Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Benefits of Signing Up for Email Newsletters

Like you, I receive a lot of email. Fortunately, spam filters do a great job of filtering out the junk. One category of email I receive is email newsletters from stores I frequent. In particular, I receive notifications from EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) of sales, etc. Earlier this week, I received a great offer -- free Smartwool socks for the first 10 coupon holders at the store when it opened today. Well, I'm a big fan of Smartwool socks, wearing them almost exclusively, and I wasn't about to waste an opportunity to receive $50 worth of great socks.

So I phoned the store yesterday and asked what time they opened today. As it turned out, they opened 2 hours earlier than usual (8 am). I set my alarm for 6 am and left the house by 7 am. There were already three cars in the parking lot by the time I arrived. By 7:30, a small queue of us free Smartwool fans had formed.

What I have neglected to mention was that it was COLD this morning at 7. However, I was prepared, wearing Smartwool hikers, long underwear, and my big parka. My line friend was not, having left her gloves at home. I considered lending her mine, but I didn't have any glove liners to keep my hands warm, so instead I kept her company by striking up a lively conversation. She and I spoke about skiing to pass the time (which tends to slow when you're chilled).

Eventually, we made it inside, and I was the last person to receive a box of three pairs of socks. It was very exciting. I also bought a Techwick shirt to take along to Utah. John laughed at me and said, "They got you!" I laughed, having bought the shirt for 30% off and less than the cost of the socks, even on sale.

All that to say, you never know what you can get for free until you sign up for a newsletter.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Guest Post from The World's Strongest Librarian

This week, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Josh Hanagarne, host of The World's Strongest Librarian blog. He's guest posting on how it doesn't take a date like 1 Jan. to change the way we live and resolve to live better. Please welcome Josh!

A World Without Calendars
By Josh Hanagarne, World’s Strongest Librarian

If you just pretend that calendars were never invented, the notion of New Year’s Resolutions is pretty silly. We all want to be better. We all want to be happier. We all want to become something…more, right? Even if it’s just more than we were the day before.

So why would something as trivial as a particular date on the calendar mean it was finally time to set things in motion and take control of our lives?

Madness, I tell you!

And yet...if you’re anything like me, you’ve made goals that you haven’t followed through on. Lots of those goals were probably born on New Year’s and dead by February.

So what’s the matter with us? (or just me, if you’re one of the go-getters)

Why make goals anyway?

Goals often come from fears, insecurities, longing, skewed priorities, and lacks. Let’s look at a very common goal: weight loss. It can stem from:

• Fear of bad health, death, or disease
• Insecurity about our appearance
• Lack of self-confidence, self-love, self-esteem, take your pick

Nothing is more simple than weight loss. Burn more calories than you eat and go build some muscle. That’s it. But just because it is simple doesn’t mean that, for many people, it isn’t a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

It isn’t insurmountable. Very few of the goals we set are.

The only goal that matters

The best advice I ever heard about goals was from a strength coach during a lecture about how to swing a kettlebell. Dan John looked at us all and said something I’ll never forget.

The goal is always to keep the goal the goal.

I just stood there with my mouth open. It was like being hit in the head with a hammer made of profundity and simplicity. It was simple, but not simplistic.

In other words, pick a goal and don’t get distracted. Once you pick a goal, your new task is to avoid being distracted by anything that slows the progress towards the goal.

This is just the world according to Lame-o Josh, but I really believe that we don’t achieve our goals because it’s easier not to. That’s it. We seek the path of least resistance and do what comes naturally and easily.

Remember, goals are born out of things we lack. The admission that we lack something can be uncomfortable. Self scrutiny ain’t a whole lot of fun sometimes. When you turn over rocks and take a good long look at yourself, what you find can be turbulent and troubling. What could be more natural than to replace the rock and pretend you never saw it in the first place?

A new definition of want?

“I want this.” Really?

I would gently suggest that the reason we don’t achieve so many of our goals is because we don’t really want them. We just say we want them because, well, it’s that time of year and that’s what we do.

When I want something, I get it. And if I don’t get it, I force myself to admit that I may not have wanted it as bad as I thought. I don’t beat myself up over it, I just admit that my priorities weren’t what I thought or that they changed. That maybe “want” wasn’t the right word. There is a vast difference between saying you want something out of habit and being driven to get it.

I believe that when I want something, I can prove it to you by matching my behaviors, thoughts, words, and patterns to the goal.

My intent here is not to prove to you that you don’t want the things you say you want. Or that you don’t really need the things you say you want. Rather, this is just my small attempt to think out loud in the hopes that each of us can be more honest with ourselves in the next couple of weeks while we’re thinking about what we want to accomplish next year.

Find your weaknesses, make a plan to change them, and then do it. Whatever your goal is, first, the goal is to keep the goal the goal.

The thought that we need calendars and dates to better ourselves is ludicrous. We each owe ourselves the best things that life has to offer. There are few things better and more satisfying than constant, steady progress towards something that matters to you.

Hold onto your calendars, but as far as setting goals for yourself, just pretend that every day from now on is January 1. (Minus the hangovers).

Josh Hanagarne
Get Stronger, Get Smarter, Live Better…Every Day

About the Author: Josh Hanagarne is the twitchy giant behind World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog about living with Tourette’s Syndrome, kettlebells, book recommendations, buying pants when you’re 6’8”, old-time strongman training, and much more. Please subscribe to Josh’s RSS Updates to stay in touch.