Bike to work, the 7 mile mark!

Psshh, the source for this said this is a girls only poster! Well too bad :P

I want to be able to bike to work.  But as a consultant, it’s rare that I’m ever actually in my home office (5 miles from home), and instead find myself at a client site much further away.  But that won’t stop me this time.  However, the distance may slow me down just a bit… It’s 16 miles each way!

So I’ve broken this seemingly impossible goal (to go from 0 miles a year to 32 miles a day via bicycle) down into stages.  I’ll ride each day, and little by little increase the distance until I hit the numbers I’m aiming for.  And this week I hit a great mile stone, 7 miles in 40 minutes!  At this rate I’ll be at work in an hour and about 2 hrs… Still, it’s progress. 

My new bike, with only 8 miles on it at time of photo!

My new bike, with only 8 miles on it at time of photo!

At 26, I’ve never walked, ran, or biked a distance of 7 miles in my life.  In fact, since owning it I’ve riden 4 times.  I’m slowly trying to gauge where max distance is over time, hopefully minimizing the chance for injury by easing into it as well as learning the bike itself.  So far each ride has left me pretty tired, and my legs feeling like half set jello, but there has yet to be any intense soreness the day after.  I am however aware of the strain I’m putting on my body, and have no intention of jumping up several miles each run.  Which leads me to my first biking tip ever: creating a distance menu!

The Menu

First I started with a chart with 2 columns, one labeled ‘Miles’ and the other ‘Route’.  I then added rows from 1 to 16 with half mile increments starting after 9 miles (since I’m guessing I’ll have to slow my progression about that distance).  Each route starts and ends at my home, and the chart was emailed to my phone for quick reference.  When I’m walking out the door, I can decide how I feel that day and have a quick route planned out to match.  So if the Sun is going down and I only want a brief ride in I can follow the route for 2 miles and be all set!  In a few days I’ll try my 8 mile route when I think I’m ready.

Building Your Routes

Using routebuilder.org  I was able to easily click my way across a google map and get a great estimate on the distance.  It took me about an hour or two to map everything out (I have over 16 routes mapped after all), but now that I have them all mapped out it’s a peice of cake.  Each route starts and ends at my house, and some share the same first few starting streets to speed up the route mapping process as well as give me  some options should I change my mind early on.  The site offers a saving feature, but if you don’t start over each time it will overwrite the last one, so I just gave up and built a simple route reference system.

Route Shorthand

I used the following format for jotting down my routes so that I could easily read it on my iPhone:

(L)COBB-(R)PEACHTREE SE-(R)XMPLSTRT…

Since all my routes start at home, I skip the first road most times to save space.  In this example I turn left onto Cobb Parkway, then right onto Peachtree St SE, and finally right on to Example Street.  The first time you try a longer route, you may need to check half way through, but after a while you’ll easily remember the path you plan to follow with a quick glance.  I usually try to leave out vowels or use nicknames for really popular streets with long names. Like PTREE for Peachtree.

Mix it up!

I decided to try and get each route to take me somewhere new.  If I want to do 3 miles, I’m not planning on riding the 1 mile route 3 times, which would be far too boring.  Instead, I want to ride the 3 mile route, and if I’m in the mood can ride the 1 mile route to top it off at the end.

Let’s Ride!

After that it’s back to peddlin’.  For now I’m focusing on slowly working my way up to that magic 16 number.  But first on my list is mile 11, because that’s the distance to the closest train station from my house.  Thus allowing me to bike there, and ride the last few miles on the train, which should be a great sub goal!  Wish me luck!

How To Identify and Remove 3 Types of Toxic People in Life

Define Your Future Today

If you’re a fan of Tim Ferris, then you’ve definitely come across the 80/20 rule.  He didn’t originate it of course, but he applied it to something I hadn’t realized before: that 20% of the people in your life, cause 80% of your unhappiness and stress.  Once I realized this, I took immediate steps to remove them from my life.  Below are some of the types of people I discovered, very slowly, were in fact toxic.  Much of these traits were only obvious to me in hindsight, and I’m positive that as I meet more people, more red flags will go unnoticed for far too long.  But the time spent with those people, good and bad, is gone; it’s a sunk cost.  Having spent a lot of time with them does not justify spending more time with them.  So if any of the below descriptions remind you of someone in your life (no mater how close you may be with them), explore them thoroughly.  Then, when the time comes, be decisive.  Make a commitment to being a better person today. 

The False Dreamer

False Dreamers are a lot like alcohol.  Each time to you get together, they build your confidence, make a lot of promises for tomorrow, and justify the inaction of yesterday as not the right time.  You feel great when you’re together, and as a result, you get together almost daily.  But somehow, none of those promises come true.  None of the feats attempted.  None of the plans planned, much less executed.  There’s always an excuse for doing it later.  They’ll always convince you that you simply can’t start until months into the future, just long enough for you to forget.  Once you’ve forgotten, or just before, you’ll be set down another path of false hope, and the cycle continues.  Until you wake up one day an alcoholic; drinking the same thing every day, riding the high that ‘someday’ you will be better. 

Removing a False Dreamer

The easiest way of course is to be upfront and honest.  Break off ties with them when you realize what they are doing.  If you need a bit of a push, let them do it for you.  Decide what your goal is, let them boost your confidence and raise a toast, but don’t drink to it.  Instead, right then and there, start writing down what you will do today and tomorrow.  Maybe pull out your phone and sign up for a gym membership, or apply to that culinary program on the spot.  They’ll applaud you, all the way until it’s time to go.  The first time you try to go to the gym or study instead of going out to dinner/getting drinks/party/just hangout there will be resistance, expect it.  They’ll tell you that you can do it tomorrow, or next week.  This is the hardest part.  This is when you decide to be better.  And the next time will be harder, and harder. Until finally, you have to be straight forward and honest with them.  You’re going to be better, and stop talking about being better.

The Alternative to the False Dreamer

There are real dreamers out there.  When you find one, you’ll notice the difference.  You’ll gather and talk about being better, but instead of raising a toast they pull out a journal to write down steps to take.  The next few days they aren’t available, because they are taking the most immediate steps possible.  They may not succeed.  In fact, there are many failures along the way.  But their biggest differentiator is that they try.  They continue to strive.

The Villainizer

The Villainizer will build you up by tearing down everyone else.  Rather than work on improving your flaws or shortcoming, they are masters at shifting the blame to anyone else involved, no matter how far removed from the situation they may be.  It is the professors whose at fault for your failed exam, the doctor for your bad eating habits, and your boss for your car trouble.  You’ll leave their company feeling much better about yourself, without having to waste time putting effort into actually becoming better.  Rather than work to the top, they dig out the ground all around their feet, in order to create the illusion of being on top.  Once you step back, you’ll realize that they’ve only succeeded in isolating the two of you from reality, carving out your very own island.

Removing the Villainizer

2011-07-07-LogicalDeduction

Removing a Villainizer will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your life.  At one time, you basked in the euphoria that was shifting blame, but during that time they were collecting all of your fears, self-doubt, and the parts of you and your life that made you self-conscious.  Each one will come back to you in a flurry of rage and tears.  There’s no way around it, you’ll have to face all of them, and in doing so, you will already be a better person.  These are things you should have dealt with at the time, but they were swept under the rug.  My advice is that you be direct.  Make known of your intention to leave the island that you helped create, and never look back.  Don’t read the text messages, don’t listen to the voicemails, and don’t read the Facebook chats.  Practice ignoring them first, then slowly block the channels abused most.   Understand that you are now the villain in their eyes, as well as anyone else that may actually be good for you.  Be open with those people around you about whats going on, and let them know that they may be confronted by them in the aftermath.  Your spouse, your friends, or anyone else may be pulled in.  This will be hard.  But it will be worth it.

The Alternative to a Villainizer

The alternative is someone who helps you face your shortcomings head on, in the moment and honestly.  They would rather risk your relationship, than see you blinded by shifted blame and false encouragement.  Rather than feel great after being together, you may feel frustrated.  Growing pangs can be frustrating.  Of course, if you’re always being criticized, that’s a problem as well.  What you’re looking for is someone who encourages you to try, and then helps you to try better when you fail.   

The Habitual Victim

The Habitual Victim will build you up, by tearing themselves down.  You’ll leave much of your gatherings with a subtle sense of guilt and pity.  They will always go with you part of the way, wanting you both to be better, only to fall behind, having tripped and sprained their ankle.  Then they guilt and beg you to come back and help them.  They hold you back, under the guise of pushing you forward.  They’ll initiate something with you, and always seemingly fail just before they actually start.  You’ll continue forward but your guilt slows you to a crawl.  You don’t want to leave them behind, so you comfort them.  You slow down.  And eventually, you stop moving forward all together.

Removing the Habitual Victim

 Removing an Habitual Victim is much easier than removing a Villainizer.  What you’ll deal with most is guilt.  Don’t let this guilt become anger, subsequently cause you to lash out.  Afterwards, you’ll find yourself justifying further that the HV truly is a victim, and your guilt will be increased even further.  The steps are simple, be direct.  But again, if you need to ease into it, give them the chance once more to come with you, but when they fall prey to some self-imposed failure, keep going.  Don’t stop because they didn’t get accepted to the program also; don’t stop because they got injured and couldn’t train for the race with you; don’t stop because their distant relatives-friend-spouse passed away, and they need you to cancel your first solo trip abroad to be comfort them.  You have your own fears to overcome, and theirs shouldn’t increase the height to your own hurdles.  Keep moving forward.  Keep being better.

The Alternative to the Habitual Victim

The person you want to find instead is someone with their own goals, their own motivation, and their own fears.  People who go with you part of the way, before taking their own path for a while.  Someone who encourages you with tales of their own success and failures (which should always include work arounds to eventual success).  This person won’t hold your hand, and won’t expect you to hold theirs.  They will make you better by showing you that they themselves can be better (not be confused with being better than you).  The only guilt you’ll encounter with these types of people stem from the feeling that you may not be trying hard enough.  It should be small, and just enough to push you just a little more in the right direction, and not a demoralizer.  The right person won’t make you feel like a failure, but won’t stand idle and wait for you to get up either.

Summary

Please keep in mind that, as with all lists of this nature, these are generalizations.  People are very complicated, but are brains want to tack on stereotypes to make them simpler.  You may have people in your life that are a mix of the generalizations above.  The whole point of this article is to help you pinpoint the people in your life that are keeping you from becoming better than you are now.  Keeping them around is much easier, and obviously much more comfortable.  If one or more of these people turn out to be a family member,  stepping away from them is going to be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done.  There will be tears, heartache, and a lot of other emotions.  And years from now, you will consider coming back, to try and mend those burnt bridges.  But when you arrive, and look across to the other side, you’ll see very quickly why you left.   I’ve stood there before, and every so often I visit that spot to remind myself of how far I’ve come, and far I can go. How far I will go.

A Different Kind of Motivational Music

SunnyMountainDesktop

I love motivation-porn.  Give me 100 pictures of something epic (mountain peak, ocean, etc) with a bolded font overlaid on each one and I’ll consume them faster than I normally read anything.  And it’s probably because of this rapid consumption that none of them truly stick with me.  Sure I’ll get that surge of inspiration, but like any other junkie, I immediately just start looking for my next fix.  The next one liner that will make me feel invincible!

But there are a few ‘one liners’ that do stick with me, and they didn’t come wrapped up in a thick black border or on top of an Instagram photo.  No, these come from some new-to-me songs that have become cherished favorites, songs that on first listen don’t sound like your typical source of motivation, and defintily not the kind for prepping to run in a 5K.  So I thought I’d share them with you, sans the Instagram photos.  Warning, you won’t find anything below that will get you pumped for your fastest run, but hopefully these will help you get up and decide a run today is worth it!

“I guess you are afraid of what everyone is made of”
      –St. Vincent, The Apocalypse Song

It should be noted that this song is actually not motivational at all.  In fact, it’s pretty widely understood that this song is about sex.  But hey, what’s wrong with distorting a little bit of art to get what you want out of it?  This line resonates with me because I’ve recently become much more aware of the fear that shadows so many peoples’ actions, including my own

Until recently I hadn’t noticed just how ubiquitous these fears are: the fear of failure, the fear of what awaits outside the comfort zone, and the fear that something will change.  No one admits to these fears at first.  But they’re there, that’s why they decided to change their major again, or to buy new shoes instead of the passport they’ve been meaning to get, or that their’s no point in networking with people.  But the fear of change, that’s the hardest one to overcome.  It’s the one that fuels the excuse generator and churns out disgusting muck such as “what’s the point?” or “definitly someday!”  These are the excuses that bubble up just before success, just as it peaks over the horizon and the only action needed is one of initiation, but then convince you to back down. On the surface, you turn away because you’ve rationalized its futility, ironically telling yourself that “‘nothing will change either way,” but in reality, you’re backing down because you fear that this little bit of success will change something.  And it will; it will show you what you’re made of.

“Damn you always treat me like a mountain, stranger.
Though I have never seen your shadows or fading lights.
I’m just a rock that you’ll be picking up through all your ages,
Always believing there’s a canyon for every blind…”
      -The Tallest Man on Earth, Bright Lanterns

Much like all of his songs, Bright Lanterns requires several plays to get everything out of it.  This song paints its own epic picture of the cycle that is mountain becoming a mole hill.  The protagonist essentially wakes up, having forgotten that his previous challenge/mountain has led him the current one.  He is unaware that this mountain, like the others, will also be climbed, becoming nothing more than another rock below his feet.  “A vision of a mountain you say? So where did it go?” illustrates that the last challenge is effectively non-existent, especially compared to this one.  It’s much more complex than that, and told beautifully, but my motivation comes from the mountain in this song.

Having taken it a bit literally, I always picture a never ending mountain with a series of plateaus looking like a stairway for a giant.  The next plateau being so high up, that it appears to be its own separate mountain peak, but once you summit, you find yourself faced with yet another.  What truly motivates me about this are the camps that I imagine at each plateau.  A large field filled with tents, and houses, where others have settled in.  This is where people build their comfort zones, staking their claim in a splendid meadow with a glorious view to remind them of how far they’ve climbed.  From here, they too can see the top of the next mountain, and convince themselves there is nothing beyond it, so “what’s the point,” of climbing further.  When I hear this song, I imagine myself standing at the base of the next ‘mountain,’ bags packed and ready to go.  I’ve left a lot of friends in their respective plateaus, but I’m really excited about the fiends I’ll make further up.

What songs/movies/art gets you going?  Are you tired of the meadow you’ve chosen?  Of find yourself turning a blind eye to what you could be?