What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.~ Viktor Frankl
I don’t think that anymore. Those fantasies are silly really. As the character Judge Smails played by Ted Knight in Caddyshack so aptly put it, “The world needs ditch diggers too.” … Accepting the fact that you are a contributor to a larger community as opposed to being a Demi-God uberman is not just humbling…it’s a huge relief.~ Steven Pressfield from, https://stevenpressfield.com/2014/10/old-dog-new-tricks-2/
But my biggest challenge is the closely-related problem of continuously thinking about all the things I “should” do. Where, “should,” is a self-evaluated judgement that arises from my thinking about all the things I could do. …and HFS I could do all sorts of things.
Having happily set down all the Big Picture “shoulds,” I’m currently trying to pick off all the true “shoulds.” I’ve learned to stop looking to the stars, and to instead set my sights on the next hilltop. I should put the finishing touches on the garden we built last year. I should get that tree trimmed professionally so it’s good for another 10 years. …those aren’t so bad. But some: I should finish going through all this photography. I should find a home for this pool table. …I’ve been trying to get done for like 10 years.
Overall, there’s a pretty big list, but importantly, the list has not been growing in recent years. On the other hand, it weighs on my mind none the less.
A distinction I’ve been making in recent years:
A goal is something specific. It will be clear when the goal is achieved. For me, goals should always be the classic specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time dependent, sort of SMART goals.
An aspiration is something directional. It will be clear when progress is made in the direction dictated by the aspiration.
The more goals I set, the worse my life becomes. I set great goals… big challenging, self-stretching goals. They pile on like dead weight and drag me down. Lose 10 pounds. Read an hour a day. …and so on.
Aspirations, being open-ended, don’t feel so daunting. Provided the aspirations lead to actual action, then I don’t need to worry about tomorrow. I can simply do the things—today, now—which are guided by my aspirations. Be someone who moves. Be exposed to lots of fresh ideas. Be someone who helps others. Be someone who creates value. Be someone whose mind works well.
What aspirations do you have?
How much harder is it to do the right thing when you’re surrounded by people with low standards? How much harder is it to be positive and empathetic inside the negativity bubble of television chatter? How much harder is it to focus on your own issues when you’re distracted with other people’s drama and conflict?
~ Ryan Holiday
I consider myself lucky that I’m surrounded by such a terrific group of people: loving, supporting, listening, encouraging– just so many ‘ings.
Also, I’ve built upon my intial luck (parents, gender, skin color, country of birth, the century, etc) by working hard to seek out people who require me to improve. I don’t particularly like the old adage, “you are the average of your five closest friends,” because it’s so trivial as to be of little help. I prefer…
People are like goals in that they pull (or push, this is a choose-your-own metaphor) you in some direction. Sometimes, one person pulls you in several directions at once. Each person pulls you in “lurches” and “yanks”; The more time you spend with them, the more of a concerted effect they’ll have. Some people you cannot choose (to add or remove them from your life, to change their behavior or innate qualities). So you best think very carefully, and act very intentionally, to choose those whom you can.
Looking ninety days out, you have a good idea of what you can actually get done in that time frame, so your capacity estimations are about right and yet you can make some very substantial progress towards a big goal. It leads to moving faster without compromising strategy – being more agile. Having goals and visions for three or five years down the line is valuable, but it’s often not very helpful to try and plan out concrete steps—there’s just too much that has to get done which feels overwhelming and leads to inaction.
~ Asian Efficiency
I certainly find that if I spend a large amount of time planning way far out… that ends up never working out. For this year (2018) I’ve a few “visions” — some big picture things I’d like to work towards, but I’m trying to keep my plans/planning on a smaller scale. Makes it much easier to have daily successes too.
If you want to achieve a goal you’ve set, the most crucial part is to DECIDE to manifest it. It doesn’t matter if you feel it’s outside your control to do so. It doesn’t matter if you can’t yet see how you’ll get from A to B. Most of those resources will come online AFTER you’ve made the decision, not before.
~ Steve Pavlina
Reaching my goals does NOT happen simply by my wishing for it. However, making a decision and visualizing the goal DOES get me on my way there. The more I believe, the more I push the boundaries, the more I explore while reaching for the vision, and the harder I work… the luckier I get.
(Part 36 of 36 in series, 10,000 Reps Project)
I surrendered yesterday with a heavy heart.
Since July 20th, 2015, it has been a long year of ups and downs. I’ve made some massive improvements in strength, and form, for the activities I’d chosen. But I still have much work left to do — both in terms of the number of reps left before the 10,000 goal, and in terms of the quality of the activities I had hoped to reach along the way.
A few weeks ago, I started a sprint to the finish. In an attempt to make the 10,000 goal within the dwindling days, I would need to do approximately 200 reps of everything every-other-day for several weeks. I started using a resistance band to ease the strain on my shoulder during the pull-ups, but even that was not enough to preserve my shoulder. This past weekend, at a Parkour event in Boston, it became painfully(!) clear that my shoulder injury was returning.
I have a Parkour trip planned in August, and I must begin that with my shoulder at 100%. I am forced to choose between a good shoulder for my trip, or the remaining 2770 pull-ups. I am choosing my shoulder.
Now, I find I have to write the “wrap this series up” post sooner than expected. So, what have I learned?
Anyone can put a challenge in front of themselves that they are unable to do. How well do you know what you are capable of? How well do you know how to make yourself capable of more. I train to know who I am and how I can improve.
~ Jesse Danger
This 10k project is the largest challenge that I can ever recall attempting. It is the only thing I’ve ever tried to accomplish which spanned the course of one entire year. It was ambitious, huge and has taught me a lot about my ability to stay motivated over a long time frame. (Pro tip: I suck at staying motivated.) I learned (or refined) several new skills involving daily and weekly planning of workouts, planning for road-blocks (winter weather, holidays, trips) and recovering from injury.
It is certainly not the first thing at which I’ve failed. It is certainly not the last thing at which I’ll fail.
Perhaps one day I will do it again and make the goal. But for now, I have other things to do.
(Part 44 of 74 in series, My Journey)
I’ve recently started thinking about 2016 goals. These aren’t “New Year’s Resolutions”; When I pick up a goal, it’s only after a lot of thinking and planning. Most importantly, I only commit if I believe the result of reaching the goal is worth it.
I’m considering things like the following:
- Hip/ankle flexibility: Achieve being able to sit, relaxed in a full squat. (I’ve been working on this for 3 months already.)
- Reach a lower weight; I’m thinking 210 is probably a good goal for about 6 months out. (Currently about 223.)
- Run 10 minute miles; Maybe run a 5K in 30 minutes in October. (I think this would be pretty easy if I was 210.)
…and then a bunch of non-physical training things:
- Become fluent in French. (A big challenge!)
- Develop a solid writing habit.
- Develop a solid reading habit. (I already read a lot; It’s consistently finding/making the time.)