How I got My Finances in Order Part 2: Understanding the Real Problem

Just Tell me how to get out of Debt:

Oh come on just get to how I save money? Nope. Before we can get to acting properly we have to think properly. My actions might have gotten me into the debt hole, but my thoughts and attitudes about money influenced those actions.

How You Got Into This Mess:

You consistently over a long period of time spent more money than you made. It is really simple. You bought things you didn’t have the money for. Yeah maybe you had some big emergency. The car broke down or a medical problem happened. But if you had been being intelligent with your money those things would not have hit your finances so hard.  Saturday Night live offers a comical look at the problem. *

No Quick Fixes:

There are no quick fixes to this situations. Oh there are things you can do that will quickly wipe that debt away in the short term. Perhaps a rich relative dies and leaves you money. Maybe you have enough equity in your house and by selling it you pay off your debt. Maybe you win twenty thousand dollars on a scratch off ticket. Or perhaps you take the more likely route and get a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer. This low interest loan will surely lead you to the promise land. There is only one small, and by small I mean really large, problem. You haven’t changed anything. The debt isn’t your ultimate problem. The actions and thoughts that created the debt are the problem. Like the statistic thrown around about dieters, 95% of people who take care of their debt this way will find themselves right back in huge debt in 3 or 5 years.

Take Ownership:

You have to take ownership of this situation. Your problem isn’t your debt, your problem is you. Don’t try and fix your debt, fix yourself. You have to be able to make lifelong lifestyle changes. Find the capacity to grind it out decision after decision through the long slog of years. If this all sounds familiar, it is.  Yes I am talking about applying all that stuff I wrote a few months ago about creating habits. This will be an example of applying those concept to real life.

Don’t lament the past:

Don’t lament the past. Whatever got you to this point, it’s gone. Whether through years and years of stupid small choices, or big foolish ones (I advise not buying sports cars you cannot afford), or even the actions of someone else(a spouse) what is is. The past is gone. You can’t change those decisions. You can only control your decisions going forward.

My Favorite analogy:

Think of debt as a giant pit you are in. You got into this pit by digging. You are at the bottom of this hole and you are still digging. You get a debt consolidation loan or uncle Morpheus snuffs it and give you a big payout. The hole is filled in but you are still digging. Soon you are back in your giant pit. What we are going to do is to learn how to start filling the hole in. Eventually after a lot of work we’ll be standing on level ground again. At this point we aren’t going to start digging again or stop pilling dirt on the former hole. We are going to keep building until we have created a mountain. That mountain will be our investments and our retirement.

*

This is for people like me. People who made enough to live and even save and invest but made poor decisions. If you are not bringing in enough to even survive and put food on the table you have  a much more serious problem then I can help you with.

How I am Getting My Finances in Order: Part 1 The Problem

Debt My Eternal Companion

For almost all my adult life I have had credit card debt. Usually a large amount of it.  For one brief shiny moment in the early 2000s I had no cc debt. Even then I still had a car loan. I lived under a vague sense of dread. I knew it wasn’t good to have so much debt but I tried not to think about it too much. I would look at what I earned and justify that I could make the payments and would eventually pay off all the debt. Maybe I just needed another raise.

Poor Attempts at Tackling the Problem

I tried some lame attempts at dealing with my CC debt.   One of my earliest efforts was the debt-o-meter.  I graphed out on paper all  my debts. I naively looked at how much I made and calculated how quickly I would pay off the debt. I had no actual budget and I completely ignored the fact that I was paying interest on that CC debt. The amount I was paying off never came close to what I thought it should be.  I think I gave up after a few months.
Another one of my classic debt handling techniques was the balance transfer. I would get a  new offer for a 0% APR transfer for 12 or 18 months or even a new credit card offer with a balance transfer.  I took advantage of these always with the justification that I would have plenty of time to pay it off before I had to start paying interest. I remember one particularly big transfer when I got my Discover card. I think it was an 18 month offer.  About three or four years later I looked back at the discover card and its’ balance was almost as I high as when I had first made the transfer.  I had only been making the minimum payment that entire time. I actually had to check if I had been paying interest. That is how out of touch with my money I had become. 

Honestly Assessing the Situation

I finally came face to face with the problem when I started using the mint website. I entered all my various account numbers and there staring back at me was I giant number.  I tried to rationalize the big scary number for awhile. Then one day I did the unthinkable. I calculated how much in total I was paying in interest charges. I then extrapolated that to get a ball park of how much I had paid in interest over the previous ten years. I think horrified would be the word to use for my reaction. I knew I had to actually do something and thus began the process of getting a handle on my finances.

Why Debt is Horrible

You might be thinking what’s the big deal, debts not that bad. Everybody is in debt. Two realizations made me determined to overcome my debt.

Interest is a very powerful financial tool. In the long run you want to be using it to make you money. When you owe you are paying interest.  Especially with the high interest rates on CCs you are just burning your money for no reason.  It dumbfounded me when I realized how much money I had simply thrown away because of my lack of financial sense.

Debts are chains. Debts control you and restrict your choices. You are beholden to the person/company that holds that debt. They have claims on your choices. Want to switch careers?  Sorry you wan’t make enough in the beginning to cover your debt payments.  Want to move? Sorry you can’t afford the initial outlay of money to set up the new situation. Being open to opportunities has been one of the main motivations for me to get out of debt. You are also chained down by fear and stress. If you lose your job how will you make the payments?  If your car breaks down or someone gets sick, how are you going to pay for that? Debt is a vicious cycle of dependence and exploitation.

10 tips to make your Resolutions stick this year

Now for the post you have been waiting for (all twenty of you). I am going to give you ten hints that will help you make and maintain habits. These habits will o help you achieve results. You are going to make resolutions, to create habits, which will lead to your goals.
Not My Belly

1. Know Your Destination
If you don’t know where you are going, you can’t know how to get there. The first thing we need to do is to create a set of destinations. Start with a high level abstract outline of the results you want to achieve. I want you to think out into the future and think about what type of life you want to lead and what type of person you want to be. Keep it vague. I want to be healthy. I want to be financial secure. I want people to view me as competent.

2. Lay Out Your Path
In tip two we are going to lay out the practical milestones to get us to those destinations. The paths are specific goals along the path not the actual steps to reach those goals. Look at the vague destinations you laid out in tip 1 and make specific milestones that will help you reach those destinations. We are talking very specific goals. I want to be 170 pounds by Jun 1st. I want to be able to run a 5k by May 1st. I want to have zero credit card debt by Jan 1 2017 etc.


3. Pick Your Habits
Now you want to make a list of habits that will help you walk down the paths to your destinations. These habits will become you resolutions over the coming year. A habit is a reoccurring activity that you will make into an ingrained pattern of behavior. I will bring my lunch to work. I will work out five days a week at 7 am. I will wake up at 6:30.. etc.  Don’t worry about practicality right now. Just make a long list of all the specific actions you want to take to reach your goals.
4. Limit Number of Changes
Now we are going to start applying the things we learned from the second post in this series. One of the main reasons your New Year Resolutions fail is that you try to make too many changes at once. Also they probably aren’t particularly well thought out. You only have a certain amount of will power. You can only resist temptation so many times. The plan is to make changes habits so they no longer require as much energy. Since we can only work so hard on changes we are going to limit them to a couple/few/maybe one at a time.
5. Choose Complimentary not Contradictory Habits
If you are going to try and build more than one habit at a time, it is very important that you choose habits that compliment each other. Two habits that contradict each other will quickly use up your willpower reserve and most likely lead to failure. Don’t try and quit smoking and lose weight a the same time. Do try and wake up earlier and go to bed earlier. 

6. Know Yourself
This may take some time to figure out. You need to learn yourself and what can help you build habits. Let me give an example. Two people have decided to make the same habits: wake up early and work out a few days a week. Person A needs a reason to get up early. So they decide to wake up early and then work out. Person B is discouraged by the prospect of having to both put out the effort to wake up early and then put themselves through a workout. Person B plans their workout for later in the day.
7. Be Fine With Failure
You are going to mess up. You are going to eat over your calorie goal or miss a workout for a lamereason. You are going to blow your budget. Don’t take it to heart. Come back at the next opportunity and do the resolution. People have a tendency once they blow a goal to completely go off the rails.  If they go over the budget by ten dollars, they then go and blow a couple hundred. Just let it go if you mess up.
8. Establish the Habit
A commonly repeated refrain is that it takes a month to make a habit. This is not completely true. The length of time and effort it takes to build a habit depends on the habit being formed and the individual. Some take as little as a week to become ingrained, others can take months and months. So what I recommend you do is to pick two complimentary habits.  Then spend a month concentrating on building those two habits. After a month move onto working on two more habits. The habits from the previous months should continue without a whole lot of effort.
9. Re-enforce the Habit
As you go on working on new habits some of the old ones might flag.  It can be necessary to go back and work on an old habit. If you find yourself failing at a previous habit I recommend taking a week and concentrating on re-enforcing that habit that you’ve been blowing. For example, I was failing badly at a new habit recently when I realized that I had eaten out for lunch three times in a week breaking one of my old habits.  I shelved the failing new habit and spent a couple of weeks working on my lunch habit.
10. Know that the Hard Things are Hard
Some life changes are extra difficult. Anything that involves an addiction, whether physical or mental, will take more than just effort and habits to change. These things are completely different animals than just wanting to walk 10000 steps a day. If you have an addiction you are going to need much more and perhaps professional help than can be provided on a blog post.
More To Come
Tomorrow New Years Day, I am going to be posting a more personal post looking back at last year and looking forward to what I hope to accomplish in 2016. I’ll link to it here when the post is live. Check it out to see these tips being put into action.

The Science of why your New Year Resolutions Fail

This is a re-written version of an older post and the second my series on habit formation and self improvement. I found the original version a little confusing.

Source

Much of this post is based on a book called Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. It is not a self help book. It is a book by a psychologist and a science writer. They delve into actual scientific studies about willpower, impulse control, etc. The birth of this science was a study often referred to as the Marshmallow Study. You can read the details at the link. The gist is that children where tested if they could resist a treat for greater reward in the future. At a later point, researchers went and tracked down the kids as adults. Almost universally the kids that had been able to resist the temptation had become successful and happy adults. This led to thirty years of studies and debate as to the role of self-esteem*, impulse control, upbringing, etc in success. I highly recommend reading the book. I am going extrapolate a lot from what I read and not go into the specific details covered in the book.

Two Concepts

Understanding two important concepts can really help us on our quest for self improvement. Our brains use up fuel or power to do anything. Habits are ingrained behaviors that take very little effort to continue and can be hard to break once established.

Our Brains Need Fuel

Our bodies take the food and drink we consume and turn them into energy. A bunch of other stuff also happens but that’s not important for my point. A  lot of the energy goes to power our brains. About 20% of the energy our body uses, gets sent to the brain. This is way more than any other organ. 

Every time we do anything with our brains we use up some of this energy. Learning a new task at work, resisting the temptation to eat a brownie, trying to win an argument in a meeting, these all take up the amount of available fuel your brain can access. We replenish that fuel through eating. Those snicker commercials aren’t far off.  You aren’t you when you are hungry. You have a harder time doing things and making decisions.  When and what we eat can help keep our brains stay fueled. Foods that release their energy slowly, such as nuts, can keep us going while sugar will give a quick but short burst of brain power.


This is why losing weight can actually be very difficult. You want your body to use the energy that it has stored as fat. In order to make this happen you need to consume a calorie deficit.  Doing this means your brain might not have the fuel it needs to help resist a doughnut at that early morning meeting. This in no way means weight loss is impossible. It takes some tricks and planning. 

The research points to two interesting caveats. There does seem to be an inherited amount of willpower. Some people are just born with more than others. Most importantly it can be trained like a muscle. They studied people who showed the attributes of having a lot of willpower. These people did things  that “flexed” their willpower.  Stand still for long periods of time hold you hand for as long as possible in a bowl of ice water will all, over time, increase your willpower. It seems that exercising your willpower makes your brain more efficient at using the available fuel 


Willpower can be described as a combination of the amount of fuel our brains have available and the efficiency in which it is used. 


Habits Conserve Brain Fuel



One of the most important things they found about successful, was that they seemed to use as little willpower as possible. They designed their lives around not having to use a lot of energy for the mundane thus saving their power for the important decisions and moments in the day. Many people in leadership positions who are making important decisions throughout the day do not pick out their own clothes in the morning. They either Steve Jobs  it and wear the same thing everyday, or maybe they have someone pick out clothes for them. I’ve taken to just lining up my work shirts in the closet and just going down the line each morning. Thus I use little to know brain power in the morning. 

Habits are simply behaviors ingrained through repetition over time. To do a habit takes little to almost no energy. In fact it takes a conscious effort to not do a habit you have formed. If you have made the habit of always brushing your teeth in the morning it will actually take more effort to not do it. Obviously, habits can be either beneficial or detrimental. You can have a habit of going over all the things that happened in a day that made you thankful or joyful, or you can have a habit of dwelling on all the things that made you made or resentful.

I am convinced of the need to create  conscious positive habits in order to live a good life.  In the next post in this series I’ll tell you about the practical steps I have chosen to take to create good habits.


*The Self Esteem Myth


The early chapters of the willpower book deal with the self esteem myth. There has been a prevalent belief for awhile now that if a person feels good about themselves they will before better and actually be a better person. A series of studies in the late70’s/early 80s showed that successful people had high self esteem and the unsuccessful had a low self esteem.  It was surmised that if we elevated everybody’s self esteem performance would increase.

The same psychologist (not gonna bother looking up his name) who began the self esteem movement continued to study the issue.  By the 90s he realized he had made a big mistake. To simplify it, the people who were good at things had a high self esteem because they were good at things not the other way around. They found almost no improvement in performance based on increasing self esteem. In fact if people were below average at something and you increased their self esteem, they became worse at those things.

The Desire for Self-Improvement is Not Enough

This is a rewritten version of an older post from my series on habits. I hope to have the two posts I have already done rewritten and the third post up before the new year.

I once had a life coach. He quit life coaching after our time finished.  True story.

As a young student, my teachers would often write on my report card “has potential but doesn’t apply self”. I have described my life philosophy in many ways. I am an anti-perfectionist.  Why waste all the extra energy to get something perfect when you can do just good enough. I zenly describe myself as water flowing down hill. The water finds the easiest path to get to it’s destination. I have known people who always get gung ho about everything. They always try and make sure they do there best.  If something is worth doing it is worth doing to the best of your ability. To me that has always sounded like a whole lot of unnecessary work. This is all a long winded way to say that I am lazy.

The oddest thing about my life philosophy of maximizing laziness is my love of people who are excellent at things. Ever since I was a child I have loved watching artists work or wood workers produce things. I watched all those PBS shows.  Now I subscribe to a bunch of creative youtube channels. I marveled at the great things they created. I knew that all these people put in a great deal of effort and had spent years building their craft, but for some reason I unconsciously assumed that if you had a talent for something it was always easy.

This idiotic belief manifested many ways in my life. I wanted to play guitar but I would never sit down day after day to practice. I thought maybe I had some skill at painting.  I bought a starter paint set.  One day without any previous practice or preparation I sat down and spent twenty minutes trying to create a masterpiece. What I made ended up being a horrific disaster. I didn’t touch paints again for twenty year. In normal life this led me too look around in my thirties and realizes I hadn’t really accomplished anything in my life and didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

I decided that I needed to start living intentionally.  To try and be a better me while actually working toward larger goals. I tried to accomplish this by making lists of things I would do. Like New Year’s resolutions these were supposed to guide me to long term change.  I might stick to these new plans upwards of 2 to 3 days. I would often be full of resolve when falling asleep. Tomorrow would be different. I would make positive changes in my life.

About five years ago I decided to get really serious. So I started what I called the slackers Guide to Life. I even still own the domain slackersguidetolife.com.  I planned to get myself out of debt, be healthy, and live a creative and productive life. I encountered a problem in that I didn’t really have a plan on how to do that.  I decided not to buy anything for a year. I also planned to workout, eat right, and write everyday. I actually managed not to buy anything unnecessary for a year. Otherwise that attempt was mostly another failure.

Then I hit the big forty.  I realized it wasn’t a joke anymore. I had gone half way through my life. I decided to take a much more proactive and scientific approach to productivity, habits and success.  So I looked into what science tells us about goals etc.

The Science of Self Improvement

In my previous post in this series, I told you how I came to realize I needed to understand the science of human behavior and self improvement. In this post I will lay out what I learned through my studies.

Sources

Much of this post is based on a book called Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. But I also read a lot of other articles and sources of information. I am not going to bother to try and find references and links to them all, even if I could. So if you trust me on any of this it is your own fault.

Two Factors

Two important factors intersect on our quest for self improvement: the limited ability of our brains to do things, and the power of habits to maintain behavior without significant effort. Obviously, the situation is much more complex and can depend a lot on the individual. But continued study has shown us many helpful things.

Our Brains Run on Fuel

I will present a very simplified explanation of how our bodies power our brains. Our bodies take the food we eat and convert it to energy. I good portion of that energy gets sent to power the most important part of us, our brains. When we run out of energy from food our bodies start converting fat etc into more energy. This thing is obviously much more complex involving neurotransmitters etc etc..
Every time we do anything with our brains we use up some of this energy. Learning a new task at work, resisting the temptation to eat a brownie, trying to win an argument in a meeting, these all take up the amount of available fuel your brain can access. We replenish that fuel through eating. Those snicker commercials aren’t far off.  You aren’t you when you are hungry. You have a harder time doing things and making decisions.  When and what we eat can help keep our brains fueled. Foods that release their energy slowly, such as nuts, can keep us going while sugar will give a quick but short burst of brain power.

If you have been following this you may be realizing one of the reasons dieting can be difficult. You need the fuel from food to resist the temptation to eat too much, but you need to eat to give yourself the brain fuel to resist temptation. It can be difficult but is not impossible. There are tricks you can do and long term success is a very real possibility. 

So willpower can be described as the amount of fuel your brain has available and the efficiency in which it is used.

The research points to two interesting caveats. There does seem to be an inherited amount of willpower. Some people are just born with more than others. Most importantly it can be trained like a muscle. They studied people who showed the attributes of having a lot of willpower. These people did things  that “flexed” their willpower.  Stand still for long periods of time hold you hand for as long as possible in a bowl of ice water. One of the most important things they found about people who seemed to possess a lot of willpower is that they used as little of it as possible. That leads us to the next important point: habits.

Habits Conserve Brain Fuel

Habits are simply ingrained behaviors. They are things you have trained yourself to do requiring almost no effort. Habits range from brushing your teeth or putting the toilet seat down, which take almost no brain power at all, to getting up early in the morning and going to the gym.  What they found in researching a lot of very successful people was that they didn’t spend a whole lot of time or effort deciding what to do. They didn’t spend their time fighting to find the motivation or will to do positive things. It’s just what they did. They busy executive who started the day with a stress relieving workout just did it. A habit begins with willpower since they are formed by repeated actions.

Make a habit  make a new habit re-enforce habit

I believe one of the most powerful tools at our disposal for long term self improvement is the creation of positive habits. This leaves our limited willpower to handle the really important things. My coworker does this.  He uses tools and automates much of his work. Repeated tasks become as easy as one click or including one function in some code. This way he isn’t wasting his limited resources of time and brain power on trivial things and can concentrate on the actual hard parts. When we make the mundane things of life habits, we free up energy to consciously make positive habits. By making it so we don’t have to put much effort into doing something that positively impacts our health and well being we can create a life of slow and steady improvement.

I am convinced of the need to create  conscious positive habits in order to live a good life.  In the next post in this series I’ll tell you about the practical steps I have chosen to take to create good habits.

An Aside: The Self Esteem Myth

The early chapters of the willpower book deal with the self esteem myth. There has been a prevalent belief for awhile now that it is more important for a person to feel good about themselves instead of being good. A series of studies in the late70’s/early 80s showed that successful people had high self esteem and the unsuccessful had a low self esteem.  It was surmised that if we elevated every bodies self esteem performance would increase.  (There was actually lot more studies and thought into it than they just assumed.) 
The same psychologist (not gonna bother looking up his name) how began the self esteem movement continued to study the issue.  By the 90s he realized he had made a big mistake. To simplify it, the people who were good at things had a high self esteem because they were good at things not the other way around. They found almost no improvement in performance based on increasing self esteem. In fact if people were below average at something and you increased their self esteem, they became worse at those things. 

The one where I learned I needed to study the science of Self improvement

I once had a life coach. After he finished coaching me, he quit life coaching.  True story.

Version 2 of my abstract thingy

When I was growing up my teacher reports would often contain some version of “doesn’t apply self”. If something involved manual labor I usually didn’t shy away from working hard but for mental tasks I usually find the easy or lazy way to complete the task. My general policy when learning something new or accomplishing a task is to strive for  good enough to get by.  I rarely have felt the need to be the best I could be at something.  I see these people who go all out to master a new hobby or skill and I think.. wow that seems like a lot of unnecessary effort.

This lack of willingness to put out effort seems odd, because all my life I have been fascinating by people who excelled at things, mostly artistic. I could, and have spent hours watching painters paint or wood workers make fine furniture. I’ve assumed that if you where gifted at something you were always a master of that craft. I didn’t think if you had talent or a calling for something it would take any effort. For example while I was in college I decided to see if I had any skill at painting.  I bought a small starter paint set. One day I went to work and spent about twenty minutes slobbering paint on a cheap canvas.  The results were obviously hideous. I tossed everything in the garbage assuming I was not meant to paint.

Since then I have learned otherwise. It takes a great deal of time, effort, and skill to excel at any craft. I have decided to try my hand at painting again.  This time I haven’t just sat down and tried to create a masterpiece from scratch.  I am on my fourth iteration of the almost exact same simple abstract painting.

What does any of that have to do with the point of this post?  Not a whole lot actually, In my late thirties I realized that, as the great American bard Bruce Springsteen sang, “When I look at myself I don’t see The man I wanted to be”.  I found myself too out of shape in way too much debt and without a strong career path.

I decided that I needed to get my life in order and thus was born the Slackers Guide to Life. I even own the domain www.slackersguidetolife.com. My attempts at self improvement were haphazard and inconsistent. For a year I didn’t allow myself to buy anything but essentials. Sounds good but the definition of essentials at that time included eating out as much as I wanted.  I did not have a budget. It helped some but in now way did I come close to accomplishing my goals. At the end of a year I had seen some progress. My debt had lessened, I was in slightly better shape.

After that year, I did what most people do and returned to my old habits and the debt built back up. I realized I needed to make a serious effort to change. I decided to do some studying and learn some science and psychology about human behavior and self improvement.  That will be the point of the next post in this series.

You Are the Problem

Never forget that no matter who tries to protect your feelings, You are the problem, and it is your fault. Not ours.

You are the problem:

 A rant I saw online inspired this post. The above is my paraphrase of the last line of the rant. You might be thinking that seems harsh. The original version was even harsher. The poster’s anger was fueled by someone whining. It was a long whine about how horrible their situation was.  The spent a lot of time blaming other people and things.  The real kicker was that they had continuously made the choices that had gotten them into the problem. And it was a situation with a simple solution. They just had to reverse the decisions they had made. Yes it would take time.  In this case they were the problem.  In your life you often are the problem.

It is your fault:

Let’s look at an example. You get hit by another driver. It’s their fault but they don’t have insurance.  You are left with a thousand dollar repair bill, but the credit cards are already heavily used and you don’t have anything saved up. You make enough money to have more than 1000 dollars in savings and if you only controlled your spending you’d have no credit card balances at all. The accident just happens to be the circumstance that exposes your bad behavior. The accident is their fault but the situation you have put yourself in is your fault.

What have we learned so far:

I am in the process of laying the groundwork for the Slackers Guide to Life. The last few posts in the series,  and this one, have been attempting to motivate you to take action. I have been trying to get you (me) to realize you(I) can change. What we’ve learned is that much of it is your fault and much of it is your responsibility. This realization should make you happy and excited. Taking ownership of your life means you can change. This means your life can change. This means things can get better.

Next up in the series is a post on the science of self improvement. Then perhaps I will get into some specifics of what I am doing in the slackers guide to life.

Excuses I try to use to not go for a run #NationalRunningDay

A video posted by @wonky73 on May 30, 2015 at 11:57am PDT

I just learned that today is National Running Day. It is a complete coincidence that I had a post about running scheduled for today.

I hate running. There I admitted it. I follow a few running blogs and get confused when reading them. It seems these people are running through fields of flowers with rainbows and unicorns dancing around them. For me running is like going to the dentist. You know you will feel better afterwards but it’s horrid at the time. During almost every run at about the half way point I think, “I should just stop and walk back. Or lay down in the grass and die.  

Last Saturday I woke up realizing I needed to go for a run.  I checked the weather and was happy to see storms and heavy rain was scheduled for almost the whole day.  As if on cue it started pouring rain outside.  So I ate breakfast.  The rain stopped and I checked the weather again. Oh no.  A good three hour gap in the rain had showed up.  I couldn’t run right then though since I had just eaten.  About an hour later, dang still no rain.  I started to put on my stuff to go for the run.  I grabbed my ipod nano and Yes the battery was dead.  Can’t run without music. But I went anyway. The humidity sapped most of my energy and it ended up being one of my worst runs in awhile, but I did it.

Excuses I’ve tried to use to get out of going for a run:

  • It’s too sunny
  • it’s too cloudy
  • It’s to dry
  • It’s to wet
  • It’s slightly raining
  • It may slightly rain in the next several hours
  • It’s too hot
  • It’s too cold
  • It may become to hot or too cold at some point in the future 
  • I can’t find my running shoes
  • I don’t like the color of my running shoes
  • My running shoes smell funny
  • My favorite running shirt is dirty
  • My favorite running shirt is clean
  • My insert random joint/muscle is slightly sore
  • My ipod’s battery is dead
  • I haven’t eaten recently
  • I’ve eaten too recently 
  • It’s Monday
  • It’s Tuesday
  • It’s Wednesday
  • It’s Thursday
  • It’s Friday
  • It’s Saturday
  • It’s Sunday

Inspiring quote by a dead man:

“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one
thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the
body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up.
It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is
never tired if the mind is not tired. When you were younger
the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was
never tired… You’ve always got to make the mind take over
and keep going.”


― George S. Patton Jr.

More examples of “loser” attitude

On the very tails of writing Two Kinds of People, I found a blog post  that re-enforced some of the things I wrote about. I am not going to give a link or name a name since I don’t want to embarrass that person.

LOSERS by flickr user Herbalizer

We can be both kinds of people

I would describe the blogs author as a winner.  A person who has made their own life. I’ve followed them online for years.  Over ten years ago they decided to make a new life.  They changed careers and found happiness and fulfillment through willful choice.  And yet here was this person that I saw as an inspiration writing a whiny loser post. So even a person who has been the model of living with intention can wallow in self pity and defeatism. I am convinced that if they were to continue in this attitude it would drag them down to more negativity. Knowing them I assume that they will begin being positive again.

Luck is a loser word

I tweeted out recently “Luck” A loser word, losers use when other people win. Luck is a word I almost never read in this person’s vocabulary, and yet here it was four times in one post. Luck seems to rarely be a word used by “winners”  (Note: as you can tell I am struggling with what terminology to use to describe these two types of people) even when talking about things not within their control. You are not lucky or unlucky as to who your parents were. “I am glad I had such good parents”, or “my upbringing wasn’t the best but I have gotten to were I am.” Winners don’t view life circumstances as lucky or unlucky. Things you can’t control are seen simply as the things that are. If it’s positive it is seen as an opportunity to be taken advantage of. If it’s negative it is seen as a circumstance to overcome. There is quite a bit of wisdom in the common American sports phrase “It is what it is.” A ref makes a bad call that affects the game?  It is what it is.  You deal and move on.

Losers are self obsessed and see other people’s success as an indictment

I touched on this in the previous posts.  I think the best way to explain it is with an example. You are single and you see a happy couple. Seeing that couple makes you feel miserable. You might even see their existence as a commentary on your own failures. As if someone else’s happiness is about you. What are they suddenly supposed to be miserable so your self obsessed self can feel marginally better.  Which you wouldn’t because it is not about them. It is about you. If they didn’t even exist you would feel the shame or the guilt because that is within you. I see this often. The idea that someone else’s success is a commentary on you as a failure. Trust me that person succeeding isn’t even thinking about you.