Learning New Skills

“I suck.” “I’m not good at this.” “I should just quit now.”

These are all common phrases we tell to ourselves when we begin learning a new skill. This negative self-talk will definitely not help us improve, but it is sure to discourage us enough to quit.

Learning a new skill is one of the most exciting, yet challenging situations we can put ourselves in. Think back to when you were first learning to ride a bike. I am sure you fell numerous times, cried, felt discouraged and wanted to give up. After each of these falls, though you did not recognize it at the time, you were becoming a better rider. Fast-forward a few weeks and many falls later, I bet you were riding up and down the street like it was second-nature. How awesome!

We have to remember this experience and understand that learning ANY new skill is no different than learning to ride a bike. Though failure can be tough, know that even your failure is getting you closer mastering that skill!

As we grow older, many of us give up on developing our skills. We begin to believe we are too old to learn new things, and are not as willing to learn as we used to be as kids. Basically, any skill was a new skill to learn as a kid, from the basics of reading, writing and even tying our shoes. However, we were always excited when we finally accomplished these simple feats! Let’s embrace that same excitement as adults!

For example, I recently became a local real estate agent in my area. Initially, I believed I would only use my license for myself because I was not interested in getting into the sales side of real estate. As an introvert, I was convinced sales was a skill too far outside of my wheelhouse. I assumed it to be a skill it I could never be good at.

Eventually, I decided to take on the challenge of embracing the sales side of real estate, and see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill, the very skill I deemed impossible for me to learn, sales!

“Oh my! How could you ever step so far outside of your comfort zone, Alex!? You better come back!” my mind tries to convince me daily.

Though it is still early in this skill development, and I have already failed many times, I am excited to witness my progress come to fruition down the road no matter how long that road may be.

We must all understand that falling on your face only gives you the opportunity to get right back up! It is up to us to choose whether to stay down or keep going.

Take hold of the opportunities to learn a new skill when you get the chance! Maybe there is an Excel class or writing workshop at your place of work or local college that you can sign up for. It is never too late to learn something new! Get excited! Be patience! And watch ourselves grow. J

Why Dieting Doesn’t Work

Have you ever procrastinated for an exam, crammed the night before and performed well on the test the next day? I’m sure you have! Good for you! However, one week later, if someone asked you to recite back the material you had learned, could you? There is a less likely chance. So, why is this?

When we are focused on one single goal and put all of our energy into achieving this goal, we are spent when the goal is reached. We cram all of this information in our head to get that A on the exam, but have zero commitment to retaining the information once we have obtained what we wanted.

Similarly with dieting, we are so focused on the short-term goal of losing 10 pound by the end of the month, for example, we are not focusing on the long-term of sustaining that weight.

This is why dieting doesn’t work.

How often do you hear family, friends, those in the workplace disappointed that they cannot lose weight or if they lose weight, they gain it right back. It is because of this lack of focus on the long-term, and too much of a focus on the short-term.

Rather than dieting, we must strive to maintain a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, and this is the ONLY WAY to guarantee we can keep that weight off.

Believe me when I tell you, in the past, I have tried every diet known to man and with much success, in fact. Conversely, though proven to be successful, I promised I would never “diet” ever again. It is not the problem of the “diet” but the term itself has a connotation that implies, “I just have to do X for X period of time and then I will be happy.” It is a destructive way of thinking and cyclical.

Would we rather live this life of being seasonally fit and seasonally happy with ourselves, or would it be more productive to develop long-term lifestyle that will ensure we will never have to diet ever again?

You tell me.

It took me a long time to realize why I was unhappy with my body, and it was because of this cyclical mentality. For months I would diet and obtain the “perfect body” for summer, spring break, my birthday, but thereafter, you will find you are only more disappointed when that goal is obtained and you are not putting in the equivalent effort to maintain it.

Let’s start this journey together.

The first step in changing our lifestyle to lose or maintain weight, is the simple promise to ourselves that we are not dieting, we are adjusting our lifestyle for our health. That mentality alone should relieve the pressure that dieting inherently produces. And in turn, the depression and disappointment it ultimately results in.

Secondly, let’s take a look at what we consume during the day, and assess what is a craving and what is a reasoned food choice. We will simply want to recognize these moments of weakness and resist them one at a time, day by day. You will quickly see that very resistance will encourage you the next time, proving that you ARE capable of abstaining from that doughnut, pounds cake, or cookie. You go!

Lastly, it is the simple fact of perpetuating these habits and always looking for new ways to educate ourselves on food and health, and actively look for new ways to improve our lifestyle.

This should all get you excited to begin your new LIFESTYLE! The weight may not come off as quickly, but patience is key to any great product. Always remember the old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” And honestly, if it had been, perhaps it may have collapsed much sooner than later. Okay, sorry for the mediocre collapse-of-the-Roman-Empire joke.

Begin with these small steps. Update on your progress. If you find yourself in a moment of weakness, don’t worry! Just let it go, and keep going! You got it.

Social Media Sobriety

Today I found myself getting caught up in Facebook posts for almost an hour, which made me think of all of the time we must waste on social media. There are people in this world with the most creative minds and talents, yet social media has become such a distraction, they spend more time online than they do working on their craft or taking advantage of the opportunities. This very post is an example of putting off writing to waste non-value-add time looking through social media. For what? I did not find out anything interesting, nor did it advance my writing craft in any way. This post could have been completed 30 minutes ago if I had not been distracted by others’ photos, videos and posts. What a shame.

What makes social media so addicting? Sadly, it is mostly because it is mindless and gratifying activity. It is easy to do and results in high reward, often. We are thrilled to get new comments, likes and attention on our profile, and to do it, all we have to do is post a picture and a moderately-clever caption. It makes us feel like people like us! There are not many other things in life we can say has high reward and low effort or risk. Usually, high rewards come with a high investment of time, money and energy.

Conversely, we can be putting some energy into a skill we have a passionate for and EARN a return, not be handed one. Doesn’t that sounds more gratifying? …… I know, sounds tiring.

It has been proven that when we receive a notification or like on social media, it releases endorphins to our brains to make us feel good. This feel-good feeling is addicting, similar to that of a drug. We are a generation of social media-addictions and it is an epidemic. For myself, I went on a months-long hiatus of abstaining from social media. I literally feel like I was telling people about my lengthy sobriety journey when I would talk about it.

Recently, in joining the field of real estate, heavily set in social media, so I have been back on it. Ideally, social media is supposed to be a good resource for getting leads, networking, etc. but I have found it has broken my social media-sobriety (we will call it), making it more difficult not to get caught up in its antics.

Breaking the social media habit can only lead to us being more productive and more present in our world. I am going back to my social-media sobriety journey starting today. I encourage you to do the same! Let’s kick this habit and start doing the things worth spending that time on!

Quick Morning 10 Rep Stretch/ Strength Workout

If I cannot make it to the gym in the morning, I do my best to at least get one set of this quick and easy stretch and strengthening workout in (No weights required).

10 second hold- Quad Stretch (each leg)

10 seconds hold- Cross- body stretch

10 seconds hold- Arm-behind-the-head stretch

10 reps- Squats

10 reps- Straight-legged hamstring stretch

10 reps- Army crunches

10 reps- Shoulder raises

10 reps- Lunges

X 1 rep

Hopefully this gets you feeling energized for the day! Enjoy!

 

“How Long Is It Going to Be Before I Demand the Best For Myself?”

This quote from Epictetus forces us to be honest with ourselves. We question whether we are doing the best for ourselves at this time. If not, why? Are we waiting for the “perfect time” to be a better person or take action? It’s so easy to make excuses for a number of things, but is putting this off making you any better?

The Stoics often speak on the theme of perfectionism and how we can never expect perfection in life. Instead, we must be resilient to the obstacles in our path and continue our journey with persistence. How often do we find ourselves saying things like “Oh, I’ll do [   ] 3 years from now,” “Right now I am just too busy for [   ]” You fill in the blank. We all say these sort of phrases but, will there ever be the perfect time to do anything, or is it really just procrastination? (Feel free to answer but it is a rhetorical question). So now back to Epictetus’s question, “How long is it going to be before I demand the best for myself?”

New Year’s resolutions are a perfect example of the idea that Epictetus is trying to get across. Every year we wait for a new start of the year to get healthy, read more, get a degree, etc. Why do we wait for this time when we can start right now?

The reality is, there will never be a more perfect time than now. We do not know what will become of our lives in the future and the new challenges it will pose. Rather, let’s make the decision to demand the best for ourselves while we can, in this very moment. What better time?!

For myself, there are definitely goals that I have set and not accomplished. Perhaps I am making excuses and procrastinating on these feats. Let’s see…

For example, it has been a year since I first began looking for an investment property. The potentially procrastinating side of me says, “There are no homes I am interesting in purchasing, maybe it is just not a good time in the market for me to buy.” Though I am always looking every day, I am WAITING for the right property to appear. Furthermore, I have not made offers on any properties and, at times, I find myself reasoning about the inflated nature of the current real estate market does not allow for me to make a BIG investment mistake. Will there ever be the perfect time to buy in the market? Will there ever be the perfect house? The answer is no, Alex. It is okay to be cautious, just make sure you are not making excuses for yourself.

In conclusion, what I am trying to present here is that we all have goals we are putting off for the “right time,” but understand that we can only have influence over what is happening right now in this moment, not later. Whether it is a specific action-goal or simply being a better parent, being a healthier person, being a better teacher, etc. Ask yourself this question, “How long is it going to be before I demand the best for myself?” And answer, “No longer.”