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Another AULD LANG SYNE … 2016 Bring It On!!

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Mt Everest SummerGH Everest

 

Above – the BEST (May) and WORST (December) times to run up Giant’s Head Mountain!

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I asked a person I’ve come to loath recently if he had any goals for 2016.

He said,

When you set goals you limit yourself.

To goals.”

I used to like that guy.

But his brilliant answer was too blue-chip for me to have even a modicum of respect for him after he outshone my thought process. A-hole!!!! (OK, a good 2016 goal would be to elevate my level of respectfulness, would you agree?)

A goal is supposed to be something to reach towards. A challenge. An achingly satisfying stretch that requires mental or physical effort.

Sometimes my goals even scare me because I fear I won’t make it or I’m not up to it. I hate to disappoint myself almost as much as I hate to disappoint others.

Most of us find it a struggle to reach our goals. I do that too.

But it’s a limit.

Sometimes, I realize, a goal holds me back from what I’m really capable of.

When I reach it, or gaze out towards the time horizon and see it well within my myopic sights, I relax and take my foot off the pedal. I coast until I find myself a whole new goal, which may not come until another New Year begins … or worse still, never.

An example? I took a lengthy breather this year from climbing my local Giant’s Head mountain… so-named for its gigantic facial profile when viewed from the southeast.

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Snowy Giant’s Head in December … so much easier to run up in April …

Last January I set a goal to summit the 300m-in-height-extinct-volcano –  30 times in 2015, the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest.

Back then, it looked to me like a stretch goal, but I really miscalculated the “challenge” of the challenge. A mere 3 climbs each month (a 1 hour per “there and back” running time) was a simple task really.

Coasting along like a tortoise, I grew complacent, growing more and more plump and relaxed in my La-Z-Boy and found myself having to capture the last 10 ascents in the final 31 days of 2015. How do you spell PROCRASTINATION?

I know I procrastinate… BADLY. Trudging through deeper snows and bitter winds at year-end was a nasty reminder that knowing thyself is an important consideration.

When my two fellow challengees (Pam and Jennifer) finished their goal of 30 climbs within 3 months and 10 months respectively, it became readily apparent to this slacker that doing only 2/3’s of the task prior to December was foolhardy.

In 2016, I promise to work more diligently in opposition to procrastination and finish challenging projects and goals in a more timely way.

Briefly, these were some of my 2015 goals and how I fared in capturing some of those ideals:

PHYSICAL

  • 30 times running up Giant’s Head aka the Mount Everest Challenge? Yup, eventually with only 2 days to spare. CHECK!
  • 2 half marathons – I completed the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon in May and began a second half marathon in Kelowna in October (I dropped out at the 10k marker because of a dumb but significant self-inflicted injury 2 weeks prior to the race) … I say good enough. CHECK!

CHARITABLE

  • 10% Charitable Donation boost? Both UNICEF and PLAN International received their 10% boosted payouts this year.  CHECK!
  • SOUP KITCHEN and Salvation Army hamper fill? I continued my twice a month volunteer shifts at the SOUPATERIA in Penticton and then assisted the Salvation Army crew pack and distribute 800+ food hampers before Christmas… CHECK!

WRITING

  • Write 50 blog posts, one per week … I’ve been doing this for 3 1/2 years now and in 2015 I wrote you 51 of these weekly missives. YOU should be the one congratulated for this… THANK YOU for reading my mental droppings and keeping me motivated and inspired … CHECK!
  • Aim for 75 blog views daily on my MAN ON THE FRINGE site. Although I didn’t reach my daily goal of 75 visits per day… I did have a 17% increase to an average of 63 views daily versus 54 per day in 2014 … No CHECK here, but I’m content that I have quality readers over quantity … wouldn’t you agree?

MUSIC

  • 12 String Guitar – this one just taunts and teases me and like a slippery eel, seems to keep eluding me. I play my 6-string guitar more than ever now and have chosen my ideal 12 string purchase (Taylor 356 CE). Dropping a few thousand dollars on a would-love-to-have but don’t-need-to-have item has proven more difficult than I envisioned. Stick with me and we’ll see if 2016 is THE 12-String Guitar Breakout Year! No CHECK.
  • Build a Guitar… I’m still very intrigued by the notion of constructing my own musical instrument. There are a number of different LUTHIER (guitar-building) schools to choose from. I’m gonna keep trying here. No CHECK yet … NOPE.
  • Write more Songs and perform original songs publicly. This one I happily give a HALF-CHECK because even though I haven’t developed the discipline to consistently write songs that I’m happy with, I have begun to get out there and perform. I participated in 3 public sessions (1 funeral and 2 open mic evenings) where I played cover songs as well as a bit of my own music.

 

TRAVEL

  • Visit New-To-Me Central American country. In January we visited and toured along the western coast of Nicaragua in Central America. I learned to roll my own cigar and took a cooking course from an engaging Nicaraguan woman who showed us how to prepare Indio Viejo.

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    Rolling my own cigar has me prepared for the legalization of marijuana in Canada …

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Street dining in Leon, Nicaragua …

  • American States? My lifetime goal is to visit all 50 U.S. States. I’m stuck at 26 so far and added no new ones to my list in 2016. No CHECK!

FINANCIAL

  • 15% average annual return. My long-term average of +12.2% wasn’t helped along at all this year as the Toronto Stock Exchange dropped 11%, the New York Exchange fell 3.5%. And my 2015 result?? Drumroll please … +8.3%. It’s not a bad return given the state of markets in general, but I’m hopeful that I can boost myself back well into the double digits this coming year. You can do your part to bolster my year-end results by purchasing an iWatch, visiting Disneyland, and buying a John Deere tractor with a loan from the Royal Bank. No CHECK!

FOOD AND EATING 

  • Study Cooking for One Day in any Travel Destination – as I said above, we spent a morning shopping the tiny fresh meat and vegetable stalls of San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua with a local lady, Teodora. We returned to her hostel where she instructed us in Spanish on the preparation of Indio Viejo (Old Indian), a traditional Nicaraguan beef stew. CHECK!
  • Develop a repertoire of Egg Recipes … we have lots of eggs but alas no new recipes (however, there is a recipe silver lining I’ll talk about below) … NOPE … No CHECK!

2015.

Done, deposited and secured in the Book of Life.

As a side note, it’s always fun to consider and embrace the unexpected.

Additional accomplishments? Unexpected Surprises. There were a few …

  • Tough Mudder – my daughter and her partner dragged me through the muck and bone-rattling chill of a Tough Mudder challenge in Whistler, B.C. Mucky, messy, difficult and yet, supremely satisfying.
  • Lake Swim – I actually do this 2.7 k swim across Okanagan Lake once each summer with my friend Jennifer. This year we did it in record time, shaving 9 minutes off our previous best.
  • Surf a Volcano – actually, it was Volcano tobogganing. Sliding speedily down a black-ash covered volcano-side in Nicaragua was exhilarating and total black-faced sooty fun.
  • Learned to Make Animal Balloons – a local artisan sale needed someone to produce balloon animals for the kidlets. I spent a couple of hours on YouTube learning the craft and pumped out blown-up puppies and ladybugs and swords. Maybe I’ll consider Cirque de Soleil next!
  • Bought and Raised Laying Chickens – after finishing coop construction this past spring, we purchased 11, day-old chicks that provide us nearly a carton of beautiful brown eggs every single day. Please drop by for a souffle! Would you, PLEASE!!!!
  • Took a week-long Bartender course in May, and then found myself a-mixin’ and a-pourin’ part time at a local Greek restaurant. My special Christmas Cocktail recipe? The SNOWFLAKE MARTINI… rim a martini glass with shredded coconut. Mix and shake some ice with 2 oz. vanilla vodka, 2 oz. Malibu Rum, 1/2 oz. blue Curacao, 1 tsp coconut cream… strain into the martini glass and a beautiful, but VERY strong ice-blue martini awaits your party sipping.

There you have it.

Was my year “Perfection”?? NOPE. I don’t expect perfection. I expect to try. I expect to feel a stretch. I expect to challenge myself.

Steve Jobs said something about challenging ourselves:
He said that you have to go out and expose yourself to the best of what others have done, and then bring some of it back and add it to what you’re doing.

This is why I look to others for inspiration. Inspiration isn’t naturally occurring.

I look to others. I listen to great harmony music. I read inspiring, positive books and articles.

I steal like crazy any and all things that make my heart beat rapidly.

And I try to stay constantly vigilant for the little – or big – things that happen in my vicinity that I can use in my own life.

My watchword of 2015 was SIMPLIFY.

Simple, right?

SIMPLIFY.

I needed to stop pushing for more and better to the point where I was beating myself up for not accomplishing something, or not doing it as quickly as I thought I should. Take the pressure off and SIMPLIFY (Of course, this excludes the procrastination point I made earlier).

Now, it’s time for looking outwards  and … forward into the future.

My Watchword for 2016?

OPPORTUNITY.

OPPORTUNITY.

OPPORTUNITY.

Rather than list a set of goals for 2016, I’m setting my sights on opportunities.

When something comes floating down the lazy river my way that I haven’t tried?

And it makes my pulse rate rise in anticipation?, excitement?, maybe just a touch of fear?

I want to try to take hold and enjoy it like smooth, creamy, delicious chocolate.

CHOCOLATE?

Yup … Eating chocolate triggers oxytocin in the brain, the same neurochemical triggered when we have sex (sorry, not you and I, but sex in general).

Opportunity. It makes me feel like king of the world. It makes me feel more bonded with the people around me. It makes me soar.

2016… the year of OPPORTUNITY.

I hope you have a wonderful year filled with adventure, love and opportunity.

Thank you for reading my blog and helping me live my life of opportunity, even if I am just a MAN ON THE FRINGE!

opportunity

 

 

 

He SHOOTS, He…almost SCORES — 2013 Goals, not Resolutions

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I’m the Wayne Gretzky of goal scorers…

well, let’s make that goal “makers”!

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100% of shots

I don’t DO New Year’s Resolutions…but I DO do New Year’s GOALS.

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GOALS

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I grew up a true stereotypical Canadian male — hockey courses through my veins. Which, as a blood-sucking lab technologist, it’s good to know that something runs through these old venous pipes.

I learned early on at 5 or 6 years of age that there are lots of contributing roles that can be filled by a fine hockey player. There is the defender who drops fearlessly, crotch or face-first in front of opposing goal scorers as they release a powerful slapshot towards the net.

There is the enforcer, who with his/her brawny intimidation and slurs against opponents’ mommys, beckons tears from the players of the other team, taking them off their mindset of scoring goals.

There is the playmaker who dipsy-doodles like an Olympic figure skater before slipping the puck to the another player who blasts it past the goalie.

And then there is the pure goal scorer, who pops the puck into the back of the net with staggeringly awesome consistency. I began my childhood hockey career as a fantastic goal scorer. Mostly because the other 6 and 7 year olds could barely skate, much less shoot a puck straight. Anyway, with each year passing, the other kids got better and faster and stronger. I learned to love cookies and got slower and fatter. I slowly migrated back to becoming a defenceman who gets the frozen puck slammed into his face and groin.

Almost anyone who plays or admires the game of hockey wants to score goals or see lots of them. Goals win games. Goals win the hearts of the cheering, adoring fans. And it’s goals that coax the panties off the young blonde Barbie-hockey groupies who hang out in cold city or prairie arenas each winter, looking for that strapping hot, hard, stick-toting stud with the “moves like Jagger”.

Lick the stanley cup

WARNING to HOCKEY GROUPIES…don’t do this outdoors in the middle of winter…

So it’s probably that last point that inspired my lifelong path from scoring great hockey goals to great goal-setting in life. It’s all about reaching for Maslow-like “self-actualization”. Goals are something that I’ve taken from the hockey arena and dropped squarely into the middle of my own day-to-day lap. I remember faintly the lessons of my Grade 13 physics class — when I wasn’t too busy staring at Charlene, the ever-so-sweet brunette ahead on my left — relating to Newton’s First Law that states,“an object at rest tends to stay at rest”.

Newton describes me to a TEE. I’m not like YOU. I like to rest. I like to stay at rest. I am so lazy.

But the best way to get me off my butt is with a good challenge, a GOAL, not through a New Year’s resolution. You may forcefully state that it’s semantics, but I believe that goals and resolutions have a slightly nuanced difference.

A RESOLUTION is “a firm decision to do or not to do something“. Like quitting smoking, or gaining enough weight to get on The Biggest Loser, or not licking flag poles in the winter, or starting a blog once I can think of something important to say.

From the practical perspective, most resolutions work from a negative point of view…”I won’t do this”, “I won’t do that”. By the second or third week of January…you’ve stumbled, you’re toast and the game has been lost until the following New Year, a full 11 and a half months distant.

A GOAL is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result“. Goals, unlike resolutions, come at you from the opposite, or more positive, perspective. A goal should be very specific and achievable – making a goal of growing an extra finger on the top of your head to flip at annoying drivers without having to turn around is laudable, but not achievable.

A goal sets a desired result that you go for unceasingly, like paying down 20% on the mortgage, or not paying your personal trainer more than $100 for sex, or convincing 2 friends to start smoking so that you feel less lonely. With goals, you generally have the whole year to work towards an objective that stretches you beyond where you are now, and hopefully to a level that you think is ALMOST unachievable for YOU.

funny-life-goals-internet

At the end of 2011, I sat down at this computer and wrote down a list of those things that I hoped to accomplish in 2012. Honestly, I bombed totally on a few…BUT…I struck gold on a few others.

Following is a sampling of where I skipped unerringly along the Yellow Brick Road, and others where I swerved like your Drunk Uncle on New Year’s Eve.

So, Where did I strike LEAD?

  • Visit Ireland…NOPE, made it to Scotland, but not Ireland.
  • 100 Pushups non-stop…Not even close. I only made it as far as 41 on March 12.
  • Overall Financial Net Worth Return of >15%…Only halfway with a total return of 7.9%.
  • Run a sub-4 hr marathon…Missed again. It took me 4:35 to complete the Vancouver Marathon.
  • Write and Publish 1 article in the Globe and Mail “Facts & Arguments” section…I did submit an essay, but I’ve yet to see it in print.
If I can do 10 pullups, so can you!

If I can do 10 pullups, so can you!

And the GOLD?

  • Hold a Yoga plank for 5 minutes Non-Stop…Knocked that one off just a couple of weeks ago in mid-December…whew…killer!!
  • Try 2 “new-to-me” sports…Check. Did Tai Chi on a Yangtze River cruise in China in March. Snowshoeing in nearby mountains in January.
  • Visit Spain and China…Check (October) and Check (March)!
  • 10 Pullups (Chinups) Non-Stop…Check. Only barely accomplished TODAY!!
  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10%…Check. or is it Cheque?? Both UNICEF and International PLAN got a 10% raise this year.
  • Start a Blog and write 2 new posts each week…Check…sort of. I did initiate this blog, but cut back to 1 entry per week about a month ago to concentrate some more time on music and songwriting.

Now 2013 sits before us, beckoning teasingly and holding hope for each of us. They say you should share your goals as a way of holding your feet to the fire. Telling others adds subtle pressure, helping to keep your motivation levels way up there.

So, my friends, I’m putting some of my 2013 list of goals out, here and now. I know you’ll be supportive, and not laugh TOO much in those areas where I crash spectacularly. Many still laugh raucously (and ever so cruelly!) at my earlier talk of retiring at 35, then 40, then 45…then…well, you get the point. Here I am at 55 years, gainfully (and happily I might add) employed in a medical laboratory.

GOALS for 2013

  • Pay off investment loans in anticipation of debt-free retirement in 2014
  • Bring blog posting total to 100 and views to 7500…today’s blog entry is #39 with 2,383 viewings to date.
  • Write 12 songs…one per month.
  • 20 Pullups Non-Stop.
  • Take cooking classes in Spanish-speaking country (Argentina/Costa Rica??)
  • Try 2 more “new-to-me”sports (eg. kettlebells, curling, paddleboarding)
  • 100 pushups Non-stop
  • Purchase 12-string guitar
  • Overall Net Worth Return of >15% -(investigate more underanalyzed small cap stocks, follow arbitrage opportunities)
  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10%
  • Grow larger vegetable garden and process more for winter use.
  • Run 2 Half Marathon races (sub 2 hrs)

I keep my list of written GOALS on my desktop of the computer as a continual reminder, a strong motivator, and a Hannibal Lecter-like fear factor facing directly at me every day. We all have our core values, passions, and purpose…goal-setting is my way of reaching and stretching myself forward in those directions that are paramount to me.

I am the lead actor and director in my own life’s production. There are those who wake up each morning and cheerfully improvise their lives like a “Second City” performance. For me, spontaneity, joy, and enthusiasm are found on the rehearsal stage when I’m extending my limits in search of the goals I’ve set for myself.

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