Goals vs. Resolutions

The most common question that I get asked around the New Year (besides “how was your holiday?”) is “Are you doing any New Year’s Resolutions?”  The answer is yes, but it’s much more than that.  Instead of resolutions, I’m taking it a step further and setting goals for myself to accomplish this year.  I know your next question, and here’s the difference between the two.  Making a resolution is an expression of intention; setting a goal is an expansion on that intention that formalizes an end result to reach for.

 

I’ll be completely honest with you when I say that I have never successfully completed a New Year’s Resolution.  On the flip side of that, over the past year, I have set challenging goals for myself in many different aspects of my life and have successfully completed all of them.  This difference in success rate isn’t coincidental.  If you point me in the right direction and tell me to shoot an arrow, I’m going to fire away, but I won’t be successful at hitting a specified target if I don’t know what I’m shooting at.  If you point me in the right direction and tell me to shoot an arrow to hit the small yellow circle at the center of the target, I have a much better idea of what I’m trying to work for.

I actually took some archery classes a few years ago. My shots usually weren’t this accurate.

Resolutions aren’t a bad thing.  On the contrary, every goal should start by expressing your intention to make a change or to do something that is important to you.  Statements such as “I want to lose weight” or “I want to complete more volunteer work” are excellent resolutions and great initial points for goal-setting; so start there.  Take a moment to write down five resolutions (or two, or ten) for yourself; things that you truly want to accomplish over the course of the next year.

 

Here’s the next step: Make them into goals.  Before my most recent weight loss endeavor, I made resolution after resolution to “lose weight”, but never set up anything tangible.  This goes back to firing the arrow.  You can point in a direction and shoot, but unless you have a target, you’ll never know how successful you are.  Look over every resolution that you wrote down and turn that resolution into a goal.  A resolution such as “I want to lose weight” can be turned into a goal by saying “I want to lose 30 pounds in 6 months” or “I want to be at a goal weight of 185 by December 31st.”  Be specific with these goals and give them a target date; this way, it’s much easier to look back on your goals to determine if you were successful.

 

Finally, come up with a plan to achieve your goals.  Some of your resolutions and goals will be simple and some may be more difficult, but all of them should come with a plan.  A failure to plan is a plan to fail, so do your homework.  If you want to lose weight, develop a plan that is attainable that you can stick to.  If you want to be a better spouse, figure out how you want to achieve it as soon as you can.  A successful product or business comes with lots of careful and intricate planning; so it should be with your meaningful goals.

 

My next post in a few days will divulge some of the goals I’m targeting for 2014!  I challenge you all to construct your own, and if you feel comfortable enough, feel free to share them in the comments section.  You may be able to give some great inspiration to others who are also looking to improve themselves!

Bucket List #4: Complete

What once started as a weight loss journey has turned into something different; something more.  Over the last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time reaching out to support others; whether it be with weight loss, an overall quality of life, or just trying to find new and creative ways to make life more enjoyable.

One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned since I started is that you don’t have to do something extraordinary to make an extraordinary impact on someone’s life.  You don’t have to stand in front of millions and give a thunderous speech to inspire people.  You can make a difference in someone’s life by being yourself and reaching out.  Whether you know it or not, your actions will trigger a domino effect that will inspire others to reach out.  The lives you touch will touch others, and those lives will touch others.

The fourth item on my bucket list was to run a race for a charity, and Thanksgiving provided a perfect opportunity to do that.  The run was for the Life With Cancer organization, which offers support and education for those who are affected by cancer or who have loved ones that are affected by cancer.  There are millions of people who are living with cancer today, and this organization makes their day-to-day lives a little easier.

Some background: I’ve never run a race before.  Ever.  So this was a very new experience for me.  I did not train for this 5k race and only signed up a couple days before; however, my normal runs are anywhere between 2 miles and 4 miles, so running 5k (3.1 miles) wasn’t a stretch for me.  If you have run races before, you may just want to skip to the end.  If you haven’t run races before, stay tuned; I’ll be going through a lot of lessons that were learned.

I woke up around 5:45 AM for an 8 AM race.  Normally before a morning run (despite most of my runs being in the afternoon), I may have an apple and a swig or two of water.  Today it was 16 ounces of water and a banana, which I drank/ate at 6:25 AM.  I was out the door by 6:45 and arrived at the race site at 7.

Starting line an hour before race-time.

Starting line an hour before race-time.

First lesson: If you’re running a race in November, dress warm!  I feel like I was adequately prepared, but many people brought some of the disposable hand warmers and that would’ve been nice because – IT WAS FRIGID!

An actual picture from 30 minutes before the race.  Yes, it’s below freezing!

An actual picture from 30 minutes before the race. Yes, it’s below freezing!

I’m making the assumption that most races have bathrooms or Port-a-John’s close by, which leads me to my second lesson: For short races, don’t eat or drink anything different than normal.  I was nervous and over-thought the pre-race meal a lot, and as such, I was in the bathroom twice in a span of 45 minutes before the race.  Rookie mistake!

Five minutes to game-time and I’m about 100 yards behind the starting line.  There were over 3,000 people running in the race and I’m guessing I was around the middle of the pack.  Everyone is standing around and talking.  Meanwhile, I’ve got my headphones in my ears listening to “It’s A Fight” by Three 6 Mafia and “Warriors of the World” by Manowar, which aren’t my running songs, but usually precede a general workout.

The horn sounds and we see the front of the pack in the distance start to go.  Lesson three: The start of a race is nerve-wracking and tense, especially for a first-timer, but it’s anti-climactic at best, so be patient.  While everyone at the front was running, everyone around me was slowly walking forward.  I found out later that it took me one minute and 55 seconds after the race started before I reached the starting line.

Fourth lesson: The starting line might not be level to the ground, so be careful.  I tripped over the starting line like an idiot but maintained my balance and started to run.  Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to run better when I’m trying to keep up with someone, so I began to look around for a “pace car”.  In front of me was a woman and her boyfriend?/spouse? running at a decent pace with marathon jackets on, so I decided to stick with them for as long as I could.

Lesson five: Do not be phased by the people you pass or the people that pass you.  Both will happen and happen often, so just run your race.  After the first quarter mile, three younger guys just flew by me, and my initial thought was that I was going too slow and needed to speed up.  I stayed the course.  You’re not competing against 3,000 people or three speed demons; just run your race, I told myself.

Despite knowing that I was still running on pure adrenaline after the first 0.75 miles, I decided to go faster.  I accelerated past my “pace car” and began searching for someone new to keep pace with.  I came up on another couple who both looked extremely slim and fit who were running at a quicker pace than I had been running earlier.  Similar to the last couple, I camped out about 10 feet behind them and just worked on keeping pace.

Lesson six: This may not apply to everyone, but it does to me.  Do scout work ahead of time.  I knew exactly where the mile markers would be and, in addition, despite not having a watch, I knew exactly where I should be in my playlist when I hit those markers.  At the 2-mile mark, I was still with my pace-setter and WELL ahead of where I should’ve been had I followed my normal pace.  I evaluated in my head whether or not I should continue to keep pace with him while wondering how long I can keep up the pace before running out of gas.

The side-stiches came at the 2.5 mile mark, with only 0.6 miles to go.  Not now!  Not when I’m so close!  The pain continued until a couple minutes later when the finish line was in sight.  I heard my pace-setter motivating his significant other, “There’s the finish line.  Keep going.”  The distance between us opened up as I could see them going faster.  I sped up and caught them again, trying to muster every ounce of energy to stay within my normal 10 feet.

At the last tenth of a mile, my pace-setter went into a dead sprint, leaving his partner behind.  I followed as we broke away from the small pack that we were with to cross the finish line.  It was my fastest 5k time that I’ve ever run by a full minute and 45 seconds.

Race Results

Race Results

Your actions, however large or small, can be inspirational to those around you.  Unbeknownst to them,  by just running their race, that couple inspired me to push harder than I ever have before.  Maybe one day, I’ll serve as the pace car to someone else.

Leadership

A few days ago, a good friend of mine and I were discussing the term “leadership”; what it truly meant and the qualities and traits of a good leader.  Webster’s defines leadership as a person who guides or directs a group.  That’s it?  Come on, Webster!   You can do better than that!

Which one can give me a better definition of “leadership”?  Hint: It’s not who you’d think!

What does leadership mean to you?  What makes a good leader?  I’ve been asking a lot of people this question over the last 48 hours, and everyone seems to have a different answer.  However, many of the answers shared some common themes; themes which I will try to express in my extended definition.

Leaders genuinely care about their team.  Leaders realize that in addition to team goals, that each individual has personal goals too, and so the leaders will actively seek out ways for both to be accomplished.  Leaders will clearly articulate the team goals and work with the team on ways to accomplish these goals.

Leaders are open-minded to the ideas of the people on their team, and realize that listening and learning from the team will ultimately benefit the entire group.  Leaders will care more about what is right than about being right.

Leaders have integrity and are fair, honest, and approachable.  Even in failure, a leader will treat their team with respect and will make decisions based on knowledge and factual information rather than emotion.

Leaders are trusted, and they earn that trust by respecting everyone around them.  They also earn that trust by trusting their team.  They will work beside their team and stay focused on “us” rather than “me”.  As praise is handed out, the leader will stand behind their team.  When criticism befalls the team, the leader will stand in front.

One of the best books I’ve ever read!

If you haven’t read this book, I would highly recommend it!  It really highlights the differences between “good” leaders and “great” leaders!

I’m sure there are a lot more characteristics to being a leader, and so I welcome any comments that you have on the topic.  Finally, I’ll leave you with one last thought.  You do not have to be in a leadership position to be a leader.  Leaders can be anyone.  A leader can be a small child with a learning disorder and an incredible and inspiring zest for life.  A leader can be a friend who helps another in need.  A leader can be you.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams

Bucket List #12: Complete

Senseless acts of violence are absolutely terrible, but it hits much closer to home when it’s in your own neck of the woods, and I cannot even imagine what it must be like for the people and families who are tragically involved.  From 9/11 to today’s events at the Navy Yard and everything in between, I just can’t understand why things like this happen, and what logic people follow when they commit these horrendous crimes.  My heart and prayers go out to everyone involved in this incident at the Navy Yard.  I wish nothing but the best for you and your families.

 

When something that is overwhelmingly negative occurs, it is extremely difficult to maintain faith.  When a tragedy occurs such as this one, it’s tough to maintain faith in people.  If someone goes through a bad breakup, it’s easy to lose hope in finding love.  Even something as little as seeing a higher number on the scale can cause a difficult strain on your psyche.  Today, I was determined not to lose faith in society just because of one nut case.

 

For those of you that haven’t read my “Bucket List 2013”, I welcome you to do so.  I didn’t start the day thinking that I was going to complete one of the “pay it forward” items, but my hope was to spread just a tiny bit of good will to someone, even if I didn’t know who that someone would be.

 

I pulled up to the drive-thru at Wendy’s and ordered the usual… two Grilled Chicken Go Wraps.  Considering the fact that it is fast food, it’s actually somewhat healthy at only 500 calories for the meal, and I usually can mix in a fresh apple for variety.  It was a little after noon and I saw a packed line behind me.  As I pulled up to the window, the gentleman told me the total with change already in hand.  I gave him the money and told him that I wanted to pay for the car behind me.  He looked a bit confused, and after completing the first transaction with my full change, he then told me the total of the car behind me: $6.91.  I paid for that as well, after which he handed me my food.

PIF_photo

I don’t know who I paid for, or whether it was a man or a woman (they had very tinted windows).  I didn’t look back.  I didn’t see a reaction.  To be honest, I didn’t want to.  My hope is that I was able to give whoever it was in the car behind me a slightly better day.  My hope is that six dollars and ninety one cents made one person see that the world may not be as messed up as it sometimes seems to be.  My hope is that even the smallest good deed will inspire good deeds elsewhere.

 

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” -Jane Goodall

It was the Batman…

It was the Batman...

As I was sitting home, sick as a dog, today, I found myself completely immersed in The Dark Knight trilogy. Okay, okay, so I’ll probably never be as fit as Bruce Wayne (and I certainly won’t be an eccentric billionaire either), but getting in that kind of physical condition is something to aspire to. Have you ever been inspired by a fictitious character before? And if so, who?

Staying the course…

I know that I have promised to do some video posts as well as some larger posts where I  get you, the readers, involved.  That’s still on the agenda, so stay tuned.

 

Have you ever had a week that has caused you to lose hope, lose faith, or lose reasoning?  That was this week for me.  The week starts and you’re swimming okay, but something happens to make you start treading water; then something else happens and you start to sink.  The harder you fight, the more you get pushed down.  I’m stopping there, because you get the point.  The hardest thing to do when you’re feeling like this is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue to charge forward.

 

Prepare yourself; sports analogy in 3, 2, 1…

 

The best comparison I have right now is to think of every day like it is one major league baseball game.  In a 162-game season, you’re not going to win every game.  Even the best team in baseball last year only won 61% of their games.  That means that over 1/3rd of the time, the best regular season team lost a game.

 

Here are some things to remember when you start hitting the doldrums.

1) Anyone can win when things are going well, but the really good teams find a way to win when things aren’t falling their way.  If the going gets tough, stop.  Even if you’re busy; just stop.  Take a deep breath.  Find something small that can be easily accomplished and do it.  Whether it’s a Sudoku puzzle or a quick game on your phone, do something that will force you into a different mindset.

 

2) Make adjustments, whatever they may be.  Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  For me, terrible weeks happen, and it’s during those terrible weeks that my diet plan typically gets completely and utterly derailed.  This week, I made a conscious effort to change the way I typically think.  Instead of completely giving up, I made the choice to change, and instead, focused on the one aspect of the week that I knew I had complete control over.

 

3) Do something nice for someone else.  This is really hard to do when you’re feeling low, but let me tell you, it works.  In addition to some other small things, I participated in a charity golf tournament yesterday to benefit the Tyler Philopena Foundation (doing something I love for a great cause is a winning combination).  It’s a great foundation and I hope that you all can check it out at http://tylerphilopenafoundation.webs.com/.  Seeing a child like Tyler and his love for life makes you appreciate the joy that each day can bring.

 

Maybe this post isn’t for you right now, but when you’re feeling blue, I invite you to come back to this.  Every day might not be a victory, but don’t let a few lost games derail you from accomplishing your goals.  Wherever you are, and whatever path you are on, always remember that you are worth it.

Bringing Good Habits to Life

This is a call to everyone who has their heart set on getting something done.  Maybe it’s something that you’ve never done before.  Maybe it’s something that you’ve been trying to do for a long time and just haven’t had the motivation to complete.  Whether it’s a small job or a large undertaking, there’s absolutely nothing you can’t accomplish.

 

For the CC followers, I promised an update about the weight loss after a strong week of training.  The long and short of it is, I finished the week 3 pounds lighter.  My goal weight is still a ways out, but this puts me on track to achieve it by the end of the year, which I’ve said for awhile was the ultimate goal.  18 pounds to go, and by my count, 19 weeks until 2014.  Difficult, but doable.

 

Improving myself has always been a weakness of mine.  It’s so easy to say “I’ll get to it tomorrow” and then put that quote on repeat for days/months/years.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried a few times to lose some pounds, but eventually you get to the point where it gets difficult and you give up.  Don’t worry.  You’re not alone.  I’ve been there, and I know that there are millions of people like us who have been there before.  Now I’m no expert on self-improvement, so instead of pretending like I am, I’ll share with you what has worked for me so far.  I’d love to hear the thoughts and opinions of others, too, so feel free to write them in the comments section.

 

What’s worked for me:

A) Setting one goal that’s moderately difficult, but achievable.  In the past, I’ve overwhelmed myself with all these things I have to get done by a certain time.  It stresses me out to the point where the motivation declines, and once that happens, it’s game over.  One goal, however, is much less stressful for me.  I stopped flooding myself with “lift 4 times a week, run 3 times a week, lose 30 pounds, eat better” and turned it into “lose 30 pounds… doesn’t matter how, and it doesn’t always have to be the same way… just do it!”

B) Keep track of foods to the point of obsession.  This may not work for everyone, but I’ll be honest, I try to the best of my ability to log every food item on the menu.  It makes me feel like I have much more control over obtaining my goal.

C) Writing about it and receiving support.  The CC community has been a fantastic support group.  Being able to hear inspiring stories has been an incredible motivation boost.  I want to succeed and want others to be successful, too.  The general promotion of that team spirit goes a really long way.

D) Getting back to working out.  It used to be fun, then it started becoming a chore.  I’m trying to make it fun again.

E) And this is the important one.  Do whatever is necessary to keep you motivated.  A song, a punching bag, a movie quote… there are many different sources of inspirational motivation.  Find the one that you like and keep it on hand when the going gets tough.

 

Besides the weight loss, this blog has been another recent accomplishment.  Even as an introvert, I love to entertain and to be entertained.  A few years back, I did a bit of side work as a talk radio DJ, and dabbled into it again earlier this year on blogtalkradio.com.  While that medium has always appealed to me, I wanted a place to express more creativity with the freedom to get into a wider variety of topics.  For some reason, starting this blog was difficult for me.  What do I call it?  Are people going to visit?  Will this really be entertaining?  But I guess something finally clicked inside me to put all of the doubts aside and just go for it.

 

And that’s where the good habits can be brought to life.  Make a choice, right now, to overcome your doubts and start doing what you want to do.  Start living the life that you want to live.  Set a goal and make it happen.  Get excited about your goal, and get excited about what the future has to offer once you reach it.