If you’re not moving forward, then what are you doing?
This is something I continually ask myself. Whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I like to think that I’m continually moving forward – working towards something and creating progress. This is part of the reason I decided to run a marathon.
I’m confident you might get similar feelings – you know, that awkward itch where you know you’re ‘spinning your wheels’ on something, but you’re not sure how to change it.
You may not even know what that ‘thing’ is (I sure as hell don’t). It’s fine if you can’t pinpoint the specifics, try changing small things one at a time and see if the feeling goes away. Focus on things you can control.
I like to feel as though my days aren’t wasted. This may sound a tad corny, but at the end of each day I love the feeling of accomplishment and continuous improvement, no matter what I’m doing.
Part of continuous improvement for me is finding new challenges. These things keep me guessing.
Maybe you decide to seek out a creative solution to a problem at work, or commit to that new fad diet to shed a few lbs before beach season. The specifics don’t matter. What does matter is your decision to commit to the challenge.
The constant here is that you’re pushing yourself. Don’t ever settle for mediocrity because you deserve much more.
The day I’m not challenged at work is the day I quit. The day I’m not challenged physically is when I know I need to switch things up.
Upon returning, we mapped out a training plan, and did a test run (about 25 km or 15.5miles). Both feeling like greek gods, we immediately registered for the BMO Vancouver Marathon.
I’m not sure if we were both hyped up on some post run endorphin-fuelled runners high, but we’re now committed. The one catch – race day is May 5, giving us 42ish days to train.
I plan on sharing more about the training game plan, updates on our progress, and random thoughts through the next 40 days leading into the marathon, so definitely check back for that.
My mission on the train from Vancouver to Portland, LA, then onto Austin for SXSW just about took everything out of me.
In hindsight, spending five days on a train leading into five days of madness in one of the craziest cities may have been a tad ambitious.
I won’t bore you with the minutia of my trip because I already wrote about it on the HootSuite Blog.
Instead, I’ll share some musings from one of the best trips of my life thus far.
*Side Note* If you haven’t already read about my trip, I encourage you to take a peek, there are some cool stories about burrito ladies, travel bloggers, and train conductors. The preview can be found here, followed by part 1 and part 2.
No one cares about your typical work endeavour, goal, or event unless is has some oomph to it. Had my trip been your typical walk in the park, no one would care either.
Subtleties like the words you use to describe your project – how you pitch and brand it can inject some much needed zest and get you noticed.
You’ll notice that I used word like adventure, journey, and ‘epic quest’ to brand my trip. These are easy wins in making your project seem cool and unconventional.
I managed to get decent organic pickup on the articles because my trip was interesting and because it pushed me personally.
What I’m here to tell you is this. Instead of worrying about the small things, step outside your comfort zone of the screen. Do something interesting with your life, then share it.
People who’ve built meaningful platforms online, and the large followings that go with it, all do interesting things.
What they don’t do is spend all day on Twitter. Twitter is endless, it’s not like your inbox where you can (potentially) get it to zero.
The trip made me realize what I want. What is important. Doing trips like these and sharing the stories with you makes me happy.
With that, my plan is to do more of just that; doing interesting things and writing about them. Wow…what a breakthrough!
Take home for you: find out what makes you happy. If this is interesting to you, chances are it is interesting to others. Find these people and share it with them.
So I started dabbling with daily meditation in November. First off, a few caveats: I am not converting to buddhism, and I don’t fancy myself some spiritual guru.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I would love to share what meditation means to me, how I think it will help you, and how to get started.
It’s one of the most difficult things i’ve ever tried to learn because it takes a different type of discipline – total concentration, time, and lots of practice.
When I first started I literally had no idea what was going on. I would sit there, eyes closed and breathing… basically waiting for it to end.
But… before pulling the chute, I did some research. I reached out to Jonathan Fields after reading his book, Uncertainty, and he pointed me to a few really cool resources. I was also inspired by this really cool personal anecdote on meditation from JC Deen.
So here I was, confused guy looking to meditate his way to a stress free, hyper-productive life, but how did I actually start meditation?
The premise of meditation for me is focused awareness, living in the present moment, and being aware your body.
I’ll save you the spiritual cheesefest, whilst trying to explain a bit about each below.
I started meditating in November for a few reasons. Long days and bad sleep, but also i’m also just curious about ways to promote well-being, increase productivity, etc.
Coming from a psychology background, stress and anxiety are two things I spend a lot of time thinking about. The spiritual aspect of mindfulness meditation always popped up in psychology research as viable alternatives to your standard drug therapy approach.
I also, have this issue where I can never turn my mind off and ‘let go.’ When I go to bed, my mind goes crazy and I can’t sleep because its racing so fast.
I feel like a lot of people share similar issues – daily meditation can help you because it’s helped me.
Talking to people about the reality of spreading the 5Run movement to the masses gets me thinking. I reflect on whether it’s realistic to expect others to eventually share the same passion for change, and helping people as i do.
Some of you I talk to are reluctant to high five if you’re running alone (completely fine, by the way). I think you may be better suited to spread the love whilst running in a group. It is all about comfort, do what feels right.
Originally, I adopted the ‘lone wolf’ mentality with 5Run. I envisioned high fiving strangers as way to bring fun to running, and add social element to the monotonous pavement grind.
Interacting with your fellow runners by helping, encouraging, and even pushing one another to be a better version of yourself was the goal. It still is, and progress is my guide.
I tend to experiment liberally with just about everything I do, high fives are no exception. I’m constantly thinking, tweaking elements of the whole high five experience – this is probably due to competitive / perfectionist disposition.
Since i’m getting requests on the specifics of high fiving other runners, i’ll attempt to map it out for y’all – this is your kind to high five strangers.
Think of the it this way: You have about 15 meters or or 3-4 seconds of real-estate with which to work. There’s a laundry list of things which need to align to pull off a successful running high five.
This is a continually evolving process as i’ve experimented with different approaches and techniques. Some work, some not so much… and some were outright embarrassing.
Lucky for you, i’ve done the heavy lifting, and will outline the art of the running high five.
Here’s how you can high five a stranger without embarrassing yourself:
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I get a lot of questions about learning social media, digital, and breaking into the industry. With more universities offering diplomas, certifications, and courses for social and digital media, the question is whether it’s worth your money.
My advice is always to use extreme caution.
The nature of the digital space is such that its in a constant state of change. Social is new; Facebook is nine years old and Twitter six. What’s the next disruptive social platform?
The point is social and digital evolves quicker than any industry – formal education doesn’t mesh with this space.
Professors develop curriculum long before courses take place. It goes against the real-time nature which makes digital and social so unique and exciting. Any course becomes outdated before it is taught.
While formal education isn’t a perfect fit for the industry, there are specific use cases. I’ll rattle off a few examples.
Skill Acquisition: If you’re looking to add specific skills, ie photoshop, illustrator… etc, formal courses make a decent fit. The important thing here is utility. Ensure you are learning tangible skills that transfer and are directly applicable to your goals.
Networking: Professional network development. As much as I hate networking, it is necessary. You have to ‘play the game’ no matter how fake and phony it makes you feel. This is something i’ve personally struggled with before because I find it exhausting.
The beauty of formal education is how it provides a rolodex of connections for the future. This is probably the only reason i would consider an grad school down the line.
Keep in mind building these relationships takes effort and is only worth it if you attend a globally recognized grad-school program.
Learn yourself. I personally take pride in self learning… you should too, but how does one do this?
Expose yourself to the social space, experiment on different social networks and research who is influential and innovative on these subjects. These are who you should learn from.
An easy example is by making a Twitter list with digital “thought leaders.” Read not just what they write, but what they read as well.
Everyone knows the spiel about how everything is free on the internets, i’ll save it and instead, point you to some resources i’m using to continually learn. Same knowledge, but without the fancy piece of paper.
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I wrote a couple weeks ago about having lofty ambitions. A friend from work asked why I wouldn’t declare my goals to the world. My initial reaction was terror but then I realized that stating your desires ensures goal setting accountability.
I struggle with opening myself up to vulnerability. No doubt some will clown my aspirations as some of them are ridiculous. (what the hell is an aspiring renaissance man anyways?) I am starting to realize that these pessimists don’t matter. Negativity kills self-improvement.
The risk of putting your goals out there for the world to see is the ultimate motivator of action. Accountability is huge!
Publicly stating your goals ensures your held responsible for achieving them. What if you fail or slip-up? What if your goals change or things don’t go as planned? Failure is frightening, not to mention embarrassing. This is why I had not declared my goals to the world… yet.
Sunday I woke up extremely hung-over. I have a strange relationship with such a state: I always feel that I need to have a productive day following a pizza infused late night endeavor. Sunday, I decided to get going with a long run.
Jogging at one pace has to be up there with the most boring things I’ve ever done. Does anyone actually enjoy it if it’s not sunny and no music? I would love to know what is going through the minds of marathon runners…. Are they having fun running?
It didn’t take long for boredom to set in Sunday as I made my way to the beach. I noticed everyone I ran by was frowning or looked angry. I couldn’t figure it out. It was gorgeous out and they were running along Spanish banks.
What’s the deal? I made it my mission to turn a few frowns into smiles; maybe inflict a little joy into the Sunday run. I started to smile at every jogger I ran past…
A few smiled back, some avoided eye contact, most looked at be dumbfounded with that sympathy gaze as though they were humoring someone’s awkward joke.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about goal setting. I remember back in CAPP class, we had to go through these garbage goal setting exercises that made me cringe. What a waste of time.
If anything, that experience deterred me from wanting to set goals. To be honest, since then the only goals I’ve set are in sport. I guess because sport consumed most of my life.
It never crossed my mind to think about lifelong personal goals until recently. What do I want to do? How am I going to do that? These questions scare the shit out of me.
This is when I started to think big. I’ve come up with some lofty goals that I won’t share now… They are ‘need to know.’
What I will say is how I am going to get there. Creatively working my ass off and investing my time and resources on things I care about and can control.
I’ve developed an interest in building communities around a brand. Social media is an amazing tool in this process. About six months ago, I made the decision to master social media. What the hell does that mean? I’m not sure either.
Nonetheless, I got on my grind reading everything I could all day until my eyes wouldn’t stay open. See you later school. I had a burning motivation to learn and felt like it was only a matter of time.
Life has been super busy since I started interning at HootSuite. I am working Monday –Wednesday-Friday. Mondays and Wednesdays I head straight from the office (love saying this) to practice at UBC. These end up being pretty long and exhausting days The Renaissance Man wouldn’t have it any other way.
The scheduling works out pretty well given that all my classes are on Tuesday and Thursday. I’ve been able to manage everything pretty well… Up until midterm season kicks around. Case in point was last week when a midterm came up. It was brutal getting home from work / practice at 7:30 then having to eat something and head to the library.
As I invest more time and energy into work, the burden of school lurks in the background, like this guy. I am stoked to be graduating at the end of April, but I wish it was over now. School feels like an unnecessary weight on my burly shoulders at this point.
The blog has taken a bit of a hit as well. My ambitions were to post three times per week. This is clearly a bit of a stretch at this point. Bi-weekly posts will suffice for the time being.
Midterm season is over; term paper season is in full swing. Time to see if my blogging prowess transfers to writing research papers.
No excuses, play like a champion.
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