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Felling the Tree

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to be.” – James Clear

This morning the snooze alarm went off well before I was prepared to get up. I don’t use the snooze button mind you; don’t believe in it. You’re either sleeping or you’re getting up. But my wife uses the snooze button often as part of her wake-up routine. Thankfully most days I’m up well before her alarm would go off. Today was an exception. Feeling a bit worn out I was going to sleep in, until the second snooze convinced me it wasn’t possible.

This morning I operated in slow motion. Foggy and some aches and pains. I slowly dressed to work out, walked downstairs and drank a pint of water. The internal dialogue trending towards bagging the morning workout and doing it later in the day.  I’ve heard this song before and point my feet towards the basement door, down thirteen steps and onto the erg for a row.  I row 500 meters to warm up and assess my overall condition.  My assessment isn’t good, but I stand after 500 meters and warm up the shoulders.  More aches…  but I ignore them and drop down for the burpees, slower than usual but complete, row another piece and call it a workout.  I’ve done the bare minimum, cast my vote and I’m back upstairs.  I hear the snooze going off upstairs and look at the clock.  60 minutes of snooze buttoning.  Yikes.

On to reading stoicism, a bit of an article on Ben Franklin in London, and a bit of writing this before my wife is downstairs and off for her commute.  Habits carried the morning for me even as the mind rebelled.  The James Clear quote above stays with me more than anything else in his excellent book.  Simple, memorable wisdom in a bite-sized chunk.  I wish I’d written that.  Instead I write other words, casting votes for the type of person I wish to be.  I’m closing in on 100,000 words written in this blog, and a few thousand burpees.  I need to move beyond the bare minimum workout, which means changing other habits later in the day.  Win the morning, lose the evening and it’s a wash.  Life is too short for a wash.  With only 142 days left in 2019 there’s so much to do still.  Why settle for the bare minimum?

I joined a group challenge with co-workers.  We all travel, and we all struggle with the balance of exercise versus caloric intake that the job seems to demand.  We’ve all agreed to lose ten pounds by the time we reach a trade show in Chicago next month or pay $20 bucks and hear about it from those who were successful.  Nothing focuses the mind like peer pressure, so I’m all in on this challenge.  But I noticed I gave myself a pass last week (after all I had five weeks to complete the challenge).  I recognized this trend – it reminded me of pulling all nighters to complete papers in college.  Wait until the last minute, then put yourself through hell to reach a goal.  You won’t fell the tree with one swing of the axe…  I like the more intelligent approach of consistent, daily action and the compound effect, and so an incremental increase in daily workload to reach the goal is in order.  Keeping it going for the rest of the 142 days offers a head start on 2020, a nice round number with some big moments scheduled.

I’ve always been intrigued with the concept of accelerating through the curve.  In racing that means slowing down in the first half of the apex and accelerating in the second half. Using momentum to your advantage.  In life momentum starts with casting consistent, daily votes.  That applies in your career, with exercise and weight loss, and writing.  The lack of momentum also applies in each of these areas, so why build anchors when you can build kites?  Or to return to that zen philosophy, you need to chop for a long time to fell the tree, you can’t do it with one swing.

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  1. You are listening to your body, and mind, when you take to that “day off”. Who says the “trend” is bad? Who says that 5 …or 3 workout days isn’t enough? Be weary of setting goals too high 🙂

    1. Agree in general, but the minimum workout isn’t exactly wearing me out (I’m monitoring the shoulders). If I was rowing 30K per day, back to 50 burpees per day, lifting or other exercise that requires rest I’d surely build in a rest day. All I’m doing with the rowing and burpees is getting the blood flowing before I drink coffee. As I look to increase the total meters rowed or add other exercise I will by necessity keep it to 3-5 days with rest built in.

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