It’s Thanksgiving again

It’s is Thanksgiving again, so what does that mean to most of you, watching 15 hours of NFL football, spending time with your family, eating turkey and all the things that come with it? I received an email from my mother today, and where she was thankful for her children and I thought maybe there is more to this day than just stuffing my face and watching 3 football games in a row.

Maybe this holiday is really about acknowledging what we are thankful for, and in that case let me give it a shot:

  • I am thankful for my family who always has my back no matter how stupid I act or whatever I do.
  • I am thankful for my wife who accepts me for all my faults.
  • I am thankful for my work that has provided for me and my immediate family for so many years.
  • I am thankful for living in the U.S.A. where I have been blessed with so much opportunity.
  • I am thankful for those who follow my blog and read my rambling philosophical writing.
  • I am thankful for having a comfortable place to sleep and enough food to eat.

While I am thankful for so much that has been bestowed on me, I am also concerned about the many who do not share my good fortune. My wish for all of you is that you can be grateful for what you have this thanksgiving day.

Hopefully we can all find something to be thankful for. Even when we struggle there is always something we can be grateful for. I wish you all the best this holiday weekend!

Namaste

 

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Back to the 5 day split

Well after toying with a 3 days split, which then evolved into a 4 day split, I have come back to a familiar place the 5 day split. I’m not sure why I keep changing things around because I always gravitate back to the 5 day split. I guess the reasons for this are fairly straightforward:

  1. My workouts are a little shorter and less exhausting because I am focused on one or two muscle groups. This makes it all more enjoyable instead of looking at a long list of exercises and wondering when it will all be over.
  2. With the 3 or 4 day split I had to cut out some sets, but with the 5 day split I can keep adding reps and sets so I am able to do more work and put more stress on the muscles. A harder workout means faster gains in strength and size.
  3. It fits well with the work week, so every night when I get home I can look forward to a workout, keeping me focused on fitness and away from other less healthy activities such as eating or drinking.

The only negative with the 5 day split is that it consumes 5 of the 7 days in a week, and if something else comes up you can potentially miss a workout.

This is my 5 day split (high level)

  • Chest & Triceps (Day 1)
  • Biceps, Forearms, and Delts (Day 2)
  • Legs (Day 3)
  • Back (Day 4)
  • Core (Day 5)

Remember you don’t need to perform the split Monday through Friday, it is more than feasible to just perform the workout starting on whatever day of the week.  It is advisable to give yourself a rest day after completing the 5th day of the split routine, because even though you have divided up the muscle groups others still participate in an assisting role. I like to keep track of my workouts with a Google sheet (spreadsheet), so that I can record the date of the workout, weight, target reps, actual reps, and any notes for adding reps or sets next time. If you are currently doing total body workouts or shorter split routines, try the 5 days split and enjoy the gains you will make. Who knows you might just look forward to your workouts.

Namaste

Too busy to meditate?

There is an old Zen saying that goes something like this:

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour”

I have been guilty of going not just days, but weeks without meditating because I claim to be just too busy. Going back to the Zen saying it becomes obvious that the busier you are the more you need to meditate. The world will not stop if you sit for 20 minutes, in reality there is nothing you can do to make it all go away. Your only respite in a busy world may just be the thing that you don’t have time for. The question is can you afford not to meditate? An existence that is so busy that you cannot find 20 minutes out of the 16 waking hours, is an issue unto itself. If you are feeling like a puppet on a string, then you have yet another reason to meditate so that you can be less overwhelmed by it all. It all comes down to how much you value your piece of mind. I like to refer to a quote from Buddha:

What have I gained from meditation

So it appears it is not what you have gained but what you will lose by meditating. As I mentioned before I have fallen prey to the I’m just too busy syndrome, and vow that this must be reversed.

Now I need to go sit for a while, come join me if you can.

Namaste

Stop wasting time on Friday

As the week winds down you finally get to Friday, which for many employees turns out to be the most unproductive day of the week. Most of us are looking forward to the week being over and may be even a bit burned out, and by noon productivity begins to dip. I’ve experienced this many times myself as we use what is left of our precious energy to get through the remaining hours of the day so we can get out of there. I’m going to suggest an alternative for the Friday malaise, and it has to do with using what you have left in the tank mentally and physically to do something that produces value for you and your employer.

Friday1

The suggestion is to devote as much of the day as possible to planning and cleanup activities. So instead of watching the clock and generally wasting time waiting to get the hell out of there you have something to do that occupies your time and can help you achieve your goals. The following activities and benefits provide the basis for making Friday a productive day versus a waste of time:

  • Activity: Plan out all your meetings for the upcoming week, schedule your conference rooms, and align your calendar with your to do list. Benefit: This sets you up for success on Monday and you now have a well thought out plan of attack for the week.
  • Activity: Cleanup your email, file everything in folders, respond to any outstanding emails, and delete all the stuff you don’t need. I try to get it down to maybe a dozen messages in my inbox. Benefit: Again you are doing some pretty easy work, and when you come in on Monday you start with a clean inbox. This allows you to focus on the present and the future and not have to deal with unread emails from the previous week.
  • Activity: Update your to do list or project schedules, adjusting due dates, adding tasks, and marking tasks complete. Benefit: Now instead of spending precious time next week you have a current to do list and project schedules. While this takes a bit of thought and planning it is not overly taxing.
  • Activity: Last but not least plan out what you will do this weekend, if you are like me you have been so busy all week that you haven’t had time to think about what you want to accomplish this weekend. I use an app called Wunderlist for my personal to do list manager because it is simple and works on various devices like my notebook computer, chrome book, and my android phone. Benefit: Instead of ending the day and having no plans for the weekend you now have a pretty good idea of the things you would like to accomplish and planned some recreational time.

None of the above mentioned activities require a lot of brain power, but they all provide value and set the stage for a more productive upcoming week. Because we are generally low on energy, focus on the planning and cleanup activities if you can, and save the stuff that takes real effort for Monday through Thursday. We all need some time to reflect and plan; contrary to what you may think this investment will pay dividends over time. The trick is to take care of the critical things on Friday morning and then if possible devote the afternoon to these these planning and cleanup activities.

I realize this doesn’t apply to all roles and jobs, but there are an awful lot of occupations where this can work.

Have a great weekend, I need to start planning.

A little advice from Abe

It seems lately that a lot of my inspiration to write comes from reading quotes.

Abraham Lincoln said “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Seems like a simple little quote as many of his quotes were, but look around you and you will see that most folks haven’t made up their minds to be very happy, in fact we are surrounded by a multitude of unhappy people. Certainly Abraham Lincoln had many challenges that would have kicked the crap out of anyone’s happiness, but he chose to look forward beyond his personal troubles and the incredible challenges of a civil war to become one of the greatest leaders of all time.

happy

In the past it was my philosophy that willing yourself into a positive mindset would not create any lasting optimistic outlook, but maybe I was wrong. Certainly happiness cannot be created by just wishing it so, or can it? We all face many pressures in our lives including financial, health related, death in the family, addictions, relationships that have gone off the tracks, and they pile up and have an impact on our peace of mind and subsequently our happiness.

There are many ways to combat the onslaught of negative things that life throws at you, but maybe President Lincoln was right, just maybe we are as happy as we make up our minds to be; well at least it might start there. Try as we may we cannot isolate ourselves avoiding bad things that will happen to us and we often have little control of how long these challenges will last.

I hope you can convince yourself that happiness is a choice and follow that bit of advice from Abe.

Namaste

Excuses

Being the over planning person that I am, I scheduled Monday through Saturday mornings for yoga and meditation. Yes I actually created an appointment in Outlook which of course syncs with my phone, but there is one problem today is Wednesday and haven’t hit the mat yet this week. So I have managed to make some sort of excuse three days in a row. Maybe I just have an issue with mornings, but I’m not sure that is the issue. Well if this is about excuses then early in the morning could qualify as one. Here is the definition I found of excuse used as a noun:

“A reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.”

whats your excuse

The above definition best describes how I have justified not pursuing goals by providing some reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify my behavior. Does any of this sound familiar? Make great plans and then fail to execute, and come up with various excuses which of course you know are pretty much bullshit. So what do we do about this common phenomena?

  1. Realize you are doing it. This is generally pretty easy because the excuses are accompanied by periods of guilt and self loathing.
  2. Once we realize it, then stop it! Move on with your plan and stop using the excuse.
  3. Analyze your excuse and determine if the goal was unreasonable or you were not committed to it.
  4. If after you have analyzed the excuse and the goal then decide if the goal is worth the effort and move on.

Remember that most excuses are a way to avoid something that is uncomfortable, and that would probably be enjoyable once you actually got started. Examples of this might include getting out of the door to go running, attending a party, and yes performing your yoga practice. All three of these are perfect examples of activities that once you start them you find they are very enjoyable, but often your mind says I don’t really want to do it. So this hesitancy to move forward is probably a trigger for creating an excuse, so remember if there is some minor discomfort associated with an activity then push forward and don’t allow yourself to make an excuse.

The world is filled with people that have failed to achieve their dreams and goals as they fell prey to their favorite excuses.

Namaste