February 2019 Goals : The Year of 1% Better

books, crossfit, goals, pregnancy, reading, running, year of 1% better

I officially have 364 days left of being in my twenties. Yes, yesterday I turned twenty-nine. I celebrated by taking the day off any dissertation/Rousseau-related/job search work. I read books on the couch, did my first Cindy wod at CrossFit, and Bruno made crab cakes for dinner and homemade brownies for dessert. I was in bed by nine — a great start to my 29th year.

If you’re new here, or if you just need a refresher, I declared 2019 the year of 1% better. You can read January’s goals here and how I did here.

And now we are in the second month. January seemed to go on forever, but we already only have around three weeks of February left. I assume, because it is a big month for, that it will fly by.

Here are the goals/things I want to work on this month:

GET MY PH.D. I defend my dissertation next week Wednesday and give a public lecture on my dissertation research on Thursday evening. I’m not sure if that makes me “officially” a Ph.D. or if I still have to use Ph.D. candidate until I graduate, but one thing is for sure — if all goes well, I will be finished with my requirements for my doctorate. As with last month’s goal to submit my dissertation, this is the most important goal. All else can go to pieces, but this, this is years and years of work about to come to an end.

DIGITAL MINIMALISM. I am reading Cal Newport‘s new book, Digital Minimalism at the moment. I have always had struggles with social media. I’ve never been a Twitter person, but I can find myself sucked down the facebook, instagram, and just web-searching wormhole too frequently than I care to admit. I have failed too often in my battles against the internet, so I’m hoping to use some of the advice from this book to help. For now, the goal is to keep my social media use restricted to Saturdays — so far this has been working. I have not even been on facebook to see my birthday messages. Look ma, no facebook or instagram on my phone!

BIKE 20 MINUTES/WEEK. I know in the grand scheme of things is not very much, but as with running and swimming I am not sure how my hips and pelvis will react to time on the trainer. I’m starting here and if it goes well, next month I will increase. I suspect this also for mental training, because in case you did not know, cycling on a trainer is one of the most boring things you could ever do. It makes running on a treadmill seem like an entertaining time.

WALK (OR RUN) 30 MINUTES 2X WEEK. Like I said, trying to be moderate in my expectations. Some days I feel great, some days I really do not. I would really like to start running again, especially after I defend, but I am just not so sure if it will happen. Walking, at the very least, will get me outside.

PRE-NATAL YOGA 2X WEEK. Jasyoga has a few prenatal videos that I need to be more consistent about cycling through. I am hoping that if I hold myself accountable maybe, just maybe, those ligaments will start to feel better.

CathLIT2019. I am still working through some of the suggestions on Carrots for Michaelmas’s Catholic reading plan. I am currently reading Jesus of Nazareth by Benedict XVI and I love it. The one book a month plan is working out well for me thus far, but we will see what happens when baby gets here.

I think those are goals a-plenty for the month I’m planning on completing my doctoral requirements. What are your goals for February?

 

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January 2019 Goals : How Did it Go?

crossfit, goals, pregnancy, running, swimming, year of 1% better

We’ve reached the end of the first month of the year! I’ll admit, it felt like a long month. Not a bad month, but it just sort of felt like it was January forever. I have a suspicion though that February will fly by — not because it is short, but because it is my dissertation defense month.

Inspired by James Clear’s Atomic Habits, I declared 2019 the year of 1% better. Though I did have some big goals like running one thousand miles, mainly I just wanted to work on little things, little habits. Part of this is because so much of 2019 is up in the air with a baby coming late May/early June and not even knowing where we will live, work, etc. (I’m not stressed, I’m not stressed, I’m not stressed) next year. I did not want to make a grand goal, get attached, and have something out of my hands happen. The other reason is that I am still convinced by Clear’s arguments. Do small things and eventually they will make a big difference.

So how did January’s 1% better goals go? Quick review: I wanted to submit my dissertation, run ninety-one miles, practice double-unders 3x a week, do not go out to eat (unless, of course, someone invites us out), swim 1x a week, read a book on Catholicism, and poach an egg.

I’ll begin with the most important. I submitted my dissertation last week Friday. And yes, I feel as weird about being done as I expected. This was the most important thing I had to get done this month. All else could slide (and as you’ll see did slide), but this was my baby, so to speak. A project I began working on in the spring 2017 is beginning to be over, although I suspect I’ll be stuck with Jean-Jacques Rousseau for awhile. I’m committed, ha!

The goals to run/walk 91 miles and to practice double-unders 3x a week did not happen. I am not one to offer excuses, but this was a little bit out of my control. I’ll offer the excuse of pregnancy. A couple weeks ago I had excruciating pelvic pain. I sat down on the couch and just could not get up. It is significantly better now, although definitely still there. It does seem, though, that running aggravates it. I have a pre-natal appointment today and I plan on talking about it, but it was a real bummer. To add injury to injury, I messed up my left ankle while attempting to do double-unders the other week. Granted, it also is doing much better. It was black and blue and swollen. Now, two weeks later, it is just swollen. Still, I’m calling the double-unders a win. Even with the little bit of extra work I did put into them before ankle-gate, I could tell I was improving. They were not beautiful, but my double-under attempts in work-outs actually began to include actual double-under successes. I feel confident that when things start to get better and I work on them again, I will begin to improve in no time. I cannot do double-unders, but I definitely became 1% better.

I only swam twice this month. I’ll admit, I love swimming, but it is really hard to get motivated. Also, currently, my swimsuit does not fit and when I put it on, I can actually hear, “I am the egg man. Whooo. They are the egg man. Whooo. I am the walrus…” I ordered a new one, a bikini even (giving that belly some room!). And it did not fit. Ok, these are excuses. Still, that is two times more than December and I love being able to swim with a watch.

We only went out to eat by ourselves once this entire month. Our reason was to celebrate me finishing and submitting my dissertation which it seemed required a little more fanfare and getting out of the house. With other people, I think we went out to eat twice. We used to go out to eat about three times a week, whether that was picking up sandwiches or whatever. I am calling this a huge success and I’m hoping to keep it up. As I said, it is not like the food around here is spectacular. It is just sheer laziness that led us to eat out as much as we did. Plus, not eating out has had led to other good habits such as finally starting to meal plan and prep. Successfully.

I’m doing the Carrots for Michaelmas CathoLIT2019 reading challenge, as a sort of over-all goal for the year. I finished my first Catholic read for the year with True Devotion to Mary. I usually read in the mornings, so this has actually been a pretty easy habit to incorporate.

Did I poach an egg? You should know better than to even ask. Those eggs have only been boiled (eaten with some delicious Maldon salt, oh my goodness the best discovery of 2019 so far) or fried over-medium in January. Maybe next month?

How have your 2019 goals been going? Did you have specific January goals?

 

 

 

 

Monday Miles : January 14 – 20, 2019 (20-21? Weeks Pregnant)

crossfit, goals, lifting, monday miles, running, swimming

So fun fact. We had our twenty week ultrasound today. I thought last week was twenty weeks, but apparently I’m measuring further along than we all thought and my due date is now late May instead of early June (does it really make that much of a difference?). Anyway, it is nice to know that I’m closer than I thought instead of further. I already feel like I have been pregnant forever.

Anyway — to work outs. Last week was a good week! But I’m back to having a lot of pelvic pain. Then, while doing double-under practice (of course, one of my goals for January), I landed on my left ankle wrong. I thought it would be fine and even continued to run/walk on it. But yesterday and today, it has been really grouchy. That last week went so well means I have the confidence to take it easy this week.

1 – 14 : Swim. 100m free-style warm-up. 10 minutes – 25m swim, 30 seconds rest. Repeat. 100m free-style warm-up. 450m. 2:10/100m. Strava puts me at 492 yards. 1:58/100 yard. Double-under practice. Run/walk. 5 minute walk, 20 minute run, 2 minute walk on treadmill. 2.48 miles. 10:58/mile.

1 – 15 : Run/walk. This is the one from last week where I felt pretty discouraged. I could not even move for ten minutes without having to hop off to use the restroom. 4.49 miles. 12:23/mile. Around 55 minutes.

1 – 16 : Run/walk. 1 mile walk, 1.5 mile run, a little under mile walk. 3.24 miles. 14:24/mile. Around 47 minutes. This went better. I wore the new pregnancy belt which may be why. I feel so weird wearing it inside on the treadmill. It is a self-consciousness problem I think. CrossFit. 5x 45 seconds double-under practice, 300m rowing. 12 minutes 58 seconds. Ok, so the double-unders went so much better. I actually managed 25, which is 25 more than I used to be able to do. It is a start. BUT in the fourth round I landed on my left ankle all wrong. I finished the work-out. I even continued to work out on it for the rest of the week, but given that it is still bothering me today I’m taking it out of commission. I don’t think I broke it considering I can walk and even run on it, but I certainly did something to it. There’s always something.

1 – 17 : Walk outside. 45 minutes. 2.56 miles. 17:35/mile. I like to think that when I do finally do an ultramarathon that I will credit all this walking for helping me get there. Hah! CrossFit. 5 x 3 shoulder press @ 55 lbs. AMRAP – 12 minutes. 1 pull-up (green-band assisted), 2 push-ups, 3 squats; 2 pull-ups (“”), 4 push-ups, 6 squats; 3 pull-ups (“”), 6 push-ups, 9 squats; 4 pull-ups (“”), 8 push-ups, 12 squats; 5 pull-ups (“”), 10 push-ups, 15 squats; 6 pull-ups (“”), 6 push-ups, 6 knee push-ups, 18 squats; 7 pull-ups (“”), 7 push-ups, 7 knee push-ups, 21 squats; 7 pull-ups (“”), 16 knee push-ups, 24 squats; 9 pull-ups (“”). I liked this one. Plus, I was happy I didn’t have to switch to knee push-ups until 12 push-ups and not even all knee push-ups until I had to do 16. Small victory!

1 – 18 : Run/walk. 4.32 miles. 15:48/mile. Around an hour on the treadmill.

1 – 19 : Run/walk on the treadmill. I walked only one mile and then decided I would run for as long as felt ok. I made it to 5.44 miles. 12:26/mile. 1 hour. I was really happy with this! JasYoga Prenatal Fluidity video.

1 – 20 : Rest. Rest. Rest.

Totals : Run. 22.8 miles. 5 hours 10 minutes. Swim. 450m. Around 15 minutes. CrossFit. 2 hours. Double-under practice. Twice. 7 hours 25 minutes.

Onward!

This is the (Very Near) End

dissertation, goals, graduate school, year of 1% better

I am planning on turning my dissertation in early next week — the whole thing. I have been working on the dissertation itself for about two years now. I started researching for the proposal I believe this time 2017 (I took my comps in fall 2016 — but desperately needed a break, so I think I read novels and did nothing for two months straight, ah the luxuries of academic life). It was approved late April, early May (can’t exactly remember) and I turned in my first chapter five days after I got married. I’ve been working on it ever since. The time I’ve been working on the topic, if not the dissertation, becomes even longer if I include that it developed out of a paper I turned in fall 2015. So three and a half years. Me, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, religion, and politics.

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Hanging out at the Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Paris. Also, home of the original Christian Louboutin store. Not pictured, me salivating over those beautiful red-soled shoes.

Even though I still have other requirements to fulfill after I submit — the defense and public presentation, I am starting to feel kind of strange that this is the end. I have no idea what comes after. So much of my life has revolved around this dissertation — anticipation for the dissertation, preparation for the dissertation, talking about the dissertation, researching for the dissertation, and of course, writing the dissertation. No longer having that big “d” word hanging over head feels like both a gain and a loss.

It is a gain for obvious reasons. These are the very final requirements for my doctorate, a process I began in 2013, something I wanted to do for ten years now. My undergraduate professors were (are) rock stars to me, modeling a way of life as much as they taught me about books. I loved what I did. I wanted to continue — well how to do that? Get a Ph.D. Those three letters do not mean that much to me as a credential. Instead, I think of them as representative of ten years of study, conversation, reading, thinking, and writing. Finishing is a gain because it reflects all those years.

I think it obvious why it might be a loss though. A long time ago — back in fourth grade — I told people I wanted to be a librarian, because I was under the impression that all they did all day was read. Cute, right? I know now that is not true, but I have been able to do just that for the last ten years really. I just hang out and read all day. I write about what I read. Last semester I taught what I read. My life revolves around reading, just as I had always wanted it. I get paid to sit around and read, with of course the stipulation that I’ll eventually finish this dissertation. I have no idea what I will do after this, but I can wager a guess that I probably will not be hanging out reading and writing all day.

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At the memorial to Rousseau in the Pantheon (he is buried in the crypts). 

Turning in my dissertation feels loaded. I’m a bit sad about it. But at the same time, I’m happy, proud of myself for finishing and for the work put in. I’m amazed that it is almost done, almost all over, that within a month, maybe a month and half — depending on how long it takes to schedule my defense — I will be completely done.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy these last few days of sitting at my desk, scrambling to get things done. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the break from it too, but for now, I want to enjoy working on my dissertation for the little time left with it I have.*

*At least — in its form as a dissertation. It could very well be that the end has no end here.

 

 

January 2019 Goals : The Year of 1% Better

crossfit, dissertation, goals, reading, running, year of 1% better

If you missed it, last week I declared 2019 the Year of 1% Better. Because so many things this year are to be determined (motherhood, post-graduate school life, where I will be working to name just a few big ones), I have decided to take things month-by-month and do little things to improve and, well, be better.

As you might have guessed from yesterday’s post, my January goals are already side-tracked. Excruciating pelvic pain at the end of last week has moved me to plan B: do what I can. That said, yesterday I felt pretty much fine, worked out and felt fine, and still feel fine today. So maybe, just maybe, it was an end of the first week of 2019 thing and will not derail my whole January. Fingers crossed!

Ok, ok. So here are the goals for this month:

SUBMIT MY DISSERTATION. This is the goal of all goals — the goal where all goals must be sacrificed to, if need be. This is what I have been working on for the last year and a half. And yes, it is finally happening. I am done with going through editing and formatting three chapters, with two to go. This one will probably be done next week, but it is the most important. I have been a Ph.D. student since 2013. 2019 will be the year I graduate. Six years.

91 Miles. This is one of those goals on Strava that different company’s post. Apparently 91 miles in January is 2x the amount of the average Strava runner in 2019. I do not care if I ran these or walk these (most likely both). I just want to do it while I can.

Do not, do not, DO NOT go out to eat at all for the entire month. We are so bad at this. One of us (ok, it is me. It is always me.) will be like, “I don’t feel like cooking.” Next thing you know, I’m eating a cheeseburger at a restaurant in town. It is not even like this place has a ton of delicious places to eat, so usually I’m eating a meal that is just ok. There are loopholes with this – if someone invites us out to eat and Culver’s custard when we do our grocery shopping on Sundays.

Double-under practice 3x week. Last week, I only did two days. I’m going to try to pick it back up this week. Note I did not say “accomplish double-unders.” I cannot guarantee that, but I’m hoping by putting in a little bit of time, I will get better and manage to do more than one every single time I try to do them.

Swim 1x week. I missed swimming, so I just want to incorporate it back in and do just a little session in the pool every week. So far, so good.

CathLIT2019. I guess this is more of a 2019 goal, but the idea is to read one book on Catholicism a month. The blog Carrots for Michaelmas put together a whole list with categories that I am going to try to follow. I’m trying to do what I think may be more denser, more time-consuming books prior to baby C’s arrival. This month’s category is a book about Mary, so I’m reading Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary (which arrived just yesterday…hooray!).

Poach an egg. Categorize this in random, but seriously, I do not know how to do this. I should know how to do this. I want to know how to do this. I will learn how to do this, even if it takes me more cartons of eggs than I expect. My favorite breakfast in the world is eggs benedict and I’m not gong to be able to do it without going out to eat if I do not figure out how to poach some eggs. This is the year, people.

What are your goals for January? For 2019?

 

 

 

 

 

The Year of 1% Better

books, goals, reading, year of 1% better

2019 is an up-in-the-air kind of year for me. I have a good idea what the next few weeks might look like. In a couple of weeks I will submit my dissertation. I will hopefully defend in February, completing all Ph.D. requirements. And then, I do not know. I do not graduate until May and am fully funded — so that is not a problem. It is the what comes after that is sort of the up-in-the-air part. Questions such as — where will I work? Where will we live? Not to mention that in June comes baby…

So, yes, goals. Considering that the only part of 2019 that I have any clarity about is the month I’m currently in, it has been kind of hard to make plans for the year at large. Like I would love to be able to write that I have plans for a fall marathon, but life post-baby might not allow for that. I do not know. I have no idea and I do not want to assume anything (because you know what they say about the word assume…).

For 2019, then, I plan on focusing month by month instead of for the year-at-large. I finished reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits before the end of 2018. One of the main ideas of the book is to start with small habits, just a little bit every day. Tiny adjustments eventually make a big difference, as opposed to the big, grand declaration of habit change that usually ends up falling through by January 3.

“…improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable–sometimes it isn’t even noticeable–but it can be more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.” 

I like that and when I reflect back on my own life I think it is true. Every time I wanted to start eating healthier, I try to do some grandiose diet-type thing like Whole 30 (ok, Whole 30 people I understand it is not a diet, but you know what I mean). Within a few days I would make exceptions and be going out to eat (hello, my darling bacon cheeseburgers. I missed you). Whenever I wanted to start running again, I would immediately train for a marathon. Then, boom. Injured and discouraged, I would not pick it back up. I would go full Martha Stewart, wanting to keep my house clean. Even with my dissertation, every time I tried to be one of those people who could just pound out words eight hours a day, it would only take a day before I would be burnt out and messing around on Facebook. It never works. Never, ever works.

So this year, something different. Month by month, I’m going to focus on little goals — the 1% goals. I’ll share January’s goals next week, but for now this is the plan, and it seems as good a plan as any.

‘Twas the Eve Before my First Triathlon Eve

cycling, goals, races, running, swimming, training, triathlon

The weather forecast warns of storms on Saturday. I keep checking and the storms remain. I’m hoping for a brighter day for my first triathlon, the 34th Annual Robert Huntley Memorial Mini-Triathlon in Coldwater, Michigan, this Saturday. Even rain is fine. I do not want another cancellation. I could not find a replacement sprint triathlon for my original plan. I do not think I can find a replacement any-distance triathlon that would not involve extra travel.

I’m happy I found this race. What I read about it makes it sound like the perfect triathlon for someone like me, a beginner who has no idea what she is doing. It is a local race. The profits go to the cross country team. I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m excited to swim the 300 yards, bike the six miles, and run the three miles that will take me to my first triathlon finish.

That said, I have no idea what to expect. I have no goals other than to just go by feel and see what happens. Mainly, I am trying to see this as a learning experience. I want to learn how to do transitions. I want to learn what it is like to race my bike, and I want to get comfortable swimming in the open water again. I want to do well, but I’m trying to keep my expectations minimal and one step at a time.

It is hard not to think of the future as I plan for this race. It was not necessarily what I had planned. I wanted to do a sprint triathlon. But I think the big thing I am going to have to focus on is just staying present. Yes, doing this triathlon will help when I finally do a sprint next year. But I also am racing this race. I want to be in this race too both mentally and physically. I do not want to future-trip through it the whole time.

That said, I have a vague idea of what I’m hoping: under one hour. I have no idea if that is feasible. I could be severely over-estimating what I think could happen. I do not think I am under-estimating. We’ll see.

Tomorrow I’ll get Cat (the bike) ready and get everything set up. I’ll have my fingers crossed for good weather the whole time. Rain is fine, but storms can stay away. This runner wants to become a triathlete.

xo, Ali

 

 

All [I] Need is Just a Little Patience

goals, races, running, training, triathlon

I mentioned last week that I was seriously considering running the Freak 50k at Run Woodstock instead of the Hippie Half. I ran sixteen miles and planned out two more long runs and figured it would not be pretty, but I could get it done. I still stand by that. I know I could get it done. But I do not want to just get it done. I want to get it done well.

I had a plan. I wanted to do a mini-triathlon in Coldwater, Michigan as a replacement for the sprint triathlon I had planned for late September. I thought very seriously about training for something more, a marathon or a 50k. But then decided against it. Running has been going so well. I did not want to jump the gun. I wanted to have patience.

Patience involved going shorter instead of going longer. Rather than find some later fall marathon or 50k, I found Michigan’s Holiday series trio of races (schedule permitting — but you know I want that magic mug!) – a Halloween 10k, a Turkey Trot 5k, and a Christmas 5k. Rather than focus on endurance, which I know I have, I wanted to focus on speed. It would be a literal change of pace.

Then the possibility of this 50k came up. It isn’t like visions of grandeur popped in my mind, but as I said, I have been wanting to be an ultramarathoner since I graduated college. This is a life goal, like finishing my Ph.D. or writing a book. The temptation to put a “checkmark” next to it is strong.

But honestly, as I told Bruno, it would not be the same. I do not just want to run an ultra. I want the process of training specifically for an ultra too. I want to think about the training and hard work I put in while running. I do not want to break the ultimate running commandment: respect the distance. I don’t want to blow up at mile twenty and have to walk the last eleven miles. I do not want to injure myself. I want to do this right.

So, I picked out a 10k plan. I have a time goal (more on that later). I’ll do my first triathlon in a little less then two weeks. Then, I’ll run the Woodstock half and have a good time listening to classic rock. I will celebrate that I have been able to run this year. I will have gratitude instead of trying to push it.

I will eventually run an ultramarathon. Maybe the next year. Maybe the year after. They are not going anywhere. I’ll take it slow. It will work itself out fine. All I need is just a little patience.

xo, Ali

 

Impromptu Sixteen Mile Run

goals, running, training

One of the friends who ran the half-marathon with us wants to run the 50k at Run Woodstock. In fact, from what his wife told Bruno yesterday at CrossFit, it sounds like he will probably do it. Which, of course, made me want to do it. Not to race it, of course. I have not trained for that, but only to complete. I’m on the fence about it all.

Yesterday we went out for a three hour run. I told him that if we were going to do this, time on our feet would be most important. The race is five weeks away. Both of us are reasonably fit people although probably have not put in the mileage to finish a 50k well. I’m placing my faith right now in Jason Koop who says only six hours of training for three weeks is required to finish a 50k. Finish. The plan for the three hour run was to run four miles, then walk five minutes. This was based on the actual race where aid stations are approximately four miles apart. We went on the hilliest country road I knew and took off.

I felt fine, although my legs were tired, until the last twenty minutes. Everything hit me: the half-marathon I raced on Saturday, the 110 pounds I back-squatted the previous day, and general graduate school stress. I gutted it out, running/walking 16.1 miles in three hours. 1 loop for the race.

I feel ok today although the most I will be doing is a short bike ride later this afternoon and a lot of stretching, if anything. I still have not decided if I will switch from the half-marathon to the 50k. It feels bold, like who am I to do that? I have not really trained for that. But then again, as my mom put it, if I keep my expectations in check, go very slow (even slower than yesterday’s 16 mile run), I might be ok. I’m not sure. I have no doubt in my mind that I could finish. My fear is more about who am I to just do this, to just try it, to just see. I respect the miles. I respect the distance. I expect to be humbled. I expect to hurt.

The ultimate decision will rest on how well I recover from yesterday. My right hamstring bothered me, but my right hamstring is always bothering me. I feel stiff, but mostly fine. I did not feel like my energy was gutted like I hit a brick wall. I took a nap later in the day, but that was several hours after the run. Last night I fell asleep sure that I would email and ask if I could change races. This morning I wonder if I’m out of my mind.

I will say this. Even if I do not end up running the 50k, I discovered myself much stronger than I thought. I have not run sixteen miles in three years. If you would have asked me last week if I could run sixteen miles, I would have said no, even though I have been half-marathon capable since March. I don’t even think I would have thought myself capable of that at the beginning of this year. Even if I end up (probably responsibly) deciding not to run the 50k, I surprised and impressed myself yesterday. I can do more.

xo, Ali

Thoughts on “The Process”

books, crossfit, dissertation, goals, graduate school, reading

At the moment my “guru” is Ben Bergeron. I love Chasing Excellence (I re-read it after finishing). I love his podcast. I love his Instagram account. His advice is commonsensical and yeah, a lot of it I have read or heard before, but I like his presentation. I always come away not feeling just inspired, but I actually try applying his suggestions and recommendations — not something I always follow through on. And while his book is about CrossFit athletes, I think all of it is applicable to graduate school.

I have one quibble though. And it is not just Ben who says it. I see it all over. The process. The process, not the outcome is what should be focused on. We can only focus on today. We can only focus on what we are doing right now, in this moment. The outcome does not matter. Just today. Only today. Ben Bergeron and two-times CrossFit games winner Katrin Davidsdottir never discuss winning the CrossFit games. He writes they never even talk about it. They only focus on the process.

I am very lucky. What I most want in life, I already have. On a good day, I wake up. I write. I work-out. I eat. I write some more. I eat again. I read. I study French. I read some more. I might work out again. I eat for the last time. I read even more. Bed. If you would ask me what I want to be doing twenty years from now, I hope I do what I do right now, but writing something different, reading different books, maybe studying a different language, and hopefully teaching. Sure, I’d like a different location and a different income. But the core of my life is exactly what I want. I wanted a life of learning and I am living that life right now. I just want this life to be able to continue.

In this way, for me, the process is the goal. The process is the positive outcome I want to continue. Yes, I want to write a good dissertation. Yes, I want to get my Ph.D. Yes, I want to publish. Yes, I want an academic job. Doing what I do every day, the process, should ideally lead to those outcomes. But I only want those things so I can continue doing what I do right now. I’ve already “made it,” so to speak.

So, back to not caring about outcomes and focusing solely on the process. How can I not care about writing a good dissertation or getting an academic job, not as the ultimate goal, but because without these outcomes, the ultimate goal the daily life of learning, is threatened? Because without these goals, in a way, my living in the process is threatened. Without achieving certain outcomes, I can probably say good-bye to all that. And as my dissertation comes closer to being finished, as I come closer to going on the academic job market, as Bruno as I talk more about this probably being our last year in Michigan, I know strongly I do not want to say good-bye to all that. Outcomes become more important. It doesn’t mean I do not care about the process, but outcomes also ensure that the process continues.

All that is to say, why not care about outcomes? Why not discuss them, want them, hope for them, long for them? I understand that people become way too focused on hitting a certain goal rather than living a certain life, but I do not think that means that wanting things to go a certain way, having specific goals and outcomes is always a bad thing. I do not think it is a bad thing especially when those outcomes are not merely stopping points, but help you continue with the bigger goal, the process.