5 Things I’m Most Looking forward to in 2016

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I am going to beat everyone else to this by writing it with two full months before 2016 even starts. 2015 was a fun year that featured a new house, new friends, and probably the best year of concerts I’ve ever attended. TOP 5 CONCERTS OF 2015

  1. Taylor Swift
  2. Eric Church and Kenny Chesney
  3. Tallest Man on Earth
  4. ZZ Top
  5. Kip Moore and Michael Ray

I have a new niece, traveled to a few new cities (Hello, Nashville!) and even turned 30 once or twice. I also got to have some fun with a few old standards, like enjoy the sunshine for the Memorial Tournament and Dublin Irish Festival (where Kelly and our friends got videotaped for the city and felt like celebrities for a day. VIDEO HERE), and saw my other blog, Sports Monte, take off (relative term).

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And on top of all that, I still think these next two months will bring even more excitement, as we still have a Christmas trip to Orlando planned and my Wall of Foam list to complete at our favorite restaurant, Local Roots.

But let us look ahead, just for a moment, shall we? As much fun as 2015 has been and continues to be, here are five things I am most looking forward to next year.

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1.) Travel – My wife and I have decided that 2015 was the year of the concerts, and 2016 will be the year of travel. We have saved (52 Week Money Challenge – check it out HERE), planned, and have two big trips lined up. The first one is for my wife’s mom’s 60th birthday. We are going to the Cayman Islands, which will be my second time leaving the country for non-work related travel. I’m looking forward to beachin’ it, renting a scooter, and hopefully finding a cliff to jump into the water (against my wife’s advice. Sorry, babe!). The second place we’re going is to Ireland. You might remember my “Take me to Ireland or Lose me Forever” post. This will be my third time leaving the country for non-work related travel… <– jokes. Ireland is a place I’ve always wanted to go and I am thrilled at the thought of having a Guinness in Dublin and meeting the locals there.

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2.) Finding my Place in Fantasy Sports World – So technically Sports Monte started in 2013 (December). But in 10 months, it’s really become something I am proud of and, while it can be stressful to do every week, proves to myself that this is something I love to do and am good at. I have bigger goals for SM than where it’s at now, and I hope 2016 gets me closer to achieving those goals. Sports Monte has help land me a job at one of the best fantasy football sites in the world, and I love the fact that I am getting to write about something that I love. This is kind of a broad thing to look forward to, but I feel like 2015 was the beginning of something for me, and 2016 will help define a path for both SM and myself.

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3.) Spartan Race AROO! Just kidding. I don’t even like the “O-H” “I-O” thing that Buckeye fans are supposed to love, so I doubt I’ll be that guy at the Spartan race bro’ing out and yelling. What are we, a bunch of heathens or something? But don’t let my lack of vocal enthusiasm fool you, I’m excited! I’ve begun training this year by doing what I call “playground workouts.” Playground workouts are when I find a playground that is empty, and make up a circuit workout around monkey bar pull ups, box jumps, pushups, running around a field, etc. I’ve even taken one of the garden bricks from our flower bed (25 lbs.) and have tried using that in my circuits. I think I am going to start small in the spring and do a Sprint distance Spartan Race, but might get into it and go all out the next year! Only downside is that I might have to start Crossfit to train and then I’ll be one of “those guys.”

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4.) Focusing on the things that make me happy – I think one thing I’ve preached this year has been to do the things that make you happy — it’s kind of the rule that I use when I make a tough decision. Obviously sleeping in and eating more pizza than I should would make me happy in the short term, but that’s taking what I mean a little too literally. Now that I’m 30 and old, I stopped caring what it might look like running around a field carrying a 25 pound brick. It makes me happy and I’m going to do it. I am going to continue with this attitude and I bet it opens a few more doors this year like it did in 2015. And hey, if I give someone else a good story to tell their friend, all the better.

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5.) The Unknown – I’ll leave you, the reader, with a little bit of a cliffhanger because, in truth, I don’t know what all 2016 will bring. But what I can say is that I’m excited for whatever that unknown might be!

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Why I Run

My favorite thing to do is run. No. My favorite thing to do it eat, sleep, play with my dog, love on my wife, golf, play poker, travel, drink, read (lies!), watch football and make up inventions in my head. But for the sake of this post, lets say my favorite thing to do is run.

Actually, all kidding aside, I really do love to run. For me it’s the best place to clear my head. No matter what is stressing me out or what I have to do later, I know that if I get out and do 3 miles I am going to go somewhere else mentally. And I need that.

I need it because it’s “my space.” I don’t need it because I am escaping anything or have to get away. I need it because it’s where I connect with myself the best.

Things you get to see at 6:00 am.m running.
Things you get to see at 6:00 a.m running.

My wife hates running. She loves races and the idea of running. She likes looking the part more so than the act. And for what it’s worth, I love that she likes looking the part because she looks a lot better in tight pants than I do so better her than me, right?

Yesterday, I signed up for the Cleveland Rock and Roll Half-Marathon. It will be the first distance race I have done outside of Columbus and I am excited for it. I don’t know that I will PR or even be happy with what my time is, but that’s not what it’s about for me. I like seeing the people cheer, and picking someone out who is ahead of me and trying to catch them, but I also like the 3 months before a race where I am working towards something. I like getting a new pair of shoes and making a playlist for the event, but I also like looking back at the Saturday’s I got up at 6am to be outside when everyone else is asleep.

Running is satisfaction. Running is dedication Running is youthful. Running lets me be myself and I don’t care if someone in a car driving by sees me singing and air-drumming because they’re already gone and I get to keep on going.

So this weekend marks 12 weeks until the race and that’s when I begin tracking my miles and making progress; 12 weeks until I take on a new city and a new challenge.

I run because it allows me to be the best version of me.

Motivation isn’t just for Mondays

I am a pretty healthy eater, which is a good thing. However, I am also a self-sabotager, which is a bad thing. One little game I like to play with myself is the “I don’t need to work out today because I had a sensible day eating-wise” game. The way you play the game is right at the moment your little Jiminy Cricket conscience tells your body you should probably get up and do something active, you listen to the little guy on your other shoulder who says, ” You don’t need to work out today because I had a sensible day eating-wise.” It’s not a complicated game, but I have mastered just about every way you can convince yourself not to do something you should.

For me it’s usually exercise. Sometimes I’ll kind of play the game in reverse and say, “well, since you ran this morning, this 730 calorie Cold Stone milk shake craving that is coming on strong is kind of a wash. Not to mention, yesterday I had a sensible day eating-wise, so at the end of the day, I’m still probably coming out ahead.”

The point is, we all have something in our lives that we struggle with and we all can be pretty good at convincing ourselves to stay in bed, or spend the money, or DON’T spend the money (see: me, shopping). There is always going to be that voice inside of us who will tell us to take the easy path, or accept the temporary pleasure despite the long term consequences. I can have the milkshake now, and my body will not look any different tomorrow. But if I have the milkshake now, I am probably going to have the milkshake the next time the craving comes, and eventually the series of short term decisions that seem harmless in the here-and-now add up to some pretty serious problems that become a whole lot harder to remedy over time.

Motivation means seeing past the present and focusing on the long-term. If you’re in school, it means you might be bored studying for the next hour, but when you’re ACTUALLY prepared for that mid-term in a few weeks, that gratification will outweigh your temporary laziness. 

Motivation means getting up when your alarm clock goes off 45 minutes before it normally does (remember how ambitious you were last night when you set that alarm?) and putting on your running shoes and going outside (take your dog, he is always motivated and will thank you by not tearing through the recycling while you’re at work).

Motivation means the next time I have that craving for a milkshake, I will remember that the brief satisfaction I get in drinking it does not make up for the long term damage I am doing to my body. 

Now I don’t want to say you can’t ever have an extra drink when you go out on the weekend or you should never touch chocolate again, but the key is recognition. Recognition and motivation are key building blocks to long term success. Recognition means knowing that once-in-a-while is not a reoccurring pattern; it is being able to sleep in one Saturday because you genuinely have put in the time over the past few weeks or months and your body needs it. 

I guess the devil is in the details, but what it all comes down to is being able to be honest with yourself and not making excuses. If you have to make an excuse as to why you did something, it probably was the wrong thing to do. 

So the next time that little voice tells you to stay on the couch, stay in bed, or reach for that doughnut in the office kitchen, remember the difference between what you want now, and what you want for the rest of your life. Rewards don’t come in sugary calorie-bombs or another 15 minutes in bed, they come in the satisfaction of improving yourself, little by little, one decision at a time.

 

 

Man Up: A Guide to Modern Manliness

If you pick up a Men’s magazine in any given month, you’re likely to come across an article about what it means to “be a man” in today’s society. Now, if you’re reading Muscle and Fitness, you’re probably going to find out about how being a man means staying fit and pushing your physical “manliness” to new heights in the weight room. If you’re reading Esquire, being a man probably has more to do with what’s in your closet than what’s in your head. And I’m sure you could probably even find an article about what a man should be in technology magazines, hunting magazines, and maybe even a Playboy.

The point is, with all this conflicting information out there, men are likely to try and spread themselves too thin (both mentally and physically) by trying to be somebody else’s version of what they think a man should be.

Now I am by no means old enough to write a “this is what I’ve learned in my years” kind of an article. What I can write is a a list of simple truths that can apply to any man’s life no matter what age. Being a man isn’t about being stronger, smarter, more able to survive in the woods or even who has the longer……resume. It is about being comfortable enough with who you are to acknowledge your strengths and showcase them, recognize your weaknesses and work on them, and being able to handle whatever comes your way when life happens around you.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

Are you a computer-whiz? Does your life revolve around sports? In order to build a foundation in life, you have to know what you’re working with. Knowing yourself means you have to be honest with yourself, flaws and all. If you can’t walk into a room and strike up a conversation with every single person there, then you’re probably not going to be a good sports agent. That doesn’t mean that you have to give up your dream of signing the next LeBron James, but it does mean you have to work on some things before you can expect to make it in that industry. Knowing yourself means

Stand up for yourself and your family

There comes a point when being right is less important than standing up for yourself or your loved ones. The only time in life this does not apply is Jeopardy. Life is a playground game of dodgeball and you have to pick your team. Your wife, your kids, your friends and your family are your team. Sometimes your coworkers are on your team, and sometimes they’re on the other team. Sometimes your wife and your mother seem like they’re on different teams, but that’s when it’s your job to remind them you are all on the same side. The point is, if someone you care about is being attacked, or you can tell they are uncomfortable, then stand up for them.

Be Accountable

If you tell somebody you are going to be somewhere, be there. If you tell somebody you’re going to do something, well you know. Sometimes, we fall into this trap of trying to please everyone around us and we end up letting more people down because of it. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you can’t do something if you know you wouldn’t be able to do it. Now, don’t take the easy way out and just refuse everything asked of you to protect yourself from letting people down. Do what you can to help where you can, but know that people will understand if you have to say “no” every now and then.

Be assertive

When you are young, your parents probably told you that you could be anything you wanted to be. Now, you read success stories and you hear people say “if you want something, you have to take it.” I know someone who has a masters degree and assumed that entitled them to a great job. This person is smart, but is not at all ambitious and is consequently working an hourly without much room to grow. Don’t let someone else take something that you want. Whether that is a girl, a job, or anything else in your life you have your eye on.

Be focused

Have you ever watched a TV show and noticed how much “chatter” there is around what is actually happening? “Chatter” is visual busyness. If you’re in front of a TV, turn it to Fox News or CNN. You’ll probably see something like this:

Where to go when you need scores, stocks and infotainment all at one time...
Where to go when you need scores, stocks, weather and infotainment all at one time…

Now that is an exaggeration, but it’s not too far off from reality. Don’t let “chatter” into your mind. If you are doing something, then just do it! Turn off the TV. Turn your phone on silent and let Twitter update without you for a few minutes. You’ll amaze yourself with what you can accomplish if you put your mind to something and see it through.

Think before you Act

For that matter, think before you speak too. For whatever reason, people think that the quicker you answer a question the more believable you sound. This is wrong. Take a minute next time someone asks you something and allow yourself time to process what they are saying. Think about what you want to say, then articulate it. If actions speak louder than words, do yourself a favor and make smart decisions instead of quick decisions.

Believe in Something

I will never say you have to believe in God. I believe that is up to each person to decide for themselves. But even an atheist needs to believe in somethingBelieve in yourself. Believe in the government, or the Yankees or even in the idea that Tupac and Biggie are somewhere on a beach laughing at the rest of us. The point is, you have to believe in something in order to ever get anywhere. Belief begets purpose, and a man without a purpose is a waste of space. Don’t be that guy who moans about how empty life is and how we are all just here and then we aren’t.

But don’t Believe Everything

Being a man means making up your own mind about things. Gone are the days of teachers telling us what is fact from fiction. Likewise, the days of mom and dad telling us right from wrong are over. Your life if full of questionable content. The New York Times released a study where they found the average American is exposed to anywhere from 3,000 to 20,000 ads per day. Conservatively speaking, lets say you sleep 6 hours a night. That means in the 18 hours you are awake every day, you will absorb an ad every 5-10 seconds. Think about that. Every ad is full of “9 out of 10 doctors recommend” or “studies have proven.” Give yourself some perspective when it comes to making decisions and don’t let anyone but you influence what matters to you.

Be Kind

Unless you are a UFC fighter, than there are very few things in life you can’t do while being considerate and thoughtful. And just because a man is kind does not make him weak. Be aware of the differences between being kind and being a pushover. Be kind, but know when you have to take a stand and when you have to say no to someone. Being kind makes you more likable, which makes people want to be around you and get your opinion on things. You will meet more people, and your kindness will give way to a more positive outlook on things.

Have perspective

Having perspective allows you many things, like never over looking people, never underestimating people, and always seeing a situation in more than one way. A lot of men think that being driven means you have to be so focused on the end goal that you lose sight of the people and places along the way. Be driven, but don’t be blinded by the light at the end of the tunnel. Be focused on where you want to go, but remember that there are plenty of ways to get there.

There is no handbook to what being a man is in today’s world. Everybody has to find there own way and there isn’t a self-help book or seminar in the world that will hand you what hard work allows you to earn. Being a man means being comfortable with who you are, and not letting anyone else’s ideas of what you should be or who you should be get in the way of what you want to be.