This isn’t LOST…

At almost 400 words above my self imposed limit of 500-ish words, it was interesting to watch how this piece ended up taking shape, I started in one direction and the final product took me by surprise.

This is the closest thing I believe I’ve  actually written to what I would call a “political post”in quite some time. Other, more well thought out articles I’m sure have been written that cover what I am about to cover. This is me chiming in. Fuck it. Overall, this is about you and how you approach your life, on the ground level.

Here’s the “Too Long Didn’t Read”:

TLDR: Don’t focus on and be limited by amalgamous memories of the “good ole days”. Focus on improving yourself and creating something better and let that create a ripple effect into your circles of influence.

 

And now…the post itself. Thanks for stopping by!

“In every age ‘the good old days’ were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them.” ~Brooks Atkinson

Ah, the “good old days….”

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There is no going back. You should realize the futilitiy of this by now. We rehash movies, TV shows, activities, relationships, political movements, etc., etc., in order to try and “bring back” some nostalgic feeling of how things “used to be”… used to be. Success here is limited and usually short lived.

Trust me, you may not know it, but you don’t want to “go back”.

The memories you have of how things “were” are just an amalgam of memories, stories and things that happened, rolled into one thing called “the good old days”, whatever that is for you. Like the quote above, there have been times of trial and shittiness for every generation. Maybe some were simpler than others, maybe some more dire than others, but each generation faces their own crises.

If we think about this in terms of building upon our past, then each successing generation should be “better” in some way,shape or form than its predecessors. So why wish for things to regress? Let’s look at making things better than they were.

Read into this paragraph what you will but despite having a nice ring to it, the MAGA mantra just doesn’t do it for me. There has been plenty of great and terrible over the span of this wonderful country. I get it, for all intents and purposes, its a “meme”, it relates a specific idea very quickly.

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(joke, chill the fuck out)

Do I like how certain things have played out over the last sixteen years or so? Absolutely not, there was some good with the bad. Would I like to see a “return” to certain things from the past of this glorious country? I would actually like to see a product improvement. Give me version 2.0 or 3.0 instead of a return to the original, something that enhances the features that we loved of the original product.

For the record, I have an abundance/growth mindset. I see a metric shit-ton of potential. I see a whole lot of fucking good that I and you could make of our lives. This is still THE LAND of Opportunity.

I guess the overall point so far that I am trying to make here is nobody really wants to go back. What they want is to have all of the idealized good and none of the bad. Whether that is represented in things of the past, or ideas of a utopian future that disregards human nature. Regardless, moving for sweeping change from the top down will never fix things permanently. Doesn’t matter if you have a D or an R in The Office. It’ll band-aid some stuff, but then in four or eight years, the band-aid is ripped off and a different method is applied…all while the problem never gets fixed. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Absolutely not. We should do what we can to lay a good foundation and foster the resources and potential for the next generation to springboard into creating something better than we had.

Guys, good and bad are going to come with every age and generation. Gandalf and Frodo had the best conversation regarding this:

Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened.”

Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

So, how do we do that?

Start small. Start with yourself.

Too many people want to put shit out on blast and try to create “awareness” when they aren’t even fucking aware of their own weaknesses, failures and shortcomings. It just ends up being masturbatory virtue signaling and white noise.

Work on you.

Improve and add value to your life and then to the lives of others, your family, your job, your neighborhood, your community, your town, your county, your state, your region, your country.

I get it, we will always have a lot of top-down. Maybe if we focus on a bottom-up approach, also, we can get shit fixed on a level where we can meet in the middle with the top-down and actually see some lasting, positive change.

 

Goals: Make ’em, Dominate ’em.

I am breaking my self-imposed 500 word limit for this post. Here is your “TLDR” (too long didn’t read):

Make goals, write them down, review them often. Do the work. You will surprise yourself.

And now, the post…

During the last week of 2015 and into the first days of the new year, I sat down, reflected on everything that had come my way that year and wrote out my goals for 2016.

What did I want to accomplish in the realm of PT?

What books did I want to read?

What goals did I want to achieve for my family?

What tasks did I want to tackle around the house?

What did I want my body to look like?

What did I want my thought life to look like?

Why did I want to improve?

I wrote down affirmations and mindsets that I wanted to maintain through the year, things that would help remind me why I am doing what I am doing. It wasn’t a “New Year, New Me!” New Years Resolution thing. It was deliberate, detailed, and direct. All in all, I had about six pages written out. I reviewed it daily, going over the affirmations and mindsets as well as the goals. Many times, I would say them out loud.

Halfway through the year, I modified the affirmations and mindsets to better reflect the things I had learned, as well as buttressing the goals I had already made. Did I hit all the goals? No. But I did make quite an impact to my list and I learned a lot along the way.

Out of the nine specific performance goals I had in the realm of physical fitness, I fulfilled two. In November, I was able to Squat and Dead-lift five sets of five reps/set at 225lbs. Among the others were goals regarding running, hitting a specific amount of pull ups, Bench Pressing and Overhead Pressing a specific amount of weight in the 5×5 model, as well as having a “defined six-pack abs”.

I set out with seven supporting goals for PT, things like “working out every day with intentionality and purpose”, getting proper rest, taking “no more than two consecutive rest days in a row”, limiting alcoholic drinks to “two per month”. And I noticed that the more specific my goal was, the more apt I was to hit it. The more vague it was, the least likely it was that I would hit it. I solidly fulfilled four of the seven.

Now, I don’t view the other goals that I didn’t hit as complete failures. By and large they weren’t. I made progress in all of them and I learned by the end of the year that some of the goals were a bit too high and would take more calculated steps to eventually achieve. The Bench Press, for example, I wanted to do the same work as the Deadlift and Squat. I’m not wired for those kinds of rapid gains, so, for the Bench, I need to take a slower and more methodical approach. Having six-pack abs was also unrealistic in that I focused solely on strength gains and didn’t do any sort of “cutting”. Did I build my core? Absolutely! You can make out a slight “design” of abs, but I still have a layer of fat to take care of. Of this, I am not ashamed.

Moving on to other goals.

I made nine miscellaneous goals, ranging from taking my family on an out-of-town Christmas vacation, to cleaning up the garage, to getting back into writing on my blog. I was able to accomplish six of these, including the Christmas vacation.

Regarding expanding my mind and learning, I set out with a list of thirteen books that I wanted to read. They ranged in topics from Leadership to Influence to Relationships to Finance. I read a total of twenty-two books, plus one carried over from December 2015 and as of the end of December 2016, I was juggling three others. As I learned and read, the reading list began to evolve. I began listening to podcasts as well. I can say with confidence that I have been exposed to some great thinking, interesting ideas and challenging reads. I haven’t regretted a single book. It was because of everything that I have read that I changed the name of the blog from “Strong 4 Family” to “In Pursuit of Mastery”. Maybe I’ll create a recommended reading list sometime.

The point of everything I have written above isn’t to brag. Just go back up to the TLDR disclosure:

Make goals, write them down, review them often. Do the work. You will surprise yourself.

 

 

I learned that, even though doing what I did yielded some good fruit, I can do more and I plan on trying a different approach this year to see what I can accomplish.

For example, in the realm of PT, instead of writing out goals with a year-end time stamp like I did in 2016. And yes, I do have a reading list for this year. It is starting much bigger than last year, with twenty-four books so far. I’ve left some blank spaces so I can write in further works. I’m looking forward to seeing how much I read by the end of the year. I am making all of my goals revolve around each quarter of the year, areas such as blogging, to-do projects for the house, things to do with my family, etc. I want to see how effective I can be by focusing on the quarter in front of me, while being mindful of the rest of the year because the goals ultimately contribute to the year-end goals

Yes, I have revised or added new and different mindset focuses and affirmations. I’ve also included a section for mindfulness, which is new for me, so I can review and reflect on each day and week’s progress. I also learned that five, six or seven pages to review daily can really add up in time spent being more effective in another area. Since I do not want to abandon the practice altogether, I have broken up the pages to review specific sections once a day. My hope is that I will not fall off the review wagon late into the year, as I did in 2016.

All in all, I have nine pages written out this year. And just like last year, I will carry these pages in a three-ring binder. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes…

Hopefully you have gleaned something from this. Want to change? Like really change? Then don’t fall for the New Year Resolution bullshit!

The process really isn’t anything new or groundbreaking.

Make goals – Make them matter to you, they need some umph and purpose behind them!

Write them down – Be as specific as possible, include deadlines.

Review them often – Keep them fresh in your mind.

Do the work – Nobody will do it for you, cupcake! Get to work!

You will surprise yourself – Seriously, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you accomplish.

As in all things, the picture below goes far beyond PT…

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Pursue Mastery.

GET. OFF. YOUR. APP.

If you were look at how people were able to access information, contact others across the globe, be entertained, track data, etc. in 1916, 1816, 1716 and 1616 and then compare it to what we have now at our literal fingertips, I assume the responses from people of those times would go something like this.*

Marvelous! 1916

Wondrous! 1816

Unfathomable! (Potentially Blasphemy!)1716

Blasphemy! Witchcraft! Burn the Witch! 1616

*These might not be 100% accurate as I do not hold a degree in History, nor did I live during these times. Hopefully, you get the point and humor of what I’m trying to say there. If not, I probably can’t help you.

For all intents and purposes, we possess a mere God-like ability to do what scholars, learned men and commoners from the ages only wished they could do. Myself included, we use it primarily for social media when we could be using it primarily to help us advance, improve, learn and get better. This isn’t an original thought, by any means. But it is a thought we should return to again and again. Like a sign post, helping us stay on course. Relax, I’m not here to rant about social media.

This year is coming to a close…rapidly. Did you create a list of goals this year? How are you doing with those? Are you assessing your progress and using that information to plan the coming year’s goals for a more effective campaign?

There are distractions on so many levels. It is time to cut them loose. It is time to make a change.

Where to start?

GET. OFF. YOUR. APP.

Are you building a business? Trying to create an extra stream of income? Trying to achieve a goal you have set for yourself? Looking to improve your life and better yourself? Use the apps that are necessary for that and eliminate or put strict time limits on the rest.

Train. Build. Add Value. Improve. Learn. Create. Grow. Become.

There is nothing inheritly wrong with entertainment. How much could you accomplish if you cut that four or five hours a night down to one? What would you do with that extra three or four hours if you dedicated them to self improvement and bettering your life?

Don’t wait for New Years Resolutions. Fuck that shit.

Get moving, now.

Don’t try and take on more than you can chew, and sabotage your efforts. Take small steps. Cut thirty minutes off your distractions today and put it towards PT, reading, setting goals for next year, learning, cleaning your house, budgeting, pursuing mastery in your life! Next week, cut another thirty minutes off and by the end of the month you will have converted two hours of wasted time into two hours of productivity. Per day.

That’s fourteen fucking hours of extra productivity a week!

Use the momentum you build in this month to propel you into the new year with a clearer vision and some action behind your words.

Eliminate distractions.

Become Productive.

Pursue Mastery.

 

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In conjunction with this short, motivational post, I am excited to announce the launch of a new shirt with two different font designs to choose from. Both are available in Ladies and Men’s Tees as well as a Hoodie. I am a fan of the Instagram, so I figured it would be clever to use an Instagram-esque font for the first design, given the overall theme of the essay. I really liked the font of the previous shirt, it’s bold and clean, so I’m using it again for the second version of the shirt. Get yours now and get moving on your goals!

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Get the above design here.  

 

getoffyourapp2

 Get the second design here.  

 

 

Going Maverick – or – Like Han, you’re Solo.

Before I begin this, I wanted to give A BIG THANK YOU, to those who have already purchased one of the t-shirts and hoodies that I have available over at TeeSpring. I appreciate it! Send me a picture of you in your shirt as you chase your goals and I’ll put you on blast (in a good way) here at the blog, on Facebook and IG.

For those who haven’t purchased one, I put a pic of the shirts at the bottom of the article with a link. These shirts are available until November 10 and your order will ship approximately two weeks after that.

Without further ado, let’s get to the meat of the topic at hand…

 

 

You and the iron. You and the road. You and the heavy bag. You and the machines. That’s it. That’s all.

Goose does not have your back as you go in for the prize. No Iceman to cover your six as you engage. You’ve got no Wingman.

Chewbacca isn’t your copilot this time, Han, you’re solo. You are just a scruffy looking nerf-herder all on your own.

Sound right? I’ve been there.

Until last year, the great majority of my pursuit of physical mastery had been a solitary journey. And there are massive benefits to having a partner. A partner can make all the difference in helping you push harder, especially when you are hitting those final couple reps or when you are on that last mile. Even a little friendly and healthy competition with your partner goes a long way towards furthering your progress, reaching your goals and making consistent gains. But we are here to talk about the solo journey, because sometimes you won’t have the luxury of a training partner.

In trying to keep with the theme of pursuing mastery, I am working on limiting my post length to 1000 words or less; keeping things short, to the point and as helpful as possible. In keeping with that goal, we shall briefly cover three points for successfully navigating a solo journey.

These points are: Have a “Why”. Have a Plan. Have Support.

Point the first: Have a Why.

I believe that the biggest thing to keep you on the path is your own personal why. It’s that big, luminous, always in front of you reason that keeps you getting back up and hitting the road, or lifting the iron. As I said in my post, “You Are the Constant”:

“[Your reasons] must compel you to keep moving forward, good enough to drag you from the couch if they have to. They need to be reasons with weight and punch behind them. They need to be reasons that make you seriously disappointed in yourself if you begin to stray from the path. For all intents and purposes, they need to be strong enough to carry you when a sledgehammer full of suck gets slammed into your chest. Trust me.”

Point the second: Have A Plan

The second thing is planning. It is in your best interest to go into every workout with a plan of attack. What I mean by that is this: write down your current workout, review your prior sessions and plan the next workout. This means keeping a notebook – or at the very least an app on your smart phone – to record, review and plan. Write it down. I used a notebook for the longest time and if you pay attention to the gym goers, you will see someone with a notebook tracking their work. Now I use the notes app on my phone, it’s a very convenient way for me record, review and plan my work accordingly. This process of recording, reviewing and planning will assist you in making consistent gains while marking progress towards your goals. On the flip side, if you just waltz into the gym and do whatever feels good, you’ll soon find yourself frustrated that you aren’t seeing any real results. Bicep curls can only get you so far.

 

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My notebook from 2014… ahhh, the early days of me learning to lift!

Point the Third: Have Support.

The last thing I would suggest that you should have is some sort of support. But I thought this is about going solo? Yes it is, however nobody is an island. No one. Just because you are doing the work by yourself, doesn’t mean you can’t have some support.

Spouses and significant others can be a source of support, even children can be a source of support as they see you looking to get healthier. All of these people don’t have to be cheerleaders. Just having them know what you’re trying to accomplish and for them to understand that you are dedicated to improving yourself can be enough.

In this age of duck-faces and seemingly vain pic posts, social media can be a good source of support, too. You might be seen as one of “those people”, but who cares? The haters won’t say jack shit and those that support you will show it. Sometimes that is all you need. Once they see consistent changes and improvement, they will send you private messages asking you how you did it, what they can do to change or improve and you’ll get asked to create workout routines for them. Trust me, it happens, and it makes a difference in how you see your own progress.

If you need more support than that, get involved with an online community like the Nerd Fitness Community. The “rebels” there are some amazing, talented, intelligent and good-looking people who are focused on achieving their goals and helping others along the way. It is also done in a fun and creative way. That is where I got my start!

 

And that’s it. Has this simplified approached helped? What has worked for you?

Pursue Mastery.

Get your shirt here!  Available until 11/10/2016.

 

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