I hope you’re in the business of improving. Who isn’t, right? We work hard on our craft, our hobby, our family, our relationships. We put in the time and we put in the work. But sometimes our upwards trajectory gets stifled. It can be very discouraging. I had that yesterday.
I’ve started to swim in preparation for my first triathlon. The last five week’s I’ve been in the pool working on stroke technique and cardiovascular endurance with tremendous learning and improvement. Learners see great improvements in the first stage of training a new skill. Literally every workout has been better than the previous. This culminated with my first full Masters swim class last Thursday which went better than I thought it would go.
And then yesterday happened.
It was like I had never done any of the drills before. It was like I had never swam five minutes straight before. It was like I had never practiced any of my technique before. To say it was a discouraging workout is an understatement. And I knew it 10 minutes into the workout.
Tuesday – the Dip
But I stayed in the pool. I worked through some adversity, only to finish the workout disappointed and confused. Once I was out of the pool, showered up and into the rest of my day, only then was I able to process the experience as a simple down-tick in the game plan. I’m not in trouble. I haven’t regressed. This is all part of the learning and training process.
Wednesday – true growth and training effect
If you’ve been knocked down, I encourage you to walk away and process what happened. Revisit your game plan and show up to work the next day. Do you know someone who needs to read these words? Please share using the buttons below.
A few weeks ago I had to go to the ophthalmologist (eye doctor, for those keeping score at home) because one eye was very red, infected, painful, all of the above. She looked around, put some drops in, and concluded I probably was using dirty contacts. It was good that there was nothing worse, but it was also a wake up call to take better care of my contacts. She sent me home with new instructions for daily clearing my contacts. Why am I sharing this? Because the actual protocol was for me to physically rub my contacts when I took them in or out of their case and then empty the solution in the case each time I used it. The problem of me was that I would never remember to change the solution until after I put my contacts away for the day. It wasn’t until I changed my routine and emptied the solution right after putting the contacts in for the day that I was able to be successful in my new eye care.
I’m going though something similar with my new swim workouts. Our house is set up such that the kids’ rooms are right next to our room and the mud room, which is our entrance to the garage. I cant simply get out of the house at 5:15am. I need to have my swim bag packed, my change of clothes and shower stuff packed, and even my garage door opener out of my car and by the front door so that I don’t open the inside door and risk waking up my (precious:) sleeping daughter. The first couple weeks of swimming were stressful just in the prep I had to do the night before!
I’m finding that so many things in life are better experienced when you go through the set up in advance. I’ll admit: I’m not a good planner. I fly by the seat of my pants more than I’d like to admit. I’ve trained for full and half marathons – that takes some planning. I’m 30 days away from finishing a graduate degree in kinesiology – that took some planning and disciplined study. But some of the smaller day-to-day or week-to-week planning issues are a struggle for me. But life is a series of adjustments and I’m learning to adjust my habits, my routines, my preparations so that I can be successful in new and challenging ways.
Not only does it take some planning to get out of the house in the morning to swim, but it also takes some planning so that I get a good workout when I get in the water. I’m not a swimmer. I don’t know swim workouts, I don’t even know some of the lingo as I spend time with swimmers and research swim training. So planning my workouts is essential if I’m going to expect to improve as fast as I’d like.
This all plays into a new theme in my life. Every Monday morning I’ve spent some disciplined time prepping for the week. Now I’m looking at some of the other areas of life that require set up to be successful. Do you have any areas of life that could use a little more set up?
A mini post, because this thought came in my mind as I started work this morning:
Man in the Arena
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out howthe strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
I’m building a new model for care in the medical field. The original idea wasn’t mine, but I’ve adopted it and made my adjustments. The campaign is called Exercise is Medicine. It’s an initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine. The idea is that people listen to their doctors and will respond if their doctors recommend that they get more physical activity. Just about all of us need more physical activity in our lives and doctors don’t have the time (or usually the expertise) to monitor a person’s fitness. I launched the initiative for Madison in January. I have two doctors that I’m working with and I’m happy with the dialog we’ve started and the program we have in place. The only problem: none of the recommendations have lead to exercise prescription.
Have you ever felt the Resistance?
If you have ever tried to do something creative, or something that would benefit other people, or something that would make your a healthier or better person, you have felt Resistance. Resistance, according to Steven Pressfield, is what tells us that we’re not good enough, that we are going to fail, that we’ll blow it, that we don’t actually want these good things anyway.
The Resistance for me right now is that next hurdle. How do I make some simple adjustments and get some clients to sign up for our program? How much information should I be sharing with the doctors? I put a lot of work into setting up the program, establishing the relationships with the doctors and making the ask for them to participate. It was exciting to launch the program but now I’ve entered the Resistance. The excitement is gone. Momentum has been lost. I’m questioning if this will work and even if so, what’s my next move?
Building a business, establishing relationships, determining your next move all take time. It’s a disciplined practice to plan and execute and I often find it therapeutic to just write it out like this blog post and share it.
Have you had any experience with the Resistance? What kinds of processes do you go through when you’re building something for the first time?
What will be the tipping point for this country to value and pursue their health? You can’t refute (a) the health status of our country (33% overweight, another 33% obese) or (b) the science of how we get healthier. It literally blows me away that our country, the most powerful one in the world, is this unhealthy! It’s embarrassing and it needs to change. I think one of the most powerful arguments for why we need people in this country to exercise and be healthy was written by my friend Spence. Basically, he says you need to be healthy because your friends and your family need you. And they need you to be focused and working like a champ.
My brother works as a financial advisor and is often talking to me about investments, planning ahead for retirement, and the kids’ college funds. He knows that in your 40’s and 50’s it’s too late to start saving for retirement. The time to do the work is now. Putting money away, making solid investment decisions, and being disciplined now means you can enjoy the benefits of that hard work in the end Continue reading →
Imagine getting to the end of the year and saying that “Every Monday this year I ______.” That’s a pretty big accomplishment! You can fill in the blank with whatever you want. It can be a big thing, a small thing, an easy thing or something really challenging. The point is to establish routine and be successful.
Will you fail? Maybe.
Will you get back up and keep going? Hopefully.
This challenge was introduced from my friend Jon. I chose to do one big thing for myself and one small thing for someone else. I know, when I say that out loud it sounds very selfish. Anyway….
My big thing is an organizational exercise. Every Sunday I put together a game plan for the upcoming week. My schedule is so busy with grad school, work, starting a business, oh and leading a family! If I don’t plan ahead, things don’t get done. Heck, even when I do plan things fall apart. But so far I’m 8-for-8! It feels so good to start the week with a plan and a visual layout of what’s going to happen in the next five days.
My little thing is that I’m going to add one person to my prayer list. I already pray for my family, but I feel the need to extend this prayer exercise. So far I’ve prayed for Steve, John, Peter, and others.
I think it’s a pretty powerful exercise to have things like these that we do every day, every week, even every month. Routines lead to habits which establish discipline. What simple routine do you need to start to make your work weeks go better?
This weekend Katie and I escaped to the Northwoods for a getaway. We were able to leave the kids with my mom and dad while we headed three hours north to Fort Wilderness. It was the Valentine’s banquet on Friday which was amazing food and Fort-style entertainment. Then Saturday was filled with two cross-country ski runs, a hike through camp and out on the frozen lake, a couple trips to the coffee shop, and great conversations with Katie plus other friends and family.
It was so refreshing to get away. It showed me how essential is it to get away from the normal life here in Madison, even away from the daily grind of taking care of two kids. For Katie and I to get away and breathe deeply, relax and refresh ourselves was essential for our marriage. We haven’t done that enough; we’re trying to do it more. A healthy and disciplined lifestyle includes knowing when to get away. As a Christian, I look to the example Jesus to lead my life. Jesus regularly got away from his disciples, his teaching, even his family so that he could be alone. Sometimes the disciples didn’t get it, they see the importance. But there’s value in getting away.
It doesn’t take a 3-hour trip to get away, either. It can be one our alone at your favorite coffee shop. It can be a walk to and through the local park, the Arboretum, or any of our beautiful State Parks. I suppose it could even be driving the back country roads alone. Life gets busy. Marriage is hard. Time alone and time with your spouse will do wonders for your health. Your family needs you. So take care of you.
Who leaves a New Year’s Eve party at 11:45pm? Well, I’ve got this friend…
A few years ago we had a party to welcome in the new year. This was before I was married and I was living in an apartment with Scott Mottice. I couldn’t tell you anything else that happened at the party, except that Brady left at 11:45. At the time, Brady Reinke was wrestling for the Badger at the 174 spot. When he announced to me that he was leaving, I couldn’t believe it and needed an explanation. He said that he wanted to be the first person working out in the new year. Nobody would out-train him. Of course none of his competitors knew he was working out at this time. But sometimes it’s more important the message you send yourself than the message you send to others.
Monday I went for a run. I have a very familiar 3.75-mile loop around McFarland that works well for my training. The only thing was that it was the coldest day of the year. By the time I got back, it was -3 with a windchill of -14. I’m preparing now for what I want to do this summer. I’m preparing now for the health and habits I want working full strength all year. I’m preparing myself for launching a new business. And while I’m publishing this post to the world, I think you can tell that this run was more about the message I was telling myself. “On the days you don’t want to train, remember that you did it when it was so cold that it literally hurt. You can do this. Keep going.” Brady told himself that no one would be in that training room earlier than him. Oh by the way, Brady qualified for Nationals that year.
Just to make sure my coldest run of the year wasn’t a fluke, I ran the next day too. The windchill was five degrees colder. It was a little crazy, it was unnecessary, but it was absolutely beneficial to my mental training.
What action do you need to take to send a message to yourself that you control your own destiny and that you have the ability to be successful?
The year is half over. How are you doing with that? I was reminded of this half way point twice this week. Our church is going through a series for the entire year. It’s called Eat This Book and the goal is to read the Bible daily, hopefully enough to get through the entire Bible by December 31. Today our senior pastor issued a charge to recommit the the challenge. The Bible is the living word of God, and we should daily be reading and learning from His words. If we’ve fallen away from the year-long plan, the best day to start back up is today.
One blog which has really impressed me this year is 300 words a day following Jesus. Jon Swanson is a brilliantly simple writer who has challenged me to the core on a handful of occasions this year. His latest post included a list questions that I’d rather now plagiarize – so go check out this post and come right back: Six Month Questions.
Jon said it pretty well, but here’s my take on it: the year is half over. It’s halftime, and every good coach has halftime adjustments to make.
What has gone well this year?
What needs to improve?
Is there something that needs to get cut out of your week that will leave time for more important pursuits?
Are you more fit today that January 1st?
Would a morning workout make your day go better?
Are you getting enough rest?
Are you disciplined in the important aspects of your life?
Reflecting on life is extremely important if you desire to be successful, happy, and productive. I am starting off this week by looking back on some goals I set for the year and making some adjustments in life so that the second half of 2012 is an improvement from the first half. Always improving should always be the goal.