Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Value of Physical Activity

Physical Activity is valuable because of it’s potential to teach you life lessons on multiple levels.  For one thing, it teaches you what you can achieve when you work hard. Because fitness goals are something that can be quantifiable, you can measure your progress and see your results more easily than other goals like “I want to get better at cooking” because whether your cooking is good more subjective than whether your mile time was under 8 minutes.

The next thing it teaches you is humility because hard work does not always translate into results.  Generally people growing up with exercise experience the following:

You work an equal amount every year and as your body grows so do your skills, amplifying the effects of your work and making you think it’s because of your hard work.

As you age you get better and better until you reach your peak age of physical fitness. Then you work the exact same amount and you stop improving.  

Then you work the exact same amount and you start getting worse and worse due to age.

As a result, you can experience being better than others simply because of your age, and you can experience being worse than others simply because of your age.  Thus you learn to appreciate what you have when you have it, and you learn that not everything is inside your control: while your ability and success are related to your hard work, they are not directly correlated.

Physical Activity also teaches you patience and long term (it’s a marathon not a sprint) thinking because no matter how much you want to build your muscles and how hard you work out at the gym today, they will only grow so fast.  And if you get impatient and overwork them then you will get injured.

Injuries teach you how to handle setbacks because in life you will meet many setbacks and how you respond to them and stay the course will largely impact your success in life.  Injuries also teach you about limitations because you are limited in some respects and understanding those limitations will help you live a better life, make better decisions, and teach you how to overcome obstacles because a limitation is an obstacle, but there are often ways around it.  Perhaps you realize your limit for exercise is 2 hours a day and any more than that then you will suffer more physical pain.  Many will get stuck at this obstacle, but others will discover: it’s because I’m not resting enough after exercise, or getting enough nutrition, sleep, etc., that I have this limit, and if I improve at resting and recovery, then I can increase my capacity for exercise to 3 hours a day or more.  As such, Physical Activity teaches you how to take care of yourself, which is the first step in knowing how to take care of others.

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2014 Recap: Self Doubt

This year I fell victim to the vicious cycle of self doubt.  I believed I could be successful in my endeavors, but when I started to fail I started to doubt and that reduced my chances of success because it’s hard to fight both the obstacles you face on your journey to success and your inner demons at the same time.  Because my chance of success went down, the failures added up and my doubt grew stronger, causing more failure and resulting in self doubt.

This was because this year I set grand goals, goals that were bigger than any other goals I’ve ever set in my life, so of course it would make sense that success would not be knocking on my door anytime soon.  I was in for the long haul, and I was only just beginning.  So when I didn’t succeed in my long term goal I wasn’t surprised: that was to be expected.  However I fell into the trap that most people make when they set grand goals: They don’t break it up into smaller ones.

Because I only had the one goal that was to be achieved years from now, I had no short term goals that I could achieve for gratification, satisfaction, adrenaline to keep me going.  The over-investment in the long term resulted in boredom and depression in the short term, and with depression came the doubt: “no results yet huh? Must not be working, should probably give up.”

Luckily for me I had systems in place to keep me working which meant that I continued to make progress even though I felt like quitting…and now at the end of the year I can say that I have certainly made progress because while it was difficult to see any gains or improvements or short term advances at the day or week or month level, at the year level it is clear what progress has been made.

There are many tricks to conquering self doubt. Before I dive into them I just want to take a moment to explain why you should not give into them.  An important one is that like most things in life: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Other people feel self doubt too.  In fact, some of the most successful people out there have felt self doubt.  For example, Jerry Seinfeld, who became a billionaire from being an exceptional comedian, and Jimmy Fallon, host of the Tonight Show, a job that is an extremely high award for a comedian in the USA, both admitted that even after achieving decades of success, they still occasionally feel self doubt before performing (*From an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee).  They doubt whether they will succeed, they question their life decision to even try, they question whether they even have the potential to succeed.  But then they go do it anyway, and when they are in the middle of the doing, they realize they can do it.

What this goes to show is that whether you are just beginning and have no history of success, or whether you are at the peak of your career and have a history of success and momentum carrying you: self doubt will always be there, until you take the dive and do it.  So a solution to self doubt is to just dive in and just go do it.  Do it and keep doing it and by gaining experience improve incrementally over time so that with enough time and increments, major improvements are made and you can focus on enjoying what you’re doing or looking back and enjoying your accomplishments instead of getting trapped in the purgatory of indecision.

Next year, my goal is to stay positive and focus on having fun, being happy, and drawing on my incremental success from 2014 to give me the self confidence to face the challenges of 2015 and the conviction to pursue what I want and not change goals because I will believe I can achieve what I originally set out to do.

Misc: An alternative source of self doubt is a weak sense of identity. See Who Am I? and Getting Out of Depression if so.

* See

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New Perspective on New Year Resolutions

This was the first year of my life where the New Year was not a big deal to me in the sense that I was not able to set aside a considerable amount of time to reflect upon the previous year and set goals for the new year because I was and still am too focused on the goals I have set from the previous year to set new ones or reflect on my accomplishments just yet.

First, I thought about why this was: Why wasn’t I spending the time to reflect and plan? Answer: I’m too busy with my current startup to spare time for a vacation.  If it isn’t adding value to my start up, I don’t have time for it.  I haven’t taken a vacation in 2014 yet and I don’t plan on taking one until the startup reaches a better place.

Then I realized what this means is that the “new years resolution” culture is largely due to the holiday season that leads up to the new years holiday: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years give you lots of free time in a short 4-5 week period during which you can pause your life and reflect and meditate and think.

Then I realized I do this every two weeks at least: I refocus my priorities, I evaluate them against my long term goals, and I make adjustments to my plans.  I constantly do this on a small scale daily but on a full scale bi-monthly.  This allows me to not get distracted and stay focused on my goals.

Therefore I concluded that the process of reflecting on what you did since your last reflection session and setting a plan of action for yourself should be on your personal timeline rather than on a timeline that isn’t yours.  Time moves without you, the calendar will tick whether you’ve made progress on your goals or not, whether you’ve remembered them or forgotten them, so don’t base your life on it because it isn’t related to you.  You want to reflect on your goals based on a function of your personal memory timeline: If I forget things after 3 weeks then I should refresh my memory of my goals every 3 weeks or less.

I think this is the reason why people’s new years resolutions don’t last: Because too many people ascribe to the culture of reflecting based on a calendar external to their personal life calendar.  Focus on yourself: How often do you need to be reminded? How often should you re-focus and reflect on your life?  Do it on your own timeline and you’ll see more success.

The person who reads their new years resolutions every day or every week for an entire year has a much higher chance of succeeding at meeting them than someone who never reads it again after making them.

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