Getting On and Off the Track

When I started my journey of 365to50 in September, I thought it would be a challenge, but one that I could (and would) overcome. I knew that training for the triathlon would difficult, but I liked riding my bike and getting up early to swim. I knew that to make progress on writing my book, I would have to carve out and protect time to write. I was inspired and ready to pour myself into three different books; one would surely be easy! There was never a doubt that if I wanted to lose weight and be healthier, I would have to change my eating habits and I was ready to do that also. To really deepen my relationship with God, I would have to spend time in prayer and other disciplines that would lead to and increase intimacy with God. When I started, there was no doubt that I could accomplish any of these goals—simply because I wanted to.

But what happens when you no longer have the “want to?”

What happens when you would rather watch TV than train on your bike, or work on your first book? What happens when work, holiday parties, and family functions crowd your schedule and sap your energy? What happens when the days get long, and those long days slowly snowball into a long week? When the momentum of “nothing” and comfort begins to replace the momentum of disclipined routine and accomplishment?

The answer is obvious: when you lose the “want to,” you are in danger of getting off track. Well, I have been off track for about 60 days, or since my last triathlon. I can’t tell you exactly how or why I lost it, but thankfully I have a long-term goal, and I have plenty of time to get back on track again and still reach my goals. I made the promise that when I started this, I would be real with my readers and hold nothing back.

I stopped when I no longer “wanted to,” and I let my feelings determine my actions instead of letting my actions determine my feelings.

I am ready to start again, and as of today I am moving toward my three goals of:

  • Writing my first book.
  • Losing weight and getting healthier.
  • Growing in deeper friendship and intimacy with God.

Looking at my roadmap:

For My Weight: I am currently at 280lbs which means that I have gained some weight back. But if I follow a healthy weight loss plan with exercise, and lose just 2 lbs per week, I will have lost over 70lbs by my 50th birthday. That would mean that I could weigh 210 lbs on my fiftieth birthday—September 5th, 2013. I can do that.

For My Book: I am currently working to decide which book I should write: the book about being an overcomer, which I have been working on for a little while, or the fictional book which God gave me years ago. It is a story based on two brothers who never knew each other until a tragic accident brings them together. I know God has called me to write the book on being an overcomer, but I also know that this fictional story of faith and forgiveness is going to be great. I am in love with storytelling, and this book brings me to tears, goose bumps and deep thoughts all at the same time. My goal is to make a decision on which book to write by the 21st of January.

For My Relationship with God: I need to develop a set time for prayer and devotion. I always do better when I have a set time for my prayer with God. Starting this week, I have three mornings blocked out where I will spend very dedicated time with God. While I try to spend a daily time talking to God and I am in His word throughout the week, both at home and at work, I need at least three days a week of “soaking time” where I am listening to the voice of God and responding to Him in like manner.

To help me get back on track I am going to start doing the following.

  1. Begin using my Franklin Planner to schedule my daily activities.
  2. Sunday will be “planning day”: the day that I pencil in my week.
  3. Commit to writing at least three days a week.
  4. Exercising at least three days a week.
  5. Spending at least three days a week in prayer.
Where are you at in your 365 journey? Have you found yourself struggling to accomplish any of the goals you’ve outlined? Have you felt a shift in the momentum? If so, dig your heels in today. Your goal is not lost. Your dream is still in reach. Everyone gets distracted or loses the “want to” sometimes, but now is your chance. Take a deep breath and get back on the track with me!
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Choosing to “Live in Vision”

Many of you may have already seen the clip of the speech given by Coach Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts after their victory last Sunday. It was one of the most inspiring speeches that I have ever heard by a head football coach. ( I have included a link to the video at the bottom of this page if you have not seen this speech.)

As you watch this clip, I want you to think about what it means to be “Living in Vision.”  For Coach Pagano, it’s a choice to believe, and see himself, in a future that he wants to see himself in.

Currently, Coach Pagano is fighting leukemia. His circumstances are very clear.  Without remission, the leukemia will eventually take his life and keep him from enjoying one of the things he wants to do the most: to dance with both of his daughters when they eventually get married. He and his team are aware of the circumstances. In fact, many of the members of his team have shaved their heads to hold a bond of support with their coach.
More than just shaving their heads, the team has taken a stance to live while believing in something that is contrary to their current circumstances, or at least the ones predicted for them this season. They, together as a team, are believing that they will win the Superbowl! They also are believing that their coach will live to one day dance at his daughter’s weddings.
In my quest to change my life before I turn 50, I am having to make the choice to really “Live In Vision,” and not just in my current circumstances. I recently found myself battling thoughts which suggested, despite my desire to change in the three areas I’ve discussed, that like most people I would mostly just talk about it and not really change very much at all. I have decided, and I have to keep deciding, to “Live in Vision.”

What is vision? A vision is something that we choose to see, an inner image of a preferred future.

It’s not easy to live in vision, but the rewards of it can be substantial. Even with that in mind, we can struggle to believe for something different then our current experience.  Whether it is our fear of failure, or the pain of being let down, we many times decide to accept “what is” instead of “what could be,” because vision can sometimes hurt.

The struggle is this: what is current is guaranteed, but that which “could be” is not. And anytime we choose to believe in something that is not current, we run the risk of being disappointed and let down. I know I struggle with my own ability to live in vision instead of living in my current circumstances. It is not easy for any of us, and it’s surely not easy for Coach Pagano. While our choice of vision could something simple—like the difference between living in a better house than the one we are living in now, perhaps—Coach Pagano’s vision is the difference between life and death.

There is risk involved when we choose to live in vision.

Coach Pagano is risking the fact that, despite his determination to “Live In Vision,” he could be very let down in the end and lose his battle to dance with his daughters.

Coach Pagano’s team, the Indianapolis Colts, are risking the fact that they could end up watching the Superbowl on T.V. instead of the sidelines.

Despite all those risks, Coach Pagano is still choosing to see his life different in the future. You see, Coach Pagano is choosing to see a preferred future, not the one he is currently facing.

Its not hype! Its not living in a make-believe world, where you don’t recognize the truth of the circumstances which are staring you in the face. It’s simply choosing to believe that the end of the book can be different than the the current chapter you’re reading—and as long as there are more chapters to read, it can still change! Listen, whatever you do today, don’t put the book down thinking that you know how it is all going to end. Choose to “Live in Vision,” and your vision may very well rewrite the ending to your own story. We have a choice! Let’s live in vision.

As I continue riding my bike, writing my book, and talking to God about everything, I have a vision of something different for my 50th birthday. As an update, I have completed two triathlons and I am currently working out to enter a bike race in the very near future. I have also written over 3,000 words for my first book. I am finally making progress on this book which I have talked about for so long. I don’t know if it was the election, or just some of the changes in my life, but either way my prayer life is really getting interesting.  I will soon share more on the actual changes in my life in the three key areas I am working on.

Today, dig down deep and find the passion that Coach Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts are living out. Just like Coach and his team, we can rewrite the ending to our story, but first we must learn to “Live in Vision.”

Improvement Comes Before Accomplishment

Last Sunday I competed in my second triathlon. My two goals were to cut a few minutes off of my time, and to run/jog the entire 5k portion of the course. During my first triathlon,I just wanted to finish the race, so walking the last portion of the race, the 5k run, was totally acceptable. I was excited about the improvements that I had made in both swimming and running and I really thought that I could do better. If you follow this blog very long you’re going to find a common theme as I approach my 50th birthday on Sept 5th, 2013. That theme is improvement.

You can’t have accomplishment without improvement.

Many times we are discouraged because we didn’t hit the goal—or in some cases we may have even gone backwards. However, the question you need to ask yourself when pursuing a worthwhile goal is this: “Am I improving?” For that reason we need both long term and short term measurable goals.
If right now I could ask you face to face “What is your worthy goal?” My next question, once you had answered, would be “What is the first thing you need to improve in?” “What is the first thing you need to get better at?” You will need to make a plan to work on improvement that week, that month, and that year.
Lets say you’re worthy goal is to go back to college and get your degree. What do you need to improve in to accomplish that goal? It might be that you need to improve in saving money so that you can register in six months. It might be that you need to improve in identifying your clear objective and need to spend one to two hours a week researching schools and careers. If you’re doing nothing now, and your still doing nothing in a month, then you have not improved—and “improvement always comes before accomplishment.” Even if you spent 30 minutes during the first week researching and asking questions, guess what? You are improving! You are getting better, and most importantly, you are one step closer to the accomplishment of your worthy goal.
My worthy goal is to lose weight, write a book, and get closer to God before I turn 50. The path which I’ve chosen to help me improve, move toward better health, and eventually lose my extra weight is by competing in triathlons and other events which challenge me to train and improve results. During my last triathlon, I had a goal of completing the 1/4 mile swim, 16 mile bike ride and 5k run in under 3 hours. I did better than that; I actually did it in 2:30 hours, or a half hour faster than my first goal. In my second triathlon last Sunday, at the exact same location and course on Amelia Island, I had my two goals: to run the complete 5k portion and to cut at least 15 minutes off of my first time.
The day of the triathlon came, and we were told that because the weather was so bad they would have to cancel the swim portion of the race. They were going start us on the bike and then we would transition to the 5k run. It was raining and it was windy, but those who remained to compete were eager to get started. There was a lot of concern that, because the road was so wet, many would wipe out on the pavement and risk injury or the destruction of their expensive bikes. My bike was probably one of the least expensive bikes there, and because I was riding a mountain bike with a fat tire, I would probably be ok. My daughter Brittnee was also riding her mountain bike with fat tires, so despite the rain and wind, we took off from the start line.
I completed the bike portion and started my 5k run. I felt, despite the stiff wind, that I had done better on the bike than i did in my last race. THis helped motivate me to work toward my next goal, to run the whole portion of the 5k. On a side note, it would be easy to think that because we had skipped the swim that I would have had more strength for the ride and the run. The wind that we had to ride in made up for anything that the swim would have taken out of me.
When I started to run my legs were dead. I remember the first time when I transitioned from the ride to the run, my legs were tired, but this time they really had it. I was motivated to at least try to improve, and accomplish my goal of running the whole 5k. It was nothing more than sheer determination and will as I jogged one step after another. I went the whole 5k without walking. I only stopped once—to stretch, because my legs were cramping up. When I got to the finish line and I saw 1:54.15 on the clock, I knew that I had beat my last time because the clock had started at least 5 to 10 minutes before my official time had started. My jog turned to a sprint and I crossed the line before it turned to 2 hours.  When I calculated my final time, I added in my swim time from the last race, and a generous transition time. I found that I would had beaten my last time by almost 20 minutes if I completed the swim at the exact same pace of the first triathlon. I had improved on the bike by at least 12 minutes and I had improved on the run by at least 8 minutes.

In this triathlon, I came in 5th place for the Clydesdale division. Most importantly, in my second month since I started the 365to50 campaign, I have continued to improve.

My next goals are focused on the month of November. First I want to train for a 30 mile bike race that is to be held in November. Secondly I want to have at least 5,000 words written for my new book by Thanksgiving weekend. Lastly I want to have written in my prayer journal at least twenty entries between now and Thanksgiving.These entries should all be connected to a deepening conversation with God. Pray, Write and Train. As long as I am improving, I am becoming better and I will accomplish my worthy goals.
Have fun and start improving this week!

One Weekend Can Change Everything!

It’s amazing how one weekend can change everything.

Last weekend I saw both my favorite college football team, Florida State, and my favorite Nascar driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., fall out of the top 10 for each sport. This was supposed to be the year that FSU competed for a national championship again. This was also beginning to look like the best opportunity for Dale Jr to take home the coveted Sprint Championship. Incredibly, after one mind-numbing wreck at Talladega and a devastating loss for FSU to North Carolina State, it seemed that all of the time, the effort, and the dream was gone. In essence, both FSU and Dale Jr. have now lost their chance at winning their championships.

Everything changed. In one. short. weekend.

Yes, one weekend can change everything! As I thought about how that weekend had changed my hopes of national championships, my daughter Brittnee reminded me how one weekend in August had changed everything for me personally. She was referring to the weekend that we competed in our first sprint triathlon. Here I am, 2 months later, getting ready to compete in my second triathlon tomorrow. I have already scheduled a 30 mile bike race in November and another 5k after that. All of this change occurred because of one weekend. Because I committed to and competed in my first triathlon, I have found my whole life has totally been changed for the better.

Many times we fail to realize how just one weekend—or even just one day—can change a whole year or more of our life.

What are you planning to do this weekend? Maybe this is the first weekend that you go back to church. Maybe this is the first weekend that you go online and look at going back to college or a trade school. For someone else, this might be the weekend that they spend all their time focusing on their spouse and family. Me, I am going to go to Amelia Island and competing in my second triathlon. I hope to get a better time than the first time I got in August. I hope to be closer to my goal weight. I’m excited because I know that this weekend is going to change me.

Its true-a weekend can change everything!

Finding My Swing Again

As I approach my second triathlon, and continue this journey to change my life before I turn 50, I am reminded of several scenes in one of my favorite movies: The Legend of Bagger Vance. In  the movie, Rannulph Junuh (played by Matt Damon) is a former amateur golf star who goes off to fight in War War I while in the prime of his young career. He finally returns home, beaten up and traumatized from everything he saw in the war. He fades away and loses himself and his incredible golf swing. The only thing that brings him out of hiding is a golf tournament scheduled to be held at a course in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia. The townspeople consider him a local legend, and desperately want him to play in it and return to his former glory. His opponents? None other than the legendary Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen.  To top it off, the winner of the tournament will get $10,000. No pressure, right?
The heart of the movie is found in the struggle—the struggle that Rannulph has getting his golf swing back. Getting his fire back. Getting his edge back. Getting himself  back.
To assist with this, Rannulph hires a caddy named Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith. While coaching him on his swing, Bagger hits Rannulph with this doozy of a truth:
“Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing… Somethin’ we was born with. Somethin’ that’s ours and ours alone. Somethin’ that can’t be taught to ya or learned. Somethin’ that got to be remembered. Over time the world can rob us of that swing. It gets buried inside us, under all our wouldas and couldas and shouldas. Some folk even forget what their swing was like… “
That is exactly what I am doing during this focused time of 356to50. I am finding my swing again.
So who is the authentic me?
The authentic me is a triathlete.
The authentic me is an author.
The authentic me is a coach.

What is your authentic self? How do you find it?

1. Refuse to believe the lie that you can never change. Finding your swing, or becoming the person you want to become, begins with the idea that you can change.

2. Don’t focus on what you don’t want to be; focus instead on what you want to become. To find your swing you have to be looking for it. That means you’re not looking at your current circumstances. As Bagger Vance told Captain Junuuh: “You’ve lost it, but now we have to go and find it. You can look at your circumstances or your current conditions, or you can go looking…go looking for your swing.”

3. Embrace change. To keep from getting what you’ve always gotten, you have to do something different.

So find out who your authentic self is. Go looking for that swing. You may just be one challenge away from glory.

Breaking Records

The Importance of crossing lines, breaking old records and doing things that you’ve never done before.

 

 

Yesterday I did something that I have never done before. I actually swam one mile in the pool that I train at each week. The pool is 25 meters long so one mile is 33 laps or 66 lengths in the pool. The most that I had ever done before Saturday was 18 laps or just over a ½ mile.

 

Saturday morning I was training with my good friend Jayson Keener when he said that he was going to try and swim a mile. I thought “Man you are crazy” “There is no way that I could do a mile in the pool” “That would take at least an hour”. I am sure that there are some of you that have swam a mile before and it might not seem like such a big deal, but I can still remember the first time I got in the pool and only after 4 laps I was out of breath.

 

I started by saying “I will just do 18 laps” ‘That’s a good workout”. Then at 18 laps I thought why not 20 laps. Once I did 20, I thought lets do 23 and then I will only be 10 laps away from a mile. Well after swimming for 55 minutes straight, I had not only finished my first mile long swim but I had also done something that seemed way past my ability.

 

In my 356to50 challenge I have to accept and embrace that there are going to be things that I will do that I have never done before. You may have heard the saying that “If you want to keep getting what you’re getting; then keep doing what you’ve been doing”. In other words if we are going to get different results then we have gotten in the past then we are going to have to cross some lines, break some old records and do things that we’ve never done before.

Believe Again!

Believe Again!

 
I am just two weeks into a 52-week journey to change my life. I feel like I am really learning a lot, and I think that is because I am living intentionally. Living intentionally is simply living life “on purpose”, or the type of lifestyle which I like to call “Planning to Live”. We plan trips, we plan for our retirement, and we plan what we are going to watch by setting up the DVR. (Right now, I am setting mine up to watch Florida State play Clemson on Saturday night!) No doubt about it, we usually plan the important stuff in life. Truly living on purpose, and-taking it one step further-living to win, is pretty important.
 
During week two, I faced and overcame the struggle to “Believe Again”. In the past, I have tried to lose weight and I have tried to write a book, but since I have failed in the past in both of these areas, there was a small reluctance to fully charge that mountain once again. In essence, there is a reluctance to experience failure again.
 
The first time you charge the mountain, you bring out the band and the fanfare, and off you ride to defeat all of your enemies. If you failed the first time, and you’re trying to conquer that same mountain again, chances are that you’re probably not bringing out the band again. In fact, you might decide to sneak out to the mountain at night when no one is watching! I’m not saying that we should just go for our goals and never talk about them or make a big deal about them.
 

My point is this: if we are going to succeed in charging and overcoming our mountains, then our resolve and belief on the second, third, or even the fourth attempt has to be stronger than the initial resolve and belief which we possessed the very first time we tried.

You can’t go all the way with a halfway commitment. My very good friend Jason Keener likes to describe it this way: “All In”. Just as in poker, sometimes you must be all in.

In life, we are going to experience failure and defeat. What we must decide is whether the mountain is worth the effort. Ask yourself today: do you still want to conquer that same mountain? Do you still have that desire? Despite your feelings of frustration, do you know that deep down inside of you, you still want it? If that is still true, then you are going to have to be “all in” to get it done. Some things are just worth believing in more than once!

 
Progress Report:
 
I have lost three pounds!
 
I swam my best time in the 1/4 mile at the pool on Thursday. Only three weeks until my next triathlon. 
 
I have written more down—just  writing this blog—than I have written in last several years. In past two weeks, I have learned that I can not only write, but I can make progress in my writing. Having the goal and the deadline to get this blog of my journey together each week has taught me that I can write.