Where Do We Go From Here?

This blog is starting to become a bit like my life in general. I’m not exactly sure what it should be or the topics it should cover, but I want something deeper and more meaningful than what it originally started out as. At some point I’m going to need to write out some clear concise goals on what I wish to accomplish with this site.

My life is coming to a crossroads (heck, we may already be at the crossroad) and I realize there’s a lot more I can do in life that what I’m doing right now. I’m not a fan of change for the sake of change and it drives me nuts when I hear people making resolutions to make change in their lives. In most cases those resolutions end up being hollow promises.

I know that to reach some of the goals I want to reach requires me to change the way I’m currently addressing things. As Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” To make these changes happen in my life I must change the HABITS I currently have in place.

Up until recently, I felt my life was trending in the wrong direction.

  • I was starting to pile on excess weight.
  • I wasn’t exercising as the doctor recommended and I was going to have some issues with my blood pressure if I continued down the path I was on.
  • My finances were starting to take control of me and I know it should be the other way around.
  • I wasn’t happy with my career.

I’ve addressed the weight issue by changing the way I eat. I now eat a rather spartan diet full of fruits and vegetables. I eat as much of those fruits and vegetables as I want and I’ve cut most of the bread, rice, cereals and pastas from my diet. I am struggling to eat healthy on the weekends but I’ve managed to take off close to 20 pounds over the last 60 days. I feel like I’ve got another 15 pounds to go but I’m happy that I’ve made the progress I have thus far.

I’ve gotten into a more regular pattern of exercise. I make sure I fit in at least 4 days a week of walking at least one hour per day. I would like to get to the point where those walks turn into runs but I love the fact I’m starting to develop some sort of habit or regimen that I’m sticking to with some consistency. It ends up being a nice period of solitude for me and it’s a great way to freshen my mind.

I’m not sure what it is I want to do professionally, but I know I need a new challenge. The job/position I currently have bores me; I’ve evolved over the past few years and I need a position that provides me with some sort of challenge daily. I can’t continue to do the same thing day after day, week after week. I would love to do something for myself (which I’ve discussed in previous posts) but I’m not sure what that calling is just yet.

My personal life is the one area of my life where I’m happy. I am married to a fantastic lady and I have three wonderful kids who appear to be heading on the right path. Of course there is always room for improvement in all four of those relationships but I don’t think there’s anything of urgency that needs to be addressed. I know I should do a better job of focusing on each of them when we’re together because I know there are times I’m with them that I’m easily distracted.

The key for me is to develop good HABITS that I learn to follow CONSISTENTLY. The easiest way to make change is to pick a small area I want to improve and come up with simple everyday HABITS and follow them religiously. After a few weeks of following those HABITS they start to become something you follow without really paying attention.

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Canadian Speed Controls

Be sure to check out the photo at the bottom

Canadian Speed Controls

Speed controls being used in Canada . How’s this for effective speed control?

I don’t know about you, but this would certainly slow me down!

People slow down and actually try to “straddle” the hole.

This is an actual speed control device that is currently in use.

It is MUCH cheaper than speed cameras, radar guns, police officers, etc.

Pretty clever – especially when they move them around every day.

Isn’t art wonderful?

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Finding Solitude

As a happily married father of three wonderful kids (ages 15, 13, and 8),  our household tends to be on the hectic side.  Mrs. Mac and I are running around non-stop making sure we get the kids to where they’re supposed to be.  We encourage the kids to have their friends over as much as possible so it’s very rare to have quiet time in our house.

I used to enjoy late night evenings to myself.  There was a time when the kids were in bed and asleep by 9 pm and it was not uncommon for Mrs. Mac to nod off for the night a little after them.  I used to love that 10 pm to midnight window when I could plod around the house and enjoy the quiet.

Those days have now come to an end.  It’s now a battle to get the two teenagers to sleep before 11 on a school night or before 1 (or later) on the weekend.  That’s not going to change anytime soon (in fact, they won’t be in the house until later than that not too far down the road) and I’ve already got my 8 year old begging every night to stay up past his bedtime at 9.

I have been kicking around the idea of trying to adjust my sleep schedule so that I can become one of those “early risers”.  I have never been a morning person and I don’t know if that is something that is even in my nature.  I shake my head in wonder at my father in law who habitually rises at 4:30 or 5:00 every morning and has done so for over 40 years.  He talks of how great it is to get up and enjoy his solitude at that time of morning.  He loves the sense of accomplishment he takes in getting things done before most people are out of bed.

I wonder how my life would change if I got myself out of bed at 5 am each morning?  The only thing I know for certain is that I would drift off to slip before 10 pm each night. Other than that, the possibilities are endless.   I could go out and exercise, which is traditionally something I do on my lunch break.  I could sit down and blog, which is something I traditionally do at times of the day I should be focusing on other tasks.

That’s a goal for me to start on Monday morning. I’m going to try and get up at 5 am all next week and see what I get accomplished in my 90 minutes of solitude before the house starts to awaken.  I’m guessing I’ll be hankering for sleeping in at some point over the following weekend.

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Where Did the Time Go?

I just had an “oh crap” moment over the past few days. My oldest child, my son, just turned 15 the other day and I realized that within the next 3 years he’s no longer going to be in my house every night. Where the hell did all of that time go?

When you hear people say that the time goes quickly it’s really hard to fathom what it is they’re telling you. You say you will be more aware of what’s going on and you won’t have the same regrets as older parents you know. The issue is that you are so immersed in the day to day activity that’s going on around you and it feels like your time is always at a premium. You can’t see the forest in spite of the trees (as the saying goes).

I still remember my oldest being a little dude and looking up to the two of us. Everything we did and everything we said was cool. There was a time that we were the center of his universe. I’ve got an 8 year old son as well and he adores us completely. He’s still at that stage where his parents aren’t stupid and it’s a little sad knowing the end of those days isn’t too far away.

It’s been weird watching my oldest get more independent over the past few years and he’s almost gotten to the point where he no longer needs us (unless he needs some cash). We’ve spent a ton of time together doing things but I feel like I may have let some things pass by.

I know it’s a part of parenthood to watch your kids mature in front of your eyes but I am struggling coming to terms with it. He’s turning into a fine young man and I love when people tell us what a nice son we have. From a jealous point of view, I liked when my oldest was dependent on us and it’s very weird knowing that we’re coming to an end of his childhood.

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Another Blog to Check Out

Today’s post is a follow up to yesterday’s post on a blog I enjoy following. I’m not one to push readers away from my site but when I find something worth sharing I feel obliged to do so. Someone who read my post sent me an email suggesting I check out a blog titled Zen Habits, written by Leo Babauta. Boy am I glad I did.

Holy smokes, what a site! I was impressed by the content as well as everything I read about the author. As a quick warning, be prepared to lose track of time once you get there. I found myself clicking link after link of motivational writing.

The link I’m sharing with you sends you to the “Beginner’s Guide” to navigating the blog.

Here’s a quick overview of the author. Babuata is a 38 year old father of 6 children and the blog tells his story. He’s a self published author and his blog has an enormous following with over 210,000 people subscribed to it. His first post to the site was February 1, 2007 and the growth of the site has been tremendous. Time Magazine named Zen Habits one of their Top 25 Blogs in both 2009 and 2010.

The subjects that Zen Habits covers are all encompassing. It deals with weight loss, nutrition, diet, organization, parenting, motivation, simplifying, eliminating debt, being more frugal, getting things done and finding happiness. It’s very personal, revealing and full of honesty. Babuata doesn’t just tell you what he thinks you should be doing, he practices what he preaches and he shares the results of his journey with you.

I’m not exactly sure what the aim of my blog is. It’s a work in progress and I’m not really sure what I’m trying to accomplish. Heck, I’m not even comfortable in revealing my name and true identity just yet. I do know that if I could accomplish 1/10 of what Babuata has done with Zen Habits that I would be a really happy guy.

[postaday 2011, Zen Habits, Leo Babauta, motivation]

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Looking for a Blog to Follow?

If I could recommend one blog for you to follow, it would be Seth Godin’s.

It’s the first feed I look to everyday when I open up my Google Reader. Godin posts with clock like regularity and his writings are full of fresh and innovative ideas. I am not a fan of the phrase “look outside the box” but that term sums up Godin completely.

Seth is a marketer by nature who appears to make a comfortable living as a public speaker. He has written 16 books and is the founder of the community website Squidoo. He is currently spearheading a project he’s titled the Domino Project which I think will have a profound effect on how books are brought to the marketplace in the near future.

I find him to be an inspirational figure because he preaches two important business principles:

  1. The importance of cultivating a tribe
  2. The importance of “shipping” product

Godin describes a tribe as a group of people who share a connection or an idea with one another. Anyone is able to lead a tribe of people and one only needs to develop a small group of like minded individuals to make their idea or service into a profitable industry. When you pitch something to your tribe they will most likely be inclined to check it out.

In simplest terms, “shipping” means getting product into the marketplace. It doesn’t matter what the product is or what service you offer. That service could be anything: it could be an author or blogger’s writing, it could be a painter’s work of art, or it could be a widget maker’s widgets. The key is to get that item into the marketplace as quickly and/or consistently as possible.

  • Stop putting off doing the work.
  • Stop looking to find excuses why it might fail.
  • Do the work and get the product in front of the public.

I do not have a product or business that I run but I find his writings to be inspiring as I try to apply the lessons to my everyday lifestyle. I just started following his blog within the last 90 days and I’m amazed at the steady flow of fresh content that he posts. Since finding his blog I’ve also purchased a few of his books and I recommend those as well.

Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

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The Things You Learn

One of the hardest lessons of my professional life was learning that you need to constantly stay on top of people to make things happen. I hate busting people’s stones but it is a necessary evil.

Whether it’s a fellow employee that’s working on a project with you, a supplier who promises to ship by a certain date, or a customer trying to get you specs for a program to put in place it seems like there’s always an excuse as to why things don’t happen as planned. I think there’s three reasons for this.

1.  People are busy.
2.  People are easily distracted.
3.  Not everyone prioritizes issues the same as you. They may have bigger to fry than your issue.

The worst thing you can do is not stay on top of things. Don’t assume the person will take care of it because all too often it doesn’t happen. Take the extra 5 minutes to check in to make sure things are going as scheduled. It’s easier to catch a potential problem before the due date and alert all parties in advance that there may be an issue delaying delivery.

I would love to say I learned this lesson once and it hasn’t repeated itself since but that would be a lie. I make sure it doesn’t happen on the big issues but I sometimes get a little lax on the smaller once. More often than not I seem to have those come back to bite me.

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