Taming Monkey Number 6 – The “Forcing” Lesson

Post Series: Twelve 30 Days Challenges In A Year

It’s that time of the month, again. I’m talking about my usual report on the tamed inner monkey. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read the introductory post. Basically, I replaced my yearly resolutions with a yearly challenge: each month I want to tame an inner monkey. Some underdeveloped part of myself, a promise made long time ago but never fulfilled. Read more about what an inner monkey is.

The Running Challenge

Last month monkey was “running”. I wanted to reinsert running into my life. The measurable part of this challenge was “14 days of running”. Two weeks ago I already had 10 days of running. With a detailed running report and all. But now, 14 days after that report, I can only add 2 more days to those 10. So, technically, I didn’t meet my own expectations.

But realistically speaking, the monkey was tamed. I did reinsert running into my life and the benefits are as expected. Namely, amazing. I lost weight, I sleep less and better, my metabolism accelerated (I know because I can eat more but I’m not putting on). To make a long story short, the monkey was tamed.

But, as always, there’s a lesson.

The “Forcing” Lesson

I didn’t run 14 days and only 12 because my ankle got injured. Like seriously injured. For a week or so I could barely walk. It was swollen and hurting big time. I tried to run one day but I only managed to do it for like 10 meters before those ten thousand needles started to hit me all at the same time from the inside of my swollen ankle. So I had to take care of that ankle until I became “usable” again.

Took me around 9 days until I was able to restart my running. Technically, the first workout wasn’t really a run, but just a power walk of a few kilometers. Nevertheless, it put me on track again. Two days after I did another workoout, with 1.5 kilometers of running. I decided to run every two days from now on and not every day, because the strain was too big. I also decided to alternate running with other types of exercising, and I’m thinking at biking.

So, the lesson was quite simple: if you force it beyond your limits, you may damage something. It’s a pretty simple lesson but it’s very often ignored. Partly because there is this “go beyond your own limits” discourse that each and every self improvement guru will sell you in a nice candy coat. And we tend to really listen to it, like really going over what we can reasonably achieve. And partly because I have a real difficulty in identifying my own limits.

I don’t always listen to my “sensors”. I keep pushing until it’s either me or the wall. One of us must go down. No matter the price I have to pay for it. And, more often than not, I found out that the price I paid is not worth the result. Coming back to my running, if I would have run every other day, instead of each and every day, I wouldn’t have those ankle problems. My running reinsertion would have been much smoother. It’s still ok, the monkey was tamed, but I also suffered a completely unnecessary injury.

Trying to go “over your own limits”, at the price of actually damaging your system is not a sign of a strong personality. It’s a sign of stupidity.

I guess it’s the same in business or in relationships. There is a point from where, no matter what you do, no matter how much time or resources are you going to invest, nothing will change. That’s a sign you have to find another approach. It’s time to stop and think things over. And focus on what CAN be achieved versus of what it CAN’T.

So, that was the most important lesson from the sixth month monkey.

Monkey Number Seven

I already had a monkey for July, but due to some unexpected changes, I couldn’t commit to it. Of course, I could’ve somehow push further and try to overcome those limitations and still try to do my initial monkey, but, as I just said, sometimes you gotta know when to change course. And that’s exactly what I did (with a little help from a friend, of course).

My July monkey will be astrological service. I know it sounds completely unexpected, and to some extent it was unexpected to me too. But, as each and every other monkey I had, it’s a thing that wasn’t taken care of. Let me get into details a bit.

I studied astrology and use it on a daily basis. I don’t make a lot of fuss about it. It’s just a thing I do. Sometimes, when we go out, I like to entertain my friends for hours just by reading their charts. In the last two or three years, I accumulated many unfulfilled promises I made about those charts. From the top of my head, I think there are at least 10 charts that are promised to be written and delivered to my friends but I never lived up to those promises.

So, for the month of July, I will try to browse through my collection of astrological charts promises and deliver. It may sound like a much easier task than running, and it may even be so. It’s not the “difficulty” that matter in this “taming monkeys” approach. It’s mainly the “live up to your promises, man” part that counts. The “promise” and the “deliver” part of it. So, if you’re one of the guys that I promised a chart reading from me, time to enjoy. It will finally be done. 🙂

Of course, the other parts of my life will continue untouched, or even with more energy. And I’m thinking specifically at iAdd, my iPhone / iPad productivity app (which was ported to iCloud and just waiting for the release of iOS5) and WPSumo, the youngest project I took over (and one of the most promising I had in the last few years, I have to tell you that).

Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner

The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”

And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.

Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.

If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.

Running For My Life -from zero to ultramarathoner

Dragos Roua

The guy who started all this. Entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner, tanguero, father and risk taker. I'm blogging here, but I also spend a lot of time in this marvelous space.. You're invited, by the way.