On Habits and Systems

Son,

::Fireside Chat::

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There is a lot I want to teach you in life, but one of the most important things I can tell you about achieving your goals is to set habits and systems in place early and often. Here’s why:

[sips whiskey]

If you have a dream, which we adults call “goals,” then the only way to achieve that dream/goal is to set systems and habits in place to reach that dream/goal. If your dream is to be an astronaut, then the only way to do that is to learn as much as you can as often as you can about space, astronauts, NASA, etc. You can’t want something bad enough without putting in an equal amount of action to make it real.

[pats you on the back]

You’re too young to worry about this now, but this is something your mom and I are trying to do to ensure that you have every opportunity to realize whatever dreams you have as you grow up. We are making new habits and systems for ourselves in what goals we’re trying to accomplish for ourselves, as well as habits and systems as parents to ensure you have the best childhood.

And the best childhood doesn’t mean you’re happy and laughing 24/7. Here’s an example:

When you were young (you’re 1, so saying when you were young sounds funny), your mom bought video that taught us how to create sleep habits for you. This system allowed us to teach you how to sleep, and now you are a rock star sleeper, at least at night, which allows you to wake up every day with energy and that big smile on your face.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits

I love the above quote because it is so true. Goals are not reached because of one massive action that you take, day after day, because that is not sustainable. You’ll burn yourself out and eventually relapse. Find a system that allows you to be happy, and set that trajectory upward.

[sips whiskey; jingles ice in glass; finishes whiskey]

Like I said, this is all for down the line. Your mom and I will worry about setting systems in place as parents for you now, and you’ll hopefully take our example and set them up for yourself once you’re ready. All you have to do now is continue to be you, maybe be you without throwing your food on the floor so Rogue can share your dinner with you, but otherwise be you.

The last thing I’ll say about habits and systems is that they encourage you to take your time, which is something I want to make sure you do in life. The key is to take your time while always taking action. Don’t procrastinate, but understand that small actions early and often will lead to big changes later in life. Effort is compounding.

[stands up and ushers you toward the door]

Now get some rest son.

I love you.

-Dad

 

On Growing Up

Son,

There is going to be a time when you grow up. It seems like it happens a little bit each day, and I look back a month ago at who you were and it blows my mind how much you’ve changed. I think that growing up is something that is so much more apparent when you’re young, but seeing you grow into a little boy reminds me that we’re all growing up a little bit more each day.

There is going to be a time, maybe 18 or 19 years from now, when you and I sit down and listen to a John Mayer album called Continuum. The whole thing is about John growing up from your 20s into his 30s, but also about how that looks from his dad’s point of view. As we listen to the songs, I am going to remind you that while time feels like it drags on in the moment, there is a much bigger picture with a much bigger story to learn from.

Right now, you’re in the room next to me fighting a nap. You have your whole life in front of you and it’s been the best thing in the world seeing you grow from an infant into this little boy that I love so much. I think your mom wants to hit the pause button and keep you young forever, but I am most excited to learn, teach, and grow together with you.

Because that’s the thing. Until your mom and I got married, I kind of felt like I was growing on my own. I had my own things and sure, my parents guided me in a lot of ways, but I never felt like it was something that we did “together.” Then when your mom and I got together, it felt a little bit like we were on this single path. We stopped eating meat together. We focused on happiness, fitness, and then family. Now that you’re here, I feel like this whole new stage of growth is happening to all of us.

I love seeing you learn things by experiencing them. I love seeing you stand next to a door, look around, and decide whether or not to try stepping away from the door. I love seeing you laugh after you get everyone’s attention by clap-clap-clap — pause — and go about your business. You are going to be something else as you continue to grow, and I can’t wait to be by your side as long as you’ll let me.

Growing up is something that only seems to happen in the past. Plans, dreams, goals all happen ahead of us, but growth is only realized by looking backward. If I could teach you one thing, it would be that growth DOESN’T actually happen in the past, but it is a constant in our lives. You are growing all the time, developing all the time, and evolving into who you are and who you’re meant to be all the time. Growth leads us to where we want to go, and it’s so important to realize that as you make daily decisions in the present.

Now that you’re done fighting your nap and settled in, I’m also reminded that it is OK to slow down. Growth might be happening all the time, but we have to be OK to take a step back, take a good nap, and reset.

I love you with every part of who I am, who I’ve been, and who I’ll be. You are my absolute favorite thing and you always will be. Don’t be afraid to be who you are, and understand that you can still grow up and be the goofy, super-smart, amazing person that you are and will always be.

-Dad

On Long Time No See – Don’t Hold it Against Me

Son,

I’m sorry. Due to some technical difficulties and a busy holiday season, I haven’t written to you. I’m not making excuses. If I wanted to figure it out, I would have. That’s on me. Let’s move on…

You just turned 11 months old the other day, and holy f#*%^ing moly things have changed since I’ve last written you. You’re basically walking, identifying me, your mom, your dog, your Deb, and the school buses in the neighborhood.

But before we get into things, check you out, you stud you!

ryanreags
Us being bros
reags smile
Cheesin’ for a reason
bus hunt
On the hunt for school buses

Anyone, now that we’re past the whole “four months no posts” thing, we can move forward. You are an amazing little man, Reagan James. In the past four months, you’ve visited family in Orlando and Cleveland, had your first Christmas and New Year (spoiler alert, neither you nor your parents made it till midnight), and amped up your personality tenfold. Seriously, if you took a personality test, you’d set the bar. You’re a goof ball, you love your dog, and you’re so smart.

Next big to do for you is your first birthday. Not going to ruin the surprise, but let’s just say it’s going to be one heck of a hot dog day.

hotdog

(it’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed)…

Anyway, best that I wrap this up since I haven’t posted in months and the last thing I want to do is sit on this any longer before posting. The last thing I’ll say is that you’re the best little man your mom and I could possibly have in the house, you make my whole day just from the first moment I see you in the morning, and your mom and I love you so so much.

On Starting With The End In Mind

On Starting With The End In Mind

Son,

There is a line in an Avett Brothers song that goes, “When nothing is owed or deserved or expected, and your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected. If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected. Decide what to be and go be it.”

Hopefully you will appreciate the Avett Brothers when you’re older because, if not, your mom, dad, Aunt G, and team Mayberry will all be very sad at you. But even if you don’t like the band, there is a lot of truth in that line, particularly the first and the last parts. To illustrate my thought, I want to focus on the last line, “Decide what to be and go be it.”

Decide what to be and go be it

When you start something with the end in mind, you are working toward a goal and you’re free of circumstance. No matter what each day brings, you can navigate the challenges by deciding what action you take will get you toward your goal. Decide what to be doesn’t have to mean what your career will be, but decide what kind of person you want to be, and live each day in a way that makes that a reality.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t… you’re right.” — Henry Ford 

Perspective is a powerful thing.  I think when you’re young, and even a lot of people who are older, you can’t grasp the gravity of what these expressions mean. You might hear it, and say, “yea, I get it.” It’s the same thing as when I would tell you to start with the end in mind. If you take it to heart and adjust your perspective so that you make that expression a rule you operate by, you will find that you achieve those things you set out to achieve — you reach the end instead of stall along the way.

As you grow up, I promise to teach you to take on challenges with the end in mind, whether it be in sports, school, relationships, or anything else you ever need help with. I will show you how to visualize the things you want, and let the goal be your compass that guides each decision you make along the journey.

Decide what to be a go be it, son. And if you have confidence in what you want to be, there won’t be any person, situation, or circumstance that will keep you from that goal.