parkour/free-running

parkour/free-running

Renewing my practice, my 5 values:

I’m blogging again. Shocking I know, after such a long hiatus. But it’s time. I’m embarking on a 12-week mission to renew my practice and reclaim my inner yoga space. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a long dark night of the soul kind of story, that’s not what it was. But needless to say we all lose our internal compass sometimes. We allow life’s burdens to build up rather than fall away. So I’m getting a little help from Jo at kalavati.org and looking forward to strengthening myself, body, mind, and spirit. And what better tool than yoga for the reawakening?

I’m not a self-help or life coaching kinda girl. As you all know I’m a goal setter, a list maker, a DOER. But somewhere along the way the goals stopped being interesting and I updated my New Year’s Resolutions this year out of habit rather than out of a true contemplation of where I really wanted to be.

Enter Jo! After a priorities check-in, Jo had me identify my values, so here they are:

  1. INTEGRITY: the closest yoga concept is satya or truthfulness, essentially I must live my truth, aligning my actions with my beliefs.
  2. PASSION: my favourite niyama, tapas, the internal fire that drives us to act.
  3. ACTION: karma, or affecting change in the world, I’m not the kind of person that just sits back and let’s it all pass by.
  4. GENEROSITY: complain as I might about having no money, I still offer my skills and whatever else I have to those in need. This niyama (roughly translated) is dama.
  5. CONTENTMENT: santosha is being happy where you are. Happy people don’t complain. I hate people who complain! I hate complaining!

What are your 5 values, those concepts that you come back to as fundamental to your being, the good habits that you practice and repeat, even if they’re not exactly self-serving?

Things that have made me happy this week:
MC Yogi released a new album: Mantras, Beats & Meditations! Rock the block party, manipulate the body!

Along the same lines, some old parkour/freerunning friends of mine were recently in a very visually interesting Skrillex video “Ragga Bomb”. For my friends and family abroad, this is what normal daily life is like in Joburg.

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little things (matter!)

i’m training. that’s really all to report. training, training, training. there’s a certain relief (and release) that comes in the back of your brain when you figure out that, you don’t know how, you don’t know why, but whatever you’re doing is working. all you need to do is to keep showing up and it will all work out ok. ‘work out’ being the key method to working it all out.

how do i know?

  1. i stopped wearing insoles in my pk shoes. the mornings after jams when i put my feet on the floor and take those first steps- it doesn’t hurt anymore! ah, sweet bliss!
  2. my landings are quieter. usually.
  3. i have so much more confidence moving around the environment. it’s all starting to fall into place.
  4. i’m practicing more frequently, but getting fewer and fewer scrapes and bruises. radular!
  5. i realized a few jam sessions ago that i actually am strong enough in the shoulders to get over those walls- no need to stop and curse and switch gears before moving on. there are a few other technical difficulties, but i can’t blame weak shoulders anymore so will have to find another excuse.
  6. i can get one of my legs behind my head again (eka pada sirsasana to the yogis). yiHAH!

Here’s an appropriate yogi quote for you: ‘Before you’ve practiced, the theory is useless. After you’ve practiced, the theory is obvious.’ -David Williams

keep practicing. it will all work itself out eventually.

pk training log blog: strength 2Q12

since people are asking, here’s my next two months of training for parkour. my first two months of training this year is outlined here. remember everyone is different, so make sure you adapt your program to suit your goals, but i can say this is working well for me. ok it’s only been a week, but i know it’s going to work for me. and i can’t wait to see the results at the end of april!

  • first (and foremost): i’m practicing yoga again regularly; it is magically delicious. i’m still recovering from injuries and it’s painful, and frustrating, and it hurts sooooo goooood.
  • second: i’ve started lifting. the schedule is every other day swapping from an A schedule to a B schedule, so they don’t always fall on the same planned lifting day. does that make sense?
  • third: i’ve started running.

so here it is…

The Training Schedule (March – April 2012)

MONDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice in the gym (i’m going to ditch this practice, you’ll see why when you get to sat/sun, monday is going to be a snzzzzz morning now)
  • PM: 2 hour pk technique session at WITS

TUESDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice
  • PM: Lifting Schedule A: squats, presses, dead lifts. warming up with 2 sets of only the bar and then 3 sets of 5 reps at maximum weight, essentially so my legs and arms shake a bit on the third set. full rest in between sets

WEDNESDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice
  • PM: 20-30 min run

THURSDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice
  • PM: Lifting Schedule B: squats, bench presses, power cleans. warming up then 3 sets of 5 reps at max weight

FRIDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice (feeeeelss soooooo goooooood)
  • PM: evening off, or 20-30 min run, or avoid running, depending on mood

SATURDAY

  • AM: JAM!
  • PM: Lifting Schedule ?, as the routines skip days it will depend which one i’m on. or if i even can lift after jamming for 2 hours

SUNDAY

  • AM: JAM! yes, 2 days of jamming in a row
  • PM: 20-30 min run, steam, maybe practice yoga. maybe lift if i missed yesterday. essentially, whatever i can manage after jamming for another 2 hours

to sum up: eat, sleep, train, jam.

for the last 2 weeks i’ve jammed over the weekends and then done the technique session on monday evenings and i feel tons more confident about my movement and ability. i’m really amazed and really loving it! and i’m lucky i don’t have that pesky yoga studio to worry about for the next few months. or a family (my dogs are in the kennel). or a relationship. i mean- i still have time to, you know, work. and eat. and sleep. sleeeeeeeeppp.

for inspiration check this out: http://vimeo.com/bougie/leanlifting

ekamyogini, gym bunny

i joined a virgin active gym. all i can think is: what’s a yogi like me doing in a place like this? long story short: my seamless transition from one yoga studio location to another didn’t go as seamlessly as i’d planned. so i’m studio-less for a few months. also, my parkour training has brought me to the point where i’ve realized: i’m just. not. strong. enough. but more on that later.

the real purpose of this post is to note a yogini’s observations of the gym as a practice space and yogic environment.

  1. oom-tss oom-tss oom-tss… vande gurunam…oom-tss oom-tss… charanaravinde…oom-tss oom-tss… good thing mantra goes with any beat.
  2. mondays are BANGING, literally. but as the week goes on there are significantly fewer people. every morning i was able to park closer and closer to the entrance. where did everyone go?
  3. OMG…BREATHE! a yogi will note, almost immediately, that everyone is breathing wrong. just wrong. so much effort, so erratic. it’s actually painful to hear. no wonder so many exercise regimens fail.
  4. there’s a lot of standing around, drinking water and generally ‘resting’. as i’m about to learn with strength training, yes, you do rest in between sets. but for many it’s like a loss of focus time. they wander around, eyes glazed over, sucking on their water bottles. yep- they’re in the zone alright.
  5. this is going to sound uncharitable, but most of the people in the gym don’t actually look like they spend much time there. maybe the ones in better shape escaped! except for the scary guys in the free weight corner, darkly flexing and grunting.
  6. yoga room = spillover conditioning room or cool down room. i might be busting my ass in bhuja pidasana, but everyone else is using my tranquility to foam roll or in one case…srlsy- to SKIP ROPE! [OMG the beautiful wood floor!] and hey don’t bother to remove your shoes.
  7. upon being kicked out of the yoga room i rolled out my mat in the weight machine area. the amount of testosterone being pumped into the air there fueled an incredible primary series practice for me.

honestly, the gym isn’t such a big step from mysore-style practice. especially if you’ve ever done it in mysore or at one the bigger mysore-style studios around the world. you have to listen to people breathe, grunt, and take the occasional tumble, feel people sweat, dodge flying feet and hands (i’ve actually smacked people in the ass on both sides of me coming up from back-bends). if i hadn’t spent the last 5 years practicing in airports, hotel rooms, hallways, dining rooms, pool sides, hotel gyms and dark corners i wouldn’t have developed the pratyahara to actually enjoy my current situation. there is never a good excuse, you can practice anywhere!

and as for those guys flexing and grunting…i’ll be hopping over into their corner soon.

“take this pink ribbon off my eyes…

…i’m exposed and it’s no big surprise.
don’t you think i know exactly where i stand,
this world is forcing me to hold your hand.”
                                           -just a girl, no doubt

i’ve been trying to finish this post for a while, but couldn’t think of a way to write it that didn’t sound like a pissing contest between me and most men on the planet (which i would undoubtably win), or a militant feminist, or both. i am not militant, and i’m not a feminist. i’ve never identified with being a ‘girl’ in such a way that it prevented me from doing whatever the hell i wanted (doesn’t everyone think this way?). maybe it’s not so much that i don’t identify as a ‘girl’, but more that i don’t identify any activities as being ‘boy’, e.g. gender specific (except maybe pissing contests). but i am getting a bit tired of people joking about how underneath my lululemon 50 rep bra i’m actually a man. i’m just a girl. throughout my life i’ve ended up in activities whereupon, when i do eventually get distracted from the activity itself and look around, i find myself surrounded by men. i don’t know why this is. it’s as if men took all the fun activities on the planet and peed on them, and so most women stay away. in any case, here’s some of the fun i’ve had-, not being able to distinguish the smell of male urine from anything else.

raft guide the raft guide training itself is challenging. in Maine, it takes place during one full week in May when there’s still snow on the river banks and ice chunks floating in the water. it’s freezing cold, the river is at flood-stage, and you have to exist on peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and spaghetti bolognaise. every morning you slap on a (wet) wetsuit that gets more and more ripe each day. the job itself requires a certain amount of physical strength and endurance, the development of a technical skill, a level head under pressure, a loud voice, and a certain feel for the element of water. it’s also not without serious risk. once you’ve taken your practical and written exams and get your Level I Whitewater Licence from the State of Maine (and your Maine Guide patch, which i’m extremely proud of) you can now throw 8 overweight punters who don’t know what ‘down-river’ means and call a paddle an ‘oar’ into a 16″ raft and take them through some class IV whitewater. it’s a fabulous test of endurance of body as well as mind. one of my guide instructors told me once that women make better raft guides. they know they can’t rely on strength so they plan ahead and make their runs work for them, rather than relying on muscle and dumb luck. i’ve seen this concept crop up in other activities as well- technique and skill over brawn and muscle.

4×4-ing

i’ve owned 4x4s since 1998. my first was a wood-paneled, navy blue jeep grand wagoneer, but i prefer land cruisers, specifically the 80 series model with the solid front axle. the new FJ is nice too, but the IFS doesn’t thrill me. since moving to africa in 2001 i’ve kitted two cruisers with: roof rack, roof top tent, 3-drawer packing system, 40L national luna fridge-freezer (sun-downers require ice), 55L water tank (i require showers), the ultimate 168L long range tank (made in australia) bringing my total fuel capacity to almost 250L of petrol or an off-road driving radius of about 1200kms, a dual battery system, a compressor, B.F. Goodrich all terrain tires with an IEF dual spare carrier carrying 2 more, and a VHF radio. i know the difference between brake fluid and diff oil (specifically with regards to smell), and i’ve assisted with two diff repairs in the bush (the reason i always carry diff oil). you don’t know what a diff is? 4x4s have two. with my kitted vehicle i’ve travelled throughout botswana, south africa, namibia and kenya. i also drove from gabs to nairobi (towing a trailer with all my earthly possessions). i didn’t do all those trips alone, but i was the principal driver, navigator, and chef. and i make a mean pan bread.

somewhere in Namibia...

parkour

male-dominated, but not for long. the ladies are catching up! it’s the same as with…

besides, what woman could go that long without taking a bath!

yoga

yes, yoga! until only recently yoga was a male-dominated activity. for the last 5000 years the traditions, sequences, practices, and philosophies have been passed down through the ages via oral and written tradition through by men through guru-shishya parampara (teacher-student oral tradition). only recently, probably since Indra Devi emigrated to the US in the 1950s, has the practice of yoga become dominated by women. this, however, is a western phenomenon. worthy of a movie even.

i’ll continue to do my own thing, regardless of labels. i’m having way too much fun. and you guys can join me, be it on the mat, at a jam, in the bush, anywhere- as long as you’re not up for a pissing contest. because i’m really not a man. i’m just a girl.

every practice is beautiful

i’m still high from an amazing jam i had two saturdays ago. after a week of rest from strength and conditioning i felt like i was floating that day. there’s nothing like a nice float through things you once thought were impossible to encourage you to dig deeper. but then i saw the video. yes, the video footage of my so-called floating. and there i was, mentally, back at square 1.

there are a lot of parkour and free-running videos out there- most of them are not very good. people are quick to film themselves doing something they think is awesome, but they forget to add the awesome. i’ve been on a mission lately trying to find those few and far between videos of traceurs/euses that really get to the essence of beautiful movement and combine it with the art of photography and video. so i’ll save you from wasting 2 minutes of your life watching me until i’ve created something worth watching. you’re welcome. but if you’re willing to waste a few minutes of your life on worthwhile parkour/videography, here are a few links:

i’m thankful that the yoga community isn’t about posting videos of awesome yoga tricks. oh wait, they are. for the most part yoga videos have stayed instructional or inspirational rather than being promotional. ok nevermind, upon review, it really is mostly about self-promotion. recently i told a friend that if i ever said i was making a yoga video or writing a book about yoga to please, please stop me. i’m going to leave inspiration to the masters.

so how did it happen that my practice that saturday felt amazing but looked like crap? because every practice is beautiful. and this is my message for today- your practice is beautiful whether you were flying through the air with the greatest of ease or crumpled on your mat in a pile of blood, sweat and tears. any practice that is a true expression of your current state is beautiful. all those bodily fluids are just as much a part of you as the wind in your hair. and however good or bad you feel while you’re practicing, if you can live in that moment, you have found your moment of truth.

beginners claim to me that their practice looks terrible, that they’re not as good as [that person on the mat next to them], that they will never be able to jump through to sitting, they will never be able to get that bind. when i watch a practitioner, when i see the evidence of passion, frustration, exultation, or pure doggedness, i see a person whose practice is real, grounded in truth, and who is experiencing transformation on a molecular level. and that is a beautiful thing. sometimes, one of my jobs as a yoga teacher is to refocus the practitioner’s awareness from the actual, physical practice to what is going on deep inside and to help the practitioner transcend both the ‘good’ practices and ‘bad’.

i’ve never seen myself practicing yoga, but i feel amazing when i do it- that’s real. i’ve reached the point where my yoga practice is fulfilling whether i’m lying in snot on my mat or flowing from one chaturanga to the next (sometimes both are happening at the same time). so for my parkour practice, i’m resolving to take the perceived difference between how it feels and how it looks, and transcend it. i know i’m getting stronger and more agile, and sometimes i really do feel like i’m floating. so i’m going to avert my eyes from the video evidence and keep my mind on the practice itself and its transformative effect on both my physical form and my mental self-doubt. and someday i will make that video worth watching.

pk training log blog 1Q12

i debated posting my training log/schedule as people are different, training styles are different, and goals are different. but when i was looking for routines for strength and conditioning training for parkour, for women, over 40, i found them confusing and frustrating. wait no, actually, there weren’t any. so here’s mine and i hope that it makes sense and is useful. and by the way, i just had the best jam session today i’ve had in AGES, mostly due to the work i’ve put in since 1 january. (and a little help from my friends.)

one thing i read on the american parkour forum that really made me think was: don’t bother and come to us asking for a cool, sexy training routine until you’ve spent 2-3 months doing the basic american pk warm-up/workout of the day. essentially, you need to build some basic strength, endurance, and discipline pure bloody-mindedness before you get to be creative in your training. so the first quarter of this year is dedicated to reestablishing a foundation for the rest of the year’s training and goals.

you can read my posts on goal setting here, but i will stress again: having clear ideas about where you want to be, by when is critical. to recap, this is what i was looking for:

  1. shorter sessions/more often (to give me more energy)
  2. fundamental exercises that develop strength in the large muscle groups (to build a launching pad)
  3. time to practice ashtanga yoga consistently (to bring me back to earth)

a friend introduced me to the world a Tabata training, and i love it (thank you, Fred)! mostly because i have a very short attention span, but also because it packs a punch! the idea is to cycle through all of the following sets of exercises, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, repeat for 8 cycles. the cool thing is that all of these exercises are scalable. you start with the basic element- then you add weight, height, speed, reps, etc. for example: pistols can go from really easy to really hard. the best thing: 3 weeks of training, 1 week of rest- i can deal with that! all of the following exercises can be found on youtube- make sure you’re doing them right or you risk injury.

The Training Schedule (January-February 2012)

MONDAY (legs)

  • AM 20 min Tabatas: squats, shuttle runs, walking lunge, precision, knee tuck jump
  • PM: 1.5 hour yoga practice OR 1 hour technique session at WITS

TUESDAY (back and chest)

  • AM 20 min Tabatas: burpees, quadrapedal movement, push-ups, dips, wall push aways
  • PM: 1.5 hour yoga practice

WEDNESDAY (legs again!)

  • AM 20 min Tabatas: pistols, fast feet/stepping, bulgarian split squats, box steps, single leg hops
  • PM: 1.5 hour yoga practice OR 1 hour technique session at WITS

THURSDAY (and back to my chest)

  • AM 20 min Tabatas: quadrapedal movement, push press, supermans, front raises, decline push-ups
  • PM: 1.5 hour yoga practice

FRIDAY

  • AM: day off 
  • PM: 1.5 hour yoga practice if i need to catch up to make 4 practices/week

SATURDAY

  • AM: JAM!
  • PM: rest! or yoga. or rest.

SUNDAY

  • take rest. maybe practice ashtanga. mostly just rest. sleeeeeeppppp.

The Results (after 1 month)

  • more energy than i know what to do with, seriously- i need to start drinking again. but i won’t, i’m going to hang on for the ride!
  • what the hell? are those my trapezius! wall runs are quicker, easier and my elbows are receiving less damage. cats are steady and sure.
  • WTF? i can’t get my skinny jeans on! higher, further precisions, endurance during play sessions, and putting my jeans on in the morning has become a workout on its own.
  • on saturdays i can feel all the movements i’ve been training in every move i make; that’s muscle memory developing!
  • my ashtanga practice is back on! not a steady schedule yet, but we’re getting there. flexibility is returning and my hip is stabilising. it’s great to be back!

What to look forward to…

one more month of this routine focusing on explosive force and increased reps. then in march, swapping out a few of the above and adding weight to others (like squats), or combining movements. for example: wall push aways + push-ups = push-ups with a clap in between. i wasn’t really very happy to hear that from Fred this morning, but i’m game- because i can’t argue with the results.

and, training every morning with my training partner: modelwithabigappetite. it makes a huge difference to know someone else is going to be there at 5:30am. thank you!

shoe report: my new (balance) kicks

i’ve had this blog in my drafts pile for a while, so i’ll give you a review of my pk shoes (santa brought me a new pair for christmas), always a popular topic of conversation among traceursesessssssss.

by the way, i’m hearing americaaaaans pronouncing traceur like ‘tracer’, as in ‘tracer bullet’. if the word was ‘tracer’, it would be spelled that way. it is spelled ‘traceur’ so we must rub some franglais on it and say it in a way that doesn’t make us [americans] look like ignorant hillbillies who know nothing of the original language of diplomacy, i.e. french. so move the stress of the word to the first syllable and then say it like you smell a sewage leak. and if you can’t say traceur correctly, don’t even try traceuse, just say ‘girl who trains parkour’.

yoga and parkour are alike in that you don’t need much equipment to practice them. for yoga, a mat; for parkour a pair of shoes. FACT: the mat/shoes can range from really cheap to really expensive, but will have almost no bearing whatsoever on your practice. as a gear junkie i am genetically attracted to the most expensive equipment, so i will practice on a manduka for the rest of my life. and my pk shoes are beyond my experience level, but come in pretty (expensive) colors.

the consensus in pk/fr circles in south africa is that new balance is a pretty awesome company and makes pretty awesome shoes. they also sponsor some of the parkour athletes here in SA. i think NB is awesome because they still make sneakers in my home state (Maine), so buying them supports my friends and family back home!

mens minimus road, ladies minimus trail. not shown: the ones in ugly colors.

(NB minimus philosophy as told by a long-haired hippy)

the more i trained pk outside, the more i wanted a shoe similar to what i wore racing cross-country/track & field in high school, i.e. low profile, fitting close around the front of the foot, thinner sole, and without the wide/wedge heel in the back. the sales people assured me that the ‘barefoot’ style running shoes were what i was looking for. so i got 2 pair of the NB minimus, one trail (ladies) and one road (mens). i recently added a pair of the new ladies minimus zero in turquoise. because i luvs them, i luuuuuuvvssss them! here’s why: 

  1. both street and trail are very forward, meaning they get me moving on my toes and make running easy for me. they were designed to do this and there’s a warning on the box about achilles tendon damage. wait, what, damage? huh?! nevermind, just keep reading…
  2. the strike pattern of the shoe is helping me pronate rather than supinate when i run, which hopefully will reduce the risk of ankle rolls for me.
  3. because of their forward construction, when i precision i usually land on my toes. for this reason alone these shoes are awesome for me!
  4. the trail and new road minimus models have vibram soles, which are stickier on painted surfaces, making rail work more comfortable for me. i love the grip, unfortunately, i’m losing pieces of vibram doing cat work.

one additional note: the minimus does not come with an insole, to compensate i use an insole called sofsole which absorbs up to 4x the impact. get the ones without arches if you can, and make sure you try the minimus with the sofsole in it when you’re judging size as the insole will change how the shoe fits you.

kicking back in my lovely ladies minimus zero in turquoise. not shown: ugly mens in piss yellow.

(a cool ad campaign for the NB minimus)

note that i have found these shoes to be great for me, for now. and as my ability and usage change over time i may choose other shoes. the men’s road shoe was my early favorite because it supported my sprained ankle a bit better and it has a single layer sole, no vibram, but no tearing! it also had a bit more reinforcement around the toe. unfortunately, they have disappeared. i think perhaps i left them somewhere or perhaps they walked away after i left the top down on my convertible while i went shopping. so, here are some care and maintenance guidelines:

  1. don’t leave your shoes in your car with the top down in johannesburg, south africa. common sense, i know.
  2. buy shoes based on whether or not they fit properly and are the right tool for the job and not what color scheme they are. unless you are me, and then get whatever the hell you want.
  3. never use your sneakers for anything other than their intended use, i.e. don’t wear your pk kicks to work even though they are comfortable and look totally RAD!
  4. untie the laces when putting them on and taking them off. cramming your feet into tied shoes can break the heel support and weaken the shoe where you need it most.
  5. make sure shoes are tied properly when in use so the foot is secure, lessening wear and tear on the shoe. it will also save others from getting hit when your shoes fly off during a webster.
  6. when not shredding, store your kicks in a cool, dry place (not in your gym bag, boot of your car, etc). when they get wet let them dry out (if you take the insole out they dry faster), but don’t dry them in a dryer. don’t wash them in the washer either, hand scrub with mild soap.
  7. to reduce stinkiness: see #6 above and use synthetic socks that wick moisture away. also sprinkle baby powder or baking soda in your shoes after use to absorb odor and moisture. i actually prefer gold bond, but they don’t have it here in south africa.

(NB minimus isn’t just for running)

whatever shoe you train in, wear them well and take care of them! and if you can find me these or these (in south africa) i will bake you a cheesecake. a real one with a graham cracker crust and phildelphia cream cheese. and your choice of topping.

Goal Setting Part 5: SHARING is caring

a few last things about goal setting and then i’ll stop. i promise.

1. write your goals down. seriously- if it isn’t written down it isn’t a goal. the writing process takes those nebulous thoughts that float around in your head, those desires and dreams for your future, and makes them real. and attainable, if you’re willing to accept the challenge and change and opportunity they bring. writing the goal down is like an invitation for it to manifest in your life and sometimes it’s the hardest part. so remember- it can only get easier once it’s written down.

2. sharing is caring. share your goals with relevant people. they will help you, they will encourage you, and they will be inspired by you. and it’s really cool to get feedback from people, and exciting to be able to share the little steps along the way. really, don’t be shy. one christmas my entire family sat down and did goals at the dining room table and that’s when we decided to hike kilimanjaro together. which we haven’t yet. but for those few hours we were together as a family, affirming each other’s ideas and dreams, which in the end was more important.

2. don’t get discouraged. as you know i’ve been doing goal setting for years. i write them down and print them and post them on my pin board at work. a few years ago i was really frustrated with my job and with the reviews i was getting and resolved to increase my overall annual evaluation score from 2.8 on a scale of 1-5 to 1.4, if 1 is the highest and 5 is the lowest. because, to me 2.8 is a 3, which is just average, and i know i’m better than average.

my boss was visiting and he noticed my goals and he read them. we discussed the new goals/task lists for the coming year and i told him about my goal to achieve an overall score of 1.4 on my next annual evaluation. he said that he had read that and thought it amusing since he was the assessor and he was the one that decided my score, not me. at that instant in time the following things crystalized for me:

  • my boss was an asshole. i lost a lot of respect for him in that moment- he had the opportunity to mentor me, and to encourage and inspire me and he failed.
  • most importantly i realized: if i write a goal, i OWN the goal. it’s MY goal. i have the power to achieve it and i will own it like a BOSS! if anything i wanted that 1.4 even more now just out of spite. NB: motivation can come from unlikely places.
  • i was inspired by a new goal: to ensure this guy was not my boss in nearest possible future. which i achieved by using this, and a few other examples, to illustrate the toxic nature of the working relationship.

so don’t be discouraged by the occasional speed bump, or asshole, that gets between you and what you want to achieve for yourself. remember this is about you and your path as you define it. forgive yourself and don’t get caught up in the little things, stay focused on those big things and don’t forget to grow.

i will not post anymore blogs on goal setting until 25 December, 2012.

Goal Setting Part 4: FAILURE is inevitable

hate to break it to you, but it is. failure is part of life, like the non-existence of santa. i probably won’t ever have a  6-pack no matter how many sit-ups i do, or how many months i don’t drink.

we’re a week into the new year and already i can bet you rands to onion rings that 99% of the world’s population has already defaulted on 50% of their new year’s resolutions. i myself had to finish the last 3 beers in the fridge before i could start my unwritten ‘no alcohol until 1 may, unless i’m out at a restaurant with friends’ resolution (see that big loop-hole? that goal has failure written all over it.). and my friend can’t start training with me until monday, because, well, that’s the day when she starts new training programs. so, what do you do when you fail?

first, it’s not a failure! remember when i mentioned that you shouldn’t be able to attain 50% of  your well-written SMART goals? in the end it’s not about the goal- it’s about the journey to the goal, the process of defining what you really want, how you’re going to get it, and why it’s important to you. the goal-setting process is really just self-awareness, self-discovery and self-mastery all wrapped up in a clever disguise. so rather than beating yourself up because you didn’t climb kilimanjaro or get a puppy this year (2 goals i wrote down for 2012), take a step back and reassess.

did i go about it in the right way? like my ‘6-pack in 6 months’ goal it was not well-defined and poorly planned. i didn’t clearly articulate what i wanted and i wasn’t able to do what was required to attain it. the take home message: get better at breaking down the goal into easily identifiable, doable tasks. get better at knowing what you’re capable of and what you’re willing to sacrifice. self-awareness, self-discovery, self-mastery.

did i really want this?  i looked at my goals from last year and read the bit about the puppy and wondered: who wrote that? my life has changed so much in the last year, it would have been totally inappropriate to add a puppy to the mix. so the goal has been marked undone (no gold star, sad face) and i don’t feel any sense of failure around it. take home message: things change, in retrospect- not all goals are appropriate, cut your losses, move on. self-awareness, self-discovery, self-mastery.

i only made if half-way. only half-way? awesome! rather than dwell on the half that you didn’t achieve, look at how you got as far as you did. what were your incentives? how did you motivate yourself? what was the difference between what you accomplished and what you didn’t? could you have gone about it in a different, more efficient way? self-awareness, self-discovery, self-mastery.

you know how we always say ‘survival of the fittest’ or ‘whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’? goal setting is a winnowing process that separates what we’d like to have from what we really desire and need. and it gives us the knowledge to identify these things more readily when they arrive in your life unannounced and unwritten. who’d have thought that my 2010 goals to reduce my ‘stuff’ and live a more minimalist lifestyle would only resolve after i was laid off in july of this year. it was ironic to look back and see that written goals like ‘downsize my truck’ and ‘clean out my closets’ happened when i was faced with a much larger, more pressing, unwritten challenge of ‘GET A JOB NOW!’ and ‘FIND A SMALLER PLACE TO LIVE!’

past failures made me more capable and adaptable, and more readily able to recognize opportunities to make necessary sacrifices to do what needs to be done. when i look back on all my years of goal setting, i don’t remember what i didn’t accomplish, i only know i’m where i am today because of what i did. and it’s a good place to be.