Tag Archives: Exercise

The Problems That Remain

To Do List

The list stresses me out. Maybe it does you, too. Time to make it smaller.

When I have a bunch of chores, I tend to save the hardest stuff for last.

I think there’s probably an argument—a good one—for knocking out the more-challenging stuff first. But I’m a world-class procrastinator. One of the best of all time.

And if anyone knows how to push off challenging tasks for later, it’s me.

Finance coach and get-out-of-debt proponent Dave Ramsey preaches a debt-elimination method he calls the Debt Snowball Plan.

It calls for listing all of your debts from smallest to largest, making only minimum payments on all of them, except the smallest one. On the smallest one you put everything you can into paying it off.

When that goes away, you take all of that same money budgeted for debt elimination and you apply it to the second-smallest debt. The amount of money each month dedicated to paying off debt “snowballs” until your debt is completely eliminated.

Ramsey is coaching people to knock out the easiest stuff first. To taste the small wins. And to feel the motivation to tackle the bigger challenges and win those, too.

Whatever problems you’re facing in your life are probably the most-difficult for you to overcome.

Any problems you had which didn’t require a lot of time, money or effort to solve, have most likely already been solved.

What’s left is the really hard stuff.

One of my favorite writers and thinkers—Seth Godin—wrote about this a few days ago in his “The problems you’ve got left…” post.

Godin writes about business. About marketing principles. I work in marketing so I try to read him every day. But he has a knack for writing things that cross over into other aspects of the human experience as well. I think he’s a genius.

In this post, Godin is asking us to evaluate the remaining problems, challenges, obstacles in our lives at work.

I think we can just as easily apply this to our lives at home.

He wrote this:

“The problems you’ve got left are probably the difficult ones.

“We’d all like to find discount answers to our problems. Organizations, governments and individuals prefer to find the solution that’s guaranteed to work, takes little time and even less effort.

“Of course, the problems that lend themselves to bargain solutions have already been solved.

“What we’re left with are the problems that will take ridiculous amounts of effort, untold resources and the bravery to attempt something that might not work.

“Knowing this before you start will help you allocate the right resources… or choose not to start at allthis problem, the one that won’t be solved in a hurry, might not be worth the effort it’s going to take. If it is, then pay up.”

I immediately started to evaluate my “problems.”

Which ones lend themselves to bargain solutions?

There are some that do. Facets of my life that can legitimately improve if I’m only willing to make a few small, disciplined changes to my schedule, to my work ethic, to my routine.

The big problems are big.

They require big ideas. Big effort. Big solutions.

But in the meantime, maybe we can start building some momentum by knocking out some of the simpler ailments that impact our lives.

For most of us, the biggest obstacle to getting started is inertia.

People don’t think enough about it. I know I don’t. But it’s important. And it’s real.

Inertia is the resistance of an object to any change in its state of motion. You know. Isaac Newton shit.

It means that objects at rest tend to stay at rest. That’s the bad news.

Because it’s really hard to get moving sometimes.

But inertia can be our friend, too. Because the same principle applies to objects already in motion. They tend to stay in motion.

Our lives, I think, work the same way. When we’re stuck in ruts… financially, spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally… we tend to stay stuck in the rut.

Until something—hopefully our will—forces us to do things differently.

And that’s when real change happens. A snowball effect.

Building problem-solving momentum, feeling the joys of those small wins, and using inertia as a tool rather than a hindrance.

I don’t know if I’m ever going to achieve the life mastery skills I want to feel in control of all the important parts of my life.

But I know that I have big problems.

And I have small problems.

Seems extra foolish to not at least get those small ones marked off the list.

Because I don’t believe life should be a list of chores.

I believe it should be a list of adventures.

Of hopes and dreams.

What do I want to do today?

I think that’s what happiness looks like. But there are still things that must be done.

Responsibilities. Obligations. People who need us.

I really want to play. And I intend to. Perhaps more this year than I have in a very long time.

But there are some things which require my attention first.

And it’s time to get down to business.

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Back to School

It's back-to-school time for my son. And it's back-to-school time for me. The excuses must stop.

It’s back-to-school time for my son. And it’s back-to-school time for me. The excuses must stop.

Today was my first day being a single dad on a school-day morning.

This meant dressing my five-year-old son a little bit nicer.

This meant worrying about whether he can effectively manage the hook fastener and zipper on his shorts to avoid stressful trips to the bathroom.

This meant wondering whether kindergarten teachers assign homework.

This meant revisiting when boys and girls started liking one another.

I want my son to do well in school. Both academically and socially. I worry about how much I’m not doing to foster his development on both fronts.

It all feels a little too big and too scary sometimes. With no one to talk to about this stuff. With no one there to read books to him while I fold laundry. With no one to clean up the kitchen while I give him a bath.

There aren’t enough hours in a day.

But that can’t be an excuse for lazy parenting.

School at Home

I finally feel like I’ve turned a page. Like I have finally arrived at a place where I can begin the process of growing accustomed to my new reality.

Half the time, I’m a dad. Half the time, I’m a middle-aged bachelor.

And I need to figure out how to achieve balance with all of that.

I’ve only cleaned my house twice in five months. Gross, right? I know.

I keep the kitchen tidy. I wipe the dining room table each night. I never let the bathrooms get disgusting. And I certainly spot clean if something is amiss.

But still. Twice in five months? It’s pathetic.

My garage door opener bunked out on me about three months ago. All I have to do is get the model number off the unit and call a local repair shop. Probably won’t cost $50 to fix. I have issues.

I still haven’t established a financial budget for my life.

That’s right. I bought a brand new vehicle without budgeting for it.

I. Make. Bad. Decisions.

I’m still not working out. It might be a figment of my imagination, but I think I look even worse when I get out of the shower than I did two months ago when I was feeling sensitive about it.

Do you know how hard it is to wake up an hour earlier, do a little cardio and lift a few weights?

It’s not. I have all the equipment at home in my basement. I used to be down there every morning.

NOT. THAT. HARD.

Yet, something stops me. Mental exhaustion? Depression?

I think it is simply a lack of discipline. For example, I’m at work almost every day. I do what’s needed. I don’t forget to pick up my son, or pay the day care lady, or to post as often as possible here.

I don’t want to be undisciplined. It’s no way to live. Because when you lack discipline, your responsibilities start falling through the cracks. And the consequences begin to pile up. And the stress emanating from all of those dropped balls is not something any of us need.

Moreover, there is a direct correlation between my reduced waistline and toned arms, and my self-confidence.

If I don’t get better at anything else, I MUST resume regular exercise. I must.

Because I’m a viable male companion when I look how I’m supposed to look. And the trickle-down effects of that could be tremendous.

Routine.

Discipline.

Increased energy.

Heightened mental aptitude.

Better sleep.

Enhanced confidence.

Improved attractiveness.

These are very good things. Things I crave.

What am I waiting for?

I honestly don’t know.

To Be a Man

What does it take?

To be a man?

To be a father?

More than what I’m doing.

I can keep the wool pulled over my son’s eyes for a little bit. He’s five. He’s easy to con.

But it won’t be long before his powers of observation are keener than my ability to justify inaction.

I am that boy’s best chance to follow whatever path leads to success with life management, with health, with friends, with girls, with extracurriculars, and whatever else.

It has never been more important for me to walk the walk than it is now.

One of the things I miss most about marriage is that I genuinely like doing things for others.

I used to enjoy keeping the kitchen spotless or dusting surfaces because it made my ex happy. It lightened her load. I was serving a purpose. I was serving her.

I used to enjoy cooking meals. Large, made-from-scratch meals. I’ve made two meals I’m proud of since she left. Two. Both for guests.

The rest of the time, I’m whipping together quick things like breakfast or tacos or salads or mac and cheese, or something worse.

He deserves better. He deserves more. He deserves a father who never takes the lazy way out.

A father who does things the “right” way—the difficult way—in virtually all situations.

To see me walk the walk. All the time. Every day. In all I do.

What does it take for someone who knows what should be done to actually take action and do it?

What’s worse?

The lazy and ignorant person who doesn’t know better, or the person who’s well-informed, has a blueprint for success, and makes shitty choices anyway?

Me, right? I’m worse.

I think so.

I want to help people. I want to help people very much. But I can’t help anyone if I can’t figure out how to help myself.

People keep telling me I’ll be fine. That I’ve been through a hard time and should cut myself some slack.

Bullshit.

When it gets hard is when character is formed. Perseverance isn’t just about surviving. It’s about thriving despite the odds.

My son couldn’t work that little hook fastener on his shorts this morning. Instead of being cool and just finding him some different shorts, I chose to sort of let him sink or swim when he goes to the bathroom today.

He had trouble working the mechanism. I got frustrated with him because he quit when it got hard. Because he didn’t keep trying. Because he didn’t overcome.

What a hypocrite, I am.

But I feel bad about it. Which is why I know there’s hope.

I won’t quit trying to be better today than I was yesterday.

And I hope that’s an idea everyone can get behind. Just trying to be marginally better today at anything than you were yesterday. Constant improvement. In all areas of life.

Because children need us. Not just ours. All that look to us for guidance.

Not to spout off a bunch of hot air at them.

But to lead by example. To blaze the trail. To be someone they can emulate and be proud of.

Could anything be more important than that?

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