What are we chasing?

What are we chasing?

I read this parable many years ago and once again saw recently in a Jimmy John’s as I was with my son, Gabe.  I think it’s a really great lesson for anyone chasing success and wondering what really matters.  It’s a question all of us should ponder consistently as it’s easy to get caught in the trap of chasing down things that may seem to matter on the surface, but ultimately, don’t provide you with real happiness.

The Mexican Fisherman and the Investment Banker (Author Unknown)

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”

If this resonates with you, I strongly suggest you save it somewhere and read it from time to time.  It brings to mind a great bible verse that brings a similar message –  For what good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul – Mathew 16:26.

Have a great week.

Jon

The-Parable-of-the-Mexican-Fisherman-and-Investment-Banker2-1024x760

Filling Buckets…

  
“Let’s fill other people’s buckets full so you can have friends.” – Gabriel Giganti (7 yrs old)
Wow. I can’t tell how happy this makes me. Michelle has a quote board up in our kitchen. It’s usually a quote or bible verse from another source. This quote is from my son, Gabe.  And, I love the 1st grade misspellings : ). That makes it extra special!

We always talk about filling people’s buckets. Build people up – don’t tear them down. It’s not always easy but if you’re intentional about it, it can change the world! 

So, how about you?  Do you focus on building people up?  How about your bucket?  Are you surrounded by people and influences that add to it or deplete it?  If it’s the latter, think about how you can associate yourself with bucket fillers. 

Author Tom Rath wrote a great buck called “How Full is Your Bucket” where I learned this metaphor a few years ago. The kids version is even better. 

So, go fill some buckets!

Embrace the Struggle (TJ’s Lesson 1)

Embrace the Struggle (TJ’s Lesson 1)

TJ Lesson 1

Without failure, there’s no understanding of success.

Without pain, there’s no hope for a better place.

Without the knowledge of death, there’s no embracing life to the fullest.

I recently had a very close friend of mine die. His name is TJ. He was 39. Just 39 – he died unexpectedly of a massive brain hemorrhage. He was playing music and playing with his kids on a Friday night, kissed his wife good night, I’m sure…then, by noon the next day he was unconscious and struggling to live. He died later that night.

39 years….leaves behind 3 beautiful children and a wife, as well as many other friends, family, co-workers & acquaintances. He went to bed that night and had no idea it would be his last time going through the daily rituals of life on earth. The good news is that his legacy will live on.

The truth is, we never know when our last breath will come. Life is short. It hurts a lot sometimes, but it’s important to embrace it as best you can.

Just last year, TJ completed his first Marathon. He struggled to finish. I remember talking to him during his training and I know it was a grind, especially with a growing family. For anyone that’s run a marathon, you know the time commitment of the long runs and the mental commitment to prepare. I ran three in my younger days and didn’t have a family yet so it was a lot easier to train. He talked about the grind and the challenge of race day. It’s a metaphor for life. You can read the entire post on his experience training and running here.

Life will knock you upside the head. It will. Some of you are probably going through some very challenging times.

Know that you’re not alone. Life is many times about struggle. I’m learning that life is often times about EMBRACING…THE…STRUGGLE.

In a marathon where your legs are burning up and cramping and you still have six miles to go, or in life where it feels like there’s no hope…and, you tell yourself that maybe it’s better to just quit – know that sometimes it’s the next step that gets you headed in the right direction.

There’s a great scene in Finding Nemo (I’ve seen it many times with my kiddos!) – Dori is a fish, voiced by Ellen Degeneres, that goes on a journey with Marlin (Nemo’s dad) to find Nemo. Dori drops a scuba mask that Marlin thinks is the only chance to help him find his son. He’s frustrated and ready to give up and Dori tells him “When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do?” – then goes on to say “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

So, as life gets you down and you find yourself questioning what’s next. You find yourself in a hole wondering how you’ll ever get out. No matter your circumstance, no matter the situation, there is hope. Sometimes it’s one day, one step, one breath away.

Sometimes, you just have to keep swimming!

TJ lived a great life. He was a great friend to many and was a man of deep faith. I believe fully that his legacy will live on. He wrote a post on his blog last year that outlined 39 life lessons. I’ve had the privilege of putting his daily lessons into an image each day so that others may benefit from his wisdom and life experience. This picture at the start of the post was taken in recent years of him standing on a beach at sun rise.

 

TJ Turner – Director at Vertex, Inc.

TJ Turner – Director at Vertex, Inc.

I had the great opportunity to participate in a Catalyst Igniter Cohort under Jon Giganti’s leadership. In my corporate career of over 15 years I’ve attended all types of training and personal development courses and had the opportunity to work with some great mentors and coaches, but there is something special and different about Jon’s approach. He worked with a few of us who were all in different places with our careers and in life in general to create an energy and dialogue that promoted unique growth among each of us.

This experience helped me to take inventory of what’s important, think about how I am managing my time, and draw upon others’ experiences to look ahead and set worthwhile and well thought out goals for myself. Jon’s genuine care for each person, his great listening ability, and knack for sharing what he has learned from others and facilitating us towards action was nothing short of extraordinary! Thank you Jon!

5 Fool-proof Keys to Using Checklists (So You WILL Dominate Your Day!)

5 Fool-proof Keys to Using Checklists (So You WILL Dominate Your Day!)

Do you utilize checklists to manage your day?  Especially for consistent tasks that you need to perform each and every day.  If you’re not, you need to.

Checklists can literally be a life saver.  Just ask Atul Gawande, who wrote a fantastic book called “The Checklist Manifesto”.  Gawande is a general and endocrine surgeon and also a professor at Harvard.

Another fantastic writer, Malcom Gladwell, wrote the following about Gawande in his review of the book:

Over the past decade, through his writing in The New Yorker magazine and his books Complications and Better, Atul Gawande has made a name for himself as a writer of exquisitely crafted meditations on the problems and challenges of modern medicine. His latest book, The Checklist Manifesto, begins on familiar ground, with his experiences as a surgeon. But before long it becomes clear that he is really interested in a problem that afflicts virtually every aspect of the modern world–and that is how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities. It has been years since I read a book so powerful and so thought-provoking.

Gawande begins by making a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don’t know enough), and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t make proper use of what we know). Failure in the modern world, he writes, is really about the second of these errors, and he walks us through a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons have now become so incredibly complicated that mistakes of one kind or another are virtually inevitable: it’s just too easy for an otherwise competent doctor to miss a step, or forget to ask a key question or, in the stress and pressure of the moment, to fail to plan properly for every eventuality. Gawande then visits with pilots and the people who build skyscrapers and comes back with a solution. Experts need checklists–literally–written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure. In the last section of the book, Gawande shows how his research team has taken this idea, developed a safe surgery checklist, and applied it around the world, with staggering success.

I think Gladwell ties this up nicely.  I love how he mentions the distinction between errors of ignorance and errors of ineptitude.  Ineptitude is what Gawande has focused his research on.   We’re simply not making proper use of what we know.  Who’s to blame us though?  With everything coming at us, who has time to make a checklist and to refer to it?  That’s precisely the reason we must step back and evaluate this.  And, develop tools and resources that take out the human error element.  As I wrote about in my last post on Decision Fatigue (9 Sure-fire ways to overcome decision fatigue), we have a finite number of decisions that we can make in a day w/out losing steam.  Our brains are simply not wired to go at full speed all day long.  So, why not cheat a little – and create smart checklists that help you drive decision-making the right way.

I speak from experience here in that I used to go through many frustrating days of non-productivity.  It wasn’t until I found the folks at GTD (Getting Things Done) back in 2006 that my approach began to change.  I’ve had many other influences throughout the years, but I can tell you that implementing a systematic approach to your work is imperative in this day and age.  This includes setting up specific checklists for activities that you  have to do consistently.  It’s not a one-size fits all approach, but I’d like to share with you a checklist I use that keeps me on track daily in a few key components of my work and life.  Keep in mind – this is a living/breathing document and it changes often (things are added and things are taken away depending on what’s working, etc.).

I utilize a productivity tool called Toodledo which is a combo of web-based and app-based for my iphone.  I’ve tried MANY other productivity apps and I always go back to this.  Part of what Toodledo does is enable you to setup lists and outlines.  These are perfect for a checklist you want to put together that can be kept in an automated fashion and utilized daily.

I wanted to give you a real-world example I use to make it more applicable.  I have a couple screen shots and explanations below.

But first, let’s get to the 5 keys to creating and maintaining checklists that help you get great results:

1 – Make it easy to update – I used to do this on pen/paper but it was just too hard to keep creating everyday.  I found that I would get lax on this and my productivity ultimately started to regress.  Using an automated tool changes the game for this.

2 – Create areas of focus – All checklists aren’t created equal and it’s easy to get things mixed up if you have a whole bunch of stuff intertwined.  This is why I keep things like fuel separate from work.  Although both are important, they need to be kept in there own spot.  This enables you to focus on one core area and crank out whatever actions you want to take.

3 – Be consistent – Make it a habit to do this daily.  Just like anything, it may take some time to make this an engrained habit (like brushing your teeth).  Why don’t you test yourself – or, how about I test you now : )  – How about a challenge for the next 7 days to keep a checklist and use it daily?  If you miss a day, so what….get back on the wagon and do it again.

4 – Be flexible – This needs to be a living document….meaning it’s ok to change things.  Figure out what works for you.  The important thing is that you’re utilizing a checklist to enhance your productivity.

5 – Perfect isn’t the goal – It’s easy to make a checklist and get all bent out of shape if you don’t check everything off.  Let’s face it – we’re not always going to be on our A game.  Don’t fret if you don’t check every box.  Maybe it’s time to adjust and take something off the list.  Either way, get back on it and get after it again tomorrow.

And, now for a more in-depth look at how I use my checklist:

Screen Shot 1:  This highlights the key areas of focus for checklists I keep and refer to daily.  The beauty of an automated checklist is that it starts anew everyday.  No thinking, no re-doing.  You’ll see here I have 7 core areas.

toodledo daily list high level

Fuel – This is my most important checklist and includes things like water consumption, supplements, food, reading, etc.  All the stuff that primes me for the day and gets my mindset right.

Home Chores – These are just a couple of simple things I try to do to help my wife before my workday starts

Work Prep – Behind fuel, this is my #2 priority to make sure I’m aligned and in the right frame of mind for the day.  It’s the old adage – You plan your work…and then work your plan.

Work – Of course, the big chunk of my day…I try to make it  a priority to get at least 3 as un-interrupted 90 minute focused sessions as I can. That’s where real work gets accomplished.

TCP – This is my stuff for The Catalyst Project – everything from writing to reading to connecting

Personal – This is my down time and I try to be intentional about the time I spend with family and friends

Rest/Recover – An often over-looked component of productivity, I’m intentional about taking breaks throughout the day and, of course, getting enough sleep at night.  You should be too!  This could be a game changer.

Screen Shot 2:  This shows the Fuel section of my checklist broken down into specific tasks.

toodledo example - fuel

You’ll see here specific things, some only taking a minute that provide the fuel I need to start my day off right and maintain my energy and performance throughout the day.  Having a checklist to refer to helps immensely to keep me on task.

Remember, it’s not about being perfect.  This may seem overwhelming to you but I promise that utilizing a checklist will help you more than it will hurt you.  Imagine waking up and knowing exactly what you want to do.  Instead of waking up with a little stress resting on your chest, you’ll wake up confident and ready to tackle the day with your checklist.

Keep in mind, there are many other lists you can keep (like Project Lists, Action Lists, etc.), however, a standard checklist for things you want to do daily is imperative to consistent high level achievement.

As always, thanks for reading!

COMING SOONProductivity University – I’m excited to announce that on January 4th, 2015, I’ll be starting a 10-week training class based on key productivity and performance principles.  I know time management and getting the right things done is a struggle for a lot of people (believe me, I’ve had my share of challenges with this).  My goal is to help you move the needle and get more productive and effective – and I figured what better time to do this then to start the year off right!  It will be a virtual course with video lessons and a weekly collaborative call.  Stay tuned for an opportunity to sign up for the pre-launch team and more details.

Be well!

Jon

9 Sure-fire ways to Overcome Decision Fatigue

9 Sure-fire ways to Overcome Decision Fatigue

 “There’s no greater waste of energy or resources than doing well that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

Do you feel distracted as you go through your day and your life in general?  I know I do at times.  There’s hope for you and me but you’ll have to be aware of this first.

I was listening to a great podcast the other day – The Tim Ferriss Show.  I’m sure a lot of you have read Tim’s stuff (Four Hour Work Week, Four Hour Body, Four Hour Chef) or have at least heard of him.  I highly recommend his podcast….very enlightening stuff.  Mostly he has some pretty cool guests (Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, etc.) and he occasionally does mini episodes to talk about various things.  The guy is a complete lab rat when it comes to optimizing productivity and performance.  You can check out his podcast here.  They’re great for listening to when you’re working out by the way.  Good stuff.

In this particular one, he talks about the law of diminishing returns we go through when we have to make too many decisions.  He calls it decision fatigue.  It got me thinking…

It breaks down like this – imagine you have 100 points each day and every decision you make causes these points to diminish.  Everything you do has an effect on this account.  If you wake up everyday and have to make decisions on what clothes you’re going to wear and what you’re going to eat, that’s going to take away from your capability to make a good decision.  If you don’t have your work day planned out in advance, at least how you start your day, you’ll be more apt to check email first thing (and get sucked into someone else’s agenda!!).  Or, it will be much easier to get distracted and jump on social media when you should be getting higher impact work done.  As the day progresses, the account is diminished and you’re much more likely to be distracted and, ultimately, make bad decisions.

I’m such a big proponent of getting your highest impact work done early in the day.  I know some of you may be night owls and that’s okay – the good news is that I believe you can replenish this account throughout the day.  I think being productive at night probably has more to do with the small number of distractions coming in, however (not much email at midnight, at least compared to 2 in the afternoon).  The bottom line – get your big stuff done when your energy is the highest and your mind is the clearest.

Here are some keys to minimizing the effect of decision fatigue and maximizing your output for the day:

1.  Start your day with a plan that you set the day before – This should be the last thing you do before your workday ends.  Plan tomorrow.  Keep it simple but at least set a plan.  This leads to number 2.

2.  Create a checklist for the first 60 minutes of your day – make it foolproof. I’ve tinkered with this quite a bit and I’m a believer.  If 60 minutes is too long, try 30.  Clearly list out what you’re going to do and just get to that list right when you wake up (even put “make coffee”, “make bed”, etc. on there.  Remember, dumb it down so  you don’t have to think about it when you wake up.

3.  Use checklists for routine tasks – For things like packing for a trip or a weekly review of your work, keep a standard checklist you can go back to.  I travel almost weekly so having a list of everything I need to pack helps immensely.  I use a combination of Evernote and Toodledo to keep these lists.  Either works great.

4.  Plan your meals, especially your first one – A crucial, crucial component to productivity optimization.  If you can do this the night before, even better.  Lately, I’ve been hard boiling eggs in advance – it’s quick, easy – just add a little sea salt and some hot sauce and you’ve got a tasty meal.  I’m a fan of smoothies first thing in the morning too.  Again, the better you plan these basic things the more decision capacity you’ll have for bigger ticket items throughout your day.

5.  Limit the number of choices you have to make – Automate wherever you can.  Delegate the things that others can do better than you.  Focus on what your strengths are and find others that can fill in the gaps.  I know plenty of people that hire out virtual assistants and swear by it.  Remember the 80/20 rule – 80% of your results comes from 20% of your work – if you can be an assassin when it comes to that approach, you’ll do very well, I promise.

6.  Learn to say no – This one is hard.  I struggle with it.  Many people are pleasers, me included.  It’s a recipe for disaster – I’m telling you. Build your muscles slowly with this….try saying now in a respectful way.  I promise it won’t be as bad as you think.  From there you’ll gain confidence and will realize the value of this.

7.  Pay attention to when you get distracted – When your decision fatigue is up what distracts you?  Is it social media?  ESPN?  TMZ?  Your dog?  There are plenty of things.  Become aware of what you do when your points are down.  Simply being aware will help you make better decisions.

8.  Use timers – I think this may be the biggest productivity hack I know.  All smart phones have timer apps now.  If you’re struggling and need to push through (and don’t want to take a break), set a time for 10 minutes and just get after whatever it is you’re doing.  When the buzzer goes off, see how you feel.  I know a lot of times, I pass through the resistance and get into a flow state and can get a lot done in 30 minutes or so.

9.  Take breaks – An often looked-down upon thing, taking breaks is essential.  Just like an elite athlete, you must take a step back to recharge yourself.  This goes for small breaks during the day as well as longer breaks throughout the year (i.e. multi-day disconnected vacations, etc.).

Definitely check out Tim Ferris’s podcast – it’s really good.  I think it ties nicely into The Catalyst Day producitvity document I created as well.  It’s all about being intentional and having a plan is crucial.  Remember, the better you plan you work the better you’ll be at executing…and adjusting when your decision fatigue ratchets up and the game is on the line.

Good luck.

Jon

P.S.  If you think someone can benefit from this, I’d love for you to share it via the buttons at the top.  Thanks!

 

 

 

flow=mojo (thoughts on accelerated productivity)

flow=mojo (thoughts on accelerated productivity)

The flow…the mojo.  Do you have it?  Have you ever felt it?  The flow is something you get when you’re working on a task and time stands still.  It’s effortless almost.  You’re so immersed in what you’re doing that you forget about time – by the time you come back up you’ve usually have a pretty cool output…it can be magical.  And, it can be cultivated.  A lot of people wait for a muse or for the perfect moment.  Here’s the thing – there are too many distractions these days to not be intentional about getting your mojo going.  You following me?  You MUST be intentional about getting your game face on.  I don’t care if it’s at work or spending time with your loved ones – being intentional is key (yes, that means putting your phone away when you’re having a conversation with someone).  I love watching my kids or any kid for that matter – watch a kid play and get immersed in whatever it is their doing.  My daughter Reese will spend hours at the craft table coloring or drawing.  I  love it.  It’s the most pure form of focus.  I’m afraid we lose that as we get older.  
 
I live for the Flow…I don’t always attain it but I know it when it’s there.  I know that there are a couple things that get me there (and I bet you have a couple key things as well).  Limiting distractions is number one.  Using a timer is number two.  And, number three is planning my work and working my plan (this should probably be number one actually).  I’ll give credit to the folks at GTD (Getting Things Done) for that one.  In a nutshell, we can only do a Next Action (i.e. If the Outcome you want is fixing your bike there are probably a couple steps you need to take to get there….so, a Next Action might be “Research fixing flat tires online”).  I tell you this b/c the more comprehensive your lists of actions are (and in contexts – i.e. At Phone, At Computer, Errands), the better you’ll feel about what you’re not doing.  
 
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote a book called “Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience”.  Fantastic read.  Boiled down, true flow is the intersection of doing something that’s challenging enough to you and something you have a high level of skill with.  
 
So, I ask you – when was the last time you experienced your mojo, your flow?  Furthermore, when are you at your best?  When is your mind most clear?  What are you doing when time stands still?  Understanding the answers to these questions may unlock the door for you to up your game considerably.  
 
Good luck.
 
Be well,
Jon

Awareness

Awareness

Hi and greetings from St. Louis.  I’m at the airport, just returning from a funeral service for a friend/colleague’s dad.  Second funeral in the last month….although the last one was much younger – a good friend’s wife passed away at the early age of 40.  For this one, Mr. B. was close to 80 – not that it’s any better.

I’m reminded of the fragility of life.  As I see Emerson (my 10 month old) take her first steps (and she’s walking a ton already!), I reflect on how important it is to embrace life.  It’s so easy to say….very hard to actually live.

My dad was recently diagnosed with Lewi Body Disease, which is form of Dementia.  It’s been a pretty good dose of perspective.  I’m damn proud of him.  He’s been courageous throughout and has a good sense of humor about it.  I’m scared too for him….his health is declining fairly quickly.

We are all busy….all busy.  I get it.  Work, family, friends, social life….we are going, going…and going.  I get it.  It’s time we smell the roses a little bit isn’t it?  We strive for the nice house and new car and the epic vacation….but are we really living the day to day the way it’s meant to be?  Are we enjoying and embracing the journey?  I say this as a mea culpa b/c I know that I need some help with this.  How about you?

I marvel at Emerson’s first steps….my son Gabe’s work ethic on the soccer field and his sweet smile off it….and Reese’s charming and eccentric personality.  But, I’m afraid that sometimes I’m not in the moment.  My wife and I were watching some videos of the kids from about five years ago last night….kind of random as they popped up in my Dropbox folder.  Wow – time is flying!  Gabe was just a little tike with a cute little voice…..and now he’s growing up so fast.

That’s okay.  It starts with awareness.

I’m challenging myself to be more aware….to be more present.  I throw that challenge out to you as well…are you embracing the moment?….the struggle?….the joy?….

How about we do it together?

All the best,

Jon

**Here’s my dad with baby Emerson….and Gabe and Reese enjoying a fun day at a Pumpkin Patch recently!

Blog Post_Dad and kids

The Importance of Always Challenging Your Mind (and the repercussions if you don’t)

The Importance of Always Challenging Your Mind (and the repercussions if you don’t)

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Gandhi

I just returned home from Cleveland Thursday night.  I spent the evening with my dad.  I took the drive up there for a visit to the Cleveland Clinic with him.  He’s had some issues in recent years with memory loss among other things.  After taking some tests a couple weeks back, the initial thoughts were less than stellar.  The early news is that it may not be as bad as we originally thought – Alzheimer’s.  Although, there’s still a chance.  More tests are coming so we’ll find on in a few weeks.  He was in good spirits.  Maybe it was the fact that my brother Mario was there with me, along with his girlfriend Sue.  I don’t see my dad that often these days as we live a couple hours apart, but it was great to spend some quality time with him.  After a nice Italian dinner in Little Italy (Cleveland) and some outstanding Gelato, I felt encouraged.  I was encouraged that we still have time to help my dad.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case for 5 million other Americans living with Alzheimer’s.  I’m not expert, but I wonder how much that number could be reduced if we made a commitment, especially at an older age, to keep our minds as sharp as they can be. 

My dad retired about 15 or so years ago – he was a teacher.  He’s remained pretty active physically but I’ve always been worried about him watching too much TV and sleeping.  I really think that it’s caught up to him over the years.  He still sees a lot of people socially and I know that’s helped him.  The thing is, he’s only 72….and, to see him start to lose his memory seems way too early to me.  I really think he falls into the category of not doing enough to keep his mind sharp.  What if he had just spent 15 minutes a day doing something to exercise his brain in a more meaningful way.  Just 15 minutes.  
Here are some other stats on Alzheimer’s:
  1. Every 67 seconds in the US, someone develops Alzheimer’s
  2. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US
  3. Approximately 500,000 people die each year b/c they have Alzheimer’s
  4. In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion – wow, this one floors me.

So, obviously, a very serious problem and one that I’m confident can be reduce with the right strategy in place.

In talking to the doctor, he recommended a couple key things that he can do going forward.  Again, I wonder how his current situation could’ve been stemmed if these were ingrained habits all along.
  1. Exercise – And, not just going for a walk – he talked about getting his heart rate up a bit.  Although my dad’s worked out throughout the years, I’m not so sure he’s really pushed the envelope.
  2. Learn a new skill – He called it a procedural skill that will help with his memory.  Things like painting, pottery, riding a bike or even volunteering all fall into this category.
  3. Build structure – Building a routine into his day will help him stay on track.
I think this is something important for everyone to do, not just my 72 year old dad.  Do you have a routine?  Are you learning a new skill?  Are you exercising your body and mind?
To me, it comes down to one thing.  Fuel.  What you fuel your mind and your body with is vital in all aspects in life.  If you want to maintain a strong mind, you have to fuel it with challenging things.  Whether that’s reading or crossword puzzles, you keep building it – just like physical exercise. **side note – I just started doing Lumosity at the suggestion of a friend.  It’s an app and online toolkit of games that test and build your brain.  It’s simply awesome.  $50 or so for a year membership but it’s well worth it.
I have a feeling this challenging journey is just beginning for my dad.  I’m hopeful in that he’s recognized it early enough and can still maintain some semblance of normalcy.  I will be challenging him to put into practice what his doctor is recommending.  Remember – challenge yourself, fuel you mind, fuel your body, fuel your life with the right people and the right influences.  No challenge = No growth.

 

How to be more proactive (Video)

“Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle… when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” – Christopher McDougall

I believe we must be proactive more than ever to fend off all the potential distractions and noise coming our way. Here’s a 2 minute clip on some thoughts around this. In this, I share with you a simple idea on planning your day that will get you in a proactive mindset. I hope you enjoy.