Willpower – or “Won’t Power”

In my last post, I discussed how the choices we make affect our health.   After a crazy couple weeks of 7am meetings, late afternoon meetings, normal end of the month/beginning of the month workload, and a few dinners thrown in for good measure, I finally have a normal morning.  But yesterday it caught up with me a bit.

I haven’t missed a workout in the last month until the weekend.  I was doing some yard work and just sort of “tweaked” my back.  Then I had to mow the grass the next day, which led to back spasms that kept me up well past midnight and affected my sleep.  Of course, another 7am meeting followed, after which I received frustrating news about an employee resignation.  Then I had a late afternoon meeting.  The rest of the day, I did some relatively mentally strenuous data analysis on trying to quantify organizational financial performance around a specific type of work.

Exhausted, stopping to grab a six pack on the way home seemed like a good idea.   It was like I was on autopilot.   As if by divine providence, the beer I wanted and another great beer were on sale.  I had a few great beers last night, slept well, feel a little crappy today, but the back feels much better too.  I wasn’t a good husband last night either…just sort of watched tv and drank beer.

But I’ve done well on my fitness goals.  I’m down a little over 10 pounds in a month.  I’m at my lowest weight since early 2016, and overall I feel great.  But yesterday, I just feel like I ran out of energy to fight my urges.  But, I’m not down on myself.  I basically understand what happened.

There is an essay published by Dr. Frank Crane in  1919 titled Mule Power.  In it, he mentions only the strongest have great willpower.  But everyone has a stubborn streak.  He exhorts his readers to use their mule-like stubbornness to simply choose to do nothing, which is easier than doing the thing you don’t want to continue to do.  He calls it “Won’t Power”.

That’s all well and good, and I get a lot from his essays, but it’s not that simple.  There’s some physiological things going on in our bodies.  The lack of sleep, missing meals, and physical pain affected my ability to maintain my willpower.  Plus, i had done well, hit my first goal, so why not indulge?

The thing is, Willpower has a certain capacity each day.  Gary Keller likened it to your mobile phone in his book The One Thing.  If you let it fully recharge, you’ll get through a day, maybe several days if you don’t use it much.  But if you have one of those days when your on your phone all day, it needs to be plugged in to recharge at some point, or else it will become fully depleted and fail to work. And heavy mental work depletes the same reserves as willpower.

So yesterday, my willpower level finally hit that critical mark, and it needed to recharge.  And like many electronic devices, when willpower completely loses power, it goes back to default settings.   I wish my default was something else right now, but as an introvert who enjoys adult beverages, mindless tv and gaming by myself while enjoying beer or wine is part of my recharge process.   It is what it is.

This is exactly why it is important to find a routine that shakes up your habits and breaks the triggers.  What do you need to change to get enough sleep, to do the things that fulfill you and give you some recharge during the day?

So for me today, it was sleep in a bit, catch up on some reading, write a blog post, listen to some music.  Tonight we’ll go dancing.    Tomorrow I’ll take a half day to get some errands done, and do however much of my planned workout I can do in the afternoon. I probably need to start figuring out how to meditate as well.

So if you’re having trouble committing and sticking with a goal, examine your battery level.  Willpower is not infinite.  What is triggering your lack of compliance, and how can you more fully charge up your willpower reserves?

 

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Doctor Yourself

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It’s spring once again, and honestly it has been a dismal winter in Southwest Pennsylvania.  I think it snowed for 7 consecutive months.  Not continuously, but every month from October through April there has been snow.  If not, it feels that way.  And most of the time if it wasn’t snowing, it was gray, overcast skies or raining.  But Spring has sprung finally.

Around the holidays, I became more focused on my health and specifically the weight I had put on during the fall.  For several years after losing some weight, I maintained my weight around 195-200 pounds most of the year.  But I was up to 210 and not feeling my best.  So I went back to my 4HB supplements and eating plan, but made little progress this time.  So after 3 months, I started doing some more reading.

I pulled Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint 21-Day Transformation off the shelf and re-read it in about 2 days.  I’m now following a largely primal eating and exercise plan, which isn’t much different than 4HB.  The main difference is no beans in Primal, and no “Garbage Day”.  I had dropped 7 pounds in 8 days.  Then the weekend hit, we went to a party with virtually no Primal choices, and I had some beer.  Then wine and a couple cookies last night.  I’m back up 5 of the 7, but I think most will drop off in a couple days.

Honestly, alcohol is still my biggest challenge, as I crave it some nights after work.  So as i started looking into why that is, I learned some interesting things about vitamin deficiencies in alcoholics, and regular consumers of alcohol in general.  And also a little about willpower in general. I feel a little like Paul in Romans 7; I know alcohol is  a poison, I don’t really want to have any, I know I will feel better in the morning if I don’t drink, but yet some nights, I drink anyway.  If I stay on this path, it will become a problem.

So now I’m taking high dosages of Vitamin C (4,000-5,000 mg), B-complex Vitamins (300mg+), and Chromium(400 mg) daily trying to overcome the deficiencies that cause the cravings.  The Vitamin C has so many potential benefits.  I found Dr. Andrew Saul’s information about  vitamins via The Fat Burning Man podcast.  His website is  Doctor Yourself.

My previous round of intentional weight loss in 2011-2012 was in response to being offered yet another medication for high blood pressure and low HDL.  I was also having should pain, so an injection was suggested.  I chose a different path:  I started eating better, gave up alcohol, started exercising.  So I’m going down the same path of making better intentional choices this year.

Much of our healthcare costs in the United States can be linked to our choices, primarily regarding what we eat.   Ten days into eating cleaner, I had some of the best tasting broccoli ever for dinner last night.  It was weird, but we both commented on how great the broccoli was.   Food that is good for you can taste great.

I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t meant to serve as medical advice.  But with the guidance of a good physician, I think most people could change their futures by eating better.  Your DNA is a blueprint.  But just like a house that is designed for maximum energy efficiency, if you don’t put the wall of windows facing south, you won’t get maximum benefit.  We can affect the way our genes are activated by the fuel we give our bodies.  Many of us are actually killing ourselves slowly with the food we eat.

My wife likes to cite family members who lived a long time without taking vitamins.  But I know her grandfather had this apple cider vinegar concoction he drank daily.  Most of them had a can of bacon fat sitting on the counter they cooked with.  We didn’t ask them what they ate or what “elixers” they took.  They couldn’t get most of the processed foods we eat.  They grew their own vegetables and canned the surplus.  They weren’t overweight.

Once again I’m trying to take control of a specific aspect of my future.  What good will all the financial and strategic planning of early retirement be if I’m not health enough to enjoy it?

 

March Vinyl Acquisitions

I actually made it a month without buying any records!  Of course, I was recovering from illness and working through the 2,000 records I bought in January, plus it was the shortest month of the year, and I had a couple business trips (photos from one coming soon!), but the fact remains I didn’t buy any vinyl in February.  I had worked down the January acquisitions to less than 100 records to process, which included clearing one of my two shelves of about 150 records that were “in queue” to be listened to as well.  So overall, a good month for working through my acquisitions, and I felt like I had reclaimed much of my available space in the man cave.

I made up for it in the last 8 days, buying about 825 records, of which about 75 are “junk”. Of the 750 I like, about 475 are mostly Motown and soul, and the other 275 are classic rock.  They’re currently sitting in 9 crates and boxes, so all of that available space I created in February is about gone.

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9 boxes of vinyl remaining after sorting out the “junk”…

The group of classic rock is fairly spectacular in my opinion.    It came after the Motown collection, and Mrs. Outspoken’s response after I received the call about the collection was “Really?   You have all these albums yet to clean and listen to, and you’re buying more?!?!”

Yep.  I gotta buy when the opportunity arises.  I went 7 weeks or so with nothing, so buying 2 collections in a little over a week might seem a little over the top, but both were great deals at under $1 per album.

So what makes the collection of rock so great?  How about 4 Zeppelin, 4 Pink Floyd, 4 David Bowie, 4 Allman Brothers, 3 Beatles, and 20 Bob Dylan for starters?    Other artists with multiple albums include Van Morrison, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Steeley Dan, Springsteen, Foreigner, Rush, Yes, Kansas, CCR, ELP, Grand Funk, Heart, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Jackson Browne, the Cars, and Aerosmith.  It’s basically a compendium of 70’s and 80’s radio rock music, including some of the softer folk-ish tunes, with none of the pop-disco stuff.

Then there’s some oddball stuff too – stuff I just don’t see. The Butterfield Blues Band, Steve Hackett, Kate Bush, Patti Smith,  Nektar, and some Christian praise stuff by 2nd Book of Acts and Phil Keaggy.  Honestly, I could probably enjoy listening to about 80% of this collection, and if it comprised my entire collection, it would represent probably 60% of what I’d want to have.  Basically, the guy who assembled this collection and I had similar tastes.  🙂

One of my favorite finds so far has been an album from The Monroes.  It’s an EP, only 5 songs, and it was their only album.  I really enjoy it.  Definitely and 80’s sound, but 80’s guitar, not the electronic stuff.

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It was missing a lot of Beatles (but hey, it has Abbey Road), Hendrix, and some of the psychedelic stuff I like, but overall, it’s a great collection in my opinion.   I’m sure I’ll find enough titles to cover my costs, but I think I’ll be keeping a much higher percentage of this collection than normal.

Both of these collections came through my previous contacts; the albums are finding me at times!  It’s also part of why i got the deal I did on them.  I’ve treated the sellers fairly, and they’re active collectors, so I was in a way helping each of them move a large quantity of records quickly.    I also agree to buy them all, and don’t get into cherry picking the collection  or nit-picking on the condition of certain albums.

The way you treat people is important in life and business.  Over the course of my career, I’ve always been focused on process improvement; how to find ways to do “it” better.  It hasn’t really mattered what “it” is, as the basic problem solving methodology of Lean works anywhere (at least I’ve yet to find an application where it doesn’t).  While some people call me an efficiency expert, I look at it more as improving the overall performance of the teams and systems of an organization.    We change the system to change the result, and coach the people through the systemic changes.  But it’s about more than results; for the changes to stick, it’s also about behaviors.

As we change the behaviors and systems to produce different results, we start changing beliefs within the organization.  What happens when the shared beliefs of an organization change?  One, we change the future of that organization.  Two, we have created a culture change.

How’s all this tie into me buying arguably too much vinyl?  Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first.  But for one, I buy with no fear of spending too much, because I have a several year track record of all my hobbies actually producing money.  I have the tax returns to prove it.  🙂 Plus, I’m spending cash that has come from the hobbies.

Therefore, I believe, as does Mrs. Outspoken – even if not as completely as me – that I’m not being irresponsible or delaying our objectives, because in the end I actually contribute towards those shared  objectives from my hobbies.   And I believe I’ve done so buy dealing appropriately with others, and the evidence of that is the number of opportunities that tend to find me.

Second, since there was so much David Bowie in the one collection, would be this album:

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A line from the song Changes is perhaps the foundation of the best inspiration I can think to provide today:

“These children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

No matter what it is you’re trying to do or achieve, there are often people who will try to hold you back, make you feel like it’s too hard, not worth it, or even impossible.  Don’t listen to them.  Act responsibly and with intention, treat people with dignity and respect,  but be courageous at the same time.   You can’t do what everyone else thinks you should do and still achieve the greatness that is within you.

Great things aren’t done by being average.