Tuesday, January 1, 2013

12 Habits

So I liked going through the 12 things happy people do differently, even though I was a bitch about some of them, and maybe it wasn't the best idea to be going through 16 ways to master your derby-life balance, which argh is still going on, at the same time. Only go through lists of twelve things, Munt, one deep thought per month is nice and enough.

So then I thought for this year I would go through the 12 things successful people do differently, because I think I was the most bitchy about conflating happiness and success. If I believe in anything, it's that happiness and success are independent, no really, not connected at all. You don't get one with the other and if you want them both, you have two separate projects on your hands. And I do actually want to succeed, albeit perhaps in the context of a unique definition of success; but success should be uniquely defined, if you ask me.

But then again, I don't want to talk in abstractions. I want to talk nuts and bolts, and maybe apply some of those ideas to actual examples of stuff that I'm trying to be successful at. Because right at the top of the list is Specific:

A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a related specific goal would be, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week for the next 52 weeks.” A specific goal has a far greater chance of being accomplished because it has defined parameters and constraints.
So obviously, "be successful" is a generic beautiful vision, but for me is built from hundreds or possibly thousands of specific action statements, some up and running, some still on the drawing board, and some just a twinkle in my eye.

But I said just twelve. So let's start with twelve this year.

Even better, let's start with one this month.

But let's start that next week, because I feel like this topic needs a little introduction. About how you turn action statements into actual action. To wit, action takes will and willpower is an exercisable and exhaustible resource. Just like your body, you know? You can strengthen your willpower by using it, and that's just how you strengthen your body too, by using it. I hope that seems obvious to you, it's so odd when you come across people who seem to think about training their bodies as separate from using them. Three sets of ten lunges at the gym and three flights of stairs from the subway to the street are functionally identical, right? But also training your body tires you out, and then you need to rest and recover. Or else you'll have a breakdown, you know this.

Another great way to overtrain is to chase after strength and endurance at the expense of form! Are you wobbling all over the place trying to lift a weight that's too heavy for you, or way too many reps than are good for anybody? Dial it back for the love of good movement. Good movement is basically the most efficient way that your body was designed to work, how it naturally worked when you pulled yourself up on your own two feet and toddled your first steps. It's good form, but don't get stuck on static good form. If you practice with good dynamic form, first of all, you can lift more weight for longer, and you can think of this as improving the strength and endurance of all the right muscles or you can think of this as improving the strength and endurance of that movement. Conversely if you practice with bad form, you're setting bad movements. And you're unbalancing your muscles so that some are tight and some are weak, and most of all you're doing more work to get less work done. And you can exhaust your will to train doing that, that's what overtraining is. And you know, that can make you quit. Which is not success, as loosely defined as that is around these parts.

I mean, I can't not say that sometimes the thing to do is quit. Success isn't everything, perseverance isn't everything, nothing is everything. E.M. Forster says in Howards End that there are people who see things steadily and people who see things whole, I will try just in this context to keep a steady eye on success. But I'm just saying, I'm still keeping tabs on all that other stuff with my other senses. So there.

But anyway, lifting weights and getting things done tee em are best accomplished by figuring out and learning the easiest way to lift or do them, and then practicing that until muscle memory or whatever the will equivalent to muscle memory is takes over, and then it's even easier. Which is totally okay if you ask me, I know my goal isn't to make my life harder. I guess I'd say that my goal is flow, and grinding your teeth to get through something is the opposite of that. In addition to not being that into doing very hard things, I'm also not that into doing very big things. You will laugh when you see how small, but small things that you actually do are what add up.

So now we're finally getting to the dragon. Says the girl who was unaware that The Hobbit would be in three parts until the last minute of the first part, augh. Here be dragon: the will equivalent to muscle memory is habit. If you think it's a great idea to host a Hobbit marathon on Xmas Day and a LOTR marathon on NY Day three years from now, here's some more to read and I'll be back on Monday with this month's habit.