May Commitments

I've been working on restructuring my life.  AT 53.5 years of age, I consciously hit the reset button at the New Year on my personal life.  Restructuring is something that I can do quite well for businesses -- it comes quite naturally to me to look at any business system and tell in a short order of time what makes sense or not, root out the evil and apply a fix to it.  I'm not sure where this gift comes from, but it is the single greatest value that I have as a professional. 

Unfortunately, this gift is not something that I have leveraged in my personal life. Our personal life is a system as complicated as a business operation -- and of penultimate importance to our well being.  I think my business gift is a gift because of my level of focus and attention that I can apply to other 'stuff' without consideration for my own personal 'stuff'.  Naturally that does not lead to a very balanced personal life and personal stuff languishes.

I chalk this dissonance between work system capability and personal system capability up to being organizationally challenged.  That's not an excuse, it is the reason.  And all impediments to our well being can be overcome by commitment and recognizing our circumstances.  Now there are circumstances that we can change, and there are circumstances we cannot change.  Part of our being wise souls is recognizing what we can change and we cannot change.  It is as damaging to our forward progress (and useless psychic and physcial energy expenditure) to try to change circumstances that are not within our power to change as it is to fail to change circumstances that are within our power to change. 

It's useful to reflect a moment on circumstances.  I find JOyG's writing to be full of phrases, sentences and paragraphs that are quote-worthy--much like his fellow Spanish philosopher, George Santayana. 

"Man reaches his full capacity when he acquires complete consciousness of his circumstances. Through them he communicates with the universe". (p.41)

"I am myself plus my circumstance, and if I do not save it, I cannot save myself." (p. 45)

Meditations on Quixote by Jose Ortega y Gasset

I like the notion of acquiring complete consciousness of "circumstances" as it requires some reflection on circumstances.  In order to reflect, one must have a clear view of the matter at hand.  Clear views generally require a model.  I'm working on this model, but part of it is centered around the following: financial, health (mental/physical), work, spiritual, community and relationships.  Everyone's model is different, but for the most part in my world, these are the key items.

It is the amalgamation of these circumstances that comprise our personal systems.  Smoothly functioning, integrated systems are the best. They are efficient and don't waste energy or time, and yield a product of consistent quality time after time.  Accordingly, the   important notion of "I am myself plus my circumstance, and if I do not save it, I cannot save myself" is central to understanding the importance of conducting a little navel-gazing on the systems we have built in our lives.

I am operating in creative destruction mode as I my personal systems are a random collection of 'stuff' with no real coherence or long-term consistently.  (As I write that it sounds harsh, and I may be engaging in a bit of hyperbole to make a point.)  I'm still in planning mode, but I'll share some of what I'm doing in this space.  Part of this process is simply integrating 'stuff' that I already have had sound thinking about and success in.  However, the thinking and success have not been part of a more cohesive plan executed consistently.

What does any of what I wrote mean?  It means this.  I know how to be fit.  I know how to exercise and do it successfully.  I've just never maintained it over a long period of time (greater than 2 years).  I know how to manage my weight.  I understand what healthy eating and cooking is, and I've successfully done these things (but not for more than 2 years). I attribute my lack of long-term success is having a lack of (1) systems to support my goal and (2) commitment to maintain my goal.

In business, good systems/process allow average people to do consistently good work.  Often I see systems bastardized to work around less than average people, or see really poor systems function due to heroic efforts by really smart people. Both manifest a system that is essentially nuts. They both fail over time.

Accordingly, I want to develop a workable system that will work like a well designed business process:  clear outcomes and a clear framework for achieving those outcomes.  In this space, I'll write about my process and how I will integrate the things that I've used successfully to build a personal system that makes life more manageable and enjoyable.

For the moment, I'm embarking on a single-minded task to commit to identify the components of 'my circumstance'.  Specifically, I plan to
  1. reach my full capacity of complete consciousness of my circumstances; 
  2. take inventory of where I am on those circumstances and where I want to be (with mindfulness about what can be changed and what cannot be changed.); 
  3. articulate goals for my circumstances;
  4. develop a plan to reach those goals with time milestones and particular objectives; and
  5. periodic review and assessment.
  6. Begin work on one circumstance, health, for the month of May.
My health circumstance is that I'm sedentary, don't eat well and can lose some weight.  I cannot change the health circumstance that I am 53.  Many experience temporary or permanent health circumstances that they may have no control over.  My post is not to make broad declarations on what is controllable or not other than stating that 
  • lifestyle diseases are controllable and 
  • failing to control our lifestyle has consequences.
My health circumstance is a lifestyle issue, and if it goes unchecked by me, there are almost-certain consequences.  This present health circumstance , then, is one about which I am fully conscious of AND I'm fully in control.  And yes, if I cannot change my health circumstance, I am lost (or I will simply face consequences that are real and not so pleasant). Therefore, along with all my other navel gazing, my single health commitment is to lose 10 5 lbs by the end of May through a combination of diet/exercise
    • consistently exercising at least 30 minutes, 3 x a week for the month.  (I know that doesn't sound like much, but it is more than my currently performance)
    • eating mindfully and healthfully with an eye toward measurement (Note 1).  I'm not a proponent of dieting, but I am a proponent of mindfulness in the quantity and quality of the food that I put in my body.  I'm moving from being a proponent to being a better practitioner
Bill the Cat looks pretty svelte.  I'll let him be my guide.

Note 1:   I changed the 10 to 5 to 'get real'.   While I'm pretty confident that my current eating habits when changed (and I can thank the cleanse from the colonoscopy for reprogramming my thinking) will yield some remarkable results, I thought I'd temper expectations. With that purgative, I have lost a great deal of my 'cravings', and I'll write more on that later. Further, I went on the Blood Type Diet some years ago and lost 8 lbs in one week.  That was far too quick a weight loss, and it is a standard warning for Type A's moving from the Standard American Diet (SAD).  As a Blood Type A, it was a very hard diet to manage with a family. I'm ready to commit to integrating a good bit of those choices into my current eating plan.

Note 2:  I'm using the Android App, "MyNetDiary" to monitor my intake.  It is a jewel of a program that really makes measuring your meal plan (also known as counting calories) easy.  It has a beautiful interface, uses a barcode scanner to make it a cinch to enter/find your favorite foods, and record customer intakes.  Even has an easy to use "water" mode to tap each time you drink 8 glasses.  It supports custom planning for calories and calorie composition (carbs, proteins, fats).  As any who has recorded his/her intake it is surprising how quickly one reaches limits on calories OR on overshooting composition levels.


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