Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The best of intentions . . .

"How few there are who have the courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them." - Benjamin Franklin

I wrote my first (and only) blog post on December 27, 2012. It was full of wonderful intentions and resolutions. Oh the changes I was going to make! A New Year's Revolution I called it. Diet, exercise, a mindfulness towards my good health and positive attitude. I was excited to share that journey through my words with all who wanted to be a part of it. Now, more than two and a half years later, I read that post, and it brings a melancholy smile to my face. There is an innocence to it. As if I could accomplish all I wanted with such ease and be an inspiration to others while doing it. As it turns out, while I was writing of my "revolution", life was making other plans. Plans that would challenge me, hurt me, wear me out, and leave me feeling far from the goals I had set for myself on December 27, 2012.

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." - John Lennon

I overestimated my ability to own my faults and mend them. I underestimated the plans that life would be making for me.

Before I give the impression that this post is only gloom and doom, I did accomplish a couple of things since last I wrote. I QUIT SMOKING! It has been almost 13 months now. I quit cold turkey on June 25, 2014. I had tried to quit dozens of times prior and always failed. I am not sure what clicked for me this time. Maybe the fact that I was beginning to notice a chronic cough. I was beginning to feel it killing me. Maybe it was because I had become a pack a day smoker. That is a lot of money that could go to happier, healthier, more fun things. Maybe it was because I leaned on my corporate experience and kept daily metrics on how many cravings I had. It was motivating to watch that number decrease each day until I was strong enough not to keep track. Likely, it was a combination of all of these things, and good timing.

My craving "metric" the first five days of not smoking.

Good timing certainly helped me achieve my next accomplishment. In September 2014 I completed the course work for my MBA and was awarded my degree in December 2014. I started the program in October 2012, and I find it interesting that I did not mention it in my December 2012 blog post. I guess at that time I did not see education and growth as part of my "revolution". Now I see them as key elements, but I will come back to that later. I decided to start an MBA program after years of badgering, I mean encouragement, from a boss/mentor who had known me since I first started my career. My company had a tuition reimbursement program that would pay for about half of the program. It did seem a shame not to use it. I decided in July 2012 to start the two year program in the upcoming October. Sometime over the next year I found out my company was being sold and with that sale would go the tuition reimbursement program. I completed my coursework prior to the sale. I received the full money available for reimbursement, all the while thinking what good timing it was. Not only for the financial reimbursement, but also in preparation for wherever my career may go considering the sale and new owners. Good timing indeed.

So yes, I did achieve two very purposeful accomplishments since I committed to living purposefully. I am proud of them. I cling to them as I think of all the things that have I reacted to in the last two and a half years. The more mindful I have tried to be, the more anxious I have felt. The more purposeful I have tried to be, the more out of control things seemed to become. I am rethinking this idea of mindfulness, living purposefully, and what it really means to change. I don't think I have been doing it right. I don't think I have been doing it wrong. I am not sure I have been doing anything excepting maintaining. That is where the education and growth come in. I want to keep learning - about myself, life, love, and friendship. Through that learning I want to grow as a human being. That is how I will live purposefully. Perhaps I will share that journey, or perhaps I will write again in two and a half years.

"The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise than according to the demands of our conscience not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life." - Leo Tolstoy

I do hope to keep regularly posting to this blog because the writing is cathartic, and I think others may relate to my experiences. I hope to hear from anyone who happens upon this blog or may even be following. There is strength in numbers, and growth in sharing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year's Revolution!!

Change. It is hard to do. You would think that I would have an easier time with it since professionally my position involves a lot of change management. It is one thing to "sell" a group of people on changes within a team or organization. "This is a better way to do it." "It will allow you to be more efficient in your position and therefore more successful." "It will provide more customer satisfaction for our customers." "It will position us competitively because we are doing things cheaper, faster, smarter." and as a last resort, "Because this is how we do it now." I could go on, but the point is I am no stranger to change and even driving others to change.

But this is not a discussion of my professional abilities. This is personal. The divide between the two has always been an issue for me. Where I have taken a disciplined and rationale approach to my education and career, my personal life has been a series of whims and broken commitments. Guess which one has been more successful.

Recently I had a discussion with a good friend almost 30 years my senior. Like me she struggles with staying on an exercise regimen even though it has been suggested (ordered?) by her doctor. I also saw an inspirational post on Facebook or Pinterest reminding me that in order to include exercise successfully in one's life it is a commitment of one hour a day. One hour a day! How is it possible that I find that impossible?

Exercise is only one example. I dream of being a vegan, or at least close. I don't have the patience to check labels for the hint of honey or egg white that often turns up in vegetarian foods, but I do believe in the benefits of a vegan diet. A longtime interest of mine, my main source of recent inspiration came from Kathy Freston's 2011 book Veganist which promotes moving towards a plant based diet as a progression rather than cold turkey or should I say cold "tofurkey". Alas, I have spent the last six months gorging on cheese, more cheese, topped with cheese and then fried. Followed by dessert of chocolate, topped with chocolate, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course covered in chocolate sauce and don't forget the chocolate sprinkles. That extra five pounds, turned to an extra 10 pounds, and now I just refuse to get on the scale. If the fit of my clothes are any indication some serious change management is needed pronto.

There are other areas I would like to make some changes. I want to write more (Hey! Look at me go!). I want to read more. I want to travel more. I want to see more live music. I want to smoke not at all and drink less. I want to . . . . live purposefully and experience everything I can out of life. I want to be healthy and feel good doing it.

Today is December 27. I am not looking to make New Year's resolutions, but have a New Year's Revolution! I am going to change manage myself:

  • "This is a better way to do it." - Eating a more plant based diet is a healthier diet. 
  • "It will allow you to be more efficient in your position and therefore more successful."  - Exercise will give me more energy, acuteness, and stress relief for more happiness.
  • "It will provide more customer satisfaction for our customers." - Everyone in my life will get a better me. 
  • "It will position us competitively because we are doing things cheaper, faster, smarter." - A better diet and more exercise will make me look and feel better making me more competitive on the dating scene (hubba hubba), a whole foods natural diet is cheaper, and exercise is free as there is no charge for many wonderful physical activities. 

And if all of my change management knowledge falls short of motivating me, then we go with the last resort:

"Because this is how we do it now." Change is not an option. There is still too much I want to do. Too much I want to be. Too much I want to discover.

"A warrior ... feeds his body well; he trains it; works on it. Where he lacks knowledge, he studies. But above all he must believe. He must believe in his strength of will, of purpose, of heart and soul." - David Gemmell