The Phil Wells Dot Com

I Got A Big Mouth

Tag: goals

Weight Loss Games

I’ve lost 8 pounds in two months.  There are two things I’ve done to make this happen:

  1. Gone to the gym 2-3 times a week (usually 2).
  2. Followed the Steve Ward Diet (just on weekdays).

I’ve never been a gym rat before this year, but I lucked into a great price on a membership (courtesy of my friend Jen) just when I realized my weight was starting to trend upward.

Forgive this tangent, but my noticing that my weight was trending upward is reason enough for me to decide to do something about my nutrition and fitness.  People like to tell me that I don’t need to exercise or watch what I eat because I don’t look fat.  I’d argue that I need to exercise and watch what I eat because I’d rather not look fat.

Aaaanyway, I started going to the New York Sports Club twice during the week and, sometimes, once per weekend.  For strength training I follow their Express Line workout (a series of 8 weight training machines) and record my progress in an app on my iPod called iFitness.  It’s important to track your progress when it comes to exercise.  Write down what exercise you’ve done, how much weight you moved, and how many reps and sets you did.  Knowing this stuff beforehand is one less thing to slow you down.

This revelation was what kept me in the gym week after week.  I’ve found that I can compete against myself and it’s very motivational.  When I can do three 15-rep sets of the weight I’m doing five days in a row, I bump up the amount of  weight and try for the next “perfect 5”.  It’s like earning badges in a Kongregate game.  “You’ve earned the leg press machine badge!”  Everything has to have its method, people.

If I have time, I do walk-run intervals on the treadmill for 24 minutes. (4mph / 6mph)

rock out with your broc out

The Steve Ward Diet is usually where people lose faith in my sanity.  It’s pretty simple.  I had a start weight and I have a goal weight, to be ultimately reached on a day in September.  Each day my daily goal weight ticks down a little bit until at the end it’ll meet my final goal weight.  If I weigh myself in the morning and I’m below my daily goal weight, I eat what I want that day.  If in the morning I’m above my daily goal, I eat nothing but raw fruits and vegetables that day.  These are called broccoli days.

The assumption is that I must go through a lot of broccoli days; that I’m starving myself on some days only to reverse all my progress on normal days.  But really this plan is about forethought.  I hate the broccoli days, so I don’t eat like an animal on the normal days.  Again, this plan would be nothing without the daily recording of my weight and comparing it to the downward-sloping line of my daily goal.  I need the tactile plotting and analyzing.  My friend Bradford says I’m a methodical person, and I guess I’d have to agree.

I’m a game player.  I thrive on setting small attainable goals for myself and meeting them.  I think this was planted in me by the book “Finite and Infinite Games” by James Carse.  I fill my life with all these finite games because they’re fun diversions, and the trophies are usually shiny (books written, weight lost, etc.)

Carse says that the real trophy is power, and that power is different from strength.  Power allows you to move things outside of yourself; to redirect the forces around you.  Strength, on the other hand, is an internal quality that describes your ability to resist being moved or redirected.  There are people who play games to win the power, and there are people who play games to test their own strength.  Most people fall somewhere in the middle, myself included.  But I do feel a little stronger every day.

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Writing the Song Takes Time

I got to thinking about National Novel Writers’ Month in November (NaNoWriMo.org) and how it applied to my next book.  That program is appealing to me because I love counting my progress in tangible measures.  When you sign up for NaNoWriMo you get 30 days to write a 50,000-word novel.  It’s simple and yet mind-harmingly daunting.

Until I considered the math today, I looked at 20 lines in a day as fierce progress toward completing this book-length poem I’m working on.  20 lines certainly feels like a lot of work.  Each line has an average of 8 words in it.  If I wanted to meet the NaNoWriMo standard and top 50,000 words in a month, I’d need to do 1,667 words every day.  That’s like 209 lines!

Clearly, it’s time to raise my expectations.

As an aside for you purists, there is a camp the lobbies against the counting of steps in artistic progress.  The fear is that it stifles the magic.  I don’t feel that applies to me.  I’m looking at this project as more of a translation than a straight-up novel.  When Dryden was translating the Aeneid you can bet he counted his progress at the end of every day by considering how much further he had left to go.  I’m like the artistic director for a film shoot.  I use every shot to express a specific vision through placement of lights and camera.  But when we’ve run out of script, my work is done.  It’s possible to see the end on its way toward the present.

Personally, I’ve got miles and miles left to go.  Time to get cracking and write the song already.

My 20-Year Plan

I’ve never been much of a long-term goal setter.  In fact, I only became interested in planning next steps even in the short term within the past few years.  I can’t imagine what it has been about these recent times that caused me to seriously consider what the future holds.  Probably a little less booze and a lot more Ali Farahnakian had something to do with it.

Anyway, here’s my plan:

  • Keep working as a QA tester, release manager, etc for my current employer.  It’s important that I stick with QA because I’ll have to remain in this position during the next step, which is
  • Go back to school part-time for programming and finish my degree in computer science.  This is in here because my current employer has offered to basically cover 90% of tuition after I’ve  been here three years.  Once my degree is done I work here for one more year to qualify for the education benefit, then
  • Get a job as a QA manager for a video game studio.  At this point I’ll have a degree in computer science and like 8 or 10 years in QA experience.  I hope that’ll be enough.
  • Design games and write about game design the whole time.  I’m thinking board games, but whatever’s clever.  I hope and pray that this can turn into a lucrative startup business so I can
  • semi-retire and just move board games from my own company.  Hire a sick game-making crew.  Get myself a set of golf clubs.  Meet Jason Rohrer.  Die.

Except for the part where I die, I want all this to happen within 20 years.  If the education benefit from my employer gets recessionized, the next few steps will change.

What’s your 20-year plan?

Scoping Down

When you’ve set a big big goal for yourself and it’s killing you to meet it, often you’ll reassess your tactics.  When I set out on this current path my goal was “to find work as an actor or television writer”.  Like any other project with a goal, this one had three facets:  time, budget, and scope.  Of course the scope is the same as the goal.  That was my mission statement.  If was a business entity, a career in entertainment would ultimately be my product.

Now, I don’t want to crush any dreams, but I have realized that I’m not cut out for that goal.  I might have enough talent to make a reasonable living at it, but my ambition is lacking.  I won’t go on auditions or submit my work around because in the beginning that leads to fairly small potatoes.  In the end that’s all I may end up with because it turns out there are a thousand tall white guys with ukuleles trying to be Steve Martin to the Chuck Palahniuk generation.  My niche is an industry.  And that’s just in New York.

A less wise Phil, perhaps myself two or three years ago, would have looked at the limitations keeping me from this goal and tinkered with the expectations for budget and money.  Namely, he would have said something like “I don’t care how much it costs or how long it takes.  I’m going to rule this town!”  And that’s admirable and a completely rational way of assessing one’s goals.  Honestly, if you want something bad enough, you need to be willing to sacrifice everything you have to get it.  For most of us, all we have is time and money.

But remember that you were the one who set the goal up to begin with.  You’re playing a finite game because you’ve chosen to play it. Indeed, if you really had to be playing the game, you wouldn’t really be playing it.

What the hell am I talking about?  I’m talking about the third facet of your big big goal: the purpose itself.  I honestly believe it is my purpose to bring joy to this world.  I seem to have a knack for it, it makes me happy, and it makes others happy.  I’m just good at making people laugh.

That meshes cozily with life as an actor or comedy writer, but there are other ways to fulfill my purpose and make a living at something else.  Just like a character in a play has tiny little motivations that they seek beat-by-beat all in service of that character’s grand-arc motivation, I’ve come to realize that getting laughs on TV is not my purpose (necessarily).  It is a nice thing that could potentially happen to a guy like me.  But for me, that’s all it is.

Right now I’m still doing improv comedy shows.  I’d like to keep writing and performing in sketch shows.  Let’s be honest; I’d still love to get to write for a television show.  I connect with the universe a little every time someone laughs at my silliness.  But it’s all on my terms.

Relatively soon I’ll stop hitting the stage.  I’ll go back to school and follow some new adventure for a while until the wind blows me elsewhere again.  I’ve got other fish to fry, but I’ll never forget why I’m doing these things.  Why do I do anything?  To make the world smile.

If you want to know the meaning of life, here’s how you find it:

  1. You can only know the meaning of your own life.
  2. Look at your biggest goal and ask yourself why you’ve set it.  The answer may be an even bigger goal than that one.  Keep asking Why until there is no higher purpose.  You’ve found it.