Things I Don’t Do: Pace Myself

Busy Brain

As I was walking this morning I thought about my pace. Was I going too fast? Too slow? Was this 1/2-hour walk really worth my time? You’re not pushing yourself, Don! So then I jogged for about 1/4-mile until I got out-of-breath and stopped. I felt defeated because 4 or 5 years go, I didn’t get to easily winded. So I walked faster …arms pumping like I was in a race, but I thought that I must’ve looked stupid so I stopped and just started walking at a normal pace. Yup. Worried about how I looked to other people at 6:05 a.m. when there aren’t any other people seeing me. I could be walking in a bikini and nobody would notice or care. I was both mad and depressed that this was my new version of exercise – brisk walking.

Well, when summer comes and I can get in the pool, I thought, then I can really work my muscles and increase my cardio fitness level. I wish I could play soccer on a men’s league but I can’t run. Why did I quit my bowling league? I really enjoyed that. But that’s not exercise. I’m fat and doughy. Why don’t I have any self-discipline anymore like I used to?

Yes, that was my morning. I took a nice 1/2-hour walk with my dog on a perfect morning (49 degrees, sunny) while an audio book played on my ear-buds, and I spent most of the time beating myself up about the quality and pace of my walk.

Truly. I didn’t hear a word of the audio book because I was lost in my self-loathing and anxiety.

During Lent I was going to try and focus on being mindful of my moments. To enjoy a book when I’m enjoying a book, and not daydreaming about what I’m not doing. To enjoy a walk and some music or an audio book when I’m walking and look around and notice trees, flowers, birds and such. To spend time with my kids and actually be with them instead of on my Twitter or Facebook or phone checking or thinking about work or my writing assigments and anything else my brain tends to gravitate to when it shouldn’t.

Lent is over. I didn’t do so well. In fact, I failed. I listed three things I was going to do …stop talking negatively about people, stop yelling, and being “mindful.” I guess I sorta accmplished two out of three – the negative talking stopped, and I mostly didn’t yell at my kids, but they made it tough, sometimes. Nope …I won’t blame them. That’s on me.

But “mindfulness” was probably my most important, and I failed.

So here’s what I’m going to do. Lent 2.0. Give me another 40 days and nights. I can do this.

Follow me @donkowalewski.

Things I Don’t Do: Write What I Know

Lately, this blog is “trying too hard.” What happens is, I read six Seth Godin books in a row, I spend hours traveling around in a rental car and listening to Seth Godin books on CD, and suddenly I think, hey, I’m going to be Seth Godin.

But I’m not Seth Godin.

Then I got a book on CD about the Vatican and read a buncha stuff written by Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II, and wouldn’t you know it, suddenly I started writing like I was some sort of theologian.

I’m not any of those things.  I’m a father, a husband, and friend. And I’m barely a B- or C+ at any of those things. I’m an employee (80% of the time). I fancy myself a “writer” and I do some writing here and there. I blog, Tweet, and Facebook a bit. And I do some public speaking when asked.

But …what am I? What do I know? Does anyone really know what they know?

I always wish I just had this incredible knowledge of automobile engines and I could blog about that. Knowing stuff about engines, I figure, makes you smarter than 90% of everybody else. But then I think, um, since 90% of all people don’t care a rats ass about car engines and how they work, well, that’s not a great idea for a blog.

What if I wrote a “Fatherhood Friday” weekly post? Would that catch-on? What about “Writing Wednesdays?” Or “Try-Something Tuesdays?” Would any of that be interesting? And would it get me 1,000 readers?

What do I know? What makes me special? And am I asking the right questions? Or should I even be asking questions? Maybe I should just write things on here about what I’m doing, and maybe you’ll get wrapped up in the “adventure” of my life.

Everyone’s got a blog. And so do I. This is what Ricky Gervais says about writing and creativity. Look for future blog entries where I write as if I’m Ricky Gervais.

Things I Don’t Do: Write Enough

Good blog entries have beginnings, middles, and endings. They also have a point. This blog entry has a “middle” and no point. Enjoy.

If you’d asked me at the beginning of 2012, “hey, Don, what will you be doing in 2013?” I would’ve said, “I’m going to be thinking about quitting my day job and being a writer full-time.”

Seriously, that was my goal. I daydreamed about the 50+ hours that I usually spend working for “the man”, instead, working for myself. And even though technically I knew my goal was to be a ghost-writer, which would mean I’d have a new “the man”, I still thought that’s what I’d be doing.

And here it is, 2013, and I’m still working for “the man.” Granted, it’s a new “the man” and I have a new job with a small company with an incredible product and it’s so cool and innovative in its industry, I feel like I’m involved in a “start-up” and I’m treating it like I am. Long hours. Obsessing about it at all times of the day. Losing sleep over it. Dreaming up new ways to market it and sell it. It’s thrilling and fun and I feel ALIVE. So that’s good.

And I want to write about it …and hopefully within the next few months I’ll be able to. I’ll be able to publicly brag about what I’m doing, what I’m discovering about the sales process, and selling in general, and this blog can be part advice, part motivation, and every now and again, it will be interesting.

And maybe I’ll really succeed at selling and I’ll be coached by my good friend Nick, and we’ll finally write our sales book, and because of all the writing networking I’ve done, when our book is done, I’ll actually have a platform where I can promote my book, talk about my book, and I’ll become a brand unto myself.

I’ll be that guy I read about in every sales and motivational book I’ve ever read who boasts how he was making six-figures (or more) and felt empty so he gave it all up to write a book and become a public speaker and life coach.

And there you have it …It’s April 1st and if you ask me what I’ll be doing in 2014, I’ll tell you …writing, selling, coaching, and motivating people.

Just …like …that. I wrote it. I’ve said it. I’ve visualized it. Bam! Next steps …fame …fortune.

Follow me @donkowalewski.

Things I Don’t Do: I Don’t Have a Niche.

Sometimes I wonder why this blog doesn’t have 10,000 readers and why I’m not already a highly sought after writer, speaker, and humorist. It’s either (a) I rarely post entries, (b) most people don’t want to read about “Don Kowalewski” and his rambling thoughts, or (c) I’m actually dead but because Haley Joel Osment is still talking to me, I think I’m alive and blogging.

That was a Sixth Sense reference, by the way.

Maybe I should offer advice with every blog entry? Like, I’m writing this blog entry about a lack of measurable results and trying to be funny and then …bam …I switch to a “self help” post where I compare my blog-success with any “success”, be it fitness, dieting, or relationships. The analogy would be easy to create.

Maybe I should end each blog entry with a few questions …questions so good and so compelling even the casual reader will be compelled to answer or pose a question of their own. And I don’t mean I’ll ask “should Roe v. Wade be overturned” or “will Obama Care bankrupt our nation?” That would be pandering and appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Or maybe I should really figure out my “niche.” According to the AMAZING Rochelle Melander, who inspires me every week, my lack of readers could simply be because I’m rambling and unfocused.

Is this a blog about…

  • Don?
  • Parenting?
  • Coffee?
  • Writing?
  • Being unfocused?
  • Finding adventure?

I’m supposed to ask myself, “why am I an expert and worthy to write a blog on a specific topic?” Then I need to identify my reader, what they need, and be able to easily list 25 blog entry titles.

Gulp!

My success (or lack of success) in blogging is because I’m unfocused. My success (or lack of success) in my career is because I’m unfocused. My success (or lack of success) in writing is because I’m unfocused. My success (or lack of success) in fitness and diet is because I’m unfocused.

See what I did there? Blogging, like any craft, vocation, hobby, or effort, won’t be what you envision if you lack focus, dedication, discipline, and consistency. And a niche. For the same reason your blog hasn’t been featured on MSNBC, neither has your amazing body or your

This blog, for now, isn’t going to have a niche and as I tell people, it continues to be a blog for me, about me, written by me. If you happen to stop by and love reading it, well, you’re totally awesome. You must love hearing about my birthday wish-list and my lung conditions.

Why do you read this blog? What topics would you like me to delve into further? If I had legions of loyal readers, I’d have a million comments.

I guess the best I can hope for, for now, is that some of my readers are like me and they have a career, and a hobby, and kids, and commitments, and a marriage, and outside interests, and this blog will feel like the voice inside their heads and it will be something light and fun to read while we all navigate our complicated world.

Here’s another song I’ll be adding to my running playlist. Welcome back, DMX.

Things I Don’t Do: Need to Become ‘Things I Do’

The categories on this blog are as random as the posts and the fleeting thoughts in my head. Too often, a fleeting thought becomes a fleeting action-item which goes onto my to-do list, and then somewhere along the line, it drops off the to-do list or doesn’t transfer from one to-do list to another, and I trick myself into forgetting I was going to do something.

Lucky for me, from time to time inspiration enters my life in the form of friends, mentors, peers, or just some form of debt I’m about to incur because I put the cart before the horse. Like, book a trip to Hawaii for example and then wake up one night realizing, “hey, I can’t pay for that,” and see how your mind races to invent a revenue stream.

At least that’s how I tend to operate.

Today, enter an email from awesome person Rochelle the “Write Now Coach” who’s launching a NaNoWriMo Camp or something this summer for would-be book writers. I’m gonna write a book. I did, recently, actually, and it wasn’t as difficult as I had feared …there’s that word …”fear.” I’m not saying the book was any good (though two friends did actually buy it and read it and say it was “good” and “funny” …so that’s some positive feedback).

Anyway, back to Rochelle. Got an email from her today and she’s doing this, and I’m going to do it, too. NaNoWriMo is short for “National Novel Writing Month” and usually happens in November, but it turns out they want to extend the brand. Slick.

Rochelle’s action-item list in brief looks like this:

1. Choose a project (I’ve chosen THREE projects, mostly because I’ve been putting them off for months)

2. Decide on a word count (each of mine will be around 20,000 each)

3. Choose a cue (mine will be a 5 a.m. cup of Aeropressed coffee)

4. Get rewards (still figuring it out)

5. Get support (it will be my peers at spunkybean, Rochelle, and all the awesome ppl on Twitter with me).

Who’s with me? Check out the links above and get inspired. Oh, and don’t rely on my exclusively because, if you know me, you’ll know this motivation may last only as long as the caffeine from this Americano allows. I can’t recommend this enough …whether you are a writer, painter, or photographer …it’s all art. Rochelle taps into “creativity” and “inspiration” which looks and smells about the same in all artistic endeavors.

Good luck.

Things I Don’t Do: Set Goals and Expectations for Myself and Others Like Tom Izzo

When I was in college I took a Sociology course that introduced me to the concept of Maslow’s “self-actualization”, which if you know me and how serious I took my studies, you should marvel I remember this at all. “Self-actualization” is supposed to be the most evolved form of human motivation and satisfaction and can only be achieved after years of personal and emotional growth. I remember the Prof’ talking about how it takes a lifetime to get to “self-actualization” and some people never achieve it, yet as I sat there doing the crossword in The State News and wearing my favorite flannel shirt (it was 1992 …it was all flannel shirts back then), I was like, “dude . . . I’m already self-actualized. I feel secure, fulfilled, and I think my life is perfect.”

I may have missed the point. I may have benefited from doing the assigned reading . . . or showing up on time to class . . . or coming to the class more often. I was a Millennial before Millennials were a thing. I was Gen X, and I was supposed to be full of angst, but I determined then and there I was “self-actualized” and I was as good as I’d ever get.

It was like a rare moment of clarity inside a 5-year college career that’s mostly a foggy memory. But Professor Voss (who’s since passed away) was the best Professor I ever had and his classes were like a combination of motivational speeches, fascinating psychology lectures, and inspiring life lessons. Don’t get me started on the concept of “rights of passage” and how important they are to culture and tradition and realizing a common good and common societal goals. See, Dad . . . your money wasn’t completely wasted (and either was I the entire time).

Anyway, since then I’ve always felt fairly self-actualized, even though I know it’s impossible and while I might think I’m operating on a higher emotional and intellectual plane, I’m probably not. I wonder sometimes if I could do more and achieve more if I exercised a little more humility and tried to grow and get better. Then I wonder, “but does anyone really drive that hard?” And then I get my answer when I read about a guy like Tom Izzo.

Often times I think you and I see really wealthy people and we think, “right place, right time,” or we think, “must be nice.” And I’m certain there are rich people who just sorta lucked into things. But the more I meet successful people, the more I seem to notice they’re all stuck in a lower stage or Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and they’re never satisfied. For a guy like Izzo, a guy with plenty of money in the bank, especially for a humble guy from humble roots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a guy with a list of accomplishments in his field of work that make him one of the best of all time, he doesn’t even seem close to being self-actualized. If I were him, I’d probably start to take my foot off the gas pedal, I gotta admit. Yet every time I turn around, I hear about Izzo going right from a game to the airport and flying to Chicago to sit and watch a high-school sophomore or junior and talk to some coaches and parents, only to jump back on a plane to race back to East Lansing and coach his current team. And somewhere in there I’m guessing he must spend a few minutes with his wife and children. But how?

In essence, 100,000+ Spartans enjoy immense joy and satisfaction from our MSU basketball team because our coach hasn’t achieved self-actualization. We’re lucky he’s ours.

On Sunday, Wisconsin upset Ohio State and Izzo earned his 7th Big Ten Championship, and did it in a year nobody expected anything from his team. What did he tell his team?

“Whenever you accomplish one goal, there should be another one. I get paid to never be satisfied and I let the players know that. I tell them, `Those of you that are trying to please me, it ain’t going to happen. If you think I’m going to be off your butt until you leave here, you came to the wrong place.”

Yikes. Thanks, coach. What a buzz kill!

I read so many things that tell me “be happy” and “count your blessings” and “realize things could be worse.” Well, maybe today I’ll try and make myself miserable in the same way Izzo does and knock myself down a peg on the Maslow chart, and start to work towards true self-actualization. If I’m currently having some success and earning a little money writing, I should want more and I should want to write a best-seller. If I’m currently enjoying some nice success and and stability at my day job, maybe I need to focus on the parts of my job that I’m not very good at, and work to be the best in those areas. If I think I’m a pretty good Dad and husband, I’m going to have my family help me make a list of my faults and short-comings, and I’m going to try and be the Tom Izzo of fatherhood and marriage. What is the marriage and family-life equivalent of a Final Four and a Big Ten Championship?

Are you self-actualized? Or are you, like me, self-limiting and fooling yourself?  I’m going to find out.

Things I Don’t Do: Write Enough; Live Enough; Be Bold Enough; Be Brave Enough

I have 4 writing clients, I’m contracted to ghost-write a book (I wish I could tell you about it but, well, “ghost-writers” can’t share that stuff), and I’m writing another guy’s memoir. I met with a guy on Thursday who runs two really great little businesses and he might hire me to write his blog, his Facebook statuses and tweets, and tell his story.

“Tell your story.” That’s what I tell my writing clients. I say, “you … you’re business …it has a story.” And I always pause for dramatic effect like I”m acting in a made-for-TV movie. I’m not going to lie, I might even sip coffee between “you” and “you’re business” just to make the point more powerful and warm. I’m forever a salesman.

However, I don’t always follow my own advice. Maybe I think things in my head like, “well, I’m writing so much for other people … (sigh, sip coffee) …maybe I don’t have time to write for myself. And ….well …(pause, look up-right, shrug shoulders) …who wants to read what I write, anyway.” I want to write a blog that is part #DaddyBlog, part writing advice, part humor, and part life advice. Not to mention some posts that I want to write to market my writing business and ghost-writing services, and some other blog entries simply about my kids and their soccer teams. Who would read a blog like that?

Maybe I need 5 or 6 blogs?

Maybe I just need to write a blog that caters to the unmotivated and slightly scattered among us who call themselves A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. simply because society told us all we must have a condition since we automatically chase shiny things for as long as it takes until we see another shiny thing.

Or maybe we’re chasing rabbits to a wonderland.

What’s better? A blog with lots of posts, written from the heart and whenever ideas pop into your head? Or a blog with nothing on it?

Take that one step further . . . what’s better? A life with lots of adventures, trials and errors, stops and starts, old friends, and a constant stream of new friends and acquaintances, experiments, and big ideas all mixed in with grace and humility, some silliness, huge belly laughs, building Legos and playing Nintendo DS for hours at a time with your kids, a few glasses of wine every now and then and, sometimes, a few too many glasses of wine, dancing and singing (even if the dancing and singing is a little off beat and out of tune)  . . . or is it better to have a well focused life with nothing in it?

My new year’s resolution is this …I won’t be afraid to write on this blog random things that I know very few people will read. But it will be a metaphor for the rest of my new year’s resolutions …to not be afraid to do random things that very few people will do, and I won’t care if I do them well, fail, or make history. I’ll just have fun doing things.

I’ll write your story if you ask me or hire me . . . and now I’m going to write my story, too.

Oh, and if I was 17 or 18 years younger, I’m guessing I’d love this song, I’d learn all the words, and I might even find myself singing this very loudly in a bar along with a bunch of other people. Agree?