Why You Need a Ulysses Strategy for 2016

Neil StraussNeil, New Years61 Comments

Too many people I’ve met this week are telling me something like this:

Me: So what are your resolutions this year?

Them: I’m not making any this year.

Me: Why not?

Them: Well, I would just make the same resolutions I made last year. And it’s depressing to know I didn’t do them.

Others making resolutions confessed that deep down, they didn’t think they’d be able to keep them, but it felt good to make them.

And it struck me as sad: Because giving up, whatever form it takes, is sad.

My attitude is: If something is not working, don’t give up.

Just change your strategy. 

 

So this year, instead of making resolutions together, let’s discuss why most people don’t stick to them and others don’t like them.

This doesn’t pertain just to New Year’s Resolutions, but any similar commitment you make to yourself.

It’s because: At every moment, when you are trying to improve yourself, there is a war taking place in your brain.

Let’s say that your resolution is to improve your health, perhaps by doing something physical every day or eating healthier.

Or maybe you’re a Game reader and you want to approach more.

Or perhaps you just read The Truth, and you want to tuck away a certain amount of money every week so you can do some deep work on yourself at the end of the year.

Making that resolution plunges your brain into an almost daily battle: Between a short-term reward and a long-term reward. 

And the odds are stacked against your resolution–because your brain is 100 percent certain that you will receive the short-term reward:

*That ice cream is going to taste good.

*Lying in bed is going to be easier than going to the gym.

*Spending that money is going to be easier and more fun than saving it.

*Not approaching is going to be safer than approaching.

The long-term rewards—a healthier body, a better physique, a new potential partner, a happier life—are uncertain.

You may eat healthy or work out for three months, then stop and all that time invested will be wasted.

Or you may end up having to spend the money you save on something else.

Or you might get rejected when you approach, so why even bother?

Thus, it often seems easier to go for the sure thing, rather than take a risk for an uncertain outcome.

You probably know about the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment.

Researchers told children that if they could refrain from indulging in a smaller reward (such as eating a marshmallow or another snack) for up to twenty minutes, then they would be given an even bigger reward (two marshmallows or a more preferable snack).

In follow-up studies decades later, the children who were able to delay gratification for a bigger reward generally had a higher quality of life, a lower BMI, and tested better.

It’s interesting, because I remember as a child that whenever I got candy, I’d never eat it all at once. I’d ration it to myself over a period of time so that it lasted until the next period at which I could get more candy. 

Maybe that’s where the discipline and perseverance to become a writer, or to master the seemingly impossible skills in my books, came from. 

You may have a similar story.

And so you and I may want to think of ourselves as people who would pass the Marshmallow Test.

And maybe we would: With marshmallows.

But resolutions, by their very nature, are designed to improve things we are already bad at doing. The things we have poor impulse control over.

So imagine instead of marshmallows, you’re being tested on something that is your strongest temptation in the world. And imagine that you can’t even be certain that you’ll even get the reward for resisting that temptation.

What if the researcher said, “I will give you $100 every week for a year. If you don’t spend any of it, maybe I will give you $10,000″?

Perhaps for a little while, we’ll be able to hold out on the basis of hope. But then two months later, when new model of phone with incredible features comes out, we may want to upgrade.

And we’ll have $800 just sitting in our pocket. So we’ll likely think: “Fuck it. I’d rather definitely have that new phone now, then maybe have some more money later.”

And that is what resolutions can be like.

It is also what life is like: Nothing is certain.

There’s no guarantee that if you work hard, you will be rewarded.

There’s no guarantee that if you start dating someone, they won’t cheat on you or break your heart.

There’s no guarantee that if you stop eating junk food or drinking every weekend or smoking the cigarettes you enjoy, you won’t die in a car crash next month anyway.

You are not in control. 

But you can improve your odds.

So most Resolutions are a gamble: sacrificing a sure thing right now for an unsure thing later on.

That is why our brain has serious trouble sticking to them over time.

The Resolutions that aren’t gambles, such as “Be Less Stressed” (one of the top ten most commonly broken resolutions according to Time magazine), are either too vague to measure or/and the opposite behavior has been cemented into our personalities for decades.

So why bother?

Because the gamble or the unsure outcome—a longer, healthier life or an incredible romantic/sexual partner or happiness and confidence—so massively outweighs the short-term reward that it’s worth taking a calculated risk.

And because you CAN do it.

Even with these odds stacked against you.

All you need is a Ulysses Strategy.

Before I explain that, there’s something else some of you also need: It’s common wisdom, often espoused on this list: Your Resolutions need to be specific and measurable.

For example, instead of resolving to “eat healthier,” make a list of exactly what foods you resolve not to eat this year. Instead of resolving to “approach more,” commit to approaching seven new people every week.

Now that you have a resolution that can be audited, it’s time to apply a Ulysses Strategy.

In The Odyssey, Ulysses (or Odysseus), wanted to hear the beautiful singing of the sea Sirens. However, all men who heard the singing of the Sirens became so bewitched by it that they would wreck their ship on nearby rocks or leap out of the boat to their doom.

So he didn’t think: “I’m a hero and a king. I can resist this if I set my mind to it.”

And he didn’t think: “It’s impossible to hear the song of the Sirens without getting destroyed, so I’m not going to even attempt it.”

He planned for failure: “I will die if I try to just use my resolve or will power. I need to make sure that no matter what happens or how weak I get, it’s impossible for me to harm myself or this ship.”

So he instructed his crew to lash him to the mast, stuff their ears with wax so they couldn’t hear the Siren song, and then not release him no matter what happened.

Through this strategy, he was able to get the outcome he wanted with only a very small risk of failure.

The takeaway: Prepare for the worst. Assume that there’s a good possibility that you will fail. That you won’t stick to your resolution.

Because at some point along the way, you are likely to hear your own version of a Siren song. You will get too tempted or too busy or too distracted or too weak or too lazy. You will get caught up in the moment—and you will take the short-term reward at the expense of your own life.

And that’s okay. You’re not perfect.

This is one case where it’s okay to underestimate your own abilities.

What you have to do instead is devise a Ulysses strategy:

Create a system to protect you from your lower self.

Make it nearly impossible to fail by putting strategic safeguards in place.

Here’s an example that doesn’t involve rope:

As I’m writing this, I know that I’m likely to get distracted by something on the Internet. So I use the program Freedom to block my computer’s access to the Internet.

With this program, there’s no possible way to get online.

Of course, there’s a possibility I could use my phone to go online. So I gave Ingrid my phone.

And I asked her, like Ulysses to his crew, not to give it back to me until I was done, no matter what I said or how much I pleaded.

Similarly, if you resolve not to eat junk food, tell someone you’re living with to throw out all sodas and snacks as soon as they see them in the house, no questions asked. 

If you want to go to the gym, make an arrangement with a friend who is already successful at going to the gym. Pledge to go to the gym with them every day at a certain hour. Give them some money or personal possessions that they can keep or throw out every time you miss a workout that you’re in town for.

If all else fails, my friend Maneesh Sethi created something called the Pavlok:

It’s wristband that gives you a very uncomfortable electric shock every time you need negative reinforcement. So if your resolution is to be less stressed or stop complaining, tell friends to press the zap button on your Pavlok or Pavlok app every time you break your resolution.

If you want to make ten approaches a week, join an online forum. Tell a moderator to cancel your account or delete your posts if you don’t post a report of your approaches every week. 

If you’re saving money for an intensive or a house, put them in an account or fund that you can’t withdraw money from until a certain date. Perhaps you can even earmark part of your paycheck to be directly deposited to this account. 

Remove all room for error.

Resolutions are a set up to fail ONLY if we are relying on will power or intention in situations where those resources are the weakest.

So set your Resolutions up to succeed. Create a Ulysses Strategy.

Tie your worst self to the mast so that your best self can be set free.

61 Comments on “Why You Need a Ulysses Strategy for 2016”

  1. So brilliant to call it Ulysses Strategy. Very Carl Jung / Joseph Campbell. Nothing more inspiring or motivation than to see where we are on our own Hero’s Journey. Thanks Neil, this is exactly what I needed to hear today!

  2. So brilliant to call it Ulysses Strategy. Very Carl Jung / Joseph Campbell. Nothing more inspiring or motivating than to see where we are on our own Hero’s Journey. Thanks Neil, this is exactly what I needed to hear today!

  3. Hello everyone,

    I’ve been very good in the past at working out. Last year I worked out a total of about 26 weeks (half a year) throughout the entire 2015. I had three breaks in the consistnecy.

    The first was when I went back to L.A. for a couple of weeks in March. Then another couple of weeks when I went to New York City for a week in late May. Finally I injured my shoulder in mid August and haven’t worked out since then to heal.

    I’m starting back up my at home Insanity routine tomorrow. My shoulder is healed now. I don’t have any trips planned for 2016. I have budgeted time each week day for me to do my 45 minute work outs.

    I’ve gotten rid of all the junk food and alcohol in my house. I bought a fitness app to keep track of all my eating and workout accomplishments.

    This blog comment section is going to be my Ulysses Strategy. I will follow up consistently with everyone who reads this blog. If I don’t post weekly feel free to email me at [email protected] to motivate me.

    My goals for the new year are simple:

    1. Work out at least 5 days a week doing cardio. Lift weights at least 2 days a week.

    2. Eat healthy foods. Skip the unhealthy processed foods 6 days a week. I am going to allow myself Sunday as a reward day for eating. Also I am going to try and not drink any alcohol until the Superbowl this year and then set another date a month or so after that, so on and so forth.

    3. Only buy the things I need this year. Stop buying the things I want. This will help resolve my debt much faster this year.

    4. Check back in with this blog once a week this year, every Sunday.

    5. Be 100% honest with my weekly updates.

    I hope everyone else has success in attaining their goals in 2016. Thanks for the ideas and support Neil! Next update will be January 10, 2016.

    Jakewon

  4. I can’t remember reading anywhere else, that, “There’s no guarantee that if you work hard, you will be rewarded”.
    Thanks for the truth!

  5. Does everyone actually have a personal Hero’s Journey? I’m just wondering because Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth he explains in The Hero with a Thousand Faces is based on the fact that in all stories exist a version of The One who is the real Neo and all myths are in some way related to his personal journey. But I think that because Justin Massler is the real Neo who Keanu Reeves played in The Matrix and the guy who is the real life version of all Christ Allegories that Justin Massler HIMSELF is The Hero with a Thousand Faces and the Hero’s Journey is in some way HIS personal journey since not everyone is a hero. I’m not saying that no one else has a personal hero’s journey but I think only heroes do and not all people are heroes.

  6. I’m in sales, and have been reasonably successful over a long period of time. I pledge to make 20 calls, three times per week in order to get my business to the next level.
    Improve the business plan.
    Improve the detail of my financials.
    Visit Neil next time I’m in LA.
    I’m good with the gym, as my friends are there.
    Eat more fruit.
    Improve my golf handicap to 9.
    Show restraint around alcohol.

  7. Great great advice! Thank you Neil.

    If you don’t mind I would like to exchange places and teach you another strategy.

    Step nº1 – Break down goals/tasks into the smallest chuncks possible (eg. Going to the gym -> Dress for the gym. Leave the house. Get in the car. Drive to the gym. Warm up. Training.)

    Step nº2 – Each time you accomplish each milestone, scratch it off your notebook.

    That feeling alone, of getting closer to your goal, will make you feel so good you will actually want more and more. In someway this is related to the Zeigarnik Effect. But also due to the fact that we humans feel empowered not just by accomplishing stuff, but feeling we are making progress.

    This is not a strategy to have all by itself, but combined with what you wrote in this article, very powerful.

    Thank for all the work you’ve been doing Neil!

    1. Agreed. Great point. Actually sent a worksheet out to everyone on The Society International list breaking tis process down. Thanks for adding this here, Emanuel.

  8. This is excellent, Neil. Thanks for putting these thoughts out there for us.

    SMART goals are key. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. So, for my new year, instead of blowing off resolutions, I fully embraced the concept, and took it to another level for me personally. Starting in November, I convened two groups of three men each as sort of mastermind groups.

    We each wrote a “Letter of Accomplishment,” which is essentially a full plan for all things to be accomplished in the next SIX months. This includes professional as well as personal goals; growing businesses as well as improving relationships, health and more. And our letters begin with “My Chief Aim,” a concept coming originally from Napoleon Hill I believe. Go google “my definite chief aim bruce lee” for a killer example.

    The entire first 3 weeks of our group, starting late Nov, was spent helping each other refine this document. We tweaked and tightened macro goals, strategies, designs, sub goals, tasks. We pushed each other to be realistic and honest, not only in things like time to complete something, but also in motivational factors that can cause us to do things for the wrong reasons. (E.g., ever caught yourself wanting to do something only because you thought people would regard you more positively, even though it wasn’t what you truly wanted to do?)

    My document is 7 pages. It’s thorough. And ambitious. And…totally fucking unrealistic. So one of the first major goals, to be completed by Jan 7, is to systematically and ruthlessly decide what I’m going to say No to in 2016. I can’t do it all.

    As I wrote the document, it all seemed reasonable. Growing three existing businesses, launch 2 new business, building out several web properties to test 2 additional business ideas. All while reading and growing to repair the relationship with my wife, spending more time with my son, preparing for the arrival of our baby daughter…

    And as if that wasn’t enough,I also want to surf more, run the trails more, practice my violin and mandolin more regularly, plan and go on 2 vacations, 2 ski weekends at Powder Mountain, extreme pool training, learn NLP and Wim Hoff Method…and continue to read 2-3 books a week. Its fucking nuts.

    One problem is clearly time. But perhaps more important, I won’t do anything well if my time and my passions are spread too thin.

    So….resolutions? Sure, I’ve had my bulletproof coffee, I’m energized, and my lower brain is kept in check by great friends and accountability groups. But if I don’t drop some things, learn to say no, and become a productivity ninja, it won’t matter if I’m lashed to the mast. The ship will crash.

    I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂
    Matthew

    1. Incredible and ambitious, but that accountability is key. I’d say the problem isn’t Time but Time Management.

      Note any place where you fall off your plan or don’t get things done as expected, and mastermind with your group on why. Then you can see if there’s a flaw in your planning or in your execution.

  9. Here is a strategy that works…guy who told me owns 6 restaurants and drives a Lamborgini, owns 2 Porsche and others (ok money isnt everything but it helps!)

    1. Do it now.
    2. If u cant do it now, plan to do it.
    3. If cant plan it, f**k it.

    He is living proof his strategy works. (For him)
    Believe u can do it and visualise it done (my addition).

    Have a great 2016 everyone!

    1. Thanks for sharing. May be more of a attitude than a strategy. I’d say if you can’t plan it, talk to someone who can. Have a great 2016.

  10. Hey Red Cloud we all have our own journey and I believe we create our own reality (ok we cant control everything but we are not all powerless). Positive thinking is essential IMHO.

  11. Procrastination has been medically proven to be a killer,a certain brand got it right “just do it!”

  12. Be aware when you do something else rather than tackle the more difficult number one priority task (we are all great at making excuses to ourselves and distracting our selves. eg. watch TV, play games, drink etc.)

  13. Hey Neil,

    My Ulysses strategy to overcome my hatred of mornings…

    Over the last 12 months I’ve honed a evening/morning ritual that allows me to get up anywhere from 5:30-6:00 AM 5 days a week.

    What this allows me to do:

    -Gain ~480 hours/yr. to work on my blog/business that I would have spent asleep.
    -That’s the equivalent of 20 EXTRA days a year…whoa.

    [Evening Routine]

    • I put my alarm (an old pebble smartwatch with an insane vibe motor) inside of a wooden box with a combination lock.
    • I put a 16 pound wooden block on top of the box.
    • Seriously.
    • Type any tasks into Asana so I don’t waste valuable cognitive resources on task-deciding in the morning.
    • In bed by ~10:00 PM every night.

    [Morning Routine]

    • Alarm buzzes obnoxiously like someone gleefully jackhammering into my soul.
    • I grab my glasses and my iPhone (for light)
    • I walk over to the other side of the room and lift the 16 pound weight off the box.
    • I undo the combination lock.
    • I silence the alarm.
    • Immediately go to the bathroom (This is important because it removes me from the bedroom)
    • Go make coffee.
    • Sit down to work for 2 hours (pulling up tasks in Asana)
    • After 2 hours I make breakfast (4 eggs, raw sauerkraut, bacon, almond butter, and chocolate chip waffles…because I DGAF.
    ———-
    [Key recent takeaways]

    • Now that I have these behavioral triggers set up, I know that I can “pull the levers” earlier or later. If I have a early day I can easily scale back to 5:00 AM, etc.

    • I’ve noticed that as I wake in the morning, I have better results if I “suspend my thinking” until my waking ritual is over and I’m out of the bedroom.

    • I think the reason this works is because I can be on auto-pilot and I am far less likely to rationalize going back to bed.

    • When I first started, I did all this WITHOUT the expectation of getting ANY work done for 5 days. This helped me build the behavior without any guilt over not being productive.

    [For 2016]

    • I unfollowed everything on Facebook about 2 weeks ago.

    I now have more time that would have been spent aimlessly scrolling through my newsfeed to spend with my wife, or working on projects that have a higher ROI.

    Side effect: I am (blissfully) unaware of most current events, so I have more enlightening conversations.

    -Jeff

    1. Great resolutions. Those are definitely Ulysses strategies. They did studies, and you are absolutely right: constantly checking social media and/or the news doesn’t do anything good for one’s happiness. Antisocial is good for blocking social media. Or using Intego Content Protector, blocking distracting websites, and having someone you trust create a password for the program & not tell you what it is. Love the alarm safe. You should put your phone in that safe when you work.

  14. I’ve found I do better making changes when they aren’t tied to a New Years Resolution. Instead, I just set a goal and do my best to map out how long it should take and begin.

  15. Update #2:

    MONEY & FINANCES:

    I upped my tax free savings account to save an extra $25 biweekly. I will actually didn’t have time or even looked for the book “The richest man in Babylon” this week. I do have a book I got for Christmas and will be exchanging it this week for the aforementioned book. I have been working on my money philosophy this week.

    I took the computer test for the better position I applied for on Friday this week. I absolutely slayed it. I studied very hard almost every single night and it paid off. I was finished with my test an hour before every other person taking the test. I am confident I will make it through to the interview stage. I find out this Tuesday. Stay tuned for an update next week.

    BUYING NEEDS VS WANTS:

    I started changing what are needs in my mind further. I was even more frugal than last week. I am considering turning off the cable because I didn’t watch television for even one minute this week.

    EXERCISE:

    I did my insanity cardio workout 6 days this week. I went to the gym and lifted weights only once this week. I coached my kids soccer teams for 3 hours total this week.
    I lost 1 pound this week. I am down to 235lbs from 236lbs last Sunday January 10th.
    A pound a week is my goal.

    EATING HEALTHY:

    I ate with a calorie deficit every day this week including today (Sunday). On Saturday night I had fast food. I did stay under my calorie goal because of all the extra calories I have been burning. I feel that one cheat meal and an evening of drinks is a good cheat day for the week.

    ALCOHOL:
    I drank last night with family members. I drank 3 beers and 4 short whiskys. I think this is the hardest thing to eliminate from my diet. I did save calories for the drinking. It just feels good to let loose with friends and family.

    SUMMARY:

    Overall I feel that I have done well through my first 2 weeks into this 52 week commitment. There is still lots of room for improvement. Talk to you all next week. Don’t give up. Stay focused. Be positive. We can accomplish our goals. Be true to yourself.

    Jakewon

  16. Cutting out sugar has been really profound the last couple weeks for mental clarity. Also using opendns to block facebook.com… both great

  17. Update #3:

    I tired to update using my cell phone on Sunday because I wasn’t at home, but the website wasn’t cooperating with me. I forgot to do it yesterday. So here we are. Better late than never. 😉

    MONEY & FINANCES:

    I still didn’t make time or even looked for the book “The richest man in Babylon” this week. I will get it though and soon! I didn’t get that job promotion. I scored a 90% on the computer testing. I made two careless mistakes. I needed a 91% to get an interview. I did however go over what went wrong with the supervisor. He told me that I would have had a good chance at getting the position if I made it to the interview phase. I applied for another higher paying position yesterday night. I will study even harder for that computer test to ensure I get an interview. Stay tuned.

    BUYING NEEDS VS WANTS:

    I didn’t cancel the cable yet. I did use an inner game technique to negotiate my monthly bill to be cut in half. It is the technique where I restate my purpose and don’t take no for an answer. It worked really well. I am continuing my frugality. I have been getting creative with my healthy cooking and am determined to use up all the food I have in the house before shopping for more. I have resupplied the perishable items such as veg and fruit and milk and bread. I am on pace to save 200 dollars this month from less grocery shopping.

    EXERCISE:

    I did my insanity cardio workout 6 days this week. I went to the gym and lifted weights twice this week. I coached my kids soccer teams for 3 hours total this week.
    I lost 1 pound this week. I am down to 234lbs from 235lbs last Sunday January 17th.
    A healthy pound a week is my goal and I am still on target.

    EATING HEALTHY:

    I ate with a calorie deficit every day this week including today (Sunday). I didn’t have a cheat day this week (except drinking alcohol) at all. I felt that cheating on Sunday led me to have less efficient work outs. I am saving a major cheat for Superbowl Sunday in two weeks!!!

    ALCOHOL:
    I drank 3 nights this week. I didn’t get drunk. 2-3 short whiskys max per evening. I like to enjoy beverages with my friends. I feel that I am developing full control of how much and if I drink or not.

    SUMMARY:

    Overall I feel that I have done well through my first 3 weeks into this 52 week commitment. There is still room for improvement though. Just taking it day by day being better than the next. Talk to you all next week. Don’t give up. Stay focused. Be positive. We can accomplish our goals. Be true to yourself.

    Jakewon

  18. Update #4:

    MONEY & FINANCES:

    I still didn’t make time or even looked for the book “The richest man in Babylon” this week. I am picking up one extra shift every two weeks to increase my income. I applied for another higher paying position at my work. I hope to take the testing for this position soon and have an update about the results.

    BUYING NEEDS VS WANTS:

    I have used up almost all the stored and frozen food from my freezer and pantry. I have only resupplied the perishable items and necessities. I have save about 300 dollars these past 4 weeks but only buying what I need.

    EXERCISE:

    I did my insanity cardio workout 6 days this week. I did not go to the gym this week to lift weights.I had several morning meetings that conflicted with my gym time this week. I coached my kids soccer teams for 3 hours total this week.
    I lost 1 pound this week. I am down to 233 lbs from 234 lbs last Sunday January 23rd.
    A healthy pound a week is my goal and I am still on target. Although I am only losing a pound per week my clothes are starting to get a bit baggier and I have to tighten my belt a rung now. I think maybe I should get a measuring tape to record the inches lost.

    EATING HEALTHY:

    I ate with a calorie deficit every day this week including today (Sunday). I didn’t have a cheat day this week (except drinking alcohol) at all. I am still saving a major cheat day for Superbowl Sunday next week!!! I am hoping for a good game where Manning gets sent packing.

    ALCOHOL:

    I drank 3 nights this week. I didn’t get drunk. Still just 2-3 short whiskys max per evening. I feel that I am still developing full control of how much and if I drink or not.

    SUMMARY:

    Overall I feel that I have done well through my first 4 weeks into this 52 week commitment. There is still room for improvement though. I feel some day I could have eaten at a lower calorie deficit but didn’t have the will power and was too hungry. I am still just taking it day by day trying to be as good or better than the next. Talk to you all next week. Don’t give up. Stay focused. Be positive. We can accomplish our goals one small step at a time. Be true to yourself. Take care of yourself.

    Jakewon

  19. Update #5:

    MONEY & FINANCES:

    I still didn’t make time or even looked for the book “The richest man in Babylon” this week. I worked an extra shift last week to make an extra couple of hundred on the next paycheck. I am scheduled to take computer testing for the position I applied for. I am going to the book store tomorrow and will get the babylon book.

    BUYING NEEDS VS WANTS:

    I am still using up all the stored and frozen food from my freezer and pantry. I splurged a bit for my Superbowl party yesterday, but it all came back full circle because we did a sort of pot luck. The only thing I am buying this week is a Valentine’s gift for my girlfriend. I hope she likes it. Oh also we are going out to dinner Saturday night so those two things will basically eat up the extra money from the extra shift I worked last week. Oh well. That is life.

    EXERCISE:

    I did my insanity cardio workout 6 days this week. I went to the gym one time to lift weights this week. I started an excel spreadsheet to keep track of my weight lifting results. I coached my kid’s soccer team for 1 this week. I lost 3 pounds this week. I am down to 230 lbs from 233 lbs last Sunday January 30th. A healthy pound a week is my goal and I am still on target. I ate really well except Sunday and got plenty of rest this week. I think that is why I lost 3 pounds. I did not get a measuring tape to keep track of my waist yet.

    EATING HEALTHY:

    I ate with a calorie deficit every day this week except Sunday. I ate anything and everything this Sunday and drank a 12 pack of delicious beer. I probably had a calorie surplus of 2,000 Sunday. Manning won but it was a good game so all was well.

    ALCOHOL:

    I got super drunk two nights this week. Well one really super drunk night and Sunday was mellow because i only drank beer. Going to try to not drink until Saturday night this week.

    SUMMARY:

    Overall I feel that I am still doing well through my first 5 weeks into this 52 week commitment. There is still room for improvement though. I feel some days I could have eaten at an even lower calorie deficit but didn’t have the will power and was too hungry. I am slowly getting better at this. I am still just taking it day by day trying to be as good or better than the next. Talk to you all next week. Don’t give up. Stay focused. Be positive. We can accomplish our goals one small step at a time. Be true to yourself. Take care of yourself.

    Jakewon

  20. Update #6:

    MONEY & FINANCES:

    I still didn’t make time or even look for the book “The richest man in Babylon” this week. I need to get on that. I signed myself off the mortgage of my ex wife’s condo this week, which will give me credit options. I am thinking about starting a small business to generate side income and a new line of credit could help with that. Valentine’s day set me back a couple hundred dollars. I really had a good time and it was money spent well worth it. I did work a stat holiday yesterday so I in turn made triple time which makes up for the VDAY splurge. I am paying off my debt even quicker since I secured that consolidation loan at a low interest rate a couple of months ago. I go for computer testing this week for yet another

    BUYING NEEDS VS WANTS:

    I only spent extra for Valentine’s day this week. I am eating super healthy and have cut out all fast food and processed foods with complex carbs and sugars. I actually spend way less money per month not going out to eat or buying fast food. I also feel less hungry and have more energy eating cleaner. This Sunday I am going to splurge for a meal and go to Carl’s Jr. they just opened a new one by my house. I believe it is the 4th or 5th one in Canada. I grew up in L.A. and lived off of Carl’s so I can’t wait to have a western bacon cheese with extra bbq sauce and bacon, some criss cut fries with two sides of ranch! The one thing I have been buying is a coffee a few times a week from Tim Horton’s. I am going to buy a coffee pot this weekend to save money over time. Each coffee is 2 dollars and monthly this adds up to almost 40 bucks. I should be saving money with in 2 months by buying a coffee makers and planning ahead.

    EXERCISE:

    I did my insanity cardio workout only 5 days this week. ;( I got really busy coaching my two kids (different soccer) teams this weekend. We had soccer tournaments. I feel that coaching soccer made up for the one missed insanity cardio work out. I only went one time to the gym this week to life weights. I am going to try to hit the gym twice during this week I am currently in. I need to lift more to maximize the excel spread sheet i have make to keep track of my progress. I am lifting slightly more weight each time I make it to the gym. My clothes are definitely way looser and getting pretty baggy. I am determined to not let the weight creep back up on me after this year is over.

    EATING HEALTHY:

    I ate really healthy this week. I am kept my food intake at a calorie deficit this week. I limited sugars and processed food big time. I haven’t weighed my self but I am positive that I am down at least one pound. I will give an exact weight next Sunday for sure.

    ALCOHOL:

    I drank 4 nights this week. I ended the week on a no drinking run. I am carrying this roll into the current week. I feel much much better not drinking every night. I didn’t even drink on Valentine’s and that was surprising.

    SUMMARY:

    I feel that I keep progressing with my goals. I am re-evaluating my goals and methods. I am refining them to make myself better mentally, physically and spiritually. I wonder if anyone even reads these updates? If you are reading I hope that you are staying motivated and striving to make yourself better in any of the 3 major categories of well being. Sorry for the delay but Sunday was hectic with Valentine’s Day and the soccer tournament. I needed all the sleep I could get yesterday. I worked a 10 hour shift that didn’t finish until midnight last night. Stay focused everyone….anyone? Till next week. Cheers.

    Jakewon

  21. Update #7:

    MONEY & FINANCES:

    Late update! So last week the finances and money were on par with the grand plan and going well. I still need to buy the Babylon book Neil recommended. Life is crazy busy being a single Dad with two young children to attend to. I keep buying all the generic products at stores and am still purchasing needs instead of wants.

    BUYING NEEDS VS WANTS:

    I didn’t even eat that Carl’s Jr. like I was craving. Maybe I will get to it this Sunday? It is all about buying needs, not wants. I am thinking of having a yard sale to get rid of all the extra stuff I have in my basement that never gets used and then donating everything that doesn’t sell to charity. Stay tuned for that update. The weather is getting warm fast here in Edmonton.

    EXERCISE:

    I did my insanity cardio workout only 6 days this week. I went to the gym to lift weight twice this week. I found a great online website to buy my protein powder and BCAA supplements. I save around 50% than I would going to the local store. I am down to 227 lbs. So that is 12lbs in 7 weeks. I am ahead of my one pound a week goal by 5 pounds. Not bad. The work outs are very difficult and sometimes I want to quit. They say if you do something for 28 days it becomes a habit, I think I now have an exercise habit. Which is great.

    EATING HEALTHY:

    Still eating healthy. I had a bag of kettle chips over the week. I hit or was below my calorie limit each day this week. I think I had a weekly deficit of about 1,500 calories, which with out exercise is one whole days worth of eating (spread out over 7 days).

    ALCOHOL:

    I drank one day this week and my girfriend got extremely mad about it because I told her I was trying not to drink. It did the trick. She is right. It is a waste of calories (since I am trying to lose weight), leaves a hang over (and thus me being in a bad mood), and is not that great over all. We made a deal to only drink together or for special occasions. Let us see how that goes.

    SUMMARY:

    Sorry for the late update. I have been super busy. Nobody probably reads this anyway. Until Sunday….hopefully. Take care.

  22. Update #9:

    MONEY & FINANCES:

    I am reading the Richest Man in Babylon now. I should be able to finish it this week. Money and finances are on track with previous posts. I believe the hiring freeze for this new position is going to be lifted sometime next week. Hopefully I get an interview and do well. I have been studying how to smash out an interview with inner circle resources. Hopefully all the practice I am doing for the interview, that I may or may not get, will pay off. I also started a side project with my company to enhance communication between management and employees. I believe this project I am heading up on my own time will increase my changes of getting the position I desire. On another note a friend and I are working on a new internet business. The business idea comes from a good place in our hearts and will help people live better more fulfilling lives. As the business unfolds I will post updates.

    BUYING NEEDS VS WANTS:

    I had some Carl’s Jr. this Tuesday. It tasted great. My son and I had a fantastic lunch that day. I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need this week. I opted for a 14 dollar a paycheck deduction per each of my two kids, for rec centre passes. I did this because every time we go to the rec centre it was costing me 14 dollars. Now we have unlimited access and this move will save me money in the long run. Still only buying the necessities. I even stopped buying my weekly bag of chips LoL. I opt for pretzels now which cost half the price and are a bit more healthy than potato chips.

    EXERCISE:

    I did my insanity cardio workout only 6 days this week. I am really starting to notice how much better I am doing these insanity work outs. Hopefully after week 16 I will be doing all the moves with out any breaks. Then I will be able to move up to the next level of difficulty in the series. I went to the gym to lift weights only once this week. Today I did an extra cardio work out at the gym, running on the elliptical for an hour. I wish I still lived in California. I miss surfing immensely. It is such a good way to work out your mind, body and spirit. I will get back eventually after my kids become self sufficient adults in 15 years. I am down to 225 lbs now. I am still ahead of my one pound a week goal by 5 pounds. My goal next week is to lift weights two times on Monday and Friday this week coming up.

    EATING HEALTHY:

    Still eating healthy. I eat salad with chicken, fish or pork every day. I ate fast food once this week. Just one burger and an order of chili cheese fries. I stayed under my calorie limit every day this week. I drank one beer when I went out with friends last night after work. I really don’t feel like drinking alcohol like I used to. We also went out and ate Mexican food to celebrate my daughters first dance performance. I had the fish tacos and some nachos, it wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t like real Californian, Mexican street food. I need a vacation stat!

    ALCOHOL:

    I drank one beer this week. I feel even better than I did last week because I am refraining from drinking. I recommend refraining from alcohol to anyone that drinks a lot and wants to feel better. The key is to replace all that time drinking with another hobby or activity. I just sleep more and those benefits are self explanatory. I took a special training course this weeks that educated me about alcoholism. The guidelines set out by the Canadian government say that an adult male can consume 15 drinks or less per week and still be considered healthy and not an alcoholic. Now if you drink all 15 drinks in one night…..that is another story.

    SUMMARY:

    As time goes by and I hold myself accountable to my “resolutional” goals, it gets a little easier and more like a normal routine. I believe 56 days have passed since I started this journey of accountability. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit and I have now double that time length. I have 1/7th of a year under my belt. I hope I will stay strong and dedicated and finish the other 6/7th of the year to go. Peace.

  23. Update #11:

    MONEY & FINANCES:

    Everything is going well in regards to savings and finances. I am on track to meet or exceed my goals for the next three months. I am going to make a better financial plan for the next 5 years soon. I am also going to invest more time researching how to attain financial freedom. Right now I am watching some really great workshops that I received from a friend. Some of the tips I have learned thus far have helped me immensely.

    BUYING NEEDS VS WANTS:

    I bought even less stuff this week. This was partly due to the fact that I was sick on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and didn’t eat anything or go anywhere. Not much else to update on this topic.

    EXERCISE:

    I did my insanity cardio workout only 4 days this week because I got sick. I weighed in at 221 lbs this week. I hit the gym on Wednesday only because I was sick the rest of the week. I have down sized to size 36 pants comfortably. I feel like I am starting to swim inside my dress shirts. If I didn’t get sick I would have had better results.

    EATING HEALTHY:

    I ate healthy for half the week when I wasn’t sick. Then I didn’t really eat at all for the second half of the week

    ALCOHOL:

    I drank a few hottie totties the second night I got sick because I ran out of medicine and a friend recommended this drink to lift my spirits. It did the job. I did not drink other than that night. I did how ever take a ton of cold and flu medicine. I haven’t been sick in almost two years and this flu came with a vengeance!

    SUMMARY:

    Next week will be my 12th week in a row staying on track. That is just about 25% of the year under my belt. I know that I can keep this up for 3 more cycles and complete my entire year of resolutions. This update was late again due to my sickness and life in general. It is not easy staying on track with the wrong mindset. I am realizing that to accomplish any long term goals in life you first have to change the way you think and then the way you act. Positive thoughts (for the most part) result in a positive life. I hope!!!

    Jakewon

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  25. Update #14 and 15:

    MONEY & FINANCES:

    I had to spend an extra 500 bucks this past week. It is for my kids to play sports. A very worthwhile investment in my opinion. Everything else is on autopilot.

    BUYING NEEDS VS WANTS:

    I have only bought necessities for the past two weeks. I am running lean. It feels good.

    EXERCISE:

    I did 12 insanity work outs these past two weeks. I did them even though I had severely pulled my back muscles in week 14. I am getting stronger and faster and in even better shape, minus the pulled back muscles.

    EATING HEALTHY:

    I didn’t eat healthy every day these past two weeks. I was about 70% good, 30% bad. It is very hard to maintain a healthy food intake every single day. There are so many temptations out there. The better I eat…..the more delicious McDonald’s smells as I drive by each establishment!

    ALCOHOL:

    I have been having a few drinks every night for the past 2 weeks.

    SUMMARY:

    These two weeks were a bit of lull in regards to my eating and working out goals. I did not lift weights these past two weeks. I plan to get back on track during week 16. It is also becoming a bit boring keeping up on these blogs. I guess there is where we truly make change. I have to sleep. Oh I broke up with my GF and opened up about 20 sets in the past 2 weeks. More on that next blog. Good night.

    Always,

    Jakewon

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