Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My Little Taste of a Huge History

As I write this, Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States. This is a watershed moment in American history. Politically, this is like the moon landing. Right now, I can hear celebratory noises outside my apartment complex. Make no mistake, history's just happened.

I started the day manning a phone bank for the Obama campaign. Called a lot of numbers in Virginia (which later went for Obama). Donald Sutherland was there too, but I couldn't get a picture with him. Here's the pic I could take...

Later in the day, the election results started coming in, and it didn't look so sure. Was the US going to vote for McCain? I had a hard time working. I needed to see the action, I needed to see the process happening, to be a part of it as much as I could, so I asked a friend of mine, Jules, if I could come with her to a polling place. This was where she was casting her vote...

I watched as people came in to cast their votes. Listening on the radio to the various states going red or blue, it was still a toss up when we were at the polls.

Folks, I've lived in different parts of the world. I grew up in the Middle East, India, and Canada. I can safely tell you, in no uncertain terms, that this is the greatest country in the world, and this is why. People, anything is possible here! You can be anything in this country. If you work hard with a goal in mind, if you apply yourself, you'll get to your goal. How cool is that?

Update November 5th:

Here's what the ballot looks like, with Jules holding it:

And here I am pretending that I voted:

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Getting What You Want

I've had days, more than I should have, where I just feel helpless. It's like I see a goal, or something I want, but can't get it. I fester when this happens, the disappointment builds up in me, and I get depressed.

Food helps, sometimes. Music helps, sometimes.

However, these [and others] are just short-term fixes. They'll pick you up for a while, and drop you down again.

The big question though remains unanswered, "why?", as in, "why am I not where I want to be?".

Hmmmm, tough question you think? I bet you there's a slightly tougher question that needs to be answered first.

What, exactly, do you want?

Pay attention to that second word.

What do I mean by "exactly"? Well, I mean exactly that, exactly.


What I mean is, can you provide specifics about the goal you're aiming for? Can you picture yourself at your goal? If I asked you what you were doing in this picture, would you be able to describe it to me? Would you be able to describe in detail the situation that you're picturing wherein you'd know you had achieved your goal?

If not, then *that* becomes the first step. It's not an easy one, trust me. People ask me what my long-term goals regarding some particular thing (like, "do you see yourself married in a few years?") and I have difficulty seeing these things. I've recently come to terms with that particular question.

So, the first step to getting what you want is to define exactly what you want. This is important because the rest of the stuff depends on this answer, and it also gets easier from here :)

Let's take a simple example, you want to lose weight and get six-pack abs. Seems clear enough. I think we can do a little better though. In this case, simply saying it may not be clear enough. Do you know what you'd looks like with abs? Well, there's a simple way of finding out, take a picture of yourself sans shirt (if you're a girl, keep the sports bra on) and draw on the hardcopy. Draw the outlines of the changes you'd like to see. When you're done, *that* is your precise, exact goal.

So, now we have our goal. We now have two pieces of information:

- We know where we are now.
- We know where we want to be.

We now need to know how to fill the bits in between. This is easy (so to speak) now because we have specifics on where we want to be.

Goal: I want six-pack abs.

Well, to get a six pack, I probably need to have less fat.

If I need less fat, then I should probably get my body to use the fat it has.

If I need the body to use the fat it has, I should also not add too much to what I've got, and I want to stay healthy too.

So, I should probably be more active, and eat healthier, and probably less than I'm burning.

If I'm going to be doing that, I need to know what I can eat and how much too.

If I need to know what I can eat, and how much, then I should probably do some reading, research and consultation (with someone who knows what they're doing) to find out.

That's a basic outline of the thought process, you'll need to fill out the details once you have some general ideas on the steps. You'll also need ... milestones.

Remember that bit about "exactly", there's a reason we need it, so we can measure the progress to the goal you've defined so well.

You need to be able to measure your progress, and to do that, you also need some kind of time frame. If it's to get a six-pack, then when do you want to have it by? Maybe a friend's annual party at the beach? Or for a shoot you'd like to do? Or a family reunion?

The time frame is important because you need to be able to see it on the horizon. You need to be able to see this goal and deadline get closer and closer.

So, in addition to the stuff above, what would a time frame look like? Well, let's see where we are now and where we want to be:

- I'm currently at 205 pounds and no abs.
- I want to be at 150 pounds with six-pack abs by the time Jane has her beach volleyball party, which is 8 months away.

Those are, again, rough outlines, but you get the idea. Now, work backwards:

- 8 months from now, 150 lbs six-pack clearly visible
- 7 months from now, 155 lbs six-pack kind of visible
- [...]
- 1 month from now, 195 lbs no six pack, but visibly getting leaner
- Now, 205 lbs, no six-pack, not feeling or looking very lean

NOTE: I should stress, this is an example (i.e. don't use this exact outline to plan your own physical goals, assuming that is your goal).

So now you have a goal, a timeline and you're probably researching what you need to do to get to each of those steps. Always remember your goal. It is your goal for a reason.

There are very few things in life that are easy to do if they're worth doing. Remember that, as long as you have faith in yourself and apply yourself, you can get anything you want, you just need to know what it is, exactly.