June-performance-ericJune has come and gone. It was a great month in sunny Vancouver (and some in Victoria and some in Seattle too). I found myself with time to explore this new city, sit at the beach and the parks, and visits to the cities above—both for the first time.

As for my goals, there was mixed success (again), though I’d classify it as “mostly successful”. I used some strategies from previous months and learned some new lessons (and the old lesson of being more specific in how I phrase the goals).

I’ll be taking July off from the monthly goals for a mid-year assessment period, so these will be the last of the first set of goals. The whole experience has been great and I’ll talk in my analysis about some larger lessons learned.

So, how’d June go?

Floss [Lifestyle Goal]

Goal: Floss twice every day

Result: Complete!

This was a habit I’d been wanting to develop for some time now. Flossing is that perfect example of something I know is good for me—that I should be doing on a daily basis—but that had never been habitualized before.

This goal was rather easy to complete. I used the technique of tying this to something that was already a habit—brushing my teeth. Luckily, these already went together. I simply wouldn’t pick up my toothbrush until I had already flossed.

I found that after a floss and a brush, my teeth felt cleaner than usual. This was fairly obvious as a hypothesis but a pleasantly reaffirming consequence.

I hope to keep this one going—but certainly a success from June!

Work on Travel Ebook [Writing Goal]

Goal: Completed first draft

Result: Done! [to the extent any first draft can be complete of course….]

In May, I began formulating an idea of writing an ebook. The basic idea was collecting what I had learned from traveling around for the last 4 years while sustaining employment. I did some quick research and saw there really wasn’t much out there on this specific niche—and with the opportunity to self-publish being so easy these days (through Amazon’s portal for ebooks), I thought it’d be a fun project.

I started drawing up some notes and approached this month with the writing goal to get a first draft going.

As of now, I’ve written over 15,000 words (approx. 50 pages). I have a complete outline and every section has at least some content. Some sections are fully thought-out and developed, others exist in outline or note form. There are lots of notes on things needed.

So, certainly, there’s a lot more to do, but the foundation (“first draft”) is set. And I’m getting more excited about the project each day (a good sign).

Lose Weight [Health Goal]

Goal: Lose 8 pounds

Result: Completed once; overall not completed

Here’s a recurring lesson: goals can be both achieved and failed. This one is an example. The goal here was to lose 8 pounds. I weighed myself on June 1st in at 172.2 pounds. On June 20th, I weighed myself at 164 pounds (after a morning workout and not having eaten breakfast). So, goal achieved!

And, yet, by the month’s end, I had gained some of that weight back (thanks to a few days of drinking and not having my kitchen to make my meals). So I ended the month at 165.8—a failure on my goal.

So did I achieve it or not? Well that depends on interpretation on what a goal means? I did lose the 8 pounds, but it was not “lost” by month’s end. An interesting perspective challenge!

The real element here is the learning: one in how to cut weight (mostly with nutrient timing and more working out), AND the effect of environment on that. With a kitchen to cook and control meals, weight loss was relatively smooth (see the general trend in the first half of the graph). Once removed from that, it becomes a lot more difficult.

I tracked weight throughout the month, so I could put it into graph form. Here it is:


june weight loss annotated bigger


For now, I’ll have to consider this goal as “failed” (how I interepretted it). Thought there is some mixing in of success at having—at one point—lost those 8 pounds.


Another month and some habits tried and formed. I saw the second success of the strategy of tying one habit to another (already formed) habit. This will be something I take with me as I go forward.

The weight loss plan didn’t quite pan out—but there were certainly some success aspects to pull out of there. I learned a lot about nutrient timing and how diet and exercise interact with one another. I did lose a good sum of weight, but ultimately was unsuccessful because I was unprepared for a new environment. For the first few weeks of the month, I was at home and within walking distance of a gym. I walked a lot, worked out more, and ate exactly what I wanted to eat and when.

As I left Vancouver, I sacrificed a great deal of control over my environment. Of course, I anticipated this since this comes with travel—which I do quite often. One aspect of travel is an increase in environmental instability. You don’t get to control the happenings around you and the access level you have to certain accessories (think: groceries, gym, kitchen—just to name a few).

In Victoria & Seattle, I found myself eating every meal at a restaurant. I had limited access to a workout facility (though I was able to cheat the system a bit in Vic), and the days were not as open for my own planning (trains, boats, check-out times).

I do think it’s possible to keep habits up while traveling, albeit much more challenging. One needs a certain level of not only disciple, but patience and persistence to make these happen. My first months of 2015 proved that, but I’ve yet to be successful on each of my three goals in any month. What part of that is due to a environmental flux and what is due to my own lack of systemization?

That, dear readers, is the question to figure out through July—a month off of goals and dedicated to an assessment of what’s happened already and what I can do to be more successful ahead.

More next month!

Every Challenge An Opportunity

In previous posts, I’ve discussed the grander goal(s) of my monthly challenges — developing a self-success framework and upgrading my operating system in doing so. This post will deal with the break down of the “how” question.

Each month, starting last month, continuing through this one and through the end of the year (minus a July reflection month), I’ll be taking on three monthly challenges. These are broken into three categories that mean a lot to me and my life (writing, health, and a happy lifestyle), but that’s not here nor there. In fact, the challenges themselves are not the end game. Though I’m working hard to pick challenges that I’ve wanted to do, take on, or have avoided in the past — the real end goal is the learning that comes from taking these on month after month.

Last month, for instance, I took on a squat challenge. I failed, BUT….

Already there have been learnings about myself:

I have a long way to go on squatting, but writing is easier. I do better with gratitude at night as my day is winding down and I’m reflecting than I do in the morning as my day is just beginning. I’m pretty good at sitting in my meditation — once I can get it going. Also, bachelor parties tend to kill daily habits — though I suppose that was to be assumed.

What’s certainly been one important learning: habits are important. Getting into a daily habit helps ensure these things get done.

But there’s also just been real learnings in how I can develop my framework:

Attach To-Do’s to Habits

This was a piece of advice given to me by a friend (I believe funneled through another friend). If you already have habits — say brushing your teeth — attach something else onto it to help make that a habit too. So, if for instance, I need to do my L-sits for the day, I may do so before I can brush my teeth. If I know I’m going to have to shower, I’ll write my journal entry before going in there. Not after. I tried that. All that does is delay what you need to do and open up the possibility of forgetting. Do it before. Then go into your habit — since you know that’s going to happen anyway.

Use the “Power” Framework

I’ve also used a reward system for my work on these challenges. For instance, right now I’m dying to go watch the next episode of The Jinx, but I won’t do it until I’ve written this post. That’s helped me stay align with my challenges. Rewards are part of the pattern that Charles Duhigg laid out in his book The Power of Habit as the kind of closing aspect to forming a habit. If you can reward yourself with this action, you’ll further your desire to habitualize, mostly unconsciously. So I’ve tried to use that to my advantage.

New Actions Come with Consequences

For instance, this month I’m doing an V-sit (or L-sit) challenge where I hoist myself up on my arms and hold my bodyweight up with my arms & core. The goal is doing this 5 minutes a day and it’s quite difficult. At first I had to break this up into 9 or 10 sessions (about 30 seconds each). I can now do it in about 7 sessions (6 is my record) of nearly a minute each, and sometimes over. It’s been great — my core has never felt stronger. But I’ve attached this onto my habit of being clean, namely showering and brushing my teeth, and those have often come at the end of my day. The consequence from this, in general, is some tightness in my wrists and my shoulders/upper back. Since I’m often doing this at the end of my day, I’m probably not taking the wind down time I should and I’ve noticed the tightness lingering. I haven’t slept as well as I usually do and I think that’s due to some of that upper back tightness disturbing my laying posture. So even though I’m doing well in the challenge (so far 21 days of 23), there are some side effects I hadn’t considered — in both the challenge itself and the habitualizaition.