Understanding Change: Recognize Imminent Personal Development

What’s going on my friends?

Lately, I’m having a hard time writing and an even harder time figuring out why. I often ask myself why I’m not writing. I can think of excuses, but…

All the surface bullshit excuses can be brushed away quickly, by knowing that’s all they are: Excuses.

Too tired to write? No, not really. Everyone is tired, so what. I done been tired. Hard to be too tired to sit and tap tap on a keyboard. I remember being “tired” as a teenager, as soon as I was asked to do something I didn’t want to do haha. Miraculously, the energy returned when I was doing something interesting.

No time to write? No, I have an abundance of time. I’ve cut away enough distractions to have an abundance of time. Bye bye Facebook, Snapchat, and Netflix watching. Kill your television. You’ll have time I promise. Waking up early as hell helps too.

Am I suffering from the dreaded “Writer’s Block“? No, the words flow just fine. Writer’s block is just a front, a facade. When you’re trying to keep up appearances, of an image you created, you get writer’s block. When you get too serious, you get writer’s block. This is not the issue.

I know the site gets regular traffic, even after weeding out the spam(300+ comments so far! Get a spam filter guys, it’s worth it), so I know the readers want new content.

So what is it? Why am I not writing 3 posts a day, like I did in previous months? Well, this all has to do with the crests and troughs of life.

You can never stay at a peak point.

But likewise, you will not stay at an all time low permanently.

Eventually, over time, you will be just a little less sad, or just a little less happy.

This video got me going again in the gym:

Successful people do what they have to do whether they feel like it or not.

And just as I have training goals, I have writing and creative goals.

So, going forward, I can’t find a reason NOT to write, I’ll just write.

Let’s talk about recognizing change and preparing for a personal development growth spurt.

Learn from the Phoenix: How to recognize opportunity for change

A phoenix in Greek mythology was a bird that could be reborn from the ashes of its predecessor.

Like a phoenix rises out of its ashes, I’ll explain my method for rebuilding.

Oftentimes a problem, a disaster is a chance to set things straight. This would be the symbolic burning down, the destruction of the old strategies or methods. Then, after the destruction of the old, is a low point, where even simple old routines are difficult.

This is a point where understanding and embracing the long game is especially important. Thinking ahead, not one year, not 5, not 20, but longer. Thinking about the next 40 or so years.

A big part about understanding long term thinking is understanding, that, big things happen through small consistent actions. They do not happen through short-lived, extreme, massive efforts. Just break things down to the smallest level. A wall is one brick, plus another brick, plus another. A books is one word, plus another word, plus another. You get the idea.

Then, after all the chaos has settled, after the everything slows down, and if you have maintained the long-term view… A rebuilding and resurgence of energy will propel you to new achievements. It’s all a chance to pick up right where you left off, to start again, with steady hands, breathe on the ashes that remain, until these coals may become fire, to guide your way.

I have previously written about using strong emotions as momentum for change, using them to implement significant and lasting change.

A great way to recognize that you may be hitting a personal development growth spurt is when:

Old systems begin to fail you.

Recognize the opportunity for rebuilding and improving your life when old systems begin to fail. Recognize this and think: “This was a resourceful method/idea/habit in the past, and now, it is no longer resourceful. I have to adapt/adjust my approach to make progress towards my goals again”

Here are some systems I use, that may fail, and have to be adjusted to continue being useful:

Extreme frugality can fail you: Due to decreased happiness (drinking warm water instead of tea due to budget constraints). You can indeed take this minimalist frugal living too far. Things like stealing ketchup packets from restaurants and not buying tea for half a month definitely qualify. Sometimes, it’s worth more to consider happiness, but this is risky advice. This is advice for those who have already established very frugal lives.

Extremely lean eating can fail you: Due to caloric deficit and lack of energy and muscle gain. Burn out on certain foods, to the point of them becoming disgusting. I’ll admit, eating tons of raw broccoli all the time got old after a few months. You have to mix things up, or you won’t want to eat.

Multiple roommates in one space can fail you: When a living situation is no longer sufficient, and you have to move quickly. Everyone knows the situations where you hang around town or at work longer than you have to, because you don’t want to go home. Home becomes not a place of rest, but a place you avoid.

Bicycle commuting can fail you: When the commute becomes too long to be efficient by bicycle, and you have to find lighter gear, shorter routes, and increase recovery times. At this point you have to decide whether to change your work or living place or switch to a motor vehicle.

Cold showers can fail you: Due to much colder temperatures during the winter, and not running the heating to save money. Cold showers are not practical in a cold environment, as it’s incredibly difficult to warm back up. This is why cold countries have saunas to use, after exposure to cold. To warm back up.

Accounting for happiness in general (is training 3 hours a day necessary, and can I do 60mins of work more efficiently and have the same results?)

They say the one constant in life is change. And humor, you can usually find humor in the most depressing situations, I learned this from “Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Life happens in seasons. Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward(just don’t make it a big step back).

Our ability to adapt to changes, and go on to optimize our habits to continue progress towards goals, defines our inner strength.

You have to know, no matter how much you think you have things handled, no matter how much you feel like you have everything under control and have life by the balls:

You have to remember that life always pushes back.

There’s always crack in the surface. Some kind of flaw in the plan, thought you may not see it yet. But that’s ok, because adjustment can always be made, and everything can be optimized again, as long as you recognize the chance to do so.

For example, I developed a plantar fascia injury from decreasing flexibility and increased miles on the bike(9.5 miles x 2 daily w/ hills and gear). I thought I was all set to bicycle commute and lift weights, however that was not a perfect plan.

Due to this, I’ve increased recovery times between commutes and some mobility work, as well as changes in diet to decrease inflammation.

I’ve had to significantly decrease the volume of lower body work, which included decreasing volume on my two favorites: the squat and the dead-lift.

Too bad, so sad. These things happen. In the long term, as I change working and living places, my cycling commute will become much shorter, and open up the ability to train harder with the barbell.

Also recently, I dislocated my shoulder while climbing a stone pillar with a pack full of all my camping gear. It was a quick in-out, followed by some pain. The joint was stable immediately after, however this event brought back an impingement injury I’ve been rehabbing to square one. So much for heavy bench pressing. But again so what. I can isolate the muscles through skull-crusher type tricep work, and pec work that won’t stress the loose shoulder.

The point is: No program or plan is perfect. People want perfect and then they want things to fit every situation. It does not work this way, as perfection can only last a short time. Life is always going to push back somehow.

We will all have to make many many course adjustments over time to continue our progress. In the same idea, expectations of you have to be adjusted as well. I am notorious of holding myself to high standards and the idea of losing progress is disgusting.

Knowing that I did X weight for Y sets only last month, and not being able to complete that same feat is extremely discouraging.

But you have to account for other factors. There is just too much stuff going on to try to bully your body and mind into peak performance at ALL times.

If you have a slight cold, you won’t perform at peak state. If you have been sick, you will lose muscle mass and strength. It happens slowly, but it does happen. If you are dehydrated, you won’t perform.

Likewise, you have a certain amount of willpower, stemming mainly from your mental state. If you are on a positive streak, and have had multiple successes in a row, you are much more likely to succeed again; this is called greasing the groove.

But what about, when you are not 100% in the zone?

You should adjust your expectations accordingly and not be ignorant of the facts. Those do-or-die sayings are cute, but when you’re dealing with emotional or mental stress, you will not perform at your peak physically.

These sources of energy are intertwined, and all draw from the same bank. You will not be benching your maximum weight when you are stressed about bills. You won’t run your top speed after being sick.

But that’s not the end point of this article. The point is – Do it anyway.

Just show up. Do it anyway. You won’t lift your heaviest? Do it anyway. You think you’ll run like shit? Do it anyway.

You never really know for sure, you may even get a new PR, like I said earlier, there is too much going on in the body to know for sure.

So just show up.

What I like to do, on days I know I have low energy to due to whatever factors, I’ll start with a light weight. Very light, I’m talking about the barbell by itself.

Do a few reps and add 10lbs. Do another few reps. Add 10 more.

I continue this, until it gets difficult to complete the reps, then decrease the reps, and add 10 more lbs.

I’ll stop just short of failure, but the point is, it will take me as far as the body has to give, without performance expectations.

Either way, it’s a productive training session, while including other stressing factors. It’s easy during these times not to show up of train, but boo hoo.

Just show up anyway. Even if you don’t want to. Just don’t expect so much, that is self-defeating, when you are hitting a low.

Point is, the work you can do when you are down means so much more than work done during good times/peak condition.

As a local ultra-runner told me: “If you can run a distance/pace in this heat, you can run it in anything”

So if you are financially stressed, emotionally stressed, or have a debilitating injury, but still show up… And continue to train or work toward some kind of solution, adjusting your expectation of your performance, you are strong.

Yeah you might not get a PR, but your system and amount of available energy is already taxed, and you’re still doing the work. It’s easy to stop doing everything, and you will again be within the available energy, but that’s not going to help you.

What will help is, knowing you are on empty, but doing just a little bit of work anyway.

Lift just the bar.

Jog half a mile and don’t wear a watch.

And you will find, whatever you can do during a low time, will come easy during a good time.

Hedonistic adaptation works both ways. Happiness and sadness do not last forever.

Eventually happiness turns into boredom.

Eventually sadness turns into indifference.

To expect a rocking party and peak performance 247365 is insane.

Things change and people change, and what mattered 10 years ago may not matter now, and what matters now may not matter in 10 years.

Point is not to apologize, because you were always doing the thing you were sure about back then, and that’s what you’re doing now, and that’s what you will do in the future.

Besides, what the fuck else are you going to do?

Isolate yourself from risk and challenge?

Lay around and not pursue any goals?

Stop going to the gym and training?

Well, I got news for you, you may stop, but your body doesn’t stop, and time doesn’t stop. This is why time does not equal progress.

If you stop training, you’ll get fat and immobile, followed quickly by many other problems.

If you stop pursing goals, you’re commuting spiritual suicide and will be even more demotivated, than when current goals and systems weren’t working out.

As I heard in a recent motivational podcast, the future belongs to the ones that show up. What they mean by that is, it’s largely a game of attrition, and most people fall down.

What’s important is to just stay up.

Or if you do fall down, get back up.

When a rival bodybuilder was taunting Arnold in this video, saying: “The king can only go down”

He replied: “Or stay up. Stay up.”

The reply was automatic, and I knew by the way it was said, it was part of his internal dialog, often. Arnold wasn’t bothered by these games, he was used to them.

Stay up. The future belongs to the ones who show up. So just show up.

P.S. If you’re worried about losing strength/muscle quickly – check out this video(the myonuclei stick around for a long time, the mind-muscle recruitment pattern is there, and the know-how of productive training is there, even if the muscle fibers decrease in size).

You always have to think about the long term. Always the long term.

Thank you for reading my friends,

Until Next Time, and

All the Best.

-A