On Tuesday night, I was having a talk with one of my good friends while I was driving back from Greensboro. We talked about developing good habits and changing destructive ones. It made me think back to the beginning of the year when I committed to living a healthier lifestyle during 2018. And I did for the first quarter. I was eating better, drinking less, and exercising at least five times a week. I even started off the second quarter like that. But, throughout this quarter, I’ve seen my resolve wane, and, this past week and a half, it has come to a complete standstill.
Because life happens. Over the past few weeks, work has been hectic, family has been demanding, and side hustles have been taking up my weekends. I just feel like I don’t have the time. But really, I haven’t had the drive to get it done. There are twenty-four hours in every single day and, where I started the year off using the first two waking hours of those twenty-four to focus on my spiritual, mental, and physical health, lately I’ve felt too drained to do that at all. But we’ll always have some excuse to say we’re drained, be it work or family or funds. But that’s no excuse. Realizing that, I have to work twice as hard to make up for the two weeks of quality work I haven’t put in at the gym or in the kitchen.
Don’t let your 180° change turn to a 360°. Good intentions will have you change for a short period of time. It takes true discipline to ingrain that change into your life. That’s not to say that you won’t hit slumps where you fall off the wagon but staying off is a choice. Choose to get back up and back on today.
Make developing a stronger resolve a priority.
Last week, I didn’t post to The Reader. I needed some time away so that I could marinate in my creative juices. And this blog wasn’t the only job I stepped away from.
When I’m gone (and I mean really gone) from work, I do my best to disconnect. I don’t check work e-mail more than twice a week (at which point I respond to whatever is truly time sensitive). I may choose to respond to an urgent work-related text but my responses are very quick and direct. In short, I make a true effort to protect the time I’ve carved out for myself, my family, and my friends.
Everyone doesn’t agree with my school of thought. Some people believe that endless work equates to a solid work ethic (whereas I equate that, in a salary role, to either poor time management skills, a lack of a personal life, a thirst for money and/or attention, or some combination of all these). When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard. Try to keep the two separate, if at all possible.
Living selflessly is great but you’ll never know how happy you can help someone else be until you explore and nourish that which truly fills your own spirit with joy. Like I said yesterday, time is a nonrenewable resource. Make sure you set some aside for yourself from time to time. That’s what adds color to a life that would otherwise be nothing but a monochromatic period of time.
Make protecting your joy a priority.
“Would you rather fail because you cut corners to get to the finish line or succeed by running past the finish line?” — Deryle A. Daniels, Jr.
At this point in my life, there is no such thing as “I want to _____,” and not doing it. I may not be able to succeed in it at that moment but I realize that if I want something, I must take steps to make it happen. It won’t always be easy or comfortable but I can do it. If I want to run a marathon, I can do it. If I want to bench 400 pounds, I can do it. And if I want to become debt free and have $1M, I can do it.
The trick is in giving yourself a challenging but realistic timeline for everything, one which includes a plan. I’m not going to do a half tomorrow but, being that I’ve run 11 miles at one time before, I know 13 isn’t impossible. I just have to train my body to get back to that. I don’t bench 400 lbs. now (and don’t have a reason to shoot for that goal) but if I wanted to, it’s all about making incremental increases. Financially, if it continues that I am blessed with upward mobility professionally, multiple streams of income, and an ability to save, I will be able to hit that debt-free $1M within the next 5-10 years.
If I want it, pray for it, educate myself on it, and work for it, I can have it. And, in the event that I do the praying and the educating and the work required but don’t get it, I’m alright with that because I am still closer to it than I was when I said I wanted it. Nevertheless, I don’t go into it with that mindset. I go in with the expectation that I will succeed and you should do the same thing.
Make getting what you deserve a priority.
“If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy.” — Chinese Proverb
Have you been putting in the time it requires for you to succeed? I’m on a flight right now finishing up Outliers and I realize that, if you keep grinding, your success will come. I truly believe that to be true at this point in history more so than ever before. Sure, there are systems in place that oppress people and dumb people down but willpower combined with opportunity lead to success. While I don’t know when the opportunity will come, I do know that I am going to put in the work on the front end so that I’ll be ready when it’s time for my crop to match my work.
Make professional development a priority.
“Take an honest inventory of why you are where you are at this point in your life.” — Bro. Curtis Cotton, III
When I was becoming a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha nearly a decade ago, my big brother would always tell us to take an honest inventory of why my line brothers and I were there at that point in our lives. And he was not asking why in terms of cause as much as he was asking why in terms of purpose going forward. What are we supposed to be doing with our strengths and how can we offset our weaknesses? I still lean on this concept of taking an honest inventory today and likely will for the rest of my life.
As I look at the first two weeks of 2018, I see some accomplishments:
- I have exercised at least five times a week.
- My mile time is falling.
- I have written a respectable amount of my first book.
- I have maintained my diet as I said I would.
- I have invested dollars into my next project, which will be going live in about a month.
But I also see some things I need to work on:
- I am still not reading a chapter a day like I said I would.
- I need to work more diligently to hit some of my goal dates.
- I’m not shooting photographs daily.
Everything that’s going right can go wrong in no time so I can’t grow complacent. But, it’s also not too late to get the things that are going wrong onto the correct track. No plan is going to move along perfectly nor will any plan which begins perfectly remain that way. But, when you take an honest inventory on a regular basis, you can make the tweaks and adjustments that will allow you to reach your goal even if it doesn’t happen in the order or at the speed you thought it would.
Make introspection and adjustment priorities.
“You’re late today.”
This is what Rashard, general manager at Prime Athletic Training & Fitness Institute in Durham, said to me when I came in at 6:20 this morning. Monday through Friday, I am one of the first members in the building when the doors open at 5:30. And, while I’m sure they see over a hundred people go in and out of the doors every day, certain people stand out. When you’re consistent, people usually don’t mention it but they notice when you’re not on your P’s and Q’s. Now, sure, Rashard was just picking on me because, obviously, I still made it in this morning but when you stand out, make sure you keep standing out and doing it for the right reasons.
You may think no one notices your dedication but they do. Of all the people in the world, if you didn’t do what you do the way you do it on just one day, someone would notice. Your consistency matters not only to you but to those who see you working hard to better yourself.
By the way, Prime is a great place to workout for people just getting into fitness, those who are already exceptional athletes looking to develop that extra edge that will get them to the next level, or anyone in between. If you’re looking for a fitness facility in Durham (and I know I was for a while), this is the place to be.
Make commitment a priority.
I cannot say I disagree with this stance when speaking generally of my generation. That being said, we, as millennials, must not give up on our desire to have an impact but we must be aware that doing so will take some time and effort. The thing is, by increasing effort, you can decrease time. So work harder and you won’t have to work as long to have the impact that you want to have. To those of you who say “I’ve been working and it hasn’t paid off as quickly as it did for Joe Blow down the street,” I respond “But imagine how much further you’d be from where you are if you weren’t working as hard as you are right now.”
Some points of action for millennials, myself included, to take from this talk:
- Let’s put our phones down. It’s great to be connected but how connected do we have to be all the time? People did live for thousands of years before the advent of the mobile (or even the tele-) phone.
- Be cognizant of your moods when you’re picking up the phone. Are you doing it because you’re lonely or depressed? If so, find a healthier way to handle that feeling instead of looking to something that could/has become an addiction.
- Try to step out of yourself and into the shoes of a person who didn’t grow up with access to all the resources you have at your disposal and realize why they may think you’re spoiled.
- Have honest conversations with critics from older generations who haven’t come to the conclusions that Simon did in the video. Let them know “Hey, it’s not our fault but we’re taking steps to develop the positive traits of generations and to develop additional ones we’d like to pass on to the future.”
- Know that, no matter what participation awards you got before, from this point on, it’s on you to believe that nobody owes you a thing. Be willing to work for the impact you have on the world.
- Lastly, know that impact is a change that happens over time. Very few things in history happened in the blink of an eye. But, if you’re pushing your environment forward in a positive direction, no matter how fast or slow it’s moving, know that you are having an impact.
Make self-awareness a priority.