Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Road to Self Improvement

Here I sit and January is winding down and my main goal coming into this year was self improvement.  In fact I just got done with a 4k step walk to make sure I hit my minimum goal so that I didn't fail for the week.  I am dedicated and I am going to make this work.

I want to get all of my finances in order, I want to improve my health, I want to become a better person in general.   How do I plan on doing that?  Well habit and routine.

It is easy to do something when it is a habit, when it is part of a routine.  Did I get fat because one day I decided to pig out and have cake, ice cream, pizza and a ton of Taco Bell?  No, I got fat because I decided that if I did that one day I could do it as often as I wanted month after month, year after year and decade after decade.  I got (and maintained) fat because I have a lifetime of bad eating decisions in my rear-view mirror and these decisions are very routine for me.

Oh, I forgot to pack my lunch and bring a healthy sandwich to work?  No problem there are a million places that I can eat within minutes of work and they are all (well, all the ones I go to) unhealthy and should be avoided.   These are the routine decisions I make every day and my mentality, my habits have been holding me back.

So, 2018 I wanted to start developing healthier habits in a slow and gradual road to self improvement where a lot of my decisions will center around getting healthier.  This is where my 10k Every Day challenge started.

10,000 steps is a recommended amount of steps for reasons I don't care to know.  What I do know is that on the days where I am working I do not have any issues hitting 10,000 steps.  The only days that I have issues are the days where I am not working and I am just sitting around the house being lazy, playing video games and watching TV with the family.   10k Every Day is me getting into the habit of going for walks and getting more exercise on my days off.   I once had a friend tell me that something becomes a habit after doing it without fail for 28 days.   Being that I have 2 days off per week then this officially will not become a habit for me until I have been making sure to get my steps in for 14 weeks.  Until then I am just trying to get into the routine and turn it into a habit.  I will get there, baby steps.

With the knowledge that this was my goal I took it one step further and joined StepBet which is me gambling on whether or not I would hit my goals and, in fact, increases my goals and makes it more of a challenge.  I can dig that.  I put up $40 of my own money for a 6 week journey and the program tells me that 2 days I week I have to hit 18.5k steps, 4 days I have to hit 15.5k steps and I get one "free" day where I can relax and kick my feet up (however, I still have to make sure I am hitting at least 10k for my own personal goals).  StepBet has definitely increased my activity and my motivation.  I plan on jumping from one game to the next for the entire year with the exception of the 3 weeks I am on "vacation' when we have our Baby Girl in April.  New year, new goals, new attitude, new determination, new me.  Bet on it.

There are other areas of my life that I would like to focus on as well and it all kind of fell into place when I started listening to a Podcast called Go Hunt Life which I really don't know how I stumbled across.  However, when I did stumble across it the latest episode, episode #85, had a guy on the show named Sebastian Marshall who talked about routine and habit and I figured that this would be great to listen to because it is talking about things I am trying to do.  During his conversation he talked about his Lights Spreadsheet where he has a list of daily goals and simplifies it all down to:
Green: Yes I did the goal today.
Red: No I did not do the goal today.

Simple, easy to read, understand and track and most importantly easy to look back over and see patterns.

The gist of this spreadsheet as I currently see it (and I just listened to this podcast and downloaded the sheet today) is that you start by giving yourself a few daily things you want to work on and achieve.

For instance, a couple of the things that I have put on my list are:
1 - Wake up by 6 am every morning.
2 - Drink 64 ounces of water every single day.
3 - Weight myself.
4 - No Fast Food.

These are all little, simple things that I can check off with a yes/no (pass/fail) every single day to help get me into healthier routines.

The introduction tells you that you should start with 10-15 goals at the most and by the end of the week you should look to have a success rate of 70-80%.  If you are constantly getting over 90% success then you should add some goals or make some of your goals harder (the goal is self improvement after all).  If your success rate is low then you should make some of them easier or remove so.  One of the easiest ways to improve at anything is to have success.  Success is a huge motivating factor.

So, my spreadsheet will have a start date of Monday January 29th 2018 and I chose that for the simple reason that my StepBet weeks start on a Monday.   Yes, one of my goals is going to be to get my steps in so I can check that off.

Another recommendation is that you look over your spreadsheet at the end of the week and see where your strong points and where your weak points are.   What are you struggling on and how can you work to improve that.   For instance, if I see a lot of red around drinking 64 ounces of water every single day then I need to come up with a solution to make sure that I am getting that precious liquid into my body more often so that I can hit my goal.  Maybe I'll force myself to start every morning by downing an 8 ounce glass before I do anything else.  Maybe I have to make sure I drink 8 ounces every time I take a break at work. 

It is an interesting idea and obviously just listening to Sebastian talk about it on this podcast got me excited enough about the idea that I downloaded the spreadsheet when I got home.  Now, come Monday, I'm excited to jump into it fully and work on some of the things that I want to improve about my life.

You don't know this (unless you read what I am about to type) but I wrote all of the above a few days ago when I was just in a mood to type and now I am coming back to it at 11:30 pm Sunday night and tomorrow is the 29th.
While I was getting my last steps in to make sure that I hit my weekly goal I realized that my spreadsheet was going to start tomorrow and that I had not published this post but saved it as a draft instead.  So, I passed along that mental note to myself that this needed to be completed so that I could start tomorrow fresh.

My spreadsheet is complete as well and I feel it is a good first draft.  I have 14 items on there and looking over the list I know that some of these are going to be easy to nail every single day and some of these I honestly feel like I will have struggled with by the end of the week.  In that context I do believe that it is a successful attempt because the goal is not to be perfect, the goal is to work harder and improve.

I do have a couple of loft goals in there as well that have room for me to interpret (at least for the first week or two) but will become more difficult as time goes on.
I look forward to getting through this first week and then reporting back on how it went.

It's funny, one of my goals for the new year was to write more mainly in the form of this blog.  I wanted to do one entry a week but slowly I am giving myself reasons to write more often and that is something I quite enjoy even if y'all don't find every topic that entertaining.

Hope you all had a great weekend and I hope this next week is all shits and giggles!

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