Turn Disaster Into Opportunity And Create a Sustainable Physical Lifestyle

It has now been more than 1 month since I’ve updated this site. My apologies for the inconsistency. I do love writing, sharing, and discussing on Physical Living, but it takes a back seat when other life priorities take over. I’m going to try and change that over the next several weeks and months which have a new theme for my life: CHANGE.

For those who don’t yet know, my wife and I are expecting our first child this summer – a son. Conversations have shifted, people are full of advice and encouragement, and I have an ever-growing mass of baby items stealthily infiltrating my home. They do seem to be appearing at random, but I’m pretty sure my wife is running night-ops to secure their arrival in our armory/living room in time for Mission Siffer-baby. Amidst all the newness of this experience, there is one thing I’ve realized that every parent has in common – the acceptance of change. Just about everyone we talk to who has a word of advice says that life will never be the same again. Some are very positive about the changes they’ve experienced, and others are not, but EVERYONE says that life is going to change big time. Regardless, it’s true that everything is already changing in our lives even before the baby is born.

I think a major contributor to success in general is the acceptance of change and not just that, but actually leveraging changes in your life to help you reach your goals.

In our society, it’s not uncommon to hear about how a new addition to a family can be an inconvenience, which I think is a ludicrous idea for many reasons that I won’t get into here. The point is that some people only see the negative side of things. They look at the work involved, the late nights, the extra financial commitment, the lack of sleep, the crying, the diapers, and all the doctor appointments.

Call me crazy, but I don’t see it like that at all (at least, not yet – my tune may change after I’ve got a few diapers under my belt, hehe). Ever since I’ve known I’m going to be a father, I’ve felt that this will be one of the most liberating experiences I’ll ever have. Yes, I know liberating is not a term usually associated with raising a family. In fact, most people consider family life downright confining. But for me, the realization that I’m fully responsible for a human life is mind-blowing and inspiring. I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve been graced with.

One way to demonstrate the liberation possible from a new life is looking at your mindset about the whole situation. My daily thoughts have totally changed and I’m asking myself very new questions from day-to-day. One question that I keep asking myself is:

What kind of father do I want to be for my children?

Asking and answering that question can be life-changing. You can hit the motivation jackpot with that question or one similar to it. The magic and mystery in questions like this is that it puts yourself into the future, looking back on your life. It lets you experience the moment of your success or failure. You can think and speak as if it has already happened, and it lets you FEEL what it’s like. Feeling something that you’re passionate about can be both liberating and inspiring.

The reality of my situation is that there is a baby boy coming into this world whom I will be responsible for raising. That boy may become a man and have a family of his own and make an impact on this world. For me, this is one of the greatest gifts I could ever be given – not just because I get to experience it, but also because I now have a powerful reason why I need to continue working towards the goals I have for myself and my family this year. I want to be a good father, and I’m leveraging that desire to help me move forward as I take action on my goals.

Desire is a key element in the success of any endeavor. It’s not enough to have a goal and a plan to achieve it. You need a personal reason why you absolutely must achieve that goal. Desire leads to the daily actions necessary to reach your goals.

In a similar vein, if you don’t have any desire in your life, then you may be trying to meet expectations other than your own.

If you’re not willing to do something, if you don’t desire to do something, then the only way you’re going to do it is by sheer willpower. In my experience, willpower works for a little while, but doesn’t last forever. It’s too easy to get tired and burnt out when you’re living your life on willpower alone.

What usually happens is that something CHANGES your circumstances (like having a baby), and that’s exactly when willpower doesn’t hold you through anymore.

You have to run an unexpected errand, and can’t make it to the gym.
You look in the fridge and there’s nothing to eat, so you order takeout.
You forgot your gym bag so you can’t workout.

When these situations arise – and they always do – willpower often isn’t enough to make the hard, right choice. When you’re running on fumes of willpower and something like this happens, that’s when you give up or skip out. A diet or workout program can be completely neglected and forgotten when a major life change takes place simply because there was no desire to begin with. But when you have a strong desire to achieve your goals, when you have personal reasons why you must take daily action, and when you can’t imagine life any other way, that’s when you will start leveraging life changes every single day. You’ll find a way to make things happen because you want so badly to see it through. You will stop at nothing to achieve your goals!

When you adopt this mindset of seeing changes as opportunities, making what one person perceives as disaster into something liberating and inspiring, you’ll see the world in a whole different way. Instead of viewing challenges in life as merely a conduit of hardship or bad luck, you can take joy when confronted with a struggle because you know the rewards that lie within and ahead.

We will always be faced with changes. Life will keep throwing curve balls. There will always be circumstances that make quitting look acceptable. When I’m faced with the temptation to quit, I’m often reminded of a quote by Marcus Aurelius: “Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.”

I encourage you to apply a similar attitude to quitting. When tempted to quit, smile and keep going just to spite the thought of it.

Look at the world around us. There’s a reason to do better. There’s a reason to live your life to the fullest. If an unborn child can inspire so much, imagine what the rest of this awesome world could become if enough people pursued their dreams with unquenchable, passionate desire. Start seeing through your changing circumstances today and turn disaster into opportunity. Find a reason why you absolutely must succeed.

CST, CST-KS, NSCA-CPT
Fitness Professional

8 Responses

  1. Great post – and congrats on the baby!

    I coach my own clients with the emphasis on “values” too. I start them off with values, and poke, prod, encourage, and reinforce the values (“desire”) idea into everything for which they make effort (or don’t make the effort). If they get off track in actions, I bring them back to their values. If they give up, I bring them back to their values.

    Sometimes the values are not what they initially intended, as you know. “Being in shape” is not a value (desire), it’s an outward sign of that value. However, “Being energetic, strong, and able to be active in whatever comes into my life” is a value; through that value comes the ‘activities’ of “being in shape”, which then breaks down further into large goals, weekly goals, and planning.

    Btw, babies can change everything, but you don’t have to be ruined by the experience. I’ve seen parents completely give up their active lives when a baby comes… and I’ve also seen parents re-arrange their active lives to include the little ones, thus raising active, curious, healthy children. I think I know what kind of parent you will be ;)

    Best wishes!

    • Lauren, thank you. Having a son coming is one of the most liberating and empowering things that has ever happened to me. If nothing else, I am MORE committed to not just my own health, but also the health of my family.

      When we get to the point where our true values are on our minds daily, that’s when daily action starts leading to the life you’ve always dreamed of.

  2. Sue Sifferman

    How change impacts us is all about mindset. Changes, might cause a perceived “road block.” But if you force yourself to be creative and patient you will find alternate routes around any “dead end,” to accomplish your goals.

  3. Michael

    Congrats on the baby … that’s brilliant!!!

    Just wondering … will your boy ever wear shoes? :-)

    • Probably not much – I imagine he will model his daddy. My wife remarked last night that she can’t remember the last time she saw a pair of my socks in the laundry – most likely because there hasn’t been one for months!

      Children develop physically so incredibly fast, and I think one of the best things you can do to ensure full and expedient development is to allow them to feel the world around them – move their toes, flex their ankles, feel the texture of different surfaces after they begin to stand and walk. Shoes dull the sensory information we get from our feet, so I think it can be assumed that children who wear shoes more often will take longer to learn to walk and run.

  4. Hi John,

    Just got on your blog through your youtubechannel….

    Nice vids and blogposts

    I use also questions to get me moving… I like to call them Empowering Questions…..because they can empower you by giving insights about your internal motivators…

    I made up this one to ask myself everyday:

    “Wich Question(s) can I ask myself today to empower me to face my challenges and take action?”

    Let me know what you think about it.

    Ps: I took a look at your review of tact fit commando and I think it is very interesting…. If I buy the product I ‘ll do through your link

    ;)

    Hear from you soon

    • Hi Glenn,

      Thanks for introducing yourself. There is something to be said about using words to empower us. We see this most obviously in the arts: music, poetry, etc. Rather than pointing you to an inspiring song or a touching youtube video, I’ll be very straightforward about what I use to empower myself. It’s pretty simple, too.

      Every single goal setting and success system I’ve ever studied has always had 3 main elements.

      1) establish WHAT you want
      2) establish WHY you want it
      3) establish HOW to get it

      Each system has a different framework, and some of them beat around the bush or focus strongly on one aspect, but they all boil down to these three points: WHAT, WHY, and HOW. Knowing and using this can be life-changing for some people.

      We get our inspiration and motivation from the first two. So, I would start by asking yourself two questions:

      1) What do I want (for my life, for my health and fitness, etc.)?
      2) What do I NOT want?

      Maybe some things you want could be pain-free mobility, better strength training numbers, or 6-pack abs. And some things you don’t want could be feeling lethargic, feeling unattractive, getting sick all the time, etc.

      It’s good to internalize both your desires for your life and those things which you’d like to avoid. Visualization is a great tool to employ here – imagining what life could be like if you achieved your goals, and also if you didn’t.

      After you identify WHAT you want (and don’t want), then you need to seriously consider WHY you have those desires. You need to have what my friend Adam Waters calls a “Powerful Reason Why” you absolutely MUST achieve your goals. If you don’t have a PRW, then you probably won’t find the motivation to perform what is necessary.

      After you’ve established the WHAT and WHY, you should find a way to keep these things on your mind. If you need to post them on your mirror, desk, computer monitor, or on a goal card – do so. Do whatever it takes to internalize these things and think about them every day – do it!

      And after that, it’s simply a matter of taking action on the things that will lead to your success.

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