During my week of vacation this summer I went to Burning Man (BM). I was on the fence about it for a long time. Similar to last year, I waited until the last minute to get a ticket. However, like last year, it was no problem and all the puzzle pieces seemed to naturally fall into place. Even after getting my ticket I waffled about whether or not I should go. Burning Man is a time and place where you get little sleep, there’s a million things to do, it’s hot and dusty, and the extremeness can be overwhelming and exhausting. Perhaps, I thought, it would be better to have a stay-cation and rest?
A friend of mine who I spent a lot of time with at BM 2012 called me on the phone. We had discussed camping together this year and were trying to coordinate plans. Her and her boyfriend had purchased a cheap car and had gone on a camping trip by the Yuba River. On the phone she explained that the car was more or less dead and it wouldn’t make the journey. No problem, I assured her, I would take them. And just like that I had committed to Burning Man 2013.
Panicking slightly that I had offered to be their ride, I told her that I was more than happy to make the drive out to Black Rock City with them. I was pumped to camp with them, too, but I wanted some level of independence and flexibility. I didn’t want them to depend on me for a ride home in case I freaked out and left early. I had been looking forward to this vacation for a long time and I wanted the autonomy to do what I liked when I felt like it. The last thing I wanted was to feel guilty for abandoning my friends in the middle of the desert. Luckily for me, my friends are badasses who have no issues making shit happen.
So that was that. I was going to BM, for better or for worse. The thrill of the trip sank in and kept me up at night. I only managed to pack the day before I planned to leave, stuffing rolled socks and lacy underwear into plastic bags, hoping that less was more. Last year I was with an organized camp, whereas this time it would only be the three of us and I wasn’t quite sure how it would all work out.
Even though I now had arranged to camp with my two friends, I felt as though I should approach the event as though I was going it alone. I did not want to rely on them as a couple for company and I definitely did not want to resent them for that either. I also wanted to mentally prepare myself for the tsunami of FOMO (fear of missing out). I desperately wanted to grant myself permission to do BM at my own pace with the least amount of comparison or pressure possible. I had been mulling this over for weeks and had no idea how I would feel once I arrived on the playa. It almost kept me from going, but the adventure was set in motion and the excitement was mounting. I was grateful to have friends as company and build a camp with and pleased that I was freewheeling.
After a 6am departure from Davis, CA and 7 hours of waiting, we made it through the long dusty lines and began looking for a spot to set up our tents. It took a while, but with some patience we found people who welcomed us with open arms. We were very limited in our supplies and incredibly under prepared compared to our neighbors. I felt like a gutter punk kid who was going to sleep in the dust all week choking on gas fumes while our fancy neighbors ran their generator next to my cheap tent. But it didn’t matter. I took pride in the simplicity of it all.
Despite all the back and forth, the worry of being unprepared, and insecurities surrounding loneliness, it was blissful to spend a week on the playa. I take pride in my ability to see the value of showing up and being present in situations, even when it is difficult and challenging. This is also how I ended up doing CrossFit. I often tell myself, when I meet resistance in attending a new class or event, that all I have to do is go – I don’t have to excel or do anything crazy, I don’t have to dance or make a new friend. As long as I bring my body and smile once, that can be enough.
So rather than staying in the bay area for a week and hiding out at my parents house to recharge, I committed to going to BM. I knew that I would regret it if I did not attend and I also knew that ultimately, the option of a good party and friends would be more valuable to me than spending 7 days alone in Palo Alto. All of my last minute decisions lead me to an “Oops, I did it again” moment, where I realized that I felt limited in my ability to contribute at BM and that may cause me to treat it more as an experience than a participatory community(!?) What I am saying is, that while I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to do BM, it relies heavily on people who whole-heartedly care about the city and build it from scratch. Then they return it to the same state the desert was in before we were there. That’s a shit ton of work.
Not only that, the culture of BM is maintained by those who are committed to practicing open mindedness and gifting. Approaching others in the spirit of non-expectation is no small feat and requires vigilance. As an organization, there are people working year round on creating this bedazzling parallel universe and I do not take it for granted. For this reason, I would like to acknowledge that there are endless opportunities to contribute to BM as a place, an event, and as a community. While I set multiple intentions for myself this year, they were very personal in dealing with my own emotions. I am planting the seed that the next time I go to BM, I would like to contribute more towards the experience as a whole and to a group at large. In this way, I am contemplating the core principles of the event and meditating on my own ability to shape experiences for myself and others.
After a weeks vacation in the desert, I have come back refreshed. I am satisfied to say that, despite the harsh conditions, I am rested and healthy. I am grateful for the art, the music, and the friends I bonded with. With my birthday only 2 weeks away, I’m excited for new writing material and bringing a fresh perspective to another year of life.
Writing is going absolutely terrible this week. I blame the lack of sleep. I arrived back in San Francisco from LA (CrossFit Games 2013) at 4:30AM after driving through the night. It completely screwed my sleep schedule and has left me a little cross-eyed. That being said, it’s the lack of planning and commitment on my end that is really holding me back. I have written multiple paragraphs about the definition of strength (somewhat in line with the theme of the Games), but can’t bring myself to post it. It feels like trying on a dress that doesn’t fit right and not wanting to go into the hallway of the dressing room to look in the mirror. I hate that feeling.
But where did this blog start anyway? I am defaulting to writing about the goals that I have left before my birthday, in order to sort out where I need to focus in the next 60 days. Though I may not have written about each specifically, it has become a goal of mine to write more consistently and publish these rants and raves as a way of getting my voice out into the world. So with 60 days left, I have a list of 8 things that are important to me that I am going to attempt to accomplish:
Visit Friends in WA
Time my Handstand
Get a massage.
Take a Vacation.
Lose 10 lbs. Explore your ideal weight.
Purge your Crap.
Blog your 27 X 27.
I am a strong believer in the rule of 1. I should pick 1 thing to focus on at a time. That’s it. If I choose more than one thing, my rate of success will plummet drastically. The beauty of a few of these things is that if I attempt it once, I can cross it off the list: get a massage, go surfing, and time my handstand. The other items take more planning and daily practice. As I mentioned in my last post, this August I am focusing on my diet to lose weight. For support in accomplishing this goal, I have signed up for the Get It Done In 30 Challenge with Maneesh Sethi and James Swanick and I am planning a Paleo Challenge with a friend at San Francisco CrossFit (interested? Details coming soon)!
Though I could easily write on and on about all the components of this goal and the others, I’m leaving it at that. Focus. Simplicity. August: Diet/lose weight. If more happens, awesome, if not, c’est la vie. Tomorrow is August 1st and I am already overwhelmed. August 2013, here we go.
You have done it before and you will do it again.
What the hell am I talking about? Success. You’ve been successful before in your lifetime, if you’ve made it this far. Maybe you would consider that your only win, but either way, it’s something. And you will be successful again. Have you heard that lately? It feels oddly good to say it: You WILL be successful again. The purpose of this post is to review the context of some of my goals to see where I have been successful so we can recreate that context down the line.
I have completed many of my 27 x 27 goals. 17 to be exact. There is a sense of completion, of follow through, a feeling of “done-ness” with these items. It is immensely satisfying to review it and say “Yea, I did that!” (High Five). Check. Goal setting builds a system for resolution and habit creation by breaking a larger value into measurable and attainable steps. Stevo, the sport psychologists’ mantra echoes in my ears: “Have the courage to start small”. Hell yes. One step at a time, next thing you know, you’re holding a handstand, kicking it at your new job, and attending the CrossFit Games for free.
I have 10 goals left to accomplish in 2 months. The other day I signed up for Maneesh Sethi and James Swanwick’s Get It Done in 30 challenge. I wasn’t going to sign up, but once I watched their videos and realized there was still space I decided “What the hell! This is exactly what I have been experimenting with all year!” Get your ass in gear for 21 to 30 day challenges to explore habit change. I am hoping that the Get It Done in 30 challenge will help me accomplish something on this list, specifically, losing weight. This is a goal I seem to really struggle with. As I have explored in the past with Stevo, I have some trouble asking for help. Well: “I NEED HELP!” I need some sort of support.
Another reason for this review is to see where I have been successful and where I have failed. In Maneesh Sethi’s Hack the System Ebook, he explains that recreating the context in which you have been successful before sets you up for success in the future. He also shares a graph demonstrating morale and enthusiasm over the course of a project showing the importance of expecting failure. Applying these concepts is an important step in recognizing my blind spots and how I can accomplish the rest of my list (or at least the goals that are most important to me).
While Maneesh writes about setting yourself up for success and how to accomplish your goals, Danielle LaPorte explores the difference between motivation and inspiration. She explains that motivation is often driven by fear of consequences, whereas inspiration is a deep desire to accomplish something regardless of the cost. Thinking about these concepts has really put a new spin on some of my goals. So let’s get started.
Starting with my new tradition: My new annual ritual is to do some kind of activity (5 mile run/CrossFit WOD/get sweaty) and then get into a body of water on my birthday. These are 2 definable activities that don’t require much in the way of habit change throughout the year to accomplish. It was basically an accident that this became my new tradition. I was visiting Netarts Bay in Oregon with some of my best friends and we decided to do a run on the beach on the morning of my birthday. We ran for a long time and despite the frigid water conditions, knew that it was a special opportunity to get into the ocean. In we went! Year 2 of this ritual approaches. I was successful here because I had a friend who joined me for the activity and we were having fun. I doubt I would have gone on the run or jumped into the ocean solo. Either way I wouldn’t have done them for as long as I did. This September: I would like to do another workout on the beach and go for a swim. Care to join me?
My goal of making a reading list is about inspiring myself to read. Getting myself back into the habit of reading is super challenging. It comes and goes in spurts all the time. I have been getting better, but I hardly ever read at the same time of day, which seems to be a major component to creating this habit. I am successful if I read before I go to bed, take public transportation, or take a break at work and sit at a cafe. I was extremely successful with The Fire Starter Sessions because Maria and I had a book club and would meet to discuss the chapters. AH! Maneesh Sethi is right again! Accountability always wins!
I completed Interchange, the counseling program. Paying money and attending an organized class where other people care about your attendance is a strong motivator. I know people cared about whether I showed up or not because when I arrived, we took attendance in our home group and talked about where the people who were not present were. How did we know where the missing people were? Well, the first couple of times people didn’t show, members of the group got upset and made it known! After that we hardly ever had an unexplained absence. Group accountability strikes again! Note: Your action or inaction in a group always speaks. Your participation in life or lack thereof does not go unnoticed, so do things with intention.
Goals that I accomplished because I had support and/or accountability:
- A new tradition
- Read a book
- CrossFit Open
- Armory Tour
- New Jobs
I submitted mail art to people around the world. I work well with deadlines. Having a final date and knowing that it is quickly approaching gets me going. I often leave things till the last minute because then I get nervy about them and set aside the time to accomplish the task. Sure, it can feel like poor planning, but otherwise the urgency just isn’t there. Having a finite timeline in the near future is by far the best way to get me to do something. Accountability to the clock!
Goals that I accomplished because they were time-bound:
- Job Applications/Interviews
- CrossFit Level 1 Certificate
- Submitted mail to mail art show
My sharable “explore something sexy” goal is that I read an erotic novel and attended a book talk by the author of the Boudoir Bible. Lightning struck on this one. I had a conversation with a friend about the Claiming of Sleeping Beauty and was so intrigued by the premise of the book that I went out and bought it. Reading erotic fiction was exciting, as you can imagine, so I got through it in a reasonable time frame. However, there was no accountability here, only fodder for my own ideas. Reading the novel inspired me to look up erotic literature events in San Francisco, which lead me to Betony Vernon’s talk about the Boudoir Bible that was being hosted the day after I discovered it. I blindly jumped at the opportunity (having no idea who she was) and showed up. Lightning and the magical cosmos inspired action? I’m so glad I attended.
Goals I accomplished because I was inspired/magic happened:
- Reading/Book List
- Expressing my feelings
- Writing my 12 commandments
- New Jobs
- Went to yoga for a week after not having been in 1 year
- CrossFit Gear
- Attending Betony Vernon’s Boudoir Bible talk
These are all the goals that I have completed and that make me feel successful. What context have I been most successful in? By far, the things that I am most proud of and seem to have influenced me the most are where I have community involved. I am super inspired to accomplish all the things on my list, so combining it with a defined time line and the support of others makes for a potent combination. Any goal that I have not yet accomplished is directly related to not having a buddy and/or a due date. Of course my birthday is a deadline, in theory, but that is not enough for all goals.
In short, I intend to quickly weed out the things that I am not inspired by out of my life and replace them with things that do. The goals that have not yet been completed, I am rededicating myself to them and enlisting support for the next 2 months. What the fuck is this list for if not for fun and a little challenge? GSD.
This weekend was the NorCal CrossFit Regional Games 2013, hosted at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
It was an incredibly intense three days. The level of competition was palpable. My voice was hoarse by the end of the day one and I knew we were only getting started. San Francisco CrossFit attended with three individuals and one team. Our individuals were Courtney Walker, Lisa Warren, and Elizabeth Helton. Our team was comprised of: Tonya White, Natalie Durino, Erin Moody, Sam Sailor, Will Sockolov, and Brian Hassan.
I am inspired by all the athletes, it’s a fight and people are there to win. At the same time, fellow competitors and fans cheered each other on and support was abundant in the stands and on the grounds. Being a newbie to the CrossFit world over the past year, it was crazy to be part of the CrossFit Open which felt homegrown. Though the production on TV of games athletes from last year definitely shows the corporate exposure of CrossFit. Attending the regionals demonstrated to me the exponential growth of the sport of fitness in the world. Going from the Open at our own gyms, to the Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, though not huge, put the growth of CrossFit in perspective.
It isn’t only the media coverage and the stands packed with cheering fans. The level of competition happening in all heats blew my mind. These people are so strong. I feel like their quads could crush my skull. Looking at them, they look like the bodies of lore, made from the flesh of gods. Their muscles ripple in the sunlight, glistening with sweat. No matter how cut their abs are, they are lifting insanely heavy weight and moving fast. It’s actually difficult for me to comprehend and it’s happening infront of my own eyes. Standing at the sidelines, jaw hanging open in awe, I wondered “Is this real?” Yes, they did just do one hundred pull-ups, yes, they did just run from rope climbs to cleans.
I am walking away from Regionals feeling motivated as an athlete. I am inspired to look at my life and analyze my workouts from the stand point of “What do I want?” I want to remain consistent, I want to get stronger, and I want to build coordination. The competition has rekindled my faith in the belief that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to. Make shit happen. Do one thing today that makes you stronger/happier/more at peace tomorrow. Prioritize for you. If you were hit by a bus tomorrow, what would you do today? This is a question that helps me put life in perspective. Vulnerability can suck, but you know what sucks more? Not making ourselves vulnerable, not facing our fears, and not knowing what’s on the other side.
Our discussion over tea and chocolate continued into the afternoon. Here is what we covered.
Making declarations and logging progress as a way of holding yourself accountable. Leo made the excellent point that telling other people about your goals is a great way to start holding yourself accountable. You can go as far as asking someone to track your progress with you, or keep it as simple as sharing your projects with someone. If you know that even just one other person will be following up with you, you increase your chances of sticking to your word. There are many ways to go about this, many of which I have discussed with Stevo and written about here on my blog. Habit change is a tricky thing and everyone knows we get by with a little help from our friends.
When we experience hope and fear it is because we are attached to outcomes. When Leo said this, I had an “Ah ha!” moment. It seems so simple, but I don’t normally think about my hopes and fears this way. I feel that it is a good reminder of the stories that we are telling ourselves and how we often embellish the outcomes before they have happened. It is refreshing to step back and ask ourselves what we fear about a particular outcome or why we are hoping for something. Then take it one step further and realize we will be OK regardless of what happens.
5 word business plan. An “ah ha!” moment wrapped into a gold nugget right here. This is what my post “Confused? Contribute!” is all about! A simple 5 word business plan. Here it is: How Can I Help You? Run with this.
Whisper marketing. If I haven’t yet mentioned BlogcastFM one hundred times, let me continue to work towards that number. Leo and Jesse both spoke to marketing and getting the word out about what they do. They both prefer to practice gentler kinds of advertising, relying mostly on word of mouth and slow community building techniques. The reason I bring up BlogcastFM is because that is immediately what came to mind when they said “whisper” marketing. Srini, the co-founder and host of the show, asks all his interviewees how they stand out in a world with so much noise. Well, it isn’t by talking louder.
How to title blog posts. Leo has blogging down to an art. He’s very good at what he does and that’s why I attended this event. Here are some bread and butter techniques for titling your blog. First, your title must convey a benefit. Second, it must instill curiosity. Do this in 5 words or less if you can. Some things to think about: Why is what you are writing about a problem? Why should your readers care? Give them a reason! What is the solution? Make sure you include an actionable item to effectively close the post. This builds attention and trust.
Post regularly. From my understanding, it matters less how often, just keep it regular. Once a week, once a month, 4 times a year…
Give away your secrets! Making yourself vulnerable and sharing deepens your relationship to readers by building trust and providing resources. Leo really drove this one home and I think it is a special edge to any blogger. It’s scary to share ourselves with the world. It shows when we do. Really amazing things happen when you share things with others.
The tea and chocolate were incredible and the company was awesome. I have a lot of work ahead of me and attending Mindful+Entrepreneur is motivating me to get my ass in gear. Cheers to taking it to the next level!
P.S. To make it really clear – What is a problem that you have? You are trying to improve your blog but you don’t know how. What’s the solution? Simple homework: post regularly. Make a schedule. Right now.