Winter Challenge Roundup

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I've been trying to come up with a format for personal development posts that works for me. I've plenty experience learning new things and doing as much as I can to better myself but I've never really written about the experience. I wish I could remember in detail the first times I wakeboarded, snowboarded or rode a dirtbike. Joy comes to my heart when I think of doing those activities now but all I can remember from when I started was disappointment and frustration.I consider myself a fairly quick learner with most things but that's not to say I can do anything in no time. I can't even count the number of times I had to relax and tell myself to try again when I caught an edge snowboarding or face-planted wakeboarding. Eventually they became easier and easier and now I don't even have to think about the details when I strap on a board to go for a ride.I've always enjoyed learning new things. The excitement that comes with doing something I've never done before, the satisfaction that comes with attaining the first milestone, the thrill of polishing a skill that many people don't have. It's never easy though. The hardest part isn't starting. The excitement and novelty keep me going for a bit but it's when those initial feelings start to fade away that the hard part begins. Sticking to it, practicing till a new habit is formed and ingraining that skill into your mind is where most people, including myself, fall apart. Most of the time these exciting new skills fade away to old frustrating memories.Part of a new series, I'll be looking at skills that I've either got already and hope to sharpen up or would love to have. Regular posts will update you on what I'm doing to improve my skills, where I'm succeeded and where I'm failing. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two about the things I'm learning and help me on my quest to learn everything I can.For the  next 2 months I'll be working on the following things:

Running

I've always been into sports and dabbled in racing here and there but never pushed into it whole hog. Next year is going to be the start of that. A bit of an experiment in itself. I'm signing up for what will be the most races in one year I've ever done.  I'm currently planning to do 5 Gutbuster trail runs, 2 Momar Adventure races, 2 Yeti Snowshoe races and 6 road races. I'm sure there will be many more added to the list by the time I'm through with it. If you're on Vancouver Island, make sure you check out the 2010 Vancouver Island Awesome Event Calender on Pureoutside. It's a solid start to the list of all the awesome events outdoor events on Vancouver Island next year. I'll be recounting tales of my adventures running and riding there as well.

Writing

I've definitely been off writing lately and am having trouble pinning down my problem. I'm obviously lacking motivation but not sure why. I have been quite busy lately but I hate to use that as an excuse.  After travelling for four months and having a constant flow of interesting topics to write about, sitting around at home seeing the same things and the same people every day seems very bland and hardly worthy of my writing time. I'm starting to realize though that while it may not seem interesting at first, I can make it as interesting as I want. I'm setting out to do that while working on my writing.

Guitar

I've wanted to learn guitar for as long as I can remember. I used to think it could never happen. Only certain types of people could learn a musical instrument and I was not one of them. I was doomed to live a life out of sync with anyone that could hold a beat. Then a friend said he was teaching guitar. Something tweaked in my brain. Maybe I could learn to play. Maybe I could actually hold those strings and strum those chords and make it sound better than some dying animal.I learned half of a Staind song and got bored. Maybe it was the song I was learning. Maybe it was the guitar that made it sound like crap. I didn't touch a guitar for another 6 years. There is one sitting in the chair next to me and I've picked it up a few times. It's a frustrating start because: A. I'm not musically inclined. I played the recorder in grade 4 and even that was pushin' it. and B: It hurts my fingers. I'll cope, I know. I now have incredible respect for anyone that can blow through any number of songs, one after the other without as much as slight wince. Somehow I can run up mountains but can't hold strings down on a piece of wood. Go figure.

Getting Up Early

I've always thought that getting up early is a good idea. Every hour of the day I think, Yes, getting up early, is a great idea. I will start things off right. I'll get lots of work done. I'll run and get really fit. Until I have to get up early.Sometimes it works fine. I'm able to get up and start my day. But sometimes, there's a part of me that wants to wait until the last possible minute to get out of bed and then run around like a headless chicken before work. I'm not a big fan of the latter style. There's always that 1 second that the decision to get up takes and if it happens while I'm still half asleep, sleep wins. I'm still working the kinks out of my method for reeling my sleeping mind out of the depths but it's slowly getting easier.I've found if I can get myself excited for doing something that day, if I can get myself really stoked about one of my projects I'm about to work on, the morning goes much quicker and I actually want to get out of bed.

Save Money

I can almost guarantee that saving money is high up on everyone's list but there is a reason for it to be on mine. The second I got back from Australia and New Zealand, heck, before I even left for Australia and New Zealand, I knew I wanted to travel again. I've had trouble deciding but finally narrowed it down to a few places. Next October I'll be heading over to France. I'd like to spend as much time as possible there but I think it might be limited because of work and money. I'm going to try hard to get to Germany, Italy and Greece as well.Having a good time while travelling and, well, travelling itself is expensive and I know I need to start this second to save up for the trip. Having this goal at the end of all the saving makes it so much more worth my while than just "saving money". I had no problem saving up enough for my last trip to go because I had such a concrete goal and a well-defined plan for saving. That leads to my next goal.Learning FrenchI've always wanted to go to Europe and after travelling for 4 months the desire to see another continent has become even stronger. Being in Australia and New Zealand was easy because everything was english and very similar to North America. Europe will be different. I'm worried about how much everyone will speak english and how well we'll get on with only knowing one language. Before we leave next October, I'm hoping to learn as much French as possible. If I can get conversational in French, I'd like to move on to Spanish or German as well. It's going to be tough but I know it's going to be worth it.

Worrying Less

I've always been an anxious person. I worry about everything all the time.I'm learning to get a handle on it but it still gets a little out of control on occasion when I'm tired and have a lot to do. I've found it helps to relax and focus on what I'm worrying about it and why it worries me. If it's something I can deal with myself, I get on it, ASAP. If it isn't, then I put it in the "who cares" bin. Tossing something aside and not caring about it is hard when it could affect your life but sometimes there just isn't anything you can do.In trying to worry less, I've concluded that my next item is a really good idea.

Drinking Less Coffee

I love the stuff, who doesn't. Even when it tastes like an old boot fell into the pot at work, I'll still grab a mug and sing my way to my desk. Well... it doesn't usually happen that way because I'm tired from staying up too late the night before because I had too much coffee. So aside from giving me a nice shot of wake-me-up in the morning, coffee is nothing but bad news for me. Despite all the advantages of NOT drinking coffee. I still do it. It's a tough one to get rid of.I hope you can join me on my adventure to learn everything I possibly can and cross some items off your Life List. Let me know what you're learning right now and I'll join you on yours.* photo courtesy of Windrock Media