You can read this blog on its own, but if you want to check out the previous installment it can be found at this link:
So, what do I want to do?
Throughout my life I’ve made a number of short term plans and stuck to them…most of the time. Sure, it’s fun to make “bucket lists” and five year and ten year plans, but I think those are ridiculously hard to plan out. I prefer to work with the next few months, focusing on something each week.
I think what really helped me be successful was some lessons I was lucky enough to listen in on. A Health teacher I had in high school who was also a published author told us, “we have this weird thing in society now about self esteem. We act as if it’s something I can give to you or take away from you, with a word, an assignment, what have you. The only person who can change your self esteem is you. Self esteem is something you earn within yourself, doing what you set out to do.”
He also described about how unhealthy he used to be, and how he went about getting fit. This man was 55 and looked 35, so I tuned in. “If you go in with the attitude of ‘tomorrow I’m going to wake up, eat fruits for breakfast, jog six miles, and hit the gym’ you’re never going to get it done. That’s too much change at one time. Nutritionists help people lose weight and keep it off by having them lose a pound a week, that’s it. They start with little changes. Passing on a bag of chips here, a little less soda there, and soon it becomes a way of life.”
He told us about how the first thing he did was just remove butter from his diet. Wasn’t so hard. Over the next couple weeks he just didn’t have butter on his toast in the mornings. But then he felt good he completed his small goal, and on top of it he added another one the next week – he’d just pass on desserts. Then he had that momentum going each week, that feeling of staying disciplined to every part of his regimen, and constantly adding and achieving new goals.
When I was a sophomore in high school I spent a summer doing nothing but drinking 10 Cokes a day and playing through the Tomb Raider series. When I heard this health teacher speak I was something like 200 pounds. I took his advice, and that week just focused on one thing – the soda. I was drinking Safeway Select soda to wake up in the morning, at home when I was watching TV, to stay awake during classes. I decided “okay I’m going to drink one a day, that’s it for now.” So I drank a soda while I watched WPT tapes at nights, and didn’t drink more. Two weeks later the caffeine-withdrawal headaches went away, I’d gotten used to drinking less soda, and I was ready for another challenge. I didn’t just go out the next day after my Health teacher’s speech and try to run a marathon, I started with what I could manage.
The next thing was running. For the first time I ran I made myself go to the end of my block and back. I was hyperventilating when I was done, so I slammed a Coke to feel better. I did that jog twice in a week (minus the soda eventually).
Then, the next week, I went a little further – to the next neighborhood or so. The week after that I jogged three times a week, still small runs. After that week I went a little further. I kept adding runs, and adding distance.
I made the goal flexible. Instead of Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, I said “four times a week I have to jog.” That way, I could keep to my goal even if things came up. If I missed one jog during a week I had to make it up the next. I earned respect for myself by making goals and constantly achieving them, and that gave me the confidence to meet new challenges.
At school I was always eating the free lunch the school gave me, which was chicken burgers and french fries, which I coated with buckets of ketchup. I started getting a salad. At one really zealous point I started putting rice vinegar on it as a dressing, because it had way less calories than normal dressing.
Soon I was jogging four days a week and going 3 or 5 miles. I was having cereals for breakfast, a salad at lunch, and a normal dinner.
About a year later I went from 200ish to 165. I felt great, my skin had cleared up, and I had way more energy.
Since that time I’ve always tried to approach any goal in life with this same process. Achieving small flexible short term goals consistently, and constantly making new challenges for yourself once the small change feels normal, leads to big changes.
I think that’s the key, to push yourself to chip away every day at your goals. A smart man once said “you don’t want to go in with the attitude of ‘put on three pots of coffee and we’re not leaving here till the streetlights turn off’.” Just every day, try to do as much as you can, but with realistic expectations.
Review just a couple more hands before you’re done working for the day. Wake up a little earlier to get a work out in before you grind. Just little changes, consistently handled, until they’re habits.
I’ve been mistaking work addiction for a real plan. I’ve had nothing going on besides poker, and that doesn’t seem to be working. It’s high time I take care of all of that.
My Plugs: Check out my vids at Pocketfives Training, hit me up for lessons at email@example.com, see other stuff I write with my friends at www.pokerheadrush.com, and follow my Twitter at TheAssassinato
Also, check out some strategy articles I can’t publish legally on Pocketfives. There’s this one on raise/folding from the short stack:
And this one about playing the turn. Nick Schulman and Andrew Lichtenberger also contributed: