Are you an average Joe? Another face in the crowd? Vanilla? Basic? Plain?
Who do you think of when you think of average?
Is it you? Surely not.
We're thrust into this world knowing we're destined for greatness. We're not like everyone else. Our peers nonchalantly walk through life making silly mistakes and they couldn't possibly do what it takes to be you. We're born with a self-righteous vindication that we're the main character of the story, the hero if you will, and everyone better damn well treat us like it.
We start life knowing we can accomplish anything but soon realize that maybe we're not the best at anything at all. There's got to be something though, right? Your sibling is the brains of the family, your friend has the better personality, and you probably see yourself as the ugliest person in your community. Heck even the neighbor next door can slurp noodles through their nose. So it begs the question, how are you supposed to be the main character in your story after all?
Many times in life we're confronted with the question of what am I doing with my life? It feels as though everyone else knows who they are, while we stand around twiddling our thumbs. The feeling of being stuck or complacent causes a state of panic for most as it gives us a feeling that we're gravitating towards something obsolete. We're tribal creatures and we must find a way to stand out and provide value amongst our peers to fit in.
The world is a tough place. We're born into the world as just another plant in an overgrown jungle full of standouts. We can't be like everyone else because there isn't space for us to thrive there. Therefore we must bend, stretch, and seek to be where nobody has ever been.
Class clown, computer nerd, nice guy, best dressed, muscle man, there is a niche for all of us. While we find our place to stand out, this also means we're surrounded by others who managed to bust through the canopy as well. In a society full of colorful individuals, it feels more like we're alone and growing in the wrong direction than doing what's right for us. It's no wonder we often find discord at the watering hole.
Life is pretty confusing sometimes, because as soon as we establish who we are and bust through the canopy, we start searching for people who went through the same suffering. Lucky for us, we're not planted in the ground. We get to bounce around the world and find where the best place for us to continue to grow is. Once every blue moon we may even run into other likeminded individuals. We often call these mythical creatures purple squirrels, unicorns, or even a needle in a haystack. This clash of mythical beings enables us to transcend the chaotic friction of the world. We're finally reassured of the direction we're heading and empowered by our new partner in crime to dive deeper into who we're meant to be. Doubts are replaced with comfort, home, and happiness when you're together.
Have you found your partner in crime? Are you surrounded by a community that makes you feel good to be yourself? Is it possible to find your community where you currently leave? We all know change is hard but why settle for good when better is possible? Go seek out your community of so called misfits, because we all deserve to feel at home.
Stress fractures, broken bones, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, torn muscles, tendonitis, fatigue, and a downright beatdown on my mental fortitude. When things are going well, everyone is in your corner. When you're broken, you're on your own.
Over the past few years, I've been clawing back to find my old self again. A feat I truly thought would never happen. A career full of sleepless nights tossing and turning to get into a comfortable position, millions of steps with a constant reminder that my plantar fasciitis will never go away, hundreds of dry needles to give me some semblance of relief, physical therapy appointments to highlight my inadequacies, a scoreboard full of subpar performances, and a constant barrage from outsiders for not coming back at my best.
Nobody cares about my excuses, the bystanders want to see results. If only they could have a day in my shoes.
In a given year, almost 80% of runners will face an injury. We've all been in the hurt locker and it's a true gut check of "how bad do you want it". Is it worth it? Should you just give up? Long hours of isolation staring at the same damn wall, swimming in the same damn pool, pedaling on the same damn bike that has a seat made of tree bark. Coupled with the joy of watching your teammates and competitors pull farther ahead of you. Sounds like a pretty convincing argument to hang up the shoes, huh? Year after year our competitors face the same feelings of isolation and one by one they're weeded out. You best believe the ones that remain eat nails for breakfast. This sport isn't for the weak.
So why keep running at all?
For as much as this sport can kick you when you're down, there are few other things in life that can bring as much purpose and tangible progress than running. The euphoria of having your body click just right, the mini milestones to give you something to look forward to, the satisfaction of achieving a new personal best, and the limitless feeling of surrounding yourself with a tribe of psychos who push their bodies to the limit. While the valleys of training beat us down, the other side of suffering is when we feel the most alive. Through the tough times we hold a relentless belief that a better version of "you" is just on the horizon that maybe not everyone else can see.
The best is yet to come.
Day in and day out I get to train with a tribe of like-minded psychos who refuse to throw in the towel. We've been beat down but you best believe we're better for it. I'm not dead yet, so you best believe I'll see you on the other side.
I work with Tinman Elite to create this short story into a visual story here
While reading an article about the biggest regrets folks had on their death bed, I contemplated what advice I'd share.
For me, the greatest impact would be to make an emphasis on goals. What is your purpose? Where would you like to be in a year? 5 years? 10 years? If we don't set goals, we perform daily acts of randomness. Goals allow us to set deliberate action to better ourselves and our surroundings. Setting goals also allows us to critically reflect on where we've been and where we want to go. Of course, exploring life as it comes may allow us to end up at the same destination but being deliberate about our approach may allow us to cut the time in half. I've found goal setting to be successful in any facet in life: work, health, friends, family, religion, and any other general self-improvement.
But what if I don't know what I want to do?
Not a problem at all. There are still general skills that we can work on before we develop a career, fitness achievements, or any other type of high overarching goals. We can work on communication (create discussions on message boards), writing (write letters to friends), speaking (try out for a play), and many other general traits to prepare us for any life decision. Being deliberate allows us to be proactive rather than reactive for our future.
As I mentioned in my earlier blog, I like to set mini goals every year for my birthday to work on broad characteristics. I also like to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) to help give myself direction for the future.
Give us an Example!!!
I learned the power of setting goals my senior year of college when I determined that I wanted to intern for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in Colorado Springs, CO. I quickly sought out job openings and applied for any position I could. Believe it or not, one week later I heard nothing. Two weeks - nothing, one month - nothing (Brogan starts sweating), 2 months - nothing (Brogan holds back tears) but here is where the power of goal setting comes in. I ultimately failed to find an internship by applying online but I committed to interning for the USOC so I damn well was gonna find an opportunity. I started researching what other people did via blogs, I further refined my resume, but I believe the biggest item that led to my ultimate success was reaching out and making connections. I started researching roles on LinkedIn and found current employees with careers I'd be interested in. I ended up reaching out to a sports science researcher and explained to them why I was interested and how I could help. Over the next few weeks, we had discussions and ultimately they created a new internship for me to work there that summer. Goal - Completed.
Had I never made the commitment, I may never have worked at USOC nor would I have learned the power of reaching out and simply asking questions. Setting goals is empowering!!!
Be bold! Set BHAGs! Find ways to improve yourself and then find how you can be deliberate on achieving that goal. If we wonder through life aimlessly, we may never reach our full potential or accomplish as much as we, later in life, wished we had.
Be creative! Do things that make you uncomfortable! Push your boundaries! Set a career objective to work for NASA and then start catering your career path as to how to accomplish that goal. Commit to a marathon and gradually build up your training over a year. Become financially independent and begin finding a side hustle. Learn to be more caring and do something nice for your friends once a month. The possibilities are endless, all you have to do is commit to a goal!
Sickness, hunger, thirst, and loss of family/friends are probably the hardest things we'll have to face in life but most of us won't have to face these issues in large doses. Outside of that, what in life is really that hard? More specifically, do we overuse the term hard?
I was in the middle of pulling a 13 hour shift at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City when I began complaining to my coworkers that I still needed to run 12 miles after I got off at 10:00pm. My coworker silently leaned over to me and whispered, "what is so hard about that?" I looked over at him and was like, aaaaah, what? He cleared his throat and clarified:
Nothing in life is that hard, you just don't want to do it. I used to work three jobs and complain the same way until I had the realization that working isn't that hard, I'd just rather be doing something else. Only a few things in life are hard.
While the idea is simple, acting on this advice has reshaped my perspective on how I tackle challenges. To this day, I still quote the same man when things are getting "hard" and shake myself up to get a better perspective. I can think of handfuls of times where I perceived things as difficult and opted for the easier path. Imagine throwing a rock in your backyard every time you opted for the easier route. How many rocks would you have after a day? After a week? Over the course of a lifetime? How much farther ahead in life would you be if you chose to perceive them as manageable barriers rather than hard tasks? If we dissect our day into manageable tasks, we can see the simplicity of each task and accomplish more. Don't let a productive schedule be confused with something that is hard!
With my newfound inspiration, I hopped on the treadmill after work and ran until 1:00am. How do you like them apples? While I know I was a fool for burning the midnight oil, the mindset shift had me ready to climb Mt. Everest.
In short, don't let your ego get in the way of understanding when enough is enough but keep your commitments sound enough that you're able to have continuous and productive results. Whenever I start to get lazy, I recall this conversation and ask myself if what I have to do is really that hard. More often than not, I choose to take the higher road and I'd like to think I'm better because of it.
Inspired by Elon Musk's commitment to eating hot dogs for a month (link to article), I thought i'd test my limits on spending an average of $10 a day (or less) on food for a year. Note that this included eating out, beer, snacks, buying friends/family meals and anything in between that involved eating. Although eating hot dogs everyday sounds like heaven, I also had to consider my nutritional needs of being a professional athlete running 100+ mile weeks.
I know you all are probably thinking to yourselves, but why? Just pay the extra two bucks and get that cheeseburger made for you. If you can't already tell, I'm addicted to numbers and excel. So naturally I try to compute and apply numbers to everything. In the case of saving money, let's assume you put the money into your retirement fund and achieve the average stock market return of 7% a year and take your savings out after 40 years. If your penny pinching saved you $10 a day on food, your total savings for the year would be $365*10=$3,650.00. After 40 years of compounding interest, this amount would equal $54,656.77. That's enough to fund your new spending diet for $54,656.77/$3,650=14.97 years after retirement.
Where did I begin?
I started with what I needed from a nutritional standpoint veggies, carbs, fruits, et cetera and determined what the minimum cost could potentially be for each. For all of you project managers, I took the minimum viable product (MVP) on what I needed to operate from a sustenance perspective and the rest was nice to have money to spend on myself. Without a doubt, my budget was quickly gobbled up by fruits and vegetables as there were no cost cutting strategies around this (Gardening for me consists of growing weeds and killing plants). With whatever remaining budget I had, I began meal planning for the most bang for my buck. Here is what a typical day looked like for me:
Tuna Casserole was a go-to for me as it met my 4 to 1 carbs to protein ratio for recovery and it was cheap and surprisingly palatable (don't deny it till you try it!).
How did my year turn out?
Tips and Tricks
Sum it up already!
Saving money doesn’t have to equate to eating unhealthy or being a recluse, it involves proactive planning and being deliberate in not eating out when you don't have to. Over the course of a year, I met my financial goal while meeting my athletic goal of qualifying for the Olympic marathon trials. How do you like them apples?
For a reason I'm not smart enough to explain, we often associate ourselves with some inspirational poem, quote, or phrase. Maybe it's something that makes us feel heard or maybe strikes a chord with where we're at in life? If I were to ask you your favorite quote, would you be able to rattle it off?
For myself, there are always two quotes that are top of mind: "pain lasts a day, regret lasts a lifetime" and "You are nothing but the fruit". The first of the two quotes was my rallying cry prior to big races. Where the quote reinforced my mindset to embrace the fight as pain would inevitably come. From a runner's perspective, there is nothing more frustrating than reflecting on a race and thinking about where you gave up or why you didn't push harder. I think we can all generally agree if you gave someone a split second decision to either run up a hill or down a hill, they are more apt to choose downhill. By mentally preparing myself to climb the mountain when I reached the "Y" in my path, I was more willing to embrace the pain during a race.
For the second quote, I discovered the inspiration while reading this article by David Wong. This is one of my favorite quotes due to its applicability to any scenario and is one of the main reasons I decided to start my blog and name it after this quote. The phrase, "You are nothing but the fruit" can be boiled down to the following analogy: A tree can claim that it's an apple tree but their peers won't see them as an apples tree until they start bearing fruit. The same principle applies to life, I'm caring because I ask you how your day is going, I'm determined because I never skip leg day, I'm a cereal connoisseur because I eat 3 family sized boxes each week.
Ever since reading this article, I've sought out ways to continually bear my fruit. One way I like to subtly grow myself in a direction I want, is by creating a yearly bucket list on my birthday. I start by determining the core characteristics I hope to portray. In example, this year I'm focusing on learning, running, adventure, caring, and financial responsibility. I take these core components that I'd like to portray and create bucket list tasks to complete in the year. That's my project management 101 coming out of me. How do you like them apples?
Bucket List- age 26
Does talking about fitness, finances, and making it in the real world excite you? Me too but younger Brogan would have slapped the daylights out of future Brogan if he knew this is what would become of him. Younger Brogan would have set his sights on becoming a full-time professional football player, part-time Lego set tester, and would have scoffed at any idea involving growing up. So what made it all change? Reading. Well that and the one time he was clobbered into his first ever back flip attempt during football practice and the repeated nightmare of stepping on Legos. Much like Pavlov's ability to train his dogs, my environment has quite literally molded me to evolve. Reading has been the largest conduit for this change and has become a staple in my life to push me to dream and be more than I ever thought I could (younger Brogan rolls his eyes and pukes in disgust). I was never much of a reader growing up and in fact I hated reading. If we look at younger Brogan's Myspace page circa 2006 when having a Myspace account was still cool (it's still a little cool) I was quoted saying "Reading Sucks". Not really sure what point I was trying to prove here but man did reading suck. Younger Brogan even brought his reading hate to the Facebook world or as you English nerds would say, Proofreading hate:
Maybe I was trying to invent a new language? (Please forgive me, i'm still working on it)
Before we can continue, yes my siblings and I are still just as ugly and yes my younger sister is possessed in this photo. But that's beside the point, what's important is the book that changed it all for me (Crowd cheers for Harry Potter) and no it's not Harry Potter. While many of you are probably thinking to yourself, wait a minute, younger Brogan hates reading. Why would he start reading? Trust me, i'm still just as surprised as you are but there is one important characteristic to note about myself, which makes all of this possible. I am the largest pushover when it comes to peer pressure. If you ask me anything more than twice, i'm more than likely to fold. I'm not proud of playing with Polly Pockets, giving free massages, or painting nails but they had to be done. In the following scenario, my vulnerability was no different and was no match for my hate for reading.
(Brogan coughs to clear his throat and leans back in his rocking chair to begin story) Circa 2009, It was yet another beautiful fall day for Brogan to play outside with his high school friends. As expected, Brogan and his friends found the nearest house and planned to hang out in the basement. Dillan, the ring leader of the group, proposed they all go to his place to study Calculus (Yes, we were nerds). As they entered Dillan's home, they were pleasantly greeted by his mother (Shout out to Michelle) who stopped them and insisted "The Hunger Games" was the greatest book she had ever read. Before Brogan could leave, she cornered him off as she knew he was the weakest link of the group and forced him to agree that he would read the book (Michelle briefly asked in passing if anyone would like to read the book). Younger Brogan attempted to put up a front but quickly folded and accepted the reading offer. To Brogan's surprise, "The Hunger Games" too was the greatest and only book he had ever read. The End.
What I really loved about "The Hunger Games" was its uniqueness to anything I've ever heard, learned, or could even dream up. Where the alternate universe challenged my thinking and made me curious about what other things I could explore in books. The more books I read, the more curious I became and the more whys and hows I began to ask. My reading interests began to evolve and took off when I started asking influential members in my life for book recommendations. While a majority of these books were self-help and self-improvement, I thought it was in my best interest to start taking notes and begin implementing these ideas into my life. This process has led me to become addicted to self-development and has pushed me to explore all the shortcuts there are through self-exploration and reading. Making mistakes and taking chances takes years of walking the lonesome road but books give us a quick insight into a lifetime of mistakes and successes. Long story short, Brogan is addicted to learning, exploring, self-improvement, efficiency and applying everything he learns to life. I plan to use my blog to document my life lessons during my trials and errors of self-exploration as well as draw in similar minded self-entrepreneurs to learn from as well!
Life novice exploring how to navigate the world. Let's discover together!