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Let’s Talk About Making Change Happen Now

Wow, ok… So much. So much to talk about that it’s actually caused apathy. I have this problem that I think many people have where there is just so much that I can’t decide where to start. I just kind of spin my wheels whenever I try to start. It’s not that I do nothing instead. It’s quite the contrary. My mind is always working, always processing. It’s just that I can often get derailed because I can’t just get started.

What’s happening is called procrastination. It gets a bad rap because it’s usually associated with doing nothing at all. My procrastination is actually quite productive, it’s just not focused on what I should be doing, what I know I need to be doing.

Procrastination is a form of stress relief. It feels good to procrastinate, until it doesn’t. When that deadline approaches or someone calls you because you forgot something, that is when it doesn’t feel good. I consider myself a high-level procrastinator, kind of like those high-functioning alcoholics you hear about. You would never know I was drunk on procrastination because I look busy and productive.

With that out of the way, lets talk about change. Change in the form of making adjustments in your life that you only dream about. There are probably a few things in your life that you would love to change only if… We all have them. I know I have spent my life telling myself, if only this, I could do that. Well it’s time for that to stop. That is what this year has been about for me so far and I hope you can start to make that change too. Let me give you some context.

Last year, I made the decision to close down my office to work on creating a new daily routine for myself and to free up some overhead costs. I wasn’t closing my business, I was just getting rid of some overhead expenses because I can work from anywhere. It was tough, I kind of went kicking and screaming. I held on to some of it and didn’t really let go completely. When it got tough working from home because I didn’t get a good routine at home going I started working from the office again from time to time. I was one foot in on change and one foot still in the past.

I knew that the only way I could make change was to take myself out of the environment altogether. I also wanted to make some change happen in my household. I didn’t want my family to just sit around all summer. Modesto summers are hot. It’s been 100+ degrees outside. Unless you have a watermark in your back yard, you don’t want to go outside unless you have to. That led to the decision to travel all summer in our RV Travel Trailer. We completed that trip and got back home to Modesto a little over a week ago.

I learned a lot two months on the road in an RV Travel Trailer as a family of six, and I plan to share about that soon. What it opened me up to was how easy it really is to make change if you just do it. It is hard though, which is why I wanted to talk about it today.

How To Make Lasting Change

The key to making lasting change is to remove the comfort aspect from whatever is keeping you stuck. Why are you stuck? Because it’s not painful enough to make change. The thing you want to change is actually providing you a level of comfort and control even though you seem to be uncomfortable. It’s really easy to stay stuck when it doesn’t really hurt that bad, or at least we don’t think it hurts that bad. But a dull pain always gets worse, doesn’t it?

We do this in our lives in so many ways. We stay at that job because the pay is decent but it is slowly sucking the soul out of us. I have had clients like that in the past and had to get rid of them somehow. The money isn’t always worth it. Sacrificing a little bit of your soul for financial gain just leads to selling more of your soul later for more financial gain. It never stops unless you stop giving yourself away like that forever.

We do this in our home as well. We don’t like the fact that our kids are stuck in the house and spend too much time on technology. We know it is slowly ruining them and that is not the way we wanted to raise them, yet we don’t make any change because it requires some discomfort on our part as parents. Changing this aspect of our household is not an easy task. It would almost be a full time job until everyone is used to existing with less tv and technology time.

We do this with our bodies knowing full well that we need to eat better and be more active. We get a gym membership only to abandon it. We buy healthy food only to go back to convenient packaged foods because it’s easier. We are busy and life can get frustrating. The last thing I want to do is take the time to make a healthy meal when a cheeseburger is waiting for me at a nearby drive through window.

It’s hard to make lasting change. Anyone who makes change and says it is easy is a complete fool and charlatan. Social media gives us that false presumption that people all around us are making change and living their best lives. That simply is not the fact. There are a few outliers who are doing it, but 99.9% of the rest of what you scroll past is marketing. If it’s not a company marketing their product it’s an old friend from high school marketing their perfect life to you. Spoiler Alert: It’s not a perfect life, it’s a curated highlight reel… Marketing! Whether we mean to or not, we mostly share the highlights of our lives because who wants to follow someone who’s falling apart?

I’m not immune to it. Just look at what I shared from our two month long full time travels all over the Northwestern United States. It kind of looks like a magazine. It doesn’t represent the challenges we had on this trip. The photos I posted don’t represent the day I spent in bed because I was too depressed to move or the times I so frustrated with my kids that I just had to step outside. Happy photos get likes.

Nothing worth doing is easy, or even pretty at first. It is usually hard. But isn’t life going to be hard anyway? We know that life is going to be hard, so why don’t we choose what gets to be hard and avoid the rest? That is a question I have been asking myself often this year. How can I better choose what gets to be hard in my life?

That sounds kind of new age guru annoying, but it’s actually kind of possible. Of course we can’t avoid everything and choose only what we want. The world will throw us some curveballs we didn’t see coming, but for the most part, we can control what gets to be hard in our lives, so let’s talk about that.

Choose What Get’s to be Hard in Your Life

Choosing what gets to be a challenge really comes down to getting as many of the typical life decisions we have to make into our control in a healthy way. There are a few things that will make that near impossible so I wanted to touch on those really quick.

  1. Money: Finances are the main thing that take control of our lives. We have to make money to exist and have a few nice things, which means we have to trade our time for money. For most, this means getting a job. Some of us are lucky enough to get to do something we enjoy for work, most are not. The reason most are stuck trading time for money doing something they don’t enjoy is that the pain has not become strong enough to make change. There is a level of comfort there still. We talked about this earlier in this post. If your expenses are close or equal to what you make, you are kind of stuck. The only option you may see is to find another job that pays the same amount doing something else you would enjoy more, but that may be hard to find. You have to make change in your financial situation which will likely mean sacrificing some things so you can save more or take a job you would enjoy more even it it meant you are paid less.
  2. Relationships: The people you surround yourself with can make it hard for you to make the change you want to in your life. If you want to make change but your partner doesn’t, that creates friction that will keep you stuck. If you surround yourself with agreeable friends who make excuses for you rather than challenge you, it is likely you will remain stuck.
  3. Patterns & Addictions: If you have certain patterns and/or addictions that run contrary to the change you want to make, you will often be stuck in those ruts and find it hard to get out of them until you get help from someone who has been there before. If you think making change is hard simply based on the pain vs comfort aspect we talked about earlier in this post, an unhealthy pattern and/or addiction will multiply the likelihood you remain stuck tenfold.
  4. This list could go on forever, but I think you get the point.

There are many things that keep us stuck and not moving towards the change we want. If it was easy, we would all be making awesome change and killing it in life. The hard things to get past are found in the comforts that we have grown accustomed to. I say that they are comforts that we have grown accustomed to because if you actually take a step back, they aren’t really that comfortable. We just deal by adjusting our level of discomfort so we can remain in control. Even by not taking control of a situation we are still exercising a form of control. Everything is a decision, even choosing not to make one.

Now I’m not going to paint you a perfect picture of life and tell you that if you simply run to it you can have it. I am a bit more of a realist than that. I have known plenty of people who left one situation only to take their issues right into the next one. Things are going to be tough no matter where we go and with who we go there with, life promises us that. But we can choose the things that are going to be tough, we’re actually doing it already.

If your finances are tough, that’s because you took on too much debt. If your relationship is tough, that’s because you aligned yourself with someone who doesn’t agree with the same things you do. If your health is suffering, chances are you had a hand in that too, although I do understand that some health situations are out of our control to begin with.

We make choices every day. We make a choice to get up and go to work at a job we don’t like. We make a choice to let our kids run our lives. We make a choice to live where we live. Everything is a choice, whether its good or bad, most of us don’t have a loaded gun pointed at our head even if at times we act like we do.

So why not choose things that we can enjoy even if at times they still get tough? Choose a job that challenges us but is also very fulfilling. Choose to improve our relationships, which will be tough work. Make uncomfortable choices for our kids sometimes because we know it will be better for them in the long run. Choose to turn off a few of the monthly subscription services because we could use the extra money in the bank and the time they took from our lives.

Making change happen now starts with making the right next decision now. You don’t have to have it all planned out in advance, you just have to start taking steps towards it. Big change starts one step at a time.

Make Uncomfortably Tough Decisions

Chances are some of the choices you will have to make will be uncomfortable. Whether the choice have to do with work, relationships, food, kids, where you live, or anything else, it’s probably going to require some sacrifice. You need to become a pro at sacrificing yourself daily to get to where you want to go.

I went to lunch with my dad today and had the most bogus salad. I was at a Mexican Food Restaurant and would have given my left kidney for a grilled steak super burrito, but I got a chicken salad with no dressing at all because none of their dressings were going to work for me.

Multiple times I have taken my family out to dinner at a restaurant where I could have easily ordered a giant burger and fries but instead I ordered a bland salad or on a few occasions, nothing at all for myself. Do I deserve to eat out with my family especially if I am the one paying the bill? Yes! But my family is not on the same path as I am with food so it is not fair for me to try and force them to eat the way I want to eat.

I used to like having an office outside of the home. It was my own space that my wife and kids had no jurisdiction over. I don’t have that space in my home so I deserved to have that office, but I had to make the decision to get rid of it because I wanted to save money and it was the easiest thing for our family to sacrifice.

I took my family on the road in our RV Travel Trailer for two months knowing fully in advance that it was going to be very tough for all of us to be in close quarters like that for so long. I knew that it wouldn’t be convenient for me at all to work from the road and to constantly have to be breaking up little fights between my kids due to the close proximity, but I made the sacrifice so we could travel the Northwestern United States and experience all of it’s beauty.

Being able to make uncomfortable decisions is the only way to move forward in life. Most people are going to make decisions based on what results in maintaining the level of comfort they have or obtaining more of it, and at any cost. That is not how you have a fulfilling life.

Never Stop Dreaming

You kind of have to be a dreamer to want a better life. If you have made it this far through this post, you probably are at some level, a dreamer. Dreamers often spend time thinking about the possibilities of what life would be like if they could make change. I know that I am a dreamer, but in the past I often looked at the things mentioned above as obstacles.

I felt stuck in Modesto because I had built my business here and all of my family lives here. I thought that the only way I would ever be able to move or travel long term would be to places like Modesto or larger. Never until I made some sacrifices did I think I could spend long periods of time in the mountains away from big cities. I stopped believing I couldn’t do it and just did it this summer and it was the best thing our family has done to date.

I felt defeated when it came to the food I consume because my wife and kids would never get on board with a diet that would lead to a more healthy body and mental clarity. My wife and I didn’t really eat that unhealthy to begin with, but I realized that if I was going to make the change I wanted for my own body, I would have to make big changes, and I would have to do it alone. That doesn’t mean I can’t have a burger and fries. It just means I am only going to to that once a month. I never stopped dreaming of being healthier, but I was in my own way. Once I got out of my own way, I started losing weight. I’m down 25lbs at the time of writing this.

I have been very passive in my marriage doing everything I can to not make waves while at the same time inadvertently causing most of the problems in my marriage subsequently. I don’t want to get into my own childhood in this post, but there are traumas from my childhood that resulted in how I handle my relationships today. These issues range from how I was talked to as a child to abandonment issues. I carried all of this trauma into my marriage and they have also influenced how I parent my own children. It has been very uncomfortable to drill down into my life to better understand where everything within me has come from. It will actually require a lifetime of discomfort, but it’s worth it. I am working on improving the way I communicate to and treat my family so that that don’t have to feel nervous around me or always wonder if they are doing something wrong like I did growing up.

You need to be a dreamer so you have ambitions to grow into something better than you were yesterday. You have to put in the hard work in order to make change. It is going to be uncomfortable so you need to learn to enjoy the discomfort that comes with hard work. It doesn’t mean that you have to constantly fall on your own sword to make other people happy. This is not about making them happy, it is about making yourself happy through making healthy choices that are right for you and the people in your life. That will result in a win for everybody involved. My family wins when I am happy and healthy. They lose when I isolate and withdraw from my dreams.

Where to go from here

I just read what I wrote and it’s a lot. It’s a lot to take in and it’s a lot to think about. I am feeling apathetic just having spent a moment thinking about the work I still have ahead. I am nowhere near out of the dust yet. I am constantly blowing things up in order to prevent tripping over them again. I try new things so I can be open to something better than what I am used to, even if it’s challenging.

You need to do this too. You need to delete Netflix off of your phone even if it means you will have to figure out something to do with yourself for multiple hours each evening or do whatever you need to do to get wasted time back. You need to throw away all of the unhealthy food you spent perfectly good money on because if you wait to start eating better until it’s gone, you will just buy more. I know because that is me. Whatever it is for you, you need to do it.

Making change is going to require you look inward. Depending on how much time you avoid looking inward, this could suck, but it’s necessary. You have to choose to see and love the potential you have, not what you are currently see yourself as. You have to flip the script. I like the phrase “flip the script” because a script is a story that contains a beginning, middle, and end. Right now, you are in the middle. You need to understand the beginning so you can rewrite the middle and live your best end.

What do you need to do to make change? What are you doing in your life to maintain a false sense of comfort? I hope my sharing helped you. In turn, your sharing will help me. Feel free to use up that comment section below this post. I read every comment and reply to them when I can.

Vlog

First 45-Days of Intermittent Fasting

In December I started Intermittent Fasting so I wanted to share how it was going so far. I decided to change the way I eat because I realized I was stressing myself out over eating and realized that Intermittent Fasting also solved some other issues I was dealing with it.

Intermittent Fasting is temporarily extending the fast that we all do from the time we finish dinner to when we eat in the morning. For me, it means skipping breakfast, and I feel much better because of it. It also means occasionally skipping lunch. Currently, about half of the week I eat lunch and the other half I skip it. When I do eat lunch I eat a very light lunch.

I have suffered from acid reflux, bloating, hypothyroidism, and generalized fatigue for years. Changing my eating habits have minimized many of the symptoms I have experienced for so many years.

I’m really enjoying this new way of handling my food intake. I will continue to post updates as I reach new milestones.

Blog

30 Days at a Standing Desk

Standing Desk

Exactly a month ago I posted this Tweet:

Standing Desk Tweet

Many of the fitness blogs I read were talking about how unhealthy it is to sit at a desk all day long. Since I started designing websites full time back in 2005 I have spent the larger portion of my day in a chair behind my desk. Since having my first child I have been able to make it to the gym much less. My wife is a stay at home Mom and my son is there with her, so I want to be home with them when I am not working. In the past I would justify sitting all day by spending a good 2 hours 5-6 days per week at the gym. 2011 has not been a kind year to me as far as time spent at the gym goes. This is what prompted me to move to a standing desk. Now that I have been at it for 30 days I thought it would be good to report my findings.

Sitting Desk Standing Desk
Click the photos to view them larger. Sorry for the horrible iPhone photos. I did not think to take nice photos when beginning this journey.

I have found many good things and bad things about being behind a Standing Desk, however some of those things may just be specific to me. I will first outline how each week went and then recap my findings below. If you have spent any time behind a standing desk I would love to hear about how it went for you in the comments section below.

The First Week:
The first few days of standing my legs got tired. I noticed that my body was burning more calories per day as I found myself more hungry around each meal. During the first standing week I sat on a stool about 20% of my work day. During this week I was very busy and moved around a lot which made it easier for me to be standing.

The Second Week:
During this week I was very busy with app reviews for Dailyappshow.com. This meant that there was a lot of round tripping between my desk and the app recording station. I sit on a stool while I record the app video demos which are about 3-5 minutes in length each. At my standing desk I probably sat on the stool about 15% of the time and stood the rest. I also started noticing that my ability to focus on a project for long periods of time was a bit more difficult but I figured it was due to how busy I was with the app demo videos.

The Third Week:
This was another busy week with app demo videos. I also had several meetings outside of my office and a few meetings at my office so I had some mixed sit down time while driving and being in those meetings. I don’t recall using my stool at my standing desk at all this week. I also added in a 2×3 foot Anti-Fatigue mat (Amazon Link). It took me a few days to get used to the mat because of it’s texture, however I did notice an increase in overal comfort. This mat was easier on my knees through out the day. I also noticed that I would lean on my desk a lot to take pressure off of my legs. I started thinking about how my back had not hurt at all during this process of standing for 8 hours a day, sometimes longer. My productivity was still a bit distracted as I was very busy working on small projects. It was hard for me to attempt to start a larger project. At this point I was not sure why. I also had a wedding this week, a very long 12 hour day of shooting. I felt that my legs were good to go and not even tired at the end of the 12 hour day. My body and mind were tired but my legs were good.

The Fourth Week:
I finished up last week strong. I actually had some items sitting on my stool and did not use it once. I was standing for 100% of the day while at my desk. The only times I sat was at home and in my car. I made it to the gym once this weekend and being that it had been a month since my last gym visit I was surprised at how much leg stamina I had while doing normal workouts I typically needed weeks to get into after lapses this long in gym visits. I noticed that my leg strength was improved. Standing at any time was no big deal. I never looked around for somewhere to sit, I was fine standing, unless everybody else was sitting.

Thoughts on a Standing Desk for fitness and general well being:
I believe what I had read. Standing as opposed to sitting all day is much better for health. You don’t burn but a few calories sitting down but when you stand you burn around 800+ more calories per day. This is a huge increase in activity during those times I was not making it to the gym at all. If you do not have any issues with your legs then I suggest a standing desk over a sitting desk. Don’t worry if you have to use a stool and start off standing in moderation. I attempted to go from all day sitting to all day standing from the start. I decided to take sitting breaks rather than breaks to stand up from my sitting position. Overall I did feel healthier. I am not sure if I lost any weight. I have always fluctuated in weight depending on how active I am, how I am eating and the stress levels I am currently undertaking. It is hard to determine if anything works for weight loss because all of the stars must be aligned for me to really make change happen.

When at home I got much more enjoyment out of sitting because I had spent my entire day standing. I could really relax at home when sitting on my couch or laying in bed.

Thoughts on a Standing Desk for productivity:
I mentioned how things went from week to week so you could see how my productivity was. Notice how I was really good with short term tasks and I didn’t really complete any long term tasks in one day. I truly feel that the standing desk gave me Task ADD. I was unable to just knock out an entire website project in one day like I used to be able to. I had to break it up into chunks or I wouldn’t get it done. In my current office I do not have enough room for a sitting and standing desk so I actually removed the sitting desks to place standing desks for myself and Ben who works with me part time.

I had this realization that my productivity style has completely changed today and Ben confirmed that he feels the same way however he didn’t really notice it until I brought it up. It is really hard to say if this is the same for everybody but I feel that it makes sense. When sitting you are not worrying about much. You don’t have to balance yourself, you don’t feel like moving around and you don’t get as restless. Standing in one place makes me feel like I have to move around more. I am even changing windows on my computer much more often. I have one display but I use Mission Control or what used to be called Spaces on my Mac to have the applications I am using open across multiple screens. I feel like I have ADD there as well. I switch through screens more often and have to see what is going on in each app rather than focusing on one for any particular length of time. It is quite possible that standing has just brought out the fact that I have some form of adult ADD but I think it is just a restlessness that is brought on by standing in the same spot for long lengths of time.

Most people who have standing jobs are moving about. When I used to work in retail at any given time I was behind the cash wrap, in the stock room or out on the floor. When I had my own store I was packaging shipments, working on motors, talking to people, placing orders and doing all sorts of other activities that all took place in different spaces. At my current office, my computer is at my standing desk and that is where I would spend most of my day. To be honest the only reason I feel I have written as much as I have right now is due to the fact that I am sitting on the stool instead of standing.

Angles: I also noticed that the angles of using a keyboard and trackpad from a standing position is much harder on my hands. It is much more of a bind on my wrists then before. This may also play into the lack of ability to work through longer tasks such as writing code. At a sitting desk I used to write code for hours on end with out stopping for more than a drink of something. At a standing desk I find myself switching to something else so I can stop typing and most of the time I do it subconsciously.

Standing Desk vs. Sitting Desk:
I believe that everybody should at least try standing. I would not suggest that you make the switch until you have tried it for at least a week and can see how it effects your productivity and of course your body. We all want to be healthier but we also need to finish work and get paid. I moved out my sitting desk when I started this so I have adapted to my standing workspace. I really wish that I had the room for both. I believe that for longer web projects that I would be better served by sitting a comfortable position while I write code. I plan to look for a good bar height chair so I can recreate my sitting desk environment for when I need to concentrait on projects for a long period of time. I will however continue to use my standing desk because I know that it is better for my body.

If you are in a job where you are behind a computer all day with out moving, a standing desk may be kind of hard for you. It will be much easier if you can have tasks separated by space or location as opposed to one space such as your desk. I found myself most productive when I was able to move to different locations and handle a task away from my standing desk. When I came back to my standing desk I was always more productive for the first hour.

We were created with the ability to move about which is why I am left wondering if we are designed to stand in one place. If standing was so productive why would sitting ever have came into the picture?

Let me know if you have tried a standing desk or considered it. What are/were your thoughts and concerns? I would love to hear more about what others have experienced so I can determine if I am just crazy or if there really is something to this.