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2013-52 Week 2

I really have to think of some way to open these blogs other than, “Hey, it’s already week X?” It’s only week 2 and that’s already old. I am grateful that I’m not doing the blog-a-day thing this week, as I’m living Monday through Friday on Mountain Standard Time due to a training for work (I’m taking the training online in the office, but it’s starting at 7am everyday). Follow that up with an early 5K down at Disneyland on Saturday, and I’m going to be pretty tired this week.

One highlight of this week is my (and Jess, of course) 8th wedding anniversary. We celebrated a little early, going to see the Cirque du Soleil production Iris at the Dolby theater on Hollywood and Highland last Friday night. It closes for good on the 19th and Jess had really wanted to see it due to the movie theme, so I decided to grab some tickets for a Christmas/Anniversary gift. I say Jess wanted to not meaning that I didn’t, as I was curious, but these kind of shows are generally something I’m not terribly interested in. I got our seats through the online deal site Goldstar, so we didn’t know exactly where we would end up in the theater. We wound up dead center . . . three rows back in the nose bleed. It worked out well enough, as we could see everything except for small sections of the front of the stage where heads in front of us were in the way. We were certainly in the best place for the high flying aspects, as the performers were topping off at our level. We both came away with the same opinions, the show was technically impressive but the story line was lacking (I know, but I like to have a story to follow) and some of the characters were annoying. We’re glad we saw the show before it left, but wouldn’t be dragging anyone to see it if it was hanging around.

In exciting news for a certain small subset of the population that includes myself, hockey is back after the stupidest lockout in the history of lockouts. I would go through all the bluster of how they disrespected the fans and the owners are all greedy monsters, but just getting to see the Kings raise a Stanley Cup banner and go about defending the title is enough to wipe all that garbage away. Well, that and the fact that boycotting really punishes the players more, and they were more like victims in this whole thing than guilty parties. So I will enjoy watching the games, although apparently only through the TV as tickets for the opening game are already at ridiculous levels (I’m hearing reports of 155 dollars for nosebleed!), and I’m not giving the owners that much cash for anything. I hear the tickets are on demand pricing now, so we’ll see what level they settle at. So for now it’s simply “Go Kings Go!”

I did buy an experimental toy yesterday that I will have to keep you updated while I, well, experiment with it. I have long been trying to figure out a way to connect our TV in the living room to the internet without running a super long cable into the bedroom. Mind you, I haven’t been working overly hard on this, but every so often I’ll poke around technology stores or sections and see if anything pops up. My main idea was to get a router that was compatible with Tomato USB firmware and extend my wireless network with a bridge, but I was having a hard time tracking down a compatible router since they are a relatively limited number of compatible ones or without having to pay an arm and a leg. I got a Best Buy gift card for Christmas (thanks Cary and Nancy!) and a bonus reward zone certificate from buying my laptop (as well as another one I earned), so I was fairly flush with Best Buy currency. I decided to look for a small computer that I could put in the living room and connect to the TV and wireless network for fairly cheap. Nothing I found worked for what I wanted, as they were either too bulky or too costly. Once I reordered the list by price, however, I did find a little solid state box that plugged into the computer via HDMI, ran Android 4.0, and was mostly covered by my cache of Best Buy cash. It will take a week or two to arrive, but I’ll let you know what I can accomplish with it when it gets here.

I had another gift card that wasn’t to a specific store (thanks Mom and Dad!) and thought of the perfect usage for it, as it was time to replace my old running shoes. Actually, it was well past time, as the last time I bought new ones was before Phidippides (a running store in the Valley) was bought out by Fleet Feet Sports, a process that occurred nearly two years ago. My current pair has over four hundred miles on them, and that’s at the upper end of what a pair of running shoes should be put through. I could tell the cushioning was breaking down for the last few months, but getting a new pair is a bit of a process and I just hadn’t set aside the time to do it yet. Actually, that process is a large part of the reason that I go to Phidippides/Fleet Feet, as they take the time to sit with you and go through many differnt pairs of shoes to find something that works the best for you. I think I seriously went through over a dozen pairs of shoes the first time there, and it was completely worth it. Before investing in my first pair of shoes there, I would twist my ankle at least once a month while out running. In all of my test running in the different pairs of shoes at the store, they diagnosed me as someone who under-pronates (my feet hit the ground on the outside first and roll across to the arch) which means I required some extra support in my shoe, and I’ve rolled my ankle running only once since (and that’s around four years or more). So with some free time and financially aided, I went down on Saturday and it only took three pairs this time, as I wound up getting the updated version of the pair I was using before. I’ve been on one run with them so far and they’ve been doing great.

I did make a sad discovery on the way to and from the shoe store, however, and that is my world has gotten smaller since we moved to Chatsworth. The Valley for me, growing up, went from Topanga Canyon on the West, the 118 on the North, Sepulveda Blvd on the East, and the 101 Freeway on the South. Very rarely would I need to venture out of those boundaries in the course of day-to-day life, so anything else was special (or, if something I didn’t want to do, a chore). Since we’ve moved away from campus, however, the East border has moved in by three or so miles to Lindley (the East side of the school). Driving down Balboa to go the Shoe store (which is located down on Ventura and Hayvenhurst) there were three major changes that I had no idea had occurred in the last year. Balboa was one of our most used streets when we lived by campus, but we’ve managed to fold everything in to the West of school now that we live in the Northwest corner of the Valley. Just something that struck my as mildly amusing, but a little sad.

Finally, as promised, the most recent edition of the Cutting Edge Karate blog has been posted. I didn’t really explain the process when I posted the first link, I just mentioned that I was co-writing it. We’re still working on the process, but initially Master Kemmer has sent me a topic, a sort-of outline, and a bunch of supporting materials for me to work with, and then I put it together with any of my thoughts into a blog post and then send it back. I was a bit too ambitious with the second post, however, and wound up writing upwards of 1800 words. The post was handed off to another person for some editing, and I have since promised to tone it down a bit in future posts. In case you are curious, however, I have received permission to post the original, unedited version here. I make no claims as to whether it is better or worse, but just thought people might want to see what it looks like when I overdo something (in case you haven’t been on one of my scavenger hunts).

Speaking of overdoing it, I should probably wrap this up as I go on Mountain time when I wake up tomorrow.

Weight: 230 Loss: 0 lbs – Running Yearly Mileage: 17 miles (+8 miles) Last year-to-date: 6.5 miles – Words-to-date: 4563 (+3323)


The beginning of the New Year has long been a time for resolutions, setting goals for one to accomplish in the year ahead. We set goals all the time, but it is the allure of the fresh slate and the helpfulness of the new calendar that lends the goals set at the beginning of the year a special meaning, thus the special name of “resolution.” In reality, it is best to set goals independent of any specific time of the year, especially since studies and surveys have placed the failure rate of New Year’s resolutions between 85-95%. Hopefully this blog post will inspire you to create some new goals, regardless of when you are reading it.

“The most important thing about goals is having one.”
Geoffrey F. Abert

What is a goal, and why set them, anyway? A goal is defined as a desired result a person envisions, plans, and commits to achieve. While searching for information about goals online, you will find several commonly repeated statistics. Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, has found about 80% of Americans never set goals for themselves. No one has ever achieved a goal they haven’t set. It is important to keep in mind, however, that of the 20% that do set goals, 70% fail to achieve them. What is the number one thing you can do to greatly improve your chances of achieving your goals? Write them down! People who write down their goals have up to an 80% higher chance of attaining them. Committing your goals to paper (or electronic bits) is just one way to help increase your odds of being successful.

“Goals that are not written down are just wishes.”
Fitzhugh Dodson

Research done at the Dominican University of California supports not only writing down your goals as key to their success, but also two other components which will greatly improve your odds of accomplishing your goals. The first is accountability, in this study the act of sending weekly progress reports to a friend led to those people accomplishing significantly more of their goals. Find someone you trust to hold you accountable to your goals, show them your written goals, and then keep them updated. You’ll find their encouragement will help fuel your desire to reach that goal. The second component is a public commitment, which increases the number of people who can potentially hold you accountable and encourage you. If it is a goal you are comfortable sharing, letting other people know (if they are interested, of course) can be key to achieving it.

When setting goals, there are two things to consider: first, the type of goal that you want to make (and obviously you can have several goals of the same or different types at the same time) and second, how you set your goal. While the details of your goals will certainly depend on type, it is actually using the proper techniques to create your goals that will have the greatest impact on whether or not you succeed. Setting proper goals is crucial, since a well-constructed goal makes you ten times more likely to be successful in achieving it.

How does one create goals that are primed for success? A helpful mnemonic is the acronym SMART, first used by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. SMART stands for Specific, Meaningful, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely and represents the characteristics of a goal that is formulated for success. Let’s look at these characteristics individually.

Specific – Simply setting a goal like “lose weight” is too generic and is the easiest type to ignore. Instead attach an action and form of measurement so that your goal has the ability to assist you as well as inspire you. Taking the “lose weight” example, a better goal would be “I will lose one pound a week,” which includes a built in measurement.
Meaningful – Continuing the weight loss example, an even better goal would be “I will lose weight by cutting two hundred calories from my diet every day until I weigh X pounds” that makes an even more specific commitment which has easy to gauge milestones. Making goals meaningful means that they are measureable and include a final benchmark that indicates success has been achieved.
Attainable –The keyword here is realistic. One cannot expect to blast one hundred pounds off their body in a month without some serious surgery. It is unlikely that you can read eight books in a month if your previous pace was one a year. It is okay to set high goals, but the key is to be realistic, as constantly failing to achieve your goals because they are too grandiose is going to damage your motivation and hamper future goal setting.
Relevant – This characteristic is the easiest to attain, as you simply want to make goals that matter to you. In general, we set goals to accomplish tasks and to improve ourselves or the world around us, and we only need to check and make sure that our goal is something that we want to attain in the near future.
Timely – Finally, we need to have a time limit on our goal so that we are motivated to work on it. Simply wanting to “lose weight” in the future is a sure way to have the future arrive with no weight loss. Much like a deadline at a job or in schoolwork ensures that you know when results on a project are expected, a goal date will help with measuring progress towards your goal. This date should be attainable, but not so far in the future as to encourage putting things off.

Karate itself (you thought we’d never get to Karate in this post, didn’t you?) has some excellent mechanisms to hone your goal setting ability. If a goal seems too large and/or far off that it doesn’t seem like it will be Meaningful, Relevant, or Timely, like testing for your Black Belt when you are in the lower ranks, it doesn’t mean you can’t set that goal, it simply means that you need to break that goal up into smaller, more manageable goals. That’s right, goals within goals, where accomplishing smaller goals builds up to a larger one. In working towards the larger goal of being a Black Belt, you can initially focus on completing the requirements for the next belt. In setting the goal of getting your next belt, you can set goals for each aspect of the test, such as improving aspects of the Forms required for your level, also perhaps focusing on the side kicks in your kicking progressions, and having a goal of learning the next one-step. Each of these goals should be written down and have concrete steps attached to them which will help you accomplish that goal. Write these steps in the present tense, such as “I will do 100 side kicks on each leg every day so my side kicks are stronger and more beautiful.” This will let you know what you need to do today to reach your goal in the future.

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
Proverbs 21:5

Karate is just one area in which we can set goals, and achieving goals in all areas of our lives allows us to accomplish great things. There are several categories below in which you can set out to accomplish a goal and some examples for each:

Mental – Perhaps some education related goals, maybe more reading, or picking up a foreign language.
Physical – Exercise a certain number of times a week or lose a certain number of pounds.
Family – Dedicate one night a week to date night with your spouse or setting aside time to have a family game night once a week
Social – Get together (or call far away ones) with certain friends once a month, have a movie or game night once a month, or go to the movies with friends more.
Spiritual – Attend church once a week, join a Bible study, or read the Bible more often.
Career – Start your own business, show up to work on time every day, or get a promotion.
Financial – Start a savings account for retirement or earn a certain amount of money in a given period.

As written above, these are terrible goals, but taking them and making them specifically apply to your situation following the guidelines above will turn them into great ones. Of course, you may have your own in these categories, and you want to be SMART with them as well.

One last topic before we wrap this up: the importance of fitness goals. The blessing (and curse) of getting into shape or maintaining fitness is that we are never done. We must always push our bodies further for it to improve, and we can’t stop being active or we will not maintain our level of fitness. Of course Karate is a great way to do this, encouraging strength, flexibility, and endurance while taking part in system that is fantastic for setting and constantly achieving smaller goals in pursuit of a larger one. One should not rely on one area alone, however, but instead maintain a variety of active interests that you enjoy. It won’t do you much good if you are setting goals doing something you dislike, and will eventually set you up for failure. Find (or continue) activities you love and/or enjoy and your goals for getting into shape (or maintaining your fitness) will be that much easier.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”
Jim Rohn

Finally, do not become discouraged with any failure in the individual steps of your goal. The long term success is dependent upon the accumulation of many smaller steps, and messing up on one is likely not going to completely wreck your goal. If you eat too much one day, or don’t do the number of kicks you said you would one day, or even a couple days in a row, don’t worry and just start over again the next day. Feelings of guilt will no more help you accomplish your goals than doing nothing, so don’t feel guilty and start to do something again. Success is in the big picture goal, and that success will be built upon getting back up if you fail in the middle. Ideally you will accomplish every step every day, but don’t assume failure just because you missed a day or two.

That certainly should help you start setting some goals and equip you with the tools to achieve them. Why don’t you write down some goals right now and see if you can start making them better? Leave a comment with your goals if you want some public accountability, we’ll be glad to help encourage you!

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  1. Stephen said

    Tomato is for people who like pretty colors. dd-wrt forever!

    Oh, and which box? Using the PBO Core unit (since it was compatible with our old TV) and am quite happy with it. It’s since been replaced by Patriot with the Alpine model, which sounds very similar to what you’re getting.

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