Archive | January, 2013

New 30 Day Challenge: Tracking Water Intake

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of taking 30 day challenges. Starting on Tuesday (2 days ago), I began tracking my water intake completely.

For those of you who don’t remember why I started doing 30 day challenges (heck, the name of my blog was “Life in 30 Days” for a little while…man I liked that name), watch the  video below from Matt Cutts talk at TED. It’s a great talk, and I think we can all take something away from it.

I have been trying to track entirely too much.

  • Water
  • Food
  • Weight (daily)
  • Body Measurements
  • Coffee
  • Vitamin Intake
  • Blog Ideas
  • Business Ideas
  • etc.
It was overload. And it was stupid. I was in a “super motivated” state of mind, and I decided to track all of these things. Guess what happens when you do something like this? You succeed wonderfully! I was tracking everything, and I developed great mechanisms for doing so. I loved it.
…then your motivation slows, your interest wanes, and you miss a day. Then you forget your vitamins one day, then you eat a particularly bad day, or you sleep away from home (and all of your tracking tools) and suddenly…you’re off the wagon.

How to Track Water

So let’s look at Water. I tracked it religiously for a little while – just see the screen shot below. Then I slipped, and slipped, and slipped. Well now I’m back!
Note: I use an app for Android called Water Your Body – it tracks water, weight (if you want) and nothing else. In fact, if you input your weight, the app will give you a recommended water intake level.
The App Makes it Very Easy to track Water Intake

As you can see, I was awesome – I logged every day (and drank a TON of water!

October was Strong

November…I fell off a cliff

 When November rolled around, I tracked my intake a little bit, but not much at all. The days which do have water tracked were mostly incomplete anyway.

How will I do it?

I will use Water Your Body just like I used to. To make this easier, I’ll use mostly my 16 oz. Lifefactory water bottle (picture below). I love this bottle because it is glass, so there is no leeching of chemicals or anything – it’s a great bottle. Trust me, I’m not going to go into the details about what makes it so great.
Love this Water Bottle!
The app will default to 16 oz. That means that every time I finish my water bottle, I need only open the app, and tap once. That will mark it, and it will be properly tracked for me.

Is This Supposed to be Hard?

Actually, no, it’s not supposed to be hard. In fact, this is supposed to be easy. If I wanted a difficult challenge, I would go ahead and try to track all 9 things I used to track. 
You see, I’m using the 30-day challenge to develop a habit. I have chosen something that is decidedly easy, and the goal is that by the end of 30 days, it will be formed into a habit. Ideally, by the end of this challenge, I will instinctively reach for my phone to track my water every time I finish a drink of water.
In fact, notice that I’m not setting a goal for water intake. I am betting that I will naturally drink more water when I track it. I’m not trying to build the habit of drinking 192 ounces of water every day, I’m setting the goal of tracking it. If I have nothing more than a 4 ounce Dixie cup, then that is what I’ll track. This is not about the water, it’s about the tracking.
I’m actually hoping this will serve as a bit of a keystone habit to start me on a positive upswing again. I’ve been falling downward lately (more on that later), and I am trying to bust out of my rut (foreshadowing: You’ll get the next in the series of Rut Busters as I’m actually working out of a rut!)

But Why Water?

Because water is so damned important! It’s the greatest drink in the world. We almost all don’t get enough of it, too. If you increase your water intake, you will feel better. I promise that. It might be difficult at first (due to all of the extra liquid), but as your bladder catches up, but it will get easier. 
You don’t have to do a 30-day challenge, but at least try this:
  1. When you are hungry, have a glass of water first. Hunger is very often mistaken thirst. If you are still hungry 10 minutes after the water, then go eat something!
  2. First thing in the morning drink at least 16 oz. of water (if you can only do 8 oz, that’s okay) or up to 2 liters (as David Wolfe suggests). You will be amazed at your energy – you might not even need coffee (though if you’re like me, you’ll still drink it) Often, we get dehydrated overnight, so the water replenishes what we have lost which is making us feel sluggish. Another tip (this one comes from Tim Ferris) is to have 2 Tablespoons of Almond butter before bed. This stabilizes your blood sugar – another cause of morning fatigue for many of us.
Water has such a huge effect on us, that I want to have this tracked as a personal habit – that way I can easily diagnose it as the cause if I’m feeling particularly sluggish (see those charts? How easy is it to read that data!)
So there you go. A new Challenge. It’s easy, achievable, measurable, and it will likely lead to an increased water intake which will help so many other facets of life. This is going to be a good one!
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Have You Set Your 2013 Goals Yet?

Is 2013 going to be a year of success, or a year of failure?

It’s up to you, but based on the weak sign up rates for the Goal Reminders, I’m guessing it’ll be a year of failure (or at least of limited success) for many of you.
I really, truly want all of you to sign up for the 2013 Goal Reminders (link on right, or the form is below). It takes 5 minutes tops (that includes the time to think through your goals). 
The way it works
  1. You sign up for the reminders – include your name, e-mail address (spam free, I promise) and 1-3 goals for the year
  2. Then, on pre-determined dates (below), you’ll receive an e-mail that shows your goals, and has a quick tip
  3. You continue to work towards your goals, reminded, and assisted along the way
  4. When 2014 rolls around, your life is measurably better

When will I get the e-mails?

When I first wrote about the program, I didn’t have the dates finalized. Now, the program is finalized, and the dates are as follows. You’ll receive a Goal Reminding e-mail on:
  • January 14
  • February 4
  • March 4
  • April 1
  • May 6
  • June 3
  • July 1
  • August 5
  • September 2
  • October 7
  • November 4
  • December 2

What is it really going to cost?

For you. Nothing
For me, there are costs associated with the mail service I use, but I so badly want you to achieve your goals, that I am willing to accept that cost. 
No, you will not receive any spammy, or salesy e-mails from me by signing up. I hate it when blogs pull that crap, so I vowed never to do that to my readers.

You are Not an Island

In the previous post about goals, I stated that I do not have any goals for 2013. Well, that’s not exactly fair. Here I am, asking you to set your goals, and I’m being a little b**** not setting goals of my own. After thinking about this for a while, I realized I was using a cop-out, and so I spent some time thinking, and I set 3 2013 goals for myself.

My 2013 Goals

  1. Increase Padorec Subscriptions by 200 (This gets you updates from the blog – completely free for you)
  2. Lose 50 pounds
  3. Launch 3 products into test mode
Those are in order. My #1 goal is to increase subscriptions by 200. 
I am also getting the e-mails to keep me on top of things!

Set Your Own SMART Goals!

For tips, see the previous post: Skip the Resolutions, 2013 is a Year for Goals
Euchrefan had a great comment on using the SMART Method:
To further the definition of a “good” goal. I have used the S.M.A.R.T. method. 

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Time bound

This seems to align with your notes above. I like the use of SMART goals because it’s easy to remember and it helps you think through the goals to make sure they are written clearly. 

Also, the goals don’t have to all be for the year. You may have a goal you’d like to achieve by lets say August. So it’s okay to include that in your goal so you’ve given it priority. 

I haven’t made any resolutions in decades. And I haven’t got any specific goals right now. So I think this is a good time for me to do it. 

Thanks for the reminder.

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Skip the Resolutions, 2013 is a year for Goals

The view from 30,000 feet as I write this
It’s that time. Blogers everywhere have taken to their respective podiums to tell you about their year, and about “what’s coming in 2013”
This phenomenon often takes different forms:
  • Some bloggers talk about, and give links to their favorite posts (all too often, their favorites posts just happen to have links to their courses or e-books)
  • Some will talk about their personal finances and success factors of their businesses.
  • Others still will look forward to 2013, and will issue their intentions for the new year.

I don’t have any favorite posts (well, that’s a lie – I do)
I don’t share my personal finance stats (I might in the future, but that’s not the focus of this blog)
I haven’t set any goals for 2013
So what do I have to talk about, then?
I know! Let’s talk about you!

All About You

Did you have a favorite post last year? If so, help me out by sharing it on Facebook, twitter, or Google+…okay, you don’t really have to share it, but I’d love to hear about it in the comments. That will help me to deliver even better content that you want in 2013.
How were your goals for 2012 met? Was your goal to spend all your money and live life to the fullest because of the Mayan doomsday? If so…I’m sorry for your loss, but I bet it was one hell of a year! There is something to be said for living every year like it is your last year ever (though you probably shouldn’t give everything away every year)
What are your goals for 2013?  Do you have New Years Resolutions? (I hate these – more on that later) or do you have hard and fast goals for 2013? You should use Strategic goals, instead of tactical ones.

How to Set a Goal

An example of a strategic goal for a blogger might be “Increase my subscribers by 200 during the year”. That’s a good one because it has a lot of sub goals attached to it. 
  1. How can you get 200 subscribers without getting 200 regular readers? In fact, you need a lot more readers than that, so now you are also increasing your readership. 
  2. This may mean you are trying to raise your Search Engine Rank. 
  3. To do this, you may need to focus the direction of your blog. 
  4. You also need to work on conversion and retention of subscribers. 

This is the difference between strategic and tactical. Your strategic goal is to increase subscribers by 200. All the other stuff is tactical – it’s the “how” of the goal.

Note: Some may argue that 200 subscribers is simply a tactical goal as part of a larger strategic goal like “to be a dominant blog [top 5] in the personal development space”. That’s a bit vague for me for a one year goal. That is more of a mission than a goal. 
Whatever level you set your goal at, however, just make sure it is something you can act upon, and it will be considered a good goal. Notice that I didn’t say “achieve”. A goal doesn’t have to be something you know you can achieve – it is something you should be able to work towards. Odds are, if you set a goal that you know you can achieve, then you will achieve it by around March, and not have anything else to work on.

Why I hate New Years Resolutions

Ever since I can remember, I have despised the idea of New Years Resolutions. (it should be pronounced New Year Resolution, by the way – bad grammar…what a shame) Even when I was in Kindergarten, I remember making a resolution to give up New Year Resolutions. For whatever reason, I have a distinct memory of being in Mrs. Wagner’s class, and making that statement. I was a weird kid, though – I also was doing simple algebra and figured out how to steal all of the fireman stickers from atop the cabinet. Man I would hate to have had to teach me.
Anywho, why have I always hated New Year Resolutions? I think it’s because of the subtext that comes with setting them. 41% of New Year Resolutions this year are slanted toward Money (specifically, handling it better) That means that in 2012, you are stating that you handled your money poorly. However, it’s not like on January 1, you realized “Holy Shit, I handled my money poorly!” No, you absolutely realized that during 2012 – but you didn’t make the change then. It’s like saying “I’m going to start my diet on Monday.” I have always hated that this arbitrary day on an invented calendar seems to have such a huge effect on everyone. This is why this post is coming out on January 2nd, instead of December 31st. This way, you are not setting a New Year Resolution – you are setting a goal for 2013.
My thought has always been “well, the Universe doesn’t give a hoot that it’s now 2013, so why should I?”
I understand the power of goal setting, however.

Why I give you permission to set Goals for 2013

Even though I hate the resolutions – I realize that the concept of a new beginning is very powerful for most people. It’s one of the benefits of the cyclical nature of our society. It is also beneficial to put a time frame to our goals. However, I ask one favor. Don’t make a resolution. Resolutions are usually made to be broken. In fact, come March – tell people you are still keeping a New Year resolution. They will be absolutely shocked. Our society expects people to give up on their resolutions. So, if you already made one, start ignoring it today – as opposed to January 4th where I suspect most people give up on their resolutions. 
Instead, set a goal for 2013, or even multiple goals. Be specific, though!
Examples of Bad Goals:
  • I’m going to [eat healthier, work out more, drink less, etc.] this year
  • I’m going to manage my money better this year
  • I’m going to be nicer to people I meet this year
  • I’m going to finally find a job I love this year
Did you notice how vague those are?
Examples of Good goals:
  • To lose 30 pounds this year
  • To work out 3 times per week this year
  • To limit myself to 2 drinks per night, twice per week
  • To track my finances using mint.com (or any other method – define it!) and reduce my spending on [food, bars, gas, clothes] by 15%
  • To compliment at least one person every day
  • To get a job working on alternative energy projects which I am proud to tell my family about
Did you notice how ultra specific those are? Also, did you notice that instead of using the format “I’m going to”, I changed it to “To….”. This is a subtle change, but it gives our goals more a feeling of a mission, instead of being something we’d like to do…if we get around to it. Lastly, those are actionable – you can work to ensure you compliment one person per day. “Being nicer” is hard to act upon, because it is so vague.

I also like to set a margin of error on those weekly/daily goals. I used to set a goal (working out every day was one) and then when I missed a day, I was a failure. Now, I set in a margin of error so that I can still be successful. For example, I would now say “To work out 3 times per week this year, for at least 45 weeks”. Now, if I miss a week, I’m still within the reach of my goal.

Get Goal Reminders Monthly

Take ten to thirty minutes right now, if you haven’t already, and define your goals. I’d recommend you keep it in the 1-3 range. That way you will not lose focus.
Tips for setting your goal:
  • Make it specific
  • Make it actionable (something you can work on)
  • Make it meaningful (setting a goal to work out 3 times a week is pointless if you don’t actually want to work out)
Next, fill out the form below. Once a month, I’ll send you a reminder that you should be working toward your goal. Since you don’t have to worry about remembering your goal, you can focus on achieving it! Don’t worry – the only e-mails you get as a result of signing up for this will be reminders to work toward your goals. 

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Additional Reading

Goal setting is nothing new – below is a list of some good reading regarding goal setting
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