Good Points and Bad Points – Suunto Ambit2 R GPS Running Watch

Suunto Ambit2 R

So I’ve had some more hands-on time with the Suunto Ambit2 R, as I’ve had it for about a week now. I’ve run with it on trails, at the park, and up a concrete stairway on the side of a mountain. Overall, I must say I’m happy with it. I definitely needed to upgrade from my featureless Timex Ironman from a decade past.

Here are some good and bad points about the Suunto Ambit2 R.

Good Points

  1. GPS satellites are found near instantly, even in my house.
  2. GPS works well on the flats and through the dense canopy of the rainforest trail. I think the GPS is very accurate in most situations.
  3. Beeps warning me I’m below or above my specified heart rate threshold, kilometer beeps, and all beeps, are loud enough to hear clearly.
  4. The big display on the middle row is very easy to read in all situations.
  5. The watch charges quickly – less than two hours to full charge from zero %.
  6. The buttons are designed well, a forceful push, and I haven’t made a mistake by not pushing them fully more than 2-3 times.
  7. Movescount.com (MC) is useful. I really enjoy the charts and being able to customize my displays for different exercise activities.
  8. No scuffs yet, despite hitting walls, doors, and trees with it.
  9. The heart rate monitor (HRM) strap is soft and doesn’t slip down – ever.

Bad Points

  1. Altitude readings are pure junk if climbing a steep mountain. I’m in Thailand, maybe the map data is junk to start with?
  2. In the rain the display is all but useless for all other than the middle row of data.
  3. The bottom and top rows of data are about useless in all situations. Too small to see while bouncing around running. Would be better to see all 3 rows the same size.
  4. Movescount has no stairclimbing activity, and yet they have cheerleading. Come on.
  5. No sleep activity in movescount either. I like to sleep with the HRM on and see what my pulse did at night. Interesting!
  6. Recording my sleep last night with GPS on showed me moving in elevation up to 40 meters difference. I don’t know where in the hell I went last night, but I don’t remember a thing.
  7. No easy way to remove sections off the map. You know, in case you leave the GPS on at the end of your run and it catches the entire trip home on the motorbike at 90 KPH. Strava has.
  8. Not sure there is anyway to remove the GPS from kicking on any time I do an activity. Sometimes want just the HRM. I know I can do it in movescount for the activity, maybe have to setup a new activity to do that. That sucks because sometimes I would like to save the battery and kill the GPS. Can’t do it without connecting to MC.
  9. The default setting of kilometer laps to “on” is annoying as hell. Took me a bit to figure out what was going on. Default should be “off.”
  10. It’s pretty damn big (thick, wide) for how little it does. I hope they slim it down – like cut it in half before next iteration.

If you’re a runner and you need a GPS watch with heart rate monitor, you’ll probably be happy with the Suunto Ambit2 R watch. It seems durable and is a great tool to help take your training to the next level. Particularly cool is movescount.com because it’s free and has some nice functionality. My next watch will also likely be a Suunto, though I’ll probably go all out and get whatever the newest model is at the time.

What is Your Resting Heart Rate? 34?

Invariably when I go to the doctor and a nurse takes my blood pressure and pulse, they start looking at me like I'm in a medical emergency. SIR, ARE YOU DIZZY, SIT BACK IN YOUR SEAT! It happens all the time. My heart rate is low, but my blood pressure makes them wonder if I'm alive. Yep, STILL CRANKING!
Invariably when I go to the doctor and a nurse takes my blood pressure and pulse, they start looking at me like I’m in a medical emergency. SIR, ARE YOU DIZZY, SIT BACK IN YOUR SEAT! It happens all the time. My heart rate is low, but my blood pressure makes them wonder if I’m alive. Yep, STILL CRANKING!

I am a fan of low heart rates. I know it’s weird – right?

Miguel Indurain before the Tour de France started some years ago, had a resting heart rate of 36 beats per minute I think it was.

My lowest ever was 38 bpm, but once I was measuring it and I was in the low 30’s. I got excited and it jumped up. Go figure, right?

Today I’m 48 years old and my usual resting (sitting) pulse during the day as I work, writing on the computer, is around 46 beats per minute.

My lowest recently has been about 42. Recently I got this 43 and that was pretty cool. It was just before 6 a.m. and I was still laying down.

I use pulse to assess in part whether I’m rested and how much I’m able to push myself that day as I run, climb, bike, or whatever exercise it is I have planned.

You’ve probably heard of Kilian Jornet, if you’re a runner. Especially a trail runner. Kilian is at the top of his game, and top of the world for running up mountains. His resting heart rate is 34 bpm.

Outrageous – right!?

When Allen Wong finally realized that the money was not going to stop coming in - he bought himself a little something.

Zero to Tens of Millions in No Time – Allen Wong

When Allen Wong finally realized that the money was not going to stop coming in - he bought himself a little something.
When Allen Wong finally realized that the money was not going to stop coming in – he bought himself a little something.

If you are sitting around wondering what to do with your life, and you are running out of viable options, you might find this interesting. You might find it to be your salvation.

It’s that good.

This guy, Allen Wong, grew up with immigrant parents that were extremely poor as they arrived in the USA. They worked very hard and eventually made something for themselves. Then they lost it.

This video is about Allen and what he was faced with growing up. It’s about all that came together to make him what he is today, a coder of mobile applications. He writes the code that powers the apps for a few good apps on the iPhone and I think Android as well. He has made tens of millions of dollars in the last 5 years.

I first came to know Allen by reading his book. Grab it at Amazon, it is so inspiring you’ll probably get started on whatever it is you’ve been putting off doing – click to get it at Amazon – LIFEHACKED.

What motivates me most about his story is the idea of passive income. I have some passive income from books I’ve written. I have some from YouTube videos I’ve done in the past, and from photographs I’ve taken and that sell as stock at various online agencies. The feeling of getting a couple hundred dollars a month regardless of whether I do anything more or not – is absolutely the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life as far as life relates to income.

Allen is taking passive income way beyond what I’ve ever experienced – he has a couple million dollars coming in each year and it doesn’t matter if he works this year or not. He could do absolutely nothing for the next five years and still make over $10,000,000. Once passive income starts, it need not go away for a long time. App development is one of these areas that provides high levels of passive income if you care enough to do it right, and keep on pushing until you have something of value that people crave.

There are programmers that code for other people – and make a salary. You can make decent money like that. It’s steady. I have a friend in Florida that codes, and he has worked for others for about twenty years now. He was making $90,000+ about ten years ago. He hated coding for other people, and yet he didn’t see any way out. He could have started programming apps for himself at any time, he just didn’t have the confidence or the hunger to start doing it.

Allen’s story is so inspirational because it isn’t just about coding. It’s about his life and choices that led him to creating something that other people can use, and that pays him on a continual basis. You can apply what he’s learned, and what you’ve learned in your own life, to whatever you want to do to create income on a recurring basis.

You can produce art online. You can write books. You can create a cartoon series. You can code apps for iPhones or Android phones. You can create an operating system for the new smart watches that are going to explode in a year or so. You can write songs, play songs, sing songs. You can make videos. You can write poetry or short stories. You can invent something. You can trademark something others love so much they pay you to be able to use it. You can take photographs nobody is taking… focus on macro photography, aerial photography. You can send a camera up on a homemade balloon into the upper atmosphere and take photos of UFOs. You can design minimalist homes and sell the plans.

There are so many ways you can make passive income, but creating something is probably the most satisfying. What are you really interested in?

What could you start learning today in your free time that would give you the ability to create something that could bring you passive income in six months or a year? What could you really start becoming an expert at now, that in three years would totally change your life? You could learn just about anything in three years – couldn’t you?

There are so many inspiring points to Allen’s life story that I won’t even get started describing some of them. Listen to his story on this video. you don’t need to watch the video, just let it play on speakers you can hear wherever you are. If you want, you can download the audio and/or video by grabbing it here: Click here, then wait until the download options pop up. Download to your phone, tablet, computer or whatever – and listen when you want.

1″= Endless Possibility

Moving 1 inch might set you free to travel an eternity...
Moving 1 inch might set you free to travel an eternity…

I was reading something from a runner I followed online for a year or so, Tom at Mindhacks.com. He was talking about an experience he has while rock-climbing. I thought about it, and it actually relates well to other areas of life too.

Tom was saying that he frequently has an experience while rock-climbing in which he finds himself stuck in a situation that doesn’t offer any good hand holds to help him move forward. Nor backward even. In his mind – he’s stuck, there’s no real option that exists at that moment in time because his mind is limited to not seeing any options. Everything that he wants to advance toward is just out of reach by only a little bit. Enough that he knows if he tries to go for a big stretch he’s going to fall.

I’m no expert, but I climb some simple routes. Climbing rocks is strange because you really don’t have all that long to find your next hold and get there before you run out of strength. It’s always a matter of time… superman would run out of strength at some point if he was stuck.

As the mind searches – confidently at first and then frantically before the body runs out of energy to hold him where he is… something must happen.

What happens is he realizes he has feet. He stops looking for handholds – which might be two or three feet away and starts looking for a new foothold to support him. A new foothold means he can move just a little bit. Maybe it’s only an inch or so. That might be ALL IT TAKES to enable him to see new hand holds from that new vantage point.

One inch in any direction might the the key to getting the whole way up the mountain, ridge, whatever he’s climbing.

You too.

One inch in any direction starts the ball rolling and it brings to the surface new possibilities.

If you are truly stuck where you are – and you probably aren’t, you’re just blind to the possibilities that exist, you might need to move an inch in some direction. Doesn’t matter what direction – go backwards if you can’t go forward or parallel to where you are.

I was sitting here at my notebook computer thinking about how I should post something to Aim for Awesome because it’s been a few days. I have been smashed between some big SEO projects and I really want to give my clients the best I can so I’ve been consumed by them for the last week.

I didn’t have the slightest idea what to write about ten minutes ago. I was stuck. I stepped an inch by telling my friend what my problem was. Not expecting any answer, just wanting to share with her the strangeness of not being able to switch gears from SEO mode and optimizing websites for Google and being creative enough to write an article about something interesting for all of you.

She said immediately, “Don’t you have a stock of article’s you’ve already written that you could use?”

Initially I tried to play it off… “Yes, but I just don’t feel like editing one and making it live.”

Then I realized – wow, she gave me the answer… let me take the ball and run (or jog at least).

I said, “OK, let me open up the folder and see if anything jumps out at me.”

This article did. It reminded me of climbing, which I’m really starting to love… that was just enough to get me interested in reading Tom’s article again and then writing up this one for you.

Go an inch – any direction and see what happens.

If you’re ever stuck in any situation try it. Move an inch.

Moving an inch might equate to:

  • Making one phone call.
  • Talking to a friend about it.
  • Taking one less sip of your bottle of scotch tonight.
  • Trying a different style ad on your web site.
  • Cutting your hair off.
  • Picking up the next phone call instead of ignoring it.
  • Giving a pregnant woman begging for money $10.00.
  • Going outside to exercise instead of on your stationary bike.

It could mean anything, depending on the situation you find your self “stuck in”.

Frequently I think we’re not really stuck – we’re blinded to possibility. Possibility exists in every situation. Sometimes we’re just blind to it.

Open up your eyes by moving an inch any direction and see what happens…

Best of Life!

Vern

Running 21 Miles for the First Time Ever

Runner - Ao Nang Beach, Thailand

Just about a month ago I talked about running fifteen miles for the first time ever. Then, ten days ago I did another fifteen mile run. Felt better the second time. Yesterday, I was close to not running at all. I wasn’t looking forward to running in the rain and cold (74°F). That is very cold for where I am in Thailand.

I couldn’t even decide that I was definitely going to run yesterday. I had planned a long run. I was hoping to get over to the mountain trail for an attempt at three times up and down, something I’ve never done. The couple days of solid rain put me off though because as it turned out my wife had the car and I was stuck with the motorbike in the rain.

That meant I had to go to the park to run. That meant, since a hard day was planned, I had to do at least 12 miles. Or so. If I got 12 miles done, I’d be happy. Thing was, it was so damn cold that I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Anyway, long story short, because the video shows most of what went into my decision to go work out, I went to the park in the pouring rain to see what happened.

I walked around a couple laps of the 1.25 km loop to loosen up. I was in no real mood to run until that point. The decision to run was a rather, ahhh, WTH, might as well run if I’m walking sort of thing. Once running I slowly got my entire body soaking wet. There were puddles completely across the path. The grassy areas I thought were  drier than the puddles turned out to be worse, with mud – sucking me deeper and making the effort three times as hard as if I’d just stayed on the wet path.

The first ten miles went by like nothing. I had one small Gatorade up to that point. Usually I’d have had two, but as I said, it was cold and wet and I really wasn’t sweating much – only when I put on the rain poncho in the very hard downpours and I was chilled to the bone did I sweat like mad because the plastic trapped the heat.

Splashing in PuddlePhoto copyright Jesse Millan at Flickr.

I grabbed my other Gatorade and stretched my hamstrings a bit, my calves a bit, hoping to avoid the tightness behind my knees which stopped me from going further on my first fifteen mile run, and kept going.

If you’ve never run long distances before, I hope my description of it helps you to do the same. It’s daunting to think about running twenty miles when previously you’ve only run under fifteen miles. I may have run up to fifteen when I was seventeen years old, but I honestly don’t remember. I didn’t keep track of my one really long run as a teen, but maybe I came close to fifteen that day.

A month ago was my first fifteen mile run since then. Then, ten days ago I did another fifteen mile run. Yesterday, doing twenty, I thought I could have done the full marathon distance. Problem was I ran out of time, and I hadn’t been eating anything to fuel me the next six miles. I just didn’t think I had it in me before I started, so I didn’t consider bringing food and salt with me to the park. This is the third time this has happened, so I’ll be bringing salt and food in preparation for all long runs in the future!

There is something that happens as you run beyond ten miles, if you’re properly hydrated and have put in some base runs of six miles most days of the week. You can run beyond ten. Maybe well beyond.

My base mileage has been low – averaging around 3-4 miles per day when looked at over the month. I tend to do six to ten miles when I can, and that’s usually a few times a week. I have been ill over the past couple weeks and wasn’t sure I was ready to do a real long run, but that’s the thing about long distance, slow running – you don’t know what you’re capable of until you’re out there and doing it.

Running slow is so much easier than running near max effort. When you run enough miles in preparation, running slow over twenty miles is almost like sleepwalking. I mean, it isn’t, I’m exaggerating, but, it isn’t much different from walking. Once you’re at the point where you can have 3-3 breathing as you run long distance, you can maintain that for a long time until something starts hurting and you have to fix it.

So, that’s the state I was in after fifteen miles. I was just sort of mindlessly bumbling along the flat loop and getting rained on by inches of rain. I gave up trying to avoid the puddles after the second lap and just smashed through them.

Smashing through the puddles is great for a few reasons:

1. There is a floating feeling for a brief instant if you hit flat footed in at least 3 inches of water. That is a nice change for the feet that have been pounding asphalt for a couple hours already.

2. It cools the feet down a bit.

3. You no longer have to waste energy trying to figure out how to dance around them, you just run straight through and save some energy.

4. It feels carefree and fun, like it did when you were a little kid.

For three hours there wasn’t even one person at the park exercising. That’s strange because usually there are a couple to a few hundred others. Then a guy came with an umbrella and did two laps. Running in the rain gives you absolute solitude!

So here is a bit about what it feels like running from 15-21 miles.

Breathing is 3 steps in during an in-breath, and 3 steps for the outbreath. If it gets into 2-3 or 3-2 or 2-2 then I’m going too fast and I slow it down. Breathing is easy and smooth, and the least of my worries. Strength to run is also, the least of my worries because at such slow speeds it near enough to walking that it isn’t an issue at all.

The issue as you’re running long distance is monitoring the pain. That’s what I do the entire time. I make myself aware of any pain and I see if it changes – getting worse or better. That’s it. That’s long distance running. If the pain gets worse, I try to make it less. If it gets better, I try to continue whatever I was doing.

At various times during the long run yesterday I had pain:

  • in outer band of R knee
  • on top of L knee
  • in L quad
  • in L adductor
  • in head – slight headache appeared to be coming on during part of the run
  • in R bicep – from a pull that happened doing something non-running related
  • in both calves as they threatened to cramp
  • in arches of both feet as they too threatened to cramp

One thing you’re going to face, no matter what shoes you wear, is foot pain. For me, besides the occasional cramp in the arch, it’s just a dull pain that builds up very gradually over the miles. At twenty miles I wish I had another pair of shoes. I don’t know why I haven’t gone in search of another pair of shoes that are better suited to running on the hard asphalt, but I haven’t. I have suffered three times now, and not looking forward to suffering much past twenty miles without some decent shoes.

At the moment, and for the past couple years, I’ve run on the roads in the Nike Free 7.0 v3 I think they are. Maybe v2. They are minimalist, very flexible, very light, and have a 7 mm drop. During my long runs I’ve worn Nike Free’s and had no problem with blisters at all, even during heavy rain.

Nike Free 7.0 v2 Blue Shoes

Apparently what I need to help foot pain, if all the hype is to be believed, are Hoka One One’s. If you’ve never watched David Bowie in moonboots, you probably have never seen anything like Hoka shoes before. They have a massive foam pad that soaks up the energy of your feet slapping the road tens of thousands of times during a long run. Apparently their extra foam costs heaps of extra dollars. I just found them priced around $150 USD. I paid half that for my Nike Free’s.

Michael Arnstein highly recommends Hoka One One for ultra runs on the street AND the trails here. He says ‘running down hills in them is like running on wet sponges.’ He ran the Leadville 100 mile race in them.

Hoka One One Blue yellow Shoes

Still, there is no way in hell I’m paying $150 because the shoe has extra foam. Foam costs about 3c a pound. What are we – stupid?

I’ll have to research today to find an alternative. As Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Saucony, Asics and some other companies see Hoka’s success, they’ll also start making something similar. Price will be much less and again I’ll be able to pay just $75 to $100 for 3¢ of foam, 20¢ of rubber, and a nickel of nylon cloth.

Funny, we’ve come full circle with minimalism vs. maximalism. On the technical mountain trail I run in New Balance Minimus with a 4mm drop. They are excellent for that trail, but little else. I’ve noticed my foot strength has improved considerably and I no longer roll my ankles like I used to be plagued with.

So you can see, long distance running is basically pain management. If all the above came at the same time – I’d either stop for a while or stop the run entirely. Thing is, they come on one at a time, or in groups of 2-3 sometimes. When pain comes like that, it’s manageable. You can get through it.

There’s something about running long distances that’s great to realize. You need not run the entire thing. You can walk. People in marathons and ultra-distance runs – walk sometimes. It’s OK. It’s necessary sometimes. Don’t feel bad about it. You’re not cheating. Just walk if you need to. A short walk can do wonders, rejuvenating the body and giving you a boost that allows you to go further.

Something else to think about… nutrition. Besides fueling up with Gatorade or your carb drink of choice, eat something if you’re planning to run over an hour. Dates are great, and my favorite food for eating while I run over a couple hours. They are packed with calories and they digest pretty easily if you have some liquid with them.

Coke or some other soda will crank you up like nothing else when you need a kick in the pants. I had a red Fanta with ice from a vendor at the side of the road as I ran. Then, an hour later, a coke with ice. Both times, just ten minutes after drinking them, I felt great. I had energy, and after stopping to buy the drinks my body had  a slight rest, so I got the benefit of that too.

I’ve read countless stories from some of the great ultra-runners grabbing a coke during a race and it’s like having a shot of adrenaline for them. The effect is astounding, especially when you don’t typically drink the stuff. I don’t.

Michael Arnstein, one of the world’s premier ultra-runners, told his wife to begin eating within twenty minutes of beginning a long run. Apparently it’s that important to keep a steady stream of calories coming in.

Some people run listening to music. I haven’t tried that yet. I think that would take me away from monitoring the pain too much and I might miss something that is gradually getting worse. Then, when it’s too late, it knocks me out of the run. That wouldn’t be ideal.

Some people think and solve life’s problems while running big mileage. I cannot think unless I’m walking. Not sure, but there is a brain-short somewhere in my head that stops all ability to think about life while I’m running. I can only do a few things… 1) meditate. 2) manage pain 3) think about food.

What about you? Can you think when you run? What about after 15-20 miles – can you still think?

If you have anything to share about running long distances for the first time – tips, or whatever you want to share – comment!

Leading Cause of Running Injuries?

Runner’s World recently surveyed ninety-five runners with an average of 5.5 years of running experience and 35 kilometers (22 miles) of running per week. Survey respondents were asked what they thought the most frequent cause of injuries were among runners.

Here are their results, and I weigh in below.

  • not stretching (31 people)
  • excessive training (28)
  • wearing the wrong shoes for foot type (22)
  • inadequate/unbalanced diet (20)
  • not warming up (20)
  • lack of strength (19)
  • not respecting the body’s limits (18)
  • no professional supervision (17)

See full article here.

I think I have a pretty good handle on what the cause of my own injuries are, and I have a decent guess at what causes most other runner’s injuries. I’ve been a runner since I was six years old. I’ve had scores of injuries over the years. Most commonly I’ve had calf and groin muscle pulls followed closely by twisted, torqued, sprained ankles.

My own muscle injuries are almost always the result of pushing far too hard, too soon. My joint, ligament and tendon injuries are usually the result of hard trail running and not paying attention enough to the technical terrain.

I stretch very little, and guess what? I had many more injuries when I was young and stretching often, than I do now in my late forties. I push quite hard still, and I think not stretching has actually helped me considerably in avoiding injuries. I’m pretty sure of it. Sure enough that I don’t do any stretching except touching my toes sometimes just to see if I can. I can’t!

I think most other people that injure themselves while running do so also because the body is not ready for the effort they’re forcing on it. Slowly ramping up the miles is important to new runners, and I consider someone running for five years rather new. Mileage cannot be added in chunks. Adding it very slowly is the best way to go about it. I have to tell myself that often when I feel great on a run and I want to add another five miles or so, when I know I’m not ready for it.

What do YOU THINK? What are most of your running injuries the result of?

Best of Luck and Life,

Vern

There is NO Tomorrow…

Storm - End of World

You know, I’m not bragging, but I’ve always been a person that got heaps of stuff done. When the whole “Getting Things Done” idea came out, I had already been putting that in practice for decades. Once I left the Air Force and it was sink or swim in New York City while my wife traveled the world and modeled for magazines, I realized the world is a killer that already had a boot up my ass. I didn’t have mother to rely on. I didn’t have the Air Force and their housing allowance, free health care, meal card, and steady check to rely on. I knew if I didn’t start busting my hump, my hump would run dry and I’d be either homeless or sucking it up and begging someone for a place to stay.

I didn’t ever want to be put in the position where I’m begging someone for something. I’ve done that one time, and guess what? Help was not forthcoming. It’s such a very sad state to be in. You don’t want to ever go there.

I grew up on the poor side of middle income. My father gave my mother $300 per month to help support the three of us kids, and he gave the rest to his new family which eventually consisted of a new wife and three more new kids. My mother worked as a piece-welder for a huge metal furniture company in Pittsburgh called, “Haskells.” Mom worked her ass off because she too knew, though she had a mom that was still alive and some sisters and a brother, nobody was going to help her out. She needed to do whatever was necessary and pull out a “WIN.” Well, that’s exactly what she did. She raised us all the best she could, and eventually got a job at the US Post Office and more than doubled (or maybe even tripled) her salary.

While we never wanted for food, there was plenty of stuff we wanted and just never had. I found a newspaper route as soon as I could carry 30-50 pounds of papers in a bag on my shoulder. I walked up and down the hills of the neighborhood every day and made some extra cash so I could have some savings and spending money. I paid for most of my new Raleigh mountain bike when I was fourteen. I paid for a lot of my clothes and fast food with my friends. I still never felt like I had enough money, so when the choice came to attend Penn State where I was accepted into their engineering program, or go to the Air Force and make guaranteed money – I chose the Air Force.

This isn’t really a post about my life, I’ll stop here. I just wanted to give you some background about me to show you how my attitude came about.

The attitude I’m talking about is this belief I have, this mantra I have that,

THERE IS NO TOMORROW.

When I wake up in the morning before my wife and daughter at 6:15 a.m. every day, I say that phrase to myself first thing. There is no tomorrow. And in my mind, there isn’t. I have this burning desire to get things done that sets me on fire each morning. It has always been this way, and I’m happy to have it. I won’t say I’m grateful for it, I wouldn’t know who to be grateful to. I’m very happy I have this attitude, this belief that forced me to learn and do as much as I could to get ahead over my forty-eight years of life.

I repeat the phrase throughout the day as I face problems, tests, frustrations. It’s up on my wall behind my computer. It is on my phone display every time I turn it on.

There really is no tomorrow because all that matters is today. All that matters is how much I can fit into the few hours of daylight and night time that I’m awake. I always feel like there isn’t enough time in the day for me to complete all the things I want to get done. The things I NEED to get done. There is such an urgency inside, and it’s burning me up on a daily basis. As I write this it is 11:47 p.m. on a Thursday. I’m very aware that I don’t write well after about 8:00 p.m., and yet I feel like I’m doing OK here in this article because I had an extra coffee tonight about two hours ago. I don’t like more than one coffee a day, and rarely indulge, but today I felt the urgency of producing heaps of content for this site so I can crank it up to the high level I know it can attain.

If you say you can do it tomorrow, that’s a cop-out. It’s an excuse that allows you to relax a little bit today. I don’t want any excuses, so I don’t ever say that. I won’t admit to myself tonight that I will need to finish this article tomorrow. I’ll just go until I’m exhausted and my words don’t make sense. Already I’m having trouble typing capital i’s. I had to go back and try to type the same “I” about seven times. I’m slipping, but, who knows, I may even finish this. If I do, I’ll quickly move on to something else I had planned for today.

I’m living in Southern Thailand. The beauty of this place is on par with the Hawaiian Islands where I lived for just over six years. This province is the Hawaii of Southeast Asia. It’s horribly beautiful. There are a hundred fun things to do outside every day, and yet most times I am inside hammering something out at this keyboard so my family can eat after I pass on. I’m constantly in a race against death in my mind. I haven’t provided well enough for my family yet. I’m an idiot if I don’t do so. We have enough coming in now that they could live happily for a couple years, but what about when those book royalties fade away? What then? What is going to provide for them then? Something better, they’re my BLOOD!

Every day is a struggle – not just to exist – but to excel. To do all that I can do and to be all that I can possibly be. There is no time now, I’m forty-eight. I’m into the second half of my life. Probably well into it.

I might have another ten years where my fingers work well enough to type eighty words per minute. I might have another fifteen years of mental health and memory left. I might have another two weeks before prostate cancer tears me apart, for all I know. One thing I do know, is that today I’m busting my ass and pushing myself as hard as I can to accomplish something good for my family, and people I have never met in my life. Like you. You’re probably someone I don’t know.

Though I don’t know you, I give a shit about you. I don’t know where it comes from… this kinship with strangers, this fanatical need to help, but since I’ve had a decent life so far and taken care of a lot of my own problems, I now have the time and energy to help myself AND you. I think that’s one of our duties as human beings. I’ve always seen it that way. I had uncles that took me trout fishing and hunting, and aunts, neighbors and friends of the family that took me and my brother and sister to places we’d have never got to see with my mom.

People cared about us, and helped us because they could. Some people help others and don’t even help themselves. Why? It feels good. It feels great to help other people.

Though I strongly recommend you take care of your own pile of junk in your life that is holding you back from your ultimate bliss, I don’t think there is anything wrong with people that help others in spite of their own unfulfilled lives. Helping others helps to fulfill us. It gives us meaning. It gives us a feeling that we are worth something. We matter. We are important to someone else, even if the other person doesn’t realize it or admit it.

Maybe there is nothing more important than meaning something to at least one other person on earth.

I believe that.

So I’ll wind this down. Think about “There is no tomorrow,” and how it makes you feel. Does it light a fire under your ass? Does it eliminate excuses and force you to look at what you could best be focusing on today?

I hope it helps at least some of you pull it together and puts you in a frame of mind that fills you with motivation to do more than you usually do on a typical day.

If you feel like you have a lot of junk in your life that you can’t seem to straighten out, I may have a solution for you in the pages of this website. I may have a solution for you in the pages of my 200+ page book, The Ultimate Life. I may have a solution for a question that you haven’t asked anyone yet. You can ask me. I’ll respond and give it my best shot. Fill me in with as much background as you can, and fire away. I will let you know what I think.

Best of life and luck to you my friend!

Vern

Happiness Life Tip: 1 Way to Instantly Get Optimistic

Life is all about being as optimistic as possible. Being optimistic leads to success.

If you’re not happy 90 mornings out of 100 when you wake up, you are missing out on so much. I know that’s the reason a good portion of you are reading personal development blogs – for tips on making yourself happier and more optimistic when you’re down or not feeling quite up to par. Though I am almost always in a good mood, I notice that sometimes – for just a half-hour, or maybe for a few hours – I catch myself in a mood that’s “less than great”.

Happiness can be defined in terms of financial success, emotional well-being, spiritual connectivity, physical energy and wellness, success of projects you’re doing, both personal and work-related, family happiness and cohesiveness… or all of those together.

Optimism, which is about your future state of happiness and about the control you might have over events in the future, flows from happiness.

There are many areas of success and happiness that lead to optimism. If you are successful in one area of life, that can carry over into other areas or it may have nothing to do with your happiness in other areas of your life. It can go either way.

So, during the moments I catch myself in a mood that is too pessimistic and not positive, I might do this exercise I’ve outlined below. I find myself doing it about one time each week, but it’s good for every night before you go to sleep if you need it! I think you’ll find it easy enough.

Step 1:
Take out a clean piece of paper or a large notecard. Start writing everything you can think of that is a “positive” that is going on in your life since the last time you did this exercise. Write anything that has the power to make you happy – even if it’s just a little bit.

Step 2:
No step 2, that was it!

When you write – don’t write straight down the page or on every line. Turn that paper or notecard every which way and write large, write small, just write, write, write. It’s like braindumping all your happy moments onto that card.

When you’re really thinking about it – there are so many things that go well that we tend to gloss over. Write the smallest things that you can think of… something like, “I saw a sign for gasoline that was 2 cents lower today and filled up, saving me 26 cents.” Or, “I almost tipped backward on my chair and fell over, but I caught myself in time.” Or, “I had pizza yesterday, WOW that was so mind-blowingly delicious!”

There are so many things you could write down if you give yourself some time. I usually don’t need more than ten minutes before I find myself in a great mood remembering all things I’d already forgotten from the same day and the days past.

Write it all! EVERYTHING COUNTS. Don’t eliminate something because you think it wasn’t positive ENOUGH. If it was on the right side of the negative – positive balance beam then it was positive and write it down.

See how many you can come up with in ten minutes. If you don’t have twenty examples, no matter how small or large, keep going! EVERYONE has ten. Probably you can think of more. A positive might be that you didn’t come down with a cold or have an accident in the last five days – right? These are things we don’t normally think about when we’re depressed, but these are definitely positive things in our lives. Or, think about the fact that you didn’t lose your job, your wife, your kids, your wallet, your car keys, your mind! Or maybe you remember helping someone with some good advice. Anything you choose counts just so you can jot it down and remember the good feeling you had as you experienced this positive thing in your life.

BONUS
Now, here’s something I did only a couple times – when I was in a really bummy mood that came and went for a few weeks (after a break-up). I saved all of my notecards and put them up on one wall where I could see them constantly every time I sat down to my computer on the desk. Invariably, I’d be thinking about something and glance up at the notecards and something would catch my attention -and I’d remember some of those positive things again. It really has the power to pick me up and help keep me in a consistently happy state of mind. That’s a priceless tool you should duplicate if you think it will help.

My Example
As I sit here really frustrated because my hosting account dashboard at Godaddy.com is loading each page over the course of about 17 minutes and I’ve even turned off images so all it needs to load is text – This might be a good time to write my own notecard.

Optimistic Notecard: Write as many things that make you happy as you can fit. When viewed together these have the power to make you feel more optimistic, happier, and in control of your life instead of pessimistic and in a bad mood.

For me – this was all it took to get me feeling good again. It’s really difficult to be pessimistic or angry or sad about life when you have a notecard full of things in your life that recently happened that were positive. It works for me everytime. Try it!

Send photos or photoshop creations of your paper or notecard / index cards and I’ll edit this post and put them in here along with your name, email or whatever you wish. Or, let me know you’d rather keep them private and I won’t publish them.

Best of Life!

Vern

Motivational articles to help athletes push (crank) through physical and mental barriers to competition, as well as personal development lifehacks for the rest of us.