End of March Goals Check

Wow, so another month as flown by! Before long it will be Christmas again (my least favorite holiday actually) and I’ll look back on these posts and think… well, I have no Idea what I’ll think.  Hopefully I won’t look back and say “man I kicked ass!”  but rather I’m hoping I’ll look to the month of March with a twinge of regret and realize “I should have been kicking more ass by that point.”

For now, I’m pretty happy with how March turned out. So let’s take a look at my progress and I hope you’ll take a look at yours.  If you haven’t started yet, make sure you build your goal list today and start taking tiny steps to making them happen.

First, the thing I’m most proud of is that none of my goals were left completely stagnate this month.  The goal that got the least direct attention was my travel around the world goal.  Of course the next immediate sentence wants to start with the word “but that’s because,” so I’ll try to fight that excuse as best I can.  I didn’t focus on that goal directly because 1) I cannot book my ticket until late April to May, and 2) my other goals are preparing me for it indirectly (controlling my spending and saving for the trip, as well as preparing for my survival/leadership training expedition).  Luckily, it looks like my weakest area this month wasn’t too bad since I made indirect positive movement towards achieving it.

So let’s take a gander at my individual goals and steps taken this month:

Read More

I’ve mostly finished my first book of the year, The Leadership Moment by Michael Useem.  Though truth be told, I haven’t picked it up in the last week of March.  I generally read a little here and there when I ride the train to work, but it’s such a short ride that I found myself not getting very far unless I happen to just barely miss the train.  It also doesn’t help that I completed the stories that I was looking most forward to, so I lost a bit of motivation there.  Also I kind of broke out the NES emulator this week and am now on level 3 of the Japanese version of Zelda (The Hyrule Fantasy).

… I know what your thinking.  DON’T JUDGE ME!  It falls under the Learn Japanese goal! Right? 😛

Win a game of Go

Damnit.  I’ve been playing a lot of go when I get bored.  And I feel no closer to winning my first game against the computer.  I went to the library the other day and looked for a book on go strategy but apparently timeless games that require of cunning and genius to win are of no interest to my local community.  Bleh. I may finally just give in and buy Go for Beginners by Mr. Iwamoto.  This damn computer is so hard to beat! But what fun would it be if I was winning right away, right?

Who am I kidding, it would be a lot of fun to win a game already!!

Take 30 cold showers

This month I missed a few cold showers unfortunately.  But each time I do, a strange feeling creeps up more and more.  When I finally cave to the excuses and nagging of my brain for a hot shower, I initially LOVE it! Until I climb out.  When I get out of the boiling hot shower, I become cold, and suddenly regretful when I look in the mirror.  Because to me, in that mirror is someone that doesn’t have control over his life. Someone who takes the easy route so that he can be comfortable.  Someone who will cling to comfort so that he can arrive at death safely.

My first attempt at snowshoeing in the rockies.  Not quite as dangerous as the quote would have you believe, but most people would think a weekend trip to snow shoe to not be worth it.  It is!

Snowshoeing in the rockies, Feb. 2014. Not quite as dangerous as the quote would have you believe, but most people would think a weekend trip to Colorado wouldn’t be worth it. It is!  Also that’s a lake we’re standing on.  Us Georgians find this terrifying!

When I get out of a cold shower however, I’m actually much more warm and confident.  When I stand there and look in the mirror I see someone who is better than they were the day before.  Someone who can do whatever he wants, and doesn’t succumb to the allure of comfort.  Did I quit my job and chase my passion? No. Did I wake up and walk into the wilderness with just a pocket knife? No.  But these small wins empower me to see life differently.  To be more confident in my decisions.  And to be more comfortable not being comfortable.

Bike to and from work

As I posted last week, I made huge progress in my goal to ride to the nearest MARTA train station!  The ride home was a surprise however as I realized the majority of it was uphill followed by plateaus! My first 24mile day was a great feeling, but this week due to the sudden return of winter I haven’t ridden since Sunday’s ride to the grocery store.

I think I may be finishing up at this current client office soon, so I might miss my chance to bike all the way (32 miles) from house to office, but we’ll see.  I already feel like I accomplished so much of this goal that I’m not to worried about it.

Don’t come in last in two 5k’s

Next Saturday marks my first 5k this year, and they just announced a doozy of an obstacle!  The sweeper looks a little intimidating but a lot of fun!  Unfortunately I haven’t started running yet in preparation due to a pain in my foot that I think may be tendinitis.  I’m trying to stay off it as much as possible, and luckily cycling doesn’t hurt at all.  But a month ago a light run nearly brought me to my knees.  If I have too, I might just walk through this first 5k.  Hopefully the sweeper will set someones grandmother back a few yards, leaving me to claim second to last!

Learn to read and write basic Japanese

This month marked my 100th kanji! And sense then I’ve taken one commenters advice to heart and have been picking up a few more opportunities of exposure.  And a few nights ago my wife went on a Lion King nostalgia ride by pulling up youtube clips of her favorite songs.  Accidentally, she pulled up the Japanese version of Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and I was surprised at how much I understood (albeit I kind of knew a lot of it before hand, but still!).  I also attended a Japanese meetup last week with plans for another tomorrow, both of which focus on playing fun studying games like a Japanese spin off of ‘Never have I ever” where we practice our past perfective sentence forming and pretending to drink if you haven’t done it before!

トトロドールは買ったごとがある。東京からだ! It's nice being the only one to have such an awesome toy! (FYI, I bought it as a gift for my kid one day :P)

トトロドールは買ったごとがある。東京からだ! It’s nice being the only one to have such an awesome toy! (FYI, I bought it as a gift for my kid one day :P)

Learn to lead Alaskan glacier expeditions

Finally got all of my paperwork, medical requirements, and down payment out of the way! It’s much more official than it was at the beginning of the month, but I won’t say it’s a sure thing until I land on that glacier!  But as far as I can tell, this is definitely happening, and I CAN’T WAIT!

I’ve been working out 6 days a week now, and each time I catch myself trying to sneak by on some excuse to be lazy, I remember that in just 3 months I’ll be carrying a 60lb pack over snowy mountains, and if I don’t want to die then, I better get off my ass now :).

Increase social opportunities

This goal was the one I was most worried wouldn’t happen, but I have actually made the most progress in!  Since setting this goal I’ve become an admin over at the Reddit Atlanta Facebook Group and we are up to 400 members as of today!  I also helped plan and orchestrate our first official meetup (will post about soon) where we played Mario Kart in real life in the park and had beers at a kind redditors nearby home!

We had a huge turnout, with lots of bystanders stopping by just to watch!

We had a huge turnout, with lots of bystanders stopping by just to watch!

I’ve also established an Anime night for this Friday at my place, and attended 3 other meetups this month! On top of that I’m working to increase my exposure with coworkers closer to my age group do things that closer friends would do.  Being more sociable has turned out to be the easiest goal yet so long as I’m not afraid of a little initial chance of rejection!

Lose weight/save money for RTW

In an effort to save money for the RTW trip, I’ve really hit the home made food plan hard! I’ve also decided to shrink my portion size so that it won’t be such as surprise to my system when I start traveling longer term (or say, live on a glacier for 2 weeks) and won’t have access to the typical American portion sizes I’m so accustom to.  As a result of not eating out every day (I’m down to about 2-3 times a week) and the smaller portions, I’ve both saved money and according to my wife lost a lot of weight.  I also find myself becoming OK with being a little hungry now and then, and I think this will be a huge benefit when I’m traveling and have to wait a little longer than expected to my next meal.

Here’s a look at my current meal plan.  I spend about 25-35 dollars a week when shopping at the international farmers market (which is WAY cheaper than Walmart and Kroger for fresh food):

  •   A 5$ pack of ground beef. This has yielded a ton of hamburgers that I pre-patty out with salt, pepper, and garlic and then freeze.  Cook the night before for lunches to take to work (the trick is to pack the meat, bread, and salad separately and assemble at lunch time)
  • For $3.99 I get a box of beef or pork bugolgi and cook all of it and portion out with a side of jasime rice (12$ for 3 months worth) for 3 meals to either take to work or eat for dinner
  • 7$ get’s me 3 medium size ribeye’s (I’m telling you, MUCH cheaper than Kroger!) that I can cut in half and for other dishes like steak and egg burritos and steak and cheese fajita’s
  • Tomato’s, apples, onions, lettuce, eggs, milk, bread (good bread, like fresh uncut rolls for hamburgers), tortilla shells etc usually make up the rest of the costs.  I’ve also been trying different sweets for snacks like granola and honey.

Remember, my portions are purposefully smaller than usual.  I’ll typically eat a hamburger for lunch very slowly with an apple a few hours before or after.  Then have half a steak or some bugolgi for dinner with rice and a green of some sort.  It’s not for everyone, but I’ve both saved money and lost weight doing it :).

Travel around the world for 2 months

As mentioned above, I’m working on this- just indirectly :).

Have more Weekend vacations

I pulled off another weekend vacation this month!  I had some residual points built up on my Chase credit card so I transferred them over to Southwest and paid for only half my airfare  by scheduling two one way tickets: one to Boston and one from.  This allowed me to get up to see some friends for only $177 + the cost of beer and eats (and one Uber ride since I paid for more beer than expected).  I left friday after work and got home mid day sunday, and never once felt rushed!  It was great seeing old friends, having a TON of fun, and not using up any vacation days.

During a trip to the loo in downtown Boston, I came across a bit of pub stall motivation!

During a trip to the loo in downtown Boston, I came across a bit of pub stall motivation!

Next month is my 2 year anniversary, so my wife and I are off to Florida for another weekend vacation in the sun!

Learn Mindfulness Meditation

I haven’t posted much anything about it yet, since I’m still trying to figure out where I stand on the topic.  But every few days I take a couple of moments to stop and practice.  Sometimes its only for 5 minutes, other times it’s closer to 20.  I think I’ve learned a lot, but I’ll need more practice before I feel like I have anything to offer on the subject.

One thing I can say is that my mind is a very strange place.  When practicing I find the oddest memories surfacing just to give me something to think/worry/stress about.  Practicing pushing these aside has helped in a lot of area’s already :).

Phew! So that’s March 2014 from my point of view! How was yours?

My Goal List: 2014-2015

Below is a list of everything I am currently working on, with the longest running goal extending through May 2015.  Many are very easy, and it is my belief that by sprinkling many easy and attainable goals that compliment your bigger ones, you’ll keep a steady stream of success flowing that builds your confidence to the bigger, seemingly impossible ones. 

In order to motivate you, and keep myself accountable, this list will become the table of contents for the next several months of my life.  I’ll be updating the blog often with statuses and lessons learned for each goal and then linking to them here.

Building the List

This list started with 1 goal.  And it was a big one: to travel around the world with my wife on a RTW ticket.  I accomplished this goal last year by raising the total number of points necessary for 2 tickets to travel 35,000 miles around the globe.  But, we can’t leave until March or April of 2015, so I have lots of time to prepare as well as become increasingly impatient.  This list was built around preparing for that goal, and while it may seem like a stretch at times, each one plays a small part in it.  Also, all them work together to make sure I’m not obsessing over the RTW ticket every day J.  So what do you want to do in a year or two from now? Solidify that goal by setting smaller ones that build up to it.

My Daily Baseline

26 years old as of this year.  Married for 2 years, so all the same responsibilities that come with that.  I own 2 dogs, have a mortgage, and am a consultant from 9-5 Mon-Fri and almost never get to work from home.  For the first 2 years of my career I was so exhausted after work I literally added 20+ pounds as I became addicted to eating out and watching TV every day for 2 years.  Over the course of 13 months, my wife (also a consultant) and I might have cooked 15 meals at home.  This horrible lifestyle lead to two very unmotivated people, so tired from being tired that we spent most weekends laying around the house as well.  Then I decided to change that! And thus the list was born.  So no, I’m not a full time blogger, free to roam the world and get paid to gloat about it.  I’ve just decided that I’m not going to let 40+ hours a week define my whole life!

The List

  • Read More
    • Finish The Leadership Moment by Michael Useem
    • Find a read a good stategy book about Go
  • Win a game of Go against ‘sensei’ (buddy who taught me how to play)
  • Take 30 cold showers
  • Bike to and from work (32 miles round trip)
    • 11 mile circle route
    • Bike to closest train station (11.3 miles)
    • Bike to and from closest train station (22.6 miles)
    • Bike to work (16 miles)
    • Bike to work and from train station (27.3 miles)
    • Bike to and from work (32 miles)
  • Don’t come in last in two 5k’s
    • Atlanta Ridiculous Obstacle Course 5k
    • Atlanta Color Vibe Run 5k
  • Learn to read and write basic Japanese
    • 46 Hiragana
    • 46 Katakana
    • 425 kanji
  • Learn to lead Alaskan glacier expeditions
    • Reduce daily food consumption
    • Leverage bike commute to increase endurance
    • Complete paperwork/payments/medical
    • Procure equipment
    • Arrange flights
  • Increase social opportunities
    • Increase SABG Meetup group activity
    • Cultivate Reddit Atlanta FB group
    • Checkout backpacking meetup group
  • Lose weight/save money for RTW
    • Eat more homemade food
    • Drink homebrew or free beer only
    • Save $10k
  • Travel around the world for 2 months
    • Visit friends in Germany
    • Visit Thailand, Istanbul, Norway, etc
    • Go on a safari
    • Sleep in an ocean hut in Maldives
    • Live in Japan for 3+ weeks
    • Camp in other countries
  • Have more Weekend vacations
  • Learn Mindfulness Meditation

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?

Managing My Impatience: Waiting for My Trip Around the World

I am not a patient person.  While I say this with confidence, I certainly don’t say it with pride.  It has cost me on numerous occasions money, sleep, and of probably a measurable amount of sanity.  Thus, I’ve developed a few coping mechanisms to alleviate the pressure brought on by the seemingly impossible wait.  The most effective method I’ve found thus far is to litter the time between now and then with buildup events.  Basically, I try to find as many things as possible to keep my mind off of what I’m really excited for, while making sure they are relevant to the whatever event I’m obsessing about.  The specific event this time is one I’ve been dreaming of for years, and actively working towards for one: the day that I start using my first Round the World (RTW) ticket. 

I’ll link to a future post that goes more in depth soon, but basically I managed to secure enough points for a $12,000 RTW flight for my wife and me for only $3,500.  The only problem is that we have to wait for her to earn her sabbatical, which won’t come until March/April of 2015.  Luckily you can buy your ticket up to 11months in advance, and leave the dates open up to 12 months from departure.  Unluckily, 2 years seems like an eternity to someone with the patience of a 9 year old.

So I’ve decided to kill several birds with a couple of stones.  I need to keep my mind focused on something else, in order to not lose it entirely.  I need to prepare for the end half of my trip which will be a solo voyage for at least a month (my wife will return to work while I continue solo).  And it has become evident that I have put on quite a bit of weight, and need to get physically prepared for such a journey.  So last night, despite all the well-crafted excuses my brain generated, I purchased a few increasingly major commitments.  I’ve made an internal (and financial pledge) to the next 6 months that will test me in several ways… ok mostly physically.

Commitment 1: From today, I now only have 5.3 weeks to prepare for the Atlanta Color Vibe 5k run! I generally don’t enjoy running, but I’ve always wanted to see what the Indian Holi Day is like, so I’m absolutely stoked for preparing for something so fun and moderately intensive. Getting ready for this 5K should be relatively easy, but afterward, I’ll only have 8 additional weeks to prepare for my next challenge.

3 Miles of Color!

Commitment 2: The Ridiculous Obstacle Course 5K (ROC Race).  This 3 mile run will be complete with a ropes course, swinging balls of doom, and much more.  I can’t to finally see just how hard those Japanese game show contestants really have it! After that, things get serious, and I will only have another 5 weeks to prepare.

3 Miles of Awesome!

Commitment 3: It hasn’t been accepted yet, but if all goes well I’ve appllied up for a 12 day Alaskan glacier expedition

12 EPIC days!

 That’s right, I’ve submitted my application for my very first NOLS course, and a big part of me is scared to death!  They don’t tell you in advance about the current availability however, so I’m not 100% sure if it will be Alaska yet, since I’ve also selected a 14 day Rocky Mountain expedition as a backup.  In my current state, I’m definitely not ready to hike 50-100 miles into the mountains, or live on a glacier, so the two previous 5K runs will be used as check points to gauge my improvement between now and then.  What I’m most excited about however is applying what I learn at NOLS to the RTW trip.  Since I plan to explore Japan (or some part of Asia) for at least a month solo, I need to be open to the idea of camping alone if I intend to stretch my dollars out as far as possible.

So there you have it. Rather than spend more money of eating out, I’ve dedicated ~200$ of next months budget to commitments that will serve a variety of purposes, but ultimatly distract me whilst I await the best trip in the world. The next 6 months should be so much fun that my RTW trip (hopefully) won’t feel so far away. Plus I’m definitly going to Dragon*Con in August so, I’m pretty much occupied until September.  As for what I will do next… we’ll just have to wait and see :D!