Week 2

This summary of the second week is a little later than I was planning, but the second week itself was a pretty huge challenge. And for once the challenge was not the typical “these new habits are hard” type non-sense I have tried to use as an excuse in the past. This time, I was sick and I simply did not have the energy or opportunity for my full predetermined process situation.

Core Focus of the Week: Just keep going, as best I can.

During the second week, I had to keep in mind Hal Elrod‘s reminder that this whole process of making 2022 my best year ever is “about progress, not perfection.”

I did as many of my predetermined process steps as I could, and modified others as best I could, given the health challenges I was handling. For example, I slightly modified my Miracle Morning SAVERS to accommodate my strength limitations and the extreme fatigue I was feeling. BUT, I still made it a point to do my Miracle Morning.

Every step forward is a step forward.

As I mentioned before, I know that idea seems almost ridiculous, far too simple, or even childishly simplistic on the surface. But it is so easy to forget that stumbling forward is still moving forward. It is so easy to forget that a 1% improvement, or even a 0.1% improvement IS improvement.

If the goal is to be the best version of myself, then every single step forward, however small and halting, is a step forward. Every single improvement, no matter how small, is still improvement and means that I have become a better version of myself than I was before that small improvement.

In the second week…

  • I lowered my weight by about 1 pound, in a healthy and sustainable way.
  • I continued to drink more water than I did prior to 2022.
  • I continued to make better food choices, more often than not.
  • I continued intentional walking, totaling another 2 hours worth.
  • I added another $10 to my savings balance.
  • I added another $100+ to my investment balance.
  • I continued investigating side hustle ideas, ruling out several ideas already.
  • I continued to deepen and strengthen my relationship with my wife.
  • I consistently did my Miracle Morning SAVERS each day, and enjoyed Hal’s app for the 30-day challenge
  • I read more from Lead the Field, read more from The Money Tree, and my wife ordered me a copy of 12 Rules for Life.
  • I continued to engage with high-quality content about Stoicism, Buddhism, and conquering my procrastination habit, learning about practices that will make me a better version of myself each day.
  • I enjoyed a great deal of Jim Rohn content, taking advantage of Jim’s proven mindset and philosophy towards life, to begin refining my own philosophy and mindset.
  • I laughed, deeply and often, each day because I made it a point to take advantage of the best medicine (I am convinced it is the best medicine for mind, soul, spirit, and body).
  • I continued learning about Buddhist teachings and launched a page on my site where I can collect these teachings and begin to reflect on my understanding of them and also reflect on how the practices can deepen my Christian faith as well.
  • I learned about the Stoic idea that “glory is fleeting” and began to ponder how I can apply this thought to my own life.
  • I consistently engaged with Psalms, Proverbs, and the Tao Te Ching, filling my mind with ancient, but timeless, wisdom.

As I look back on that list, I must say, in both humility and honesty, that I have again gained a HUGE amount over just a seven-day period, even in the midst of being sick with an upper respiratory illness of some sort. And as I wrote in the last summary, I can see again, why it is so much more beneficial to focus on gains.

Self or Soul or Spirit

Have you ever tried to explain something to a friend and you just can’t seem to get the point across? You understand it without any trouble at all, intuitively, but your friend just can’t seem to pick up what you’re laying down. Honestly, I find those times to be VERY FRUSTRATING!

Just recently, I was trying to explain how I understand the words “self,” “soul,” or “spirit” to a friend that just never really got it. So I will write this post as a new attempt to explain it to my friend and also to create a little bit of a framework for some of the future posts I have in mind.

Before I get started, though, I want to acknowledge there are likely to be logical threads of reasoning that I have not yet explored. This means I reserve the right to continually refine my understanding of these ideas as I continually test them and think them through.

SELF – I view the “self” as the entire essence of my unique and individual personhood. This is the personhood that reasons and feels emotions and interacts with other “selves” (other people) in the day-to-day. In other words, I see my “self” as a unique and individual entity in this world (or all the other worlds and/or dimensions I could be in). I was given a name at birth, to make it easy for other “selves” to interact with me, or refer to me, but my name is not me.

My name is simply a convenient way for other “selves” to identify me. Some of those other “selves” also refer to me by various nicknames or affectionate titles, such as Papa, Dad, Babe, Sweetheart, etc. And every so often, other “selves” use different names for me (such as “a-hole,” “jerk”, etc) in an effort to degrade my “self,” at the very least in their own mind. But none of these names has any real impact on who my “self” is, moment to moment. As Shakespeare once said, “a rose by any other name….”

SOUL – I view the “soul” as the part of my “self” that includes my semi-eternal divine nature. By semi-eternal, I mean that I believe my “soul” had a specific beginning point within space-time, but will now continue to exist until the end of space-time. Yes, my current understanding is rooted in my very typical Judeo-Christian upbringing, in which I learned that only God is fully eternal (ever existing and unbound by the limits of space and time). I acknowledge and accept that other traditions see all “souls” as fully eternal and also see individual “souls” as parts of the “all” (my term) that have been separated from the “all” for some reason I do not know.

I see my divine nature (also called my “human nature”) as divine because of my typical Judeo-Christian upbringing, in which I learned that I was created in God’s image. But realize, by divine, I do not mean to imply only the “good” side we often associate with the word “divine.” I fully acknowledge that my divine nature (my “human nature”) includes an inclination to sometimes do “bad” things, in my mind or in the world. The ancient Chinese yin-yang symbol depicts this idea – that no person is either fully good or fully evil.

SPIRIT – I view the “spirit” as the driving force, the life force, the force that makes my “self” be alive. I see this as the energy that animates my day-to-day expression of my “self.” And not to get to “woo-woo,” but I see energy (as expressed in human form) as having both a “state” and a “flavor.” This means that my “spirit” also has a state and a flavor, which can vary from moment to moment, depending on many factors.

When I say “state,” I’m thinking of things like high energy, low energy, or something in between. When I say “flavor,” I’m thinking of things like “sad” or “happy.” So, it’s possible for me to be at a high-energy happiness (e.g., elation) or a high-energy sadness (e.g., depression). Or, I might be at a low-energy version such as mildly amused or a little sad. Or, very rarely, I might find myself in a neutral state.

I am sure there are many, many other ways to understand these concepts and use these words. But these are my current understandings of each, and the way I am currently using each. And as I continue to explore my own faith and other faith practices and traditions, I might change – or even abandon – my understanding and use of these words.

Week 1

I did not know I was going to do weekly summaries of my Best Year, until right now as I sat down at the computer. All day long, I’ve had a nagging feeling that I need to capture some of my thoughts as I near the end of the week, especially this first week of 2022.

Core Focus of the Week: Just get going.

Years and years ago, I heard Mike Litman say, “You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.” Many of my mentors have said, “You can’t steer a parked car.” And Hal Elrod, who inspired this approach to 2022, continues to remind us that “it’s about progress, not perfection.” So, as you might have already figured out, the focus for this week was to just get going.

I already laid out my pre-determined processes and all I wanted to do this week was start. Just take those simple steps. And then do that again the next day. And the next. And the next. None of these steps has to be perfect – and that thought takes away SO MUCH stress! But stick with me here as I lay out this incredibly simple but powerful idea:

Every step forward is a step forward.

I know that seems almost ridiculous on the surface. But it is so easy to forget that even stumbling forward is still moving forward. It is so easy to forget that a 1% improvement, or even a 0.1% improvement IS improvement.

If the goal is to be the best version of myself, then every single step forward, however small and halting, is a step forward. Every single improvement, no matter how small, is still improvement and means that I have become the best version of myself up to now. And I can honestly say that, each day, as long as I focus on my predetermined processes, control what I can control, and move forward each day.

And rather than focusing on how far I still have to go before I have created the results I want to create this year, I am going to look back and see how far I have already come in just one week.

  • I lowered my weight by more than 2 pounds, in a healthy and sustainable way.
  • I enjoyed more water in the last week than in the previous two months combined.
  • I made better food choices, in terms of quantity AND quality more often than not, which is very much a step forward.
  • I did a total of 124 pushups, which was more than I have done in the past two years.
  • I did a total of 239 abdominal crunches, which was more than I have done in the past two years.
  • I did nearly 2 hours of intentional walking just to move, which was more than I did in the past 8 months, total.
  • I added $10 to my savings balance.
  • I added $100+ to my investment balance.
  • I interviewed for a step-up position outside my current employer and while I did not get selected for the position, I received very valuable feedback.
  • I started investigating several possible side hustle ideas and begun to take advantage of information and resources from very successful people.
  • My relationship with my wife is closer than it has been in the past 8 years.
  • My relationships with my colleagues is the best it has ever been.
  • I met someone new this week, expanding my circle of influence.
  • I consistently did my Miracle Morning SAVERS each day, and enjoyed Hal’s app for the 30-day challenge
  • I read more from Lead the Field and started reading The Money Tree, feeding new wisdom into my mind
  • I engaged with high-quality content about Stoicism, Buddhism, and conquering my procrastination habit, learning about practices that will make me a better version of myself each day
  • I enjoyed several PhilosophersNotes, which are VERY high-quality summaries of some of the most important books produced in the last century (or more)
  • I enjoyed a great deal of Jim Rohn content, taking advantage of Jim’s proven mindset and philosophy towards life, to begin refining my own philosophy and mindset
  • I laughed, deeply and often, each day because I made it a point to take advantage of the best medicine (I am convinced it is the best medicine for mind, soul, spirit, and body)
  • I enjoyed two new shows and two movies with my wife, which gave us a chance to bond over shared experiences and, several times, to discuss deeper issues
  • I planned two mini-trip getaways with my wife, which give us a chance to break out of our normal setting and enjoy shared experiences that are well outside our norm
  • I learned about the Buddhist idea of reducing/eliminating suffering by reducing/eliminating resistance to pain and started putting this into practice, which has already begun to reduce my suffering in small ways that I am sure will add up
  • I learned about the Stoic idea of “memento mori,” which means “remember death” and started putting this into practice, which has already begun to reframe my priorities as I remember that I could be gone at any moment…have I lived my best life
  • I consistently engaged with Psalms, Proverbs, and the Tao Te Ching, filling my mind with ancient, but timeless, wisdom

As I look back on that list, I must say, in both humility and honesty, that I have gained a HUGE amount over just a seven-day period. And I can see, tangibly, why it is much more productive to focus on gains.

Themes

Are you one of those people that sets a theme for the new year? Such as “Forward” or “Sparkle” or some other one-word framework that is supposed to be totally meaningful. I need to apologize to you, and I mean REALLY apologize. I’m sincerely sorry, because…

I never have been one of those people because I have never really trusted the power of such simplistic things. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I have quietly, and sometimes not very quietly, mocked the “themed ones.” Looking back over the years, I’m embarrassed by my willingness, maybe even desire, to look down my nose at such “silly” approaches to life.

BUT – and here comes the hard part – I must admit that I seem to be setting a theme (or maybe two) to the upcoming new year. After working through my Miracle Morning and Best Year frameworks for the past several days, I am noticing two words coming through pretty strongly.

The first is “VALUE” because it seems that, almost unconsciously, nearly everything I have listed for the results I want to create in 2022 revolves around the idea of adding value to other people’s lives. And also in my own. Whether that value is simply giving them a smile they wouldn’t get any other way, or a sincere compliment, or something much more substantial, it seems that I have almost unconsciously set out to add value to the world and the people in it.

And the second theme that seems to be emerging is “LEARN.” A good number of the results I want to create in the next trip around the sun revolve around learning more, and learning almost constantly. As I sit here typing this out and thinking through the idea of constant learning, I think I know why, almost unconsciously, I have set out to make this next year one of constant learning. Because I will then be able to create MORE value to add to the world (in general) and to the people in my life (in particular).

And even better, I have already realized that I don’t have to be perfect right now to create value for those around me. I just have to be willing to share. And as I continue to learn more, to grow, to expand my own awareness, to build my own capacity, I can simply share what I learn and trust that I will be creating more and more value.

Relaunch

Yep, I’ve done it. I’ve relaunched my site.

Over the years, my site has served many purposes. It’s been an online resume. It’s been a file repository. It’s been a record of some sort of annual project. It’s been many things.

But now, it’s going to be different. It’s going to be my little corner of the online world. It will be contain my blog, where I will share thoughts on practically everything that interests me, from politics, to ancient wisdom, to observations on life.

It will also have pages that contain information I hope will bring lots of value to the world at large. And there will, of course, be collections of things that interest me, such as resources I find, books I’m reading, movies I’m watching, podcasts I’m enjoying, and so forth.

In essence, I am a person with many, many interests and it is time my site reflects that about me. With any luck, I’ll attract a loyal legion of followers, who will create (with me) a robust community of people who are trading ideas, supporting each other, and creating value for the world around us. Let’s leave the world a little better than we found it!