!–things. We all end up being pulled in a thousand directions and ultimately get nowhere in any of them. He says, pick out only the essential things in life and ignore all the others. Then pursue those essential things with all your might. Here’s a video from Greg.
How do you know your goals are what you want?
My CrossFit coach has a podcast called Feed Me Fuel Me and it’s great. In particular you get a great idea from the episode below: you need to test drive your life to see if you’re on the right track. He goes into more detail in the episode below–check it out!