You might remember my New Year’s posting. If not, you can find the original post titled “Doing it all right in 2016 – S.M.A.R.T. Goals not just a New Year’s Resolution” in the archives.
After many years of New Year’s resolutions that lasted hardly longer than a few weeks, I wanted to do it all differently in the first full year of my Life-Sparring experience. Choosing targets that fulfill the S.M.A.R.T criteria: being specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-related to be effective; making my goals public; and checking in regularly with you out there hopefully is enough to keep me motivated all year to achieve all goals for 2016. And just in case this is not enough, I added a punishment on top, promising to go to work in original Bavarian Lederhosen on the first working day in 2017 if I miss more than one of the six goals for the year. Scary!
So let’s see how I fared during the first quarter of the year!
1) Posting at least 48 Life-Sparring sessions in 2016
This is Life-Sparring round number 7 in 2016. I had a four-week gap between the middle of January and middle of February, where life simply took turns that prevented me from putting in the hours I need to write Life-Sparring rounds. After that hiatus, I found my rhythm and posted one blog per week. Let’s see if I can keep up the beat. In the end, quality of the articles trumps quantity. If I keep the current pace and fall short of the 48 postings target, I will still be quite happy with the outcome.
In addition, I also opened a Facebook page for Life-Sparring. Here I will post shorter comments, links and findings in-between the long-form blog posts.
2) Developing a sustainable mindfulness practice, sitting for 99 meditation sittings in 2016
In terms of meditation practice, I am doing quite okay. With 29 sessions in the first quarter, I am well on course to beat the target, and more importantly, for the first time am really developing a regular mindfulness practice.
I invested in an annual subscription of the Calm mindfulness app and can only recommend it to everyone who wants to experiment with guided meditations. I talked a bit about the difference between Calm and the market leader Head Space in my piece on mindfulness “With Mindfulness to Greatness – Searching my inner Holly Holm”. I prefer Calm as it is not only much cheaper, it also is more mature in design and less gimmicky, focusing more on the meditations itself, not on animations.
Using Calm now more intensively has only increased my fondness of the app. The variety of different meditations is gigantic. Calm offers meditations on more than 20 topics; usually there are two, sometimes three versions for each topic, and each meditation comes in different lengths from 2 to 30 minutes.
I usually “sit” for 10 minutes and try many different session types, depending on my mood and the time of the day I meditate. I like to start the day with a motivation or a compassion meditation or just with a simple body scan. If I meditate during lunch break at work, a deep concentration or focus meditation is really helpful, and at night I occasionally do the deep sleep muscle relaxation. This one usually puts me to sleep before the session is even over.
Especially in the mornings, I still struggle with a distracted mind. But occasionally I have moments where I really find “calm”. And even if I have problems letting my thoughts go during a 10-minute meditation session, I still feel some benefits afterwards. Meditation changes my mindset and helps me to be more resilient to negative external factors I am confronted with throughout the day.
3) Reading 20 books in 2016 and sharing the lessons on Life-Sparring
I do not worry too much about reaching this goal. I just enjoy reading far too much to not make the time for it. So far I have finished five books in 2016, the two highlights of the first three months being Daniele Bolelli’s Not Afraid: On Fear, Heartbreak, Raising a Baby Girl, and Cage Fighting and Jonathan Gottschall’s The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch.
I covered Not Afraid extensively in a Life-Sparring round called “I Fight, Therefore I Am! – More Reflections on Fear”, so I give myself a pass also on the target of sharing the lessons of the books I am reading. I am sure there will be more articles later this year that are connected to books I am reading. I am also still pondering if I should create a separate category on the website for book reviews.
Currently I read three books in parallel: I have Justin Wren’s Fight for the Forgotten: How a Mixed Martial Artist Stopped Fighting for Himself and Started Fighting for Others as a physical book lying on my nightstand. And on my Kindle, I am about one-third through with my two long-term reading projects: an historic translation of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and a massive biography of famed physicist Richard Feynman called Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman.
You can actually follow my reading activity on the Goodreads app. I don’t constantly update my reading progress, but there is an update whenever I start or finish a book, and you can see my never-ending reading list.
4) Hiking and running 800 km within the year
Sadly, my quantitative hiking and running target for the year seems already out of reach. With just a mere 75 km for the year so far, I would really have to up my volume a lot if I would want surpass the 800 km mark.
It is not that I did not do any sport at all. With more than 40 hours of sport activity, I did similar to last year. It is just that I hit the gym more regularly, train once or twice in Muay Thai per week, and am out running or hiking far less. Partly I blame my travel schedule and the lousy weather in Hong Kong; partly I was just not too much in the mood for running and struggled with long recovery times after hikes I did.
To turn the tide, I signed up for a 16 km trail run on May 1st. I definitely have to start tying my running boots more often if I do not want to risk carrying the red lantern during the run. Let’s see if I have more to account for in the next quarterly update.
5) Improving my running technique by doing a professional gait analysis and getting technique advice. Also fixing my long-term ankle issue by June 30.
To make it simple: no progress here yet. I have, however, looked up some Hong Kong-based experts and will make an appointment over the next weeks.
6) Reducing my weight below 85 kg (from currently 89 kg), while at the same time reducing my body fat to 20% or lower before July 15 and maintaining those values till the end of the year
I knew that the first quarter would be the most challenging one for the weight and fat-reduction segment of my goals for the year. Loaded up heavily with festivals (a wedding in the family and extensive Chinese New Year celebrations in Malaysia) and a busy travel schedule, the first three months of the year were an uphill battle on the diet front.
Given these circumstances I did not fare too badly. My weekly average for the past two weeks was 88 kg. So while that did not bring me that much closer to the ultimate target, the one kg weight loss since January 1st still feels like a little victory. The major work has to come now in the second quarter, when temperatures in Hong Kong are going up and the travel schedule quiets down.
I am still absolutely determined to reach my target of lowering my absolute fat mass to 17 kg or less. Among my targets, this one maybe is the closest to my heart.
How about you? Have you already forgotten about your New Year’s resolutions? Or maybe even achieved some? What do you want to achieve in 2016 and how do you keep track of your goals? Post here, on the Life-Sparring Facebook side, or just message me to start the discussion.