Directions for 2014

2014As New Year’s resolutions seem almost made to be broken, I thought that instead of making new New Year’s resolutions this year, as I have done in the past, I am going to set a more practical direction for this year. Instead of making a list of things that I will do “some time” during next year, I have made a list of skills and habits that I will work on for one month at a time.

The way this is going to work is that I will pick one skill or habit to focus on each month, and by the end of the year, hopefully some of these habits and skills will have stuck.

I won’t stop learning the skill or practicing the habit at the end of each month however, but instead add another skill to my repertoire to work on. What sticks will stick, what doesn’t feel worthwhile will fall away. If I throughout the month feel like I don’t want to continue, that is fine too, but at least I will have learned something.

stretchingThe first habit I will be working on is stretching. My goal is to stretch for about 20 minutes in the evening before going to bed. This is something I should have started with a long time ago, especially with how hard I have been working out. Better late than never, I suppose. I was reminded of how stiff I was and how necessary it is that I stretch when I made an offhand joke to a friend of mine that I don’t need to stretch, while at the gym. I thought about it afterwards and told myself that from now on, I will be stretching more. I never did. Now however, with the turn of the new year and in deciding that I will pursue one new habit each month, I felt it was time to get started once and for all.

Another habit I really want to set, is to get a proper morning routine. Right now my mornings mostly consist of me waking up to my alarm telling me that I need to wolf down some food and get out the door, which starts my day out in a rush. Instead, I want to wake up, do something productive, eat breakfast in peace and go to work without stressing. 

Other habits that I haven’t decided in which order to do yet, as I have the two first months planned, has still to be set. If you have any suggestions for skills or habits to work on, let me know and I might incorporate it into my list and into my schedule.

  • Improving my photographyimprove-photography
  • Write two new blog posts every month
  • Cooking better food
  • Learning to write short-hand
  • Learning to play poker well
  • Shoot well with bow and arrows
  • Become better at mental mathematics
  • Learning to beat-box
  • Learning some cool magic tricks
  • Improving various IT skills
  • Learning super-spy skills (à la Jason Bourne)

 

So, what skills and habits are you going to work on during 2014?

How will you make this your best year yet?

Looking back on 2013

A lot has happened during 2013, and I just thought I would share a few of the highlights with you here.

The year started out pretty amazing, in India, where my wife and I had a wedding reception, as only her direct family had been able to attend our wedding in Sweden. I must say, an Indian wedding is pretty much wild! All in all, more than 700 people attended the two events that we had, and the venues were magical both times. The first event was what is called a Sangeet, where there is music, dancing and other festivities for the closest family members and friends. The second event was the proper reception where the extended family and circles of friends were invited.

Reception Venue

After returning to Sweden, life went back to it’s normal pace. However, in part due to a bad joke I had made during the trip to India, and in part due to the fact that I was actually putting on weight after quite some time of struggling with just that, I decided that I would be returning to the gym, harder than ever!

I set a bunch of fitness goals, that are on my Bucketlist and started working towards them. I told myself that this year, I would look ripped on the beach. Of course, that never happened, but I was continuously working towards that goal. By summer, I ended up looking quite fit, with a lot more muscle than I had ever had before, all while maintaining my weight. I started taking vitamin supplements, drinking protein shakes and generally trying to improve my health in every way I could. Your health is the most important thing in life. If you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to do anything as well as you could if you are. Also, on the first of October, I finally had my six pack! I still need to work hard on it to make it more visible, but I got the thumbs up from my gym partner to claim that I have one.

Apart from fitness, I have been working hard at ticking off other items on my Bucketlist, something that more and more is becoming something of an obsession. This year alone, I have ticked off 12 items from the ever growing list.

  • Taking my wife canoeing
  • Witnessing a meteor shower together with my wife
  • Learning to Juggle
  • Writing a killer CV
  • Running my first 5k race
  • Doing 20 consecutive chin-ups
  • Getting a six-pack
  • Doing 100 consecutive push ups
  • Doing 200 consecutive squats
  • Starting to properly learn Russian
  • Getting more than 500 daily visitors on my blog
  • Making $100+ through online work

Of course I have done many more things than these throughout the year, such as getting a new job, traveling to Latvia for our one year anniversary, and started training for the 60 km long Engelbrektsloppet ski race as well as the other Swedish Classic races, but this serves as a small highlight of what has happened during the year.

I am really optimistic and looking forward to what 2014 is going to bring. What I am sure about however is that it is going to be brilliant, a lot of work and so much of fun! I look forward to sharing more with you in the year to come!

Till then, have a wonderful day!

The Last Sequence – 13-12-11

Today is a very special day from a numerological point of view. It is the last time for 90 years that a date can be written in a direct number sequence, with next time being in 2103/02/01.

As I have always found number sequences interesting and because today is such a special day, I planned something special to mark the occasion. Therefore, at 10:09 today, I did 100 push ups which has been on my bucketlist for quite some time, in order to make an interesting number sequence even more special, ending up with 13/12/11 10:09.

About three weeks ago I decided that I wanted to challenge myself a bit extra, so almost jokingly I told a friend of mine that I would do 100 push ups on the 11th December, which was about three weeks away at the time. As of saying that, my personal record was only 60 push ups, so in the last few weeks I have really tried to push my own limits.

All in all, I am extremely proud of this, even though this is definitely not going to be my max for long! I’ve caught a push up bug!

The summer of 2013 – Updates

I realize that I haven’t been writing for a very long time. There are several reasons for this, but I promise that I will write a few posts about what has been happening lately. I also know that I haven’t been writing any personal blog posts in almost a year, so I think that it’s time that they come back too.

new-year-new-job

One of the biggest things that have happened lately is that I have gotten a new job that I’m really excited about. I was unemployed for a few months during the summer, but I think that I used my time quite well.

For example, I had a lot of time to go to the gym, which really has started to show results; I have finally started to be able to see my six-pack abs! At the moment they can’t be seen all the time, so I still have some ways to go to improve that, but at least they’re there!

I filled my summer quite well with other activities as well, some of which I am planning to share with you here on the blog in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!

I am quite excited to having started writing again, so expect a few new blog posts soon!

Learn to Relax

Learning to relax is something very important. Almost as important as drinking enough water. Many of us don’t take time to relax enough, and when we set out to relax, we often just sit in a sofa in front of the TV or in a chair in front of the computer. I know that I do. This doesn’t allow the body to fully relax, so it’s good to sometimes just take a break and really relax for real. This problem also ties into being able to fall asleep. Because we don’t allow our minds and bodies to be relaxed before we sleep, we often make it harder for ourselves when the time comes to go to bed.

How to fall asleep is quite an interesting topic to discuss. For some people it’s quite difficult to manage to fall asleep, for some people it’s quite easy and for some people who are suffering from different forms of sleeping disorders, it’s near impossible.

At times in my life I have had huge problems with falling asleep. My brain just keeps churning things over, making it impossible to shut out the chatter from inside my own head. It was during the time that I had the most problems with these things that I read quite a lot about relaxation techniques, ways of making yourself falling asleep etc, and eventually I developed two techniques that work really well for me. One to relax my body completely, or at least as completely as it’s possible to relax oneself, and the other to blank out my mind and relax my mind. And from that relaxed state of mind, I found that it was much easier to fall asleep.

My body relaxation technique might look like some other techniques that you’ve seen somewhere else and since as far as I know it hasn’t been patented, you can feel free to claim it as your own as well. If you’ve seen or used a technique similar to this, write a comment and tell me your experience with it, that would be really cool.

 Relaxed Body

For the first technique, you can either sit in a comfortable chair or lay down on a bench, bed, or on the floor. Keep your arms by the side of your body, be comfortable, and make sure you’re not going to get too cold or too warm for the next half an hour or so.

Close your eyes, and breathe through your nose. Take deep long breaths and just get used to breathing this way for about ten seconds or so. Once you have gotten used to the rhythm, breathe in, and as you breathe out, give a huge sigh and just relax your muscles as much as possible, just let everything go. Try to sink into the floor or mattress as much as possible. Become a puddle of goo.

This is where it becomes a bit more difficult and the real relaxation will start. The idea of the relaxation technique is to relax body-part by body-part one by one, starting from the head. I like to start from the face, but you might as well do it from your feet and go upwards. I like to start from the top, because you have loads of muscles in your face, and to me, the head, neck and shoulders are the most important to relax, to be able to continue relaxing the rest of the body.

Start by allowing your face muscles relax. Let them sink back, your eyebrows relax and your cheeks get loose. Open your lips ever so slightly and relax your tongue. It might feel like it’s going to block your throat, but you are breathing through your nose, so don’t worry. Continue focusing on relaxing one muscle group at the time in your face, then your neck, shoulders and arms, etc. Really focus on relaxing and letting go of any tension you have.

Keep it to one muscle per breath or slower if you can. The more times that you use this technique, the more muscles you will find to relax. If you want, have a look at a drawing of the human physiology and imagine going through all those muscles when you’re relaxing. Just keep going through the whole of your body until you’ve reached your legs and feet. Once you have, just go through your body one more time and make sure that you’re completely relaxed.

The first time you try this technique, you might not get further than a couple of muscles in your face before you lose focus. Don’t worry about it, but just keep trying. You’ll get it eventually.

Mind Relaxation

For the mind-relaxation technique, I needed to add a couple of triggers to make it work properly for myself. My mind is very active, and thus will always want to think of two or three other things at the same time, even if I try to tone it down. This can be quite disturbing when trying to focus on this technique, because the purpose of it is to empty out your mind, slow yourself down into a relaxed state of mind and ultimately either just relax or get a chance to peacefully fall asleep.

Visualize a huge clock in front of you. The clock only has one arm, the seconds arm. The other arms of the clock are irrelevant, so you leave them out or visualize them as you like. Just firmly burn the image of the clock into your mind and let the seconds tick away. Make the image clearer, the white of the clock face whiter, bigger and brighter. Shut everything else out but the face of the clock.

Once you have a firm image of the clock face and the seconds arm in your mind, match the speed of the arm’s ticking to your own heartbeat and just watch it tick on as you feel your heart beating. Keep letting it tick, and make the image stick in your mind.

As you get used to the rhythm, you start to will the arm to tick slower, as you observe it, obstruct it in your mind, and at the same time you keep matching it to the pace of your heartbeat. Keep willing it to move slower and slower, feeling your heart beat slower and slower as you will the clock to tick slower. Keep going and keep focusing on the clock, the ticking of the arm and your own heartbeat.

At first you will find that a lot of distractions will try to obstruct you from fully visualizing the clock, from matching the ticking of the arm to the beating of your heart and from willing it to slow down. As the distractions keep coming in, acknowledge them and let them go. It’s much more difficult to getting rid of an image or thought if you don’t acknowledge that it’s there, but as soon as you have, focus even harder on the clock. Make it brighter, bigger and more tangible in your mind. Keep it going and you’ll soon be able to summon that clock at any given time.

Energy Booster

I also have another technique, to boost my energy, that I had almost forgotten about. I just remembered it when I was discussing this article with a friend of mine, so I thought it could be cool to add it in here as well. As I said, I had almost forgotten about it because I haven’t been using it for years. I don’t know why or when I really stopped using it, but it’s well worth a mention.

Basically what I do is that when I’m in a relaxed state, I focus my energy on the inside of my eyelids or just above my eyes, and breathe through my nose. I inhale carefully, but exhale with a bit of force. Not so much as if I was blowing my nose, but almost as if I was blowing up a very light balloon. I keep the focus and try to visualize energy and adrenaline pumping through my body. With every breath I keep this going and visualize that I have a torrent of energy that goes from the top of my head, down my back and up through my chest. I keep feeding this torrent with more and more energy, starting to move my body ever so slightly, rolling my shoulders, and let the energy flow through me.

Then I open my eyes and go about my business, feeling much more energized than before.

 Combination

You can also combine all three of these techniques, once you have gotten used to them. First, relax your body, then your mind and as you decide to come to, or if you’ve set an alarm for a certain period of time, use the energy-boost technique just to get a little extra kick.

If you decide to try any of these techniques out, please tell me how your experience with them was, comment if there is anything that you’re wondering about and share it if it has been beneficial to you.