Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Work-Life Balance...Really?

I don't believe there is such a thing as work-life balance. Work is part of life. So is family, so is rest, so is taking time for myself. But life is what I need to balance, the plate I have to keep spinning on a stick. I can't pretend one part is less important than any other part.

I think what most people mean when they say work-life balance is really work-life separation. We like to think work is work and life is life and we leave one behind when we engage the other. But there's a common thread, no matter how far from home or how different our work is from the other parts of our lives: us.

I am the same person at work and at home, no matter how much I want to be different. I don't fool anybody when I try to leave work stuff there, least of all the people who know me best. Wouldn't it be better to do work I don't feel like I have to keep from my family, and work in a place I don't feel like I have to protect from my family?

Maybe that's the key. Do work I don't feel guilty about bringing home, in a place I don't feel ashamed to have a family made up of real people with real needs.

Too much to ask? Maybe. But how can we get there (or even move in the right direction) if we're afraid to demand better than what we have?

I'm not worrying about work-life balance any more. I'm going to balance my life instead.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Making Folks Mad

I just discovered a new column over at Gawker called "I of the Tiger" (warning: rated R for language). It's a fitness column, a category I usually skip over because either a) it's a repetition of something I already know or b) it demands a level of intensity I don't have the capacity for.

But Hamilton Nolan has taken a different approach. He's not offering tips on diet, or technique, or the best ab-blasting exercises. He's not describing body-building circuits that no forty-year-old fat guy with a full-time life has the bandwidth or the energy to do. Instead, he's talking straight--about motivation and not comparing yourself to others and getting better every time you work out. And he gets in your face about it, like a personal trainer urging you to go for it one more time.

And judging by some of the comments he's getting, he's making a few people mad, especially with his latest article. Good advice, they say, most of it, except this part that doesn't apply to me because...and they make their excuses. I'm just there to maintain my current level. I don't need to get better every time. I just want to keep looking good.

But Nolan has his position, and he sticks to it: you should have a goal, push yourself, get better every time you step into the gym. It's the hard way, and it requires work and discipline and focus. And it makes people uncomfortable, because most of us don't want to work that hard, and seeing somebody else working that hard makes us feel like we need to, and that makes us mad. So we grumble to our buddies instead of getting to work, make fun of the guy who is working, because we need to find a reason not to work so hard.

But you can't get younger by making fun of the guy who's working. You can't get younger by hiding behind excuses. You have to be the guy who's working, to tell the excuses to shut up and give you some room, because you have work to do. The goal has to be important enough to give you that courage. And the courage will carry you when other folks make fun of you for being the guy who's working.

I'm way behind on every goal I set for myself this year, because for two months I've been letting the excuses and the fear win. I may not run my marathon this year, I almost certainly won't get my book out there by July, and I probably won't take my wife on thirty dates. But even if I only make half of those, I'll be better than I was last year.

So shut up, excuses, and give me some room. I've got work to do if I want to get younger.

Make it a great day!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This Poor Fellow's Legs Don't Work....

Yeah. I dare you to watch this video and say this guy is crippled.

Dergin Tokmak was born in 1973 and contracted polio when he was one year old. He's been on crutches since then.

He dances with Cirque de Soleil.

His home page is here.

Makes all my excuses sound pretty hollow....

Make it a great day!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

We All Need to Be Heard

Progress report: I was out of town for three days this week, but I managed to make some progress: two evenings in a row I went down to the hotel fitness room and walked for thirty minutes. Not much in the grand scheme, I guess, but better than I've done in a year or more. Small steps.

I've been thinking lately about the subject line for this post. A couple of weeks ago I was walking across a parking lot to my car and I heard music; a car was behind me, waiting to turn up one of the aisles, windows closed, hip-hop playing where I could hear it from twenty yards away or so. But it wasn't the thumping bass boom you usually hear--this music was clear enough I could understand the lyrics. The car turned up the aisle, the music faded, and I realized it wasn't blaring inside the car. It was playing outside. Someone had attached a speaker to the front of his car so he could share his music with the world.

I can't say I enjoyed the music coming from that car, but it made me think. The driver of that car had a need to be heard. He needed people to know he was there, talk about him, notice him. He didn't even need them to talk to him--in fact, I'd bet he'd rather they didn't--just about him. Like I'm doing right now. He needed to know his presence made a difference. He needed people to hear what he had to say, even if he didn't know the message himself.

A few days later, M.I.A. shot the bird to millions of football fans during the Superbowl halftime show. And last weekend, Nicki Minaj showed up to the Grammys as Red Riding Hood on the arm of the Pope. I have to admit I didn't watch closely enough to figure out what it was about, nor do I really care. These examples further my point: these are people who need to be heard, noticed, talked about. They don't really seem to know what they want to say, but they aren't about to let a little thing like that stop them from talking. Success comes from our reaction--the fact of it, not the substance.

Are the rest of us really so different? Here I sit, writing in one of my two blogs, hoping my words will touch someone who will tell a friend and drive my page-views up. This week I published two tweets, then allowed myself a little bit of excitement when my two tweets earned me three or four new followers. They weren't historical, and they weren't about self-improvement, but people read them and liked them enough to want more.

I find that thrilling, because I need to be heard, too. Why else would I be here? Why else write books, share stories, publish blogs? Money would be nice--but I'll do this whether or not I ever get paid. At least until something better comes along. Because it's more important to be heard and talked about than it is to be rich.

So how do you like to be heard?

Make it a great day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Here I Go--Getting Younger!

I'm younger today than I was a year ago. Younger than two months ago, when I had my last birthday. Oh, my body isn't any younger; I've got all the aches and pains a man my age is supposed to have, and a few extra to remind me I'm still not quite recovered from my back surgery. I can't drink as much as I used to, music in clubs is way too loud, and if the speed limit is seventy, I do about seventy-five.

So I don't act the way twenty-something me thought young folks are supposed to act. In fact, I'm pretty sure nobody will ever mistake me for a twenty-something again.

But I know something twenty-something me never knew. A lot, in fact. But one thing is particularly clear:

My best days are ahead of me, not behind.

I am happier, more content, wiser, more focused than I ever was in my twenties. And I can't see it getting anything but better. So I'm making plans to make it better.

See, I've set some pretty ambitious goals for this year, goals that are going to help me get better every day. Younger. Closer to the kind of life I dream about for myself and my family. Goals like these:

- Finish the book I've been working on for three years now. Polish it, make it great, and get it out there as an ebook so people can read it.
- Outline and complete the first draft of the sequel.
- Post twenty-five original blog entries.
- Publish twenty-five episodes of a podcast that's been nothing but a dream for more than a year now.
- Take my wife out on thirty dates. That's at least three times (probably more) the number of dates I took her on last year, and maybe half what she deserves.
- Run the White Rock Marathon in December. I've done some long walking, but I've never run more than about six miles.
- Publish twelve pieces for pay.
- Earn my PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification.

Plenty of folks will do a lot more than I will this year. But if I accomplish these, I'll have made more of myself this year than I did last year. Heck--if I accomplish three quarters of these the year will be a success.

At any rate, I'm all set to make this the best year ever. The youngest year. Until next year, at least. And I'll be tracking my progress here.

Anybody want to join me? Post your goals, or a link to them, in a comment and let's chase victory together!

Make it a great day!