How do you deal with the risk that your body lasts longer than your mind?
Serve the young.
A pregnant wife is the start of an outstanding opportunity to de-risk the back end of your life. The skills required to take advantage of this offering are likely to be very different from what you’ve been using so far.
You don’t need to be a father to take advantage of these posts – young spouse, young students, other people’s kids, grandkids, neighbors… the key element is consistent service to others.
Now, in my own case, it wasn’t a desire to “get” future help.
Rather I had a strong desire to “avoid”.
Avoid another divorce.
Avoid the pain of future regret.
Still not sure? Listen quietly while grandparents talk about their life decisions.
Home Gym – best money I spent in the pandemic, make time to use it every single morning. It does not matter what I do! My life, and health, get 100% of the potential benefit by simply waking up and doing something.
Autopilot – kids and self – go through to pain to let good habits run on their own.
Specific to my life, waking up crazy-early forces me to ditch the poor choices I make after 6pm. To reinforce my inability to screw myself up, I volunteered to drive my daughter to her evening swim practices. We love talking to each other and I read while she swims.
The Easy Way – overcoming (myself, the pandemic, whatever) generates lasting satisfaction. We don’t serve our families when we remove the opportunity for our children to challenge themselves, fail and learn by experience. Same advice works in my own life – difficulty is an opportunity for personal satisfaction.
Travel less and shorter – my pandemic gains were big – stay put and grind is a winning strategy, and not just for athletics. I’m closing in on 100,000 words published during the pandemic.
Travel is a bit like social media – a pleasant distraction from the work that brings me lasting satisfaction. Travel is best in small doses, used to recharge before returning to work.
Year round tutoring – part of getting ahead is never falling behind. Our tutors did much more than help us fill the long days of school break. They helped the kids become confident, skilled, learners.
What’s my conclusion?
Frankly, I’m not sure!
Human nature tells me that I won’t need to add much to feel great. Like my kids, I’ve adapted to pandemic life.
So, for a bit, I’m going to enjoy a quiet house and resist taking on any new initiatives.
More in the future about “how to spend” => the weirdest thing about this pandemic is every asset class I follow appreciated.
Strangely, 2021 feels like 2017 => Like I said at the start of the Trump Administration, if you’re selling to rich people… increase your prices. There is significant pent-up demand due to the effect of zero-rates and lockdowns.
We’d just finished riding from Miami to Key West as a reverse start to a very fun bike trip. I tagged along most of the way from Key West to NOLA. Good times with my friend, Petro (love you, bro).
Look closely and what do you see?
I’m at the southern most point of the USA and I’m looking at my phone.
I stuck it on my printer to remind me that life happens outside my office.
The pandemic increased my intake of news and social media.
This was not a good thing.
To be sick of sickness is the only cure.
Tao Te Ching
Some of my choices have a negative utility => meaning net-net doing NOTHING is better that doing them.
With this in mind – consider what “not to keep” from the pandemic.
At the end of Summer Break, I dropped Facebook/Instagram.
Over Winter Break, I pulled the plug on Twitter and email.
News => I subscribed to our local paper’s online edition. Published daily, no live updates. One paper a day, no updates until 5am the next day. Being a local paper, something needs to be big to make the online edition.
Across the year, I removed the option to flee into my phone, or the news, or an urgent (but not really urgent) email.
It is not feasible for me to completely drop email from my life, but it is feasible to remove social media & browsers from my phone and limit the time spent staring at a screen (link is my email sig file).
Repeat after me…
Life happens outside my office.
I want my family to remember I made time for them.
The cost of the status quo is hidden.
So… each year, keep what works AND try something new.
PS: eMail initiative & early wake up => 1,250 hours per annum. Small changes have big results when compounded over time. An inconvenient truth => My middle age ends in eight years. Do I want to spend an avoidable 10,000 hours looking at a screen? Own the outcome!
Today marks ten months of pandemic living and I remind myself, everyone wants to be on a winning team.
Yesterday, I shared that it took my kids ~100 days to return to baseline greed, avarice, appetite and longing. 😉
I took this as a good sign. My wife and I had created a normal environment for them.
Frankly, it was disappointing to be unable to repeatedly play the “but there’s a global pandemic going on” card.
However, having spent time with three-year-olds, I was used to a kid-don’t-care attitude. Three-year olds are incredibly useful training for life.
What have you done for me lately?
I went through the pain to get you on autopilot.
Up by 6:30am, read, breakfast, Duolingo, get dressed, brush teeth, walk around the block and login to Online School.
Six months to catch them up to an all-star single mom’s family routine. Our friend (all-star single mom) probably doesn’t feel like an all-star but I’ve been watching her for years. I’d always wondered how she did it.
She did it because she had no alternative.
Here’s another lesson from my COVID-season…
Alcoholism, addiction, pandemics, fitness, weight-loss, anger management, academic performance… wherever we are screwing ourselves up!
Once you’ve gone through the pain to change, hold on to those gains!
Everyone around you wants to be on a winning team.
They are longing to follow the structure, and standard, you set.
2020 was the most time I’ve ever spent with my kids. I watched them closely.
By July, the COVID’s shock had worn off and it dawned on me…
…their appetite, gratitude, happiness, greed, all of it
My kids had returned to baseline ~100 days after the pandemic hit.
Collectively, we tell ourselves that hardships “take” from us. However, my children’s moods, behavior and desires told me they got back to normal, quite quickly.
What’s the lesson?
Don’t spend money, time and emotion making my children’s lives easier.
Like every_essential_truth, once I was able to see this lesson outside myself, it was possible to turn the lesson inwards.
If you are struggling then challenge yourself.
It’s easy for me to blame the constraints of family, COVID, or my life situation for my “problems.”
There is nothing, outside my own attitude, that causes problems in my life.
What To Do?
Back in May, I said “screw it” and reset my alarm to 3:45am.
It’s been there ever since.
I carved out 900 hours a year when my kids are sleeping.
No matter what the day holds, I start with a win.
The habit of action moved me past the illusion that my problems were outside my control.
Don’t train your kids, or yourself, to be a victim of circumstances.
Own the outcome.
PS – if you’re keeping track, then we’re up to 900 annual-hours worth of pandemic lessons, our health and wellness program is done by 8am and we are not training ourselves to be victims of external circumstance.
Let’s close the week with some athletic advice (to myself mainly).
Paradox of Stress => if you want to do something difficult then you will need to reduce other forms of stress to achieve it.
Athletically, in the winter, this usually means considering two opposing goals => reducing fat (vanity) vs increasing lean body mass (victory).
Personally, there’s no contest => as a mountain athlete, constrained by COVID, my big wins will come from improving functional strength and increasing lean body mass.
That said, it’s emotionally challenging to absorb this reality. I carry with me an enduring bias towards weight loss. My internal bias is reinforced by my peers and community.
Missing the opportunity to maintain strength has a cost we don’t see until far into the future. In terms of return on investment, strength training is powerful medicine. I can’t think of many things that work as well with a time investment of only 2-3 hours per week.
What’s your long term goal?
Some quick tips.
Gain Five Pounds – let your weight rise a little, naturally. Adding 3% to my body weight does wonders for my ability to recover.
If you’ve overshot on the weight gain then reduce stress below the point you crave sugar. My cravings, and sleep patterns, are my early-warning system (of impending doom).
How might you reduce unnecessary athletic stress?
1/. Cut your power/pace zones unilaterally and don’t test until spring => I knocked 20% off my bike power zones and reset my season bests effective Nov 1st, 2020. This change did wonders for my mental state.
2/. Ditch the sustained tempo => I wear my HRM to cap my efforts. If you want to challenge yourself then do something useful… commit to a quality winter strength program.
Long term success is all about the streak – there are 3,275 days between today and my 60th birthday.
Next week’s posts will explain how I used the pandemic to carve an extra 10,000 hours out of those days.