A week ago I posted 5 goals I had for the first week in May. How did I do?
Practice being a better listener in my marraige.
This was the goal that I was most happy I made but least happy with my initial performance. I am lucky to be married because my listening skills at the beginning of the week were awful. Like some surly teenager I yelled across the house, kept my head down, didn't make eye-contact, didn't ask follow-up questions, and may as well have been licking my butt-hole like the dog I was. It was clear that I needed to work on this goal, I did and I'm much better. Like an overweight person loosing their first few pounds or someone learning to say hola and adios in Spanish I made some strides very quickly.
The best way to do this was to physically put down whatever I had in my hands. Kindles go down on the armrest and knife on the cutting board. I took a moment to look and listen at my wife while she was talking and that made a big difference. I also found out a few things I never knew about her which should be a more regular occurance. She - somehow - lived 23 years without me and almost 8 with me, there is a lot I can still learn about her.
This was the easiest goal of the group because I had so much improvement to make, the ease of just looking at her - she's a looker - and because I really enjoyed listening. This is my favorite person in the entire world, the one I chose to be with FOREVER. She deserved better and this past week she got it.
Put your phone away around the kids.
I have a lot to do, a very busy life. I wake up, get my coffee, and pound these dear keys so you have something actually good to read instead of the rest of the internet drivel. I need ideas for blog posts to keep the six of you happy and it's very important to take detailed notes of my infinite wisdom, like catching a rainbows in a mason jar. Except I don't. I thought I did and sometimes I do need to do things on my phone while the kids are around but this past week showed me that sometimes I was making poor choices. This step was easy too, I put my phone down away from me. If we were reading books on the couch, the phone was in the kitchen. If we were playing in the basement my phone stayed in my pocket.
I have no idea if this all really mattered though. I sometimes ask the kids if I'm doing a good job and after they finish their laundry list of gripes with begins with having to eat more carrots than they like and ends with eating less ice-cream than they'd like it concludes with the undeniable fact that I'm the best dad ever.
Need proof of that? In our house things aren't judged on thumbs alone, two thumbs up is a failing grade. We have a 10 point system and as often as a bear shits in the woods and Grey's Anatomy plays overly dramatic songs in its overly dramatic story-line - always - I get a full 10.
I think this was a good goal to have and will continue, but like most parenting things, you're really just going on a gut feeling.
Complete 3 runs, 500 push-ups, and 100 chin-ups.
From the category of arbitrary goals with no reference point I bring you this trio. I did run 3 times (3.11, 3.73. and 3.56 miles) and recorded 151 push-ups and 58 chin-ups. Now this might seem like the failing of an Epic Dad, some might even call it pathetic. I've long advocated that you don't need to look like a Men's Health cover model but you do need to be able to carry a box of Men's Health magazines without breaking a sweat. This failure was due to three factors.
First. It's been landscaping week around these parts and between hoeing the garden to make it look nice and distributing 4,360(approximate) wheelbarrow loads of mulch I felt like I got my workout in and don't need 'workout' when I'm working out my muscles in other ways. A moment of silence please.
The second failure was a poor tracking system. I built a very basic form in Google Docs and added a link to my iPhone BUT my first two goals had me put that very phone away more so I did miss some of the times I did exercise. My guess is that I was close to the numbers I set but probably didn't reach them.
Finally, our older daughter had a goofy stomach virus this weekend and my wife and I took shifts keeping her from puking on the sheets and giving the old fashioned cuddling remedy.
I'll revisit these physical goals sometime and will certainly crush those puny numbers (best Arnold voice).
Finish one book, get some guests for 27GoodThings and write 1,000 words.
What, the last group wasn't arbitrary enough for you? Well come on down, I've got even more! I recorded writing 2300 words here and elsewhere but again I didn't track everything. I did find my two guests for 27GoodThings.com and I finished Rubin's Happiness Project.
This arbitrary bar was set too low but I'm not sure where exactly to set it. I'm a stay at home father that teaches part-time at a local college. I have a blog that pays about $20.00 a month - not this one, this one - and none of these activities trump what the other three people in my family need. What these goals showed me was that I need to become more focused in my career - whatever my career is - and pick better goals.
Read the Purpose Driven Life and meditate on how grateful I am.
Hmm, my goal was to read The Purpose Driven Life everyday but instead I read seven days in a weeks time. I call this half a dozen of one, six of another and will reward myself - arbitrarily of course - for the completion of it. Pastor Warren, the best-selling author, suggests that you only read one day of material at a time but I really didn't like that. The material was most applicable to me when I was reading a few days worth and crafting what that meant in my quest to be more epic.
Daily mediation for my life was much easier, much more rewarding, and something I'll continue. I'm a proud 1%er. Not in American wealth but in the world and that makes me feel extremely lucky. I have great medicine, laws, and government. I have wonderful friends and family - none of whom have been featured on a YouTube video that has gone viral and that's something to be extremely grateful for. Reminding myself of these things makes me calmer, happier, and a better person.
When I'm grading the written work of undergraduate students it sometimes feels like the students went to a zoo, entered the monkey house, took copious notes on what the monkey was scratching in the dirt, typed that up, removed any commas and correct punctuation the monkey had included and then emailed that to me as their paper. When grading these papers it's easy to give feedback about what wasn't done well but much harder to give feedback about what they (or monkey) did do well. Meditation on my family was the same way. I sometimes forgot that my wife works really hard, is a great mother, and puts up with all my shortcomings. My kids are really good and remembering just the bad things they did is shortsighted - and hardly epic.
Where to next?
Now what? I liked having these goals as active ideas that I was aware of and working on but it was much harder to come up with good ones that to stick with them. I already have my no books or clothes resolution going strong. It's going to take more reflection on what it means to be Epic and then that will determine my path to get there. These goals are like the painted footprints showing a path, one goal for one day is one step and that's my quest in this journey. Find the steps that lead in the right direction for there is no destination just the story and the journey.