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Thursday
Mar262015

The cost of wanting to look good

Jo and I recently bought a car, our old one was getting a bit tired so it was time to start the search for a new set of wheels. It’s fair to say that both of us are the complete opposite of the stereo typical ‘petrol heads’ so when we sat down to think about what we needed in a car it was a very  practical thinking process. The questions we asked ourselves were; What do we use the car for? How much are we able to spend based on our savings? What are the practical considerations we need to consider? How much do we want to spend per week on petrol?. After coming up with the answers to these questions we had a good idea of what we were looking for so the search began. 

Over the next few weeks Trade Me motors became one of our frequently visited websites and as a car is a one of the more ‘bigger ticket’ items to spend money on, I found it interesting to become aware of the thinking process I went through during this time. While we had determined that we wanted quite a practical car, we did want something that we liked the look of as well as staying within the budget we had set, not hard criteria at all! As my side of the search was mainly online, I found myself spending more time looking at cars that were above our price point, subconsciously I was starting to want the cars that were well outside our set criteria. 

We went to car yards and test drove a few cars that ticked our practical boxes but we always found  a reason why they weren’t quite right. One car may have been a little too small, the other may have been a bit older than we wanted and while this was happening I found that my attraction to the cars that were well above our budget increased. In my mind I was planting a seed that was justifying why we needed the more expensive car and I was also subconsciously comparing the ones within our budget to these - they never had a chance. At the same time I was starting to think of how we would be able to make the financial burden of a bigger spend work. 

As I said at the beginning of this article, I’m not a petrol head and I can honestly say that I never look at a car with admiration, so why was I shifting the goal posts with the cars we were looking at? To be completely honest I think it’s because I wanted to look good to others. I was attracted to representing myself at a certain level to the world based on the type of car that I drove. What was really interesting about this situation is that we had the money to buy our car without borrowing but if we bought a car that I was becoming attracted to we may have had to borrow money. This is fascinating to me. I was contemplating borrowing money to show people that I was doing well, even though this ego boost would have been created by going outside our financial means. 

Many people do this, they buy things that are well outside financial reach, we want to show the world that we are doing well with material representations and while the motivation may be different from mine the need to borrow to do this often happens.  

The questions that come to my mind are - what cost does this have on our lives when this happens? What’s the cost of you spending more than you earn so you can represent yourself at a level that you aren’t currently at?  The answers to these questions have many levels, there’s the financial restrictions that debt can bring to your life, there’s pressure of maintaining a stretched representation of yourself to the world and there’s also the pressure of not being able to look for support during tough times because you don’t want to look like your world is weak or failing. 

It’s appealing to want to show the world that we are doing well and in my mind there is nothing wrong with being proud of where you are in life, but if you know that you are building a world that is about impressing others that comes at a cost that is unhealthy, maybe you’d be better off spending your energy finding ways to be content with your current self.

In the end Jo and I went with a very practical car, within our budget and it ticks all our boxes. We won’t be turning any heads on the street, but we are happy and content with our decision and it has been an interesting reflection for me on the types of judgements that really matter in my life.

 

This piece orginally appeared in The Press

 

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Friday
Mar132015

Ian's game to keep fit

Sometimes I get the opportunity to do voice work at endurance races around the country, I’m the overly enthusiastic guy who yells people across the finish line. For someone who’s not known as being particularly reserved or quiet, giving me a microphone can be a dangerous thing. For most athletes getting to a finish line on a challenging day can be an emotional moment and one that people want to celebrate, so it’s one place where my energy is welcomed.  

When you work at these events you quickly learn that there is a huge team of people behind the scenes who work hard to make these events run like clock work and over time you build lots of good relationships with the event crews. A couple of weeks ago I was doing the voice work at one of the most beautiful races in the world, Challenge Wanaka, and I bumped into one of these people, a guy called Ian Scott. Ian is the sales rep for Profile Design, a company that makes all types of gear to make your bike go faster. Ian has completed quite a few Ironman races and is a fit man, he now has a young family and a challenging job so doing a very time consuming sport like Ironman has been put on the back burner for now. 

When I was catching up with Ian I asked him the question, ‘are you keeping fit?’. He went on to tell me about a game he created for himself last year. He told me how he was getting frustrated with the number of emails he was getting and the amount of time he was spending in front of the computer and how his exercise was taking a hit because of this. One day he decided that he had to do five reps of either press ups or sit ups for every email he responded to. I can’t recall how long he set the challenge for but over a certain period of time he had done over 32,0000 reps of these exercises. He then set himself the goal of doing 1000 reps a week for all of 2015. He’ did add some different movements to this challenge so he could get more of a rounded, complete workout but his aim was to do 52,000 reps by the end of 2015. As Ian was telling me this it was pretty obvious that he was motivated and this was his way of getting back to a healthy place where he didn’t feel his work was coming at a cost to his health. 

What Ian did here was brilliant. He attached a healthy challenge to an everyday activity which normally wouldn’t be associated with exercise. He created a game that he could measure and set targets for, which ultimately satisfied his fitness needs. 

There are a lot of people who feel that they don’t have the time for exercise and if you look at their timetables you could see that adding time for external exercise, like going to the gym, would be hard to fit in. This is where creating games for yourself that get your body moving more throughout your day could be a good option. You may be inspired by Ian and you could set up some type of ‘exercise per email’ challenge or you may count the stairs at your office and aim to take so many steps throughout a week, month, or even a year. You could get others involved and create some type of workmate challenge where you all contribute to completing some type of movement goal based around a work task. 

We can start to look at our environments in a different way and think about different triggers that we can use to create games that get us moving. If we can create a motivational challenge which sets a spark off inside us we could be moving down a healthier path. In a time where more and more of us are moving less and less, which often leads to dissatisfaction around our body image, health and esteem, these games we create for ourselves can set you back on the path that you know is right for you.

Ian has certainly been creative and has found his mojo again at time in his life where time for himself is rare, it was inspiring to see. His challenge he set himself can help us think outside the square around exercise. 

 

This piece orginally appeared in The Press

 

If you enjoy my pieces you can get them emailed to you when I put them on the internet. This way you won't have to come back to my website to check when a new piece is out. Don't worry I won't spam you. If you want to join up just put your details in here:

 

Wednesday
Mar042015

Episode 49 Fitness Behavior - What's your story? 

In this months show I talk about Celia Lashie, here's her piece that I talked about on the show, and her very important message. I also introduce a thinking tool that you can use to make the most out of your workout. 

 

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