It’s important to note that I am not one to glorify busy, but if you have read a Monday's Kick previously you know I've recently pushed things into a different gear.
At the beginning of the month, over dinner, I scribbled on the back of envelope 15-ish goals I had in mind for the year. I've been a bit behind for the year and so I decided I would make up time now that some nonsense had been cleared out of the way and I had the mental space to make some good progress.
I recently read a great article (I can't seem to find it now) about how we should be able to accomplish a lot more than we set out to but due to a lack of focus (and self-confidence) we end up frittering away our potential/time/resources needed to achieve our goals. The article then went on to challenge the reader to accomplish their one year/five year goal(s) in a fraction of the time. For example, if you set one year goal(s), see if you can accomplish the goal(s) in one month. For your five year goals, challenge yourself to accomplish them in one year.
The other aspect of this is mental conditioning. Whatever you set out looking to achieve in your life will come, in some form, if that is where your focus and energy is placed (Law of Attraction). With this in play, the argument goes that it makes sense to focus on obtaining loftier goals in a shorter amount of time. If you fall short, you're still ahead of where you would have been.
So I set out to achieve the goals I planned for the year in the month of August.
And how did I do?
I accomplished about half of the goals I scribbled out on that envelope earlier this month.
I cannot lie - I drank from the hose this month and I am exhausted. For the first time this year, I experienced flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's version) in my job (what any creative or athlete strives for). There were days when I was so engrossed with my work that I didn't want to move away from my desk. I logged just over 220 hrs (for the month). And while I am not particularly proud of that, I am proud of the progress I made on things designated as priorities in my life at the start of this year.
I remember years ago when I was moving through a lot of personal change and I used cycling to help keep my head clear. I would sometimes bike 200-250 miles in one weekend. There were times when I came home and was too tired to eat. And, yes, I got a ton of disparaging remarks about the mileage I was doing at that time. That it was unhealthy and just another extension of addictive behavior. And while everyone had a critique for me none of it mattered because it was never about them.
What was important (then and now) was that it was the most alive I had felt in years. I was living with a singular focus (moving through the change I needed to create in my life) and the extremes allowed a sense of fulfillment that few experience. I am convinced it cannot be achieved through a "balanced life".
Which brings me to highlighting this great article I read this last week in NY Times called "Maybe We Need a Little Less Balance" by Brad Stulberg.
From the article:
"Ever since I can remember, I’ve been told to strive for balance. Yet I’ve noticed something interesting: The times in my life during which I’ve felt happiest and most alive are also the times that I’ve been the most unbalanced."
Thank God someone said it.
And, in response to the article, this posted by Rich Roll:
"Live a balanced life. Eat a balanced diet. Bullshit. Fine for a life of mediocrity but not if you want to experience the best of what the human experiment can deliver. I refuse to feel shame for my predisposition to the extreme. Because the inherent promise baked into our prioritization of balance -- contentment -- is a flawed premise . For I have found myself most gratefully alive, engaged, myself, and at peace when I'm far afield of my comfort zone. Out on a limb. Brushing up against the unexplored. And pushing beyond perceived limits -- all times most would consider "extreme" and woefully "out of balance". Yes, the pendulum must always swing back - and without fail swing back it does - that is the natural order of things. But this question of balance is not only misplaced, it's the wrong question altogether. Instead let's ask ourselves, "what makes you feel the most alive?" And start doing more of that."
That's Rich Roll. If you don't know him, you can learn more here.
He is a pretty impressive guy, someone I have gravitated to because of the similarities between his life and mine.
He spent years pursuing a career that made him lifeless (as did I), resulting in destructive behavior(s) (raised hand), eventually hitting rock bottom (yes), and then transforming his life through the help of exercise/fitness in his mid-forties (I started in my early-forties). He lost 50 lbs (I lost 60), he runs ultras (cycling for me), and he's an advocate for plant-based diets (trying).
He's a different caliber of an athlete than I am, but it is the parallels that I want to emphasize.
I am sharing all of this because every time I hear someone say "you need balance" I always offer up an invisible eye roll.
To each his own. :)
Have a good week.