MY ENERGY SLUMP

Posted on 5th May 2013 in EXPLORING OURSELVES, HELPING OTHERS

I just recently found myself in an energy slump which literally zapped the life from me.  It had me, my family and friends worried that something was wrong with my health.

This past calendar year I completed 9 triathlons, 1 of which was a full distance IronMan, and 3 others which were 70.3 Half IronMan races.  I attributed my chronic fatigue to all of the triathlon training and racing I did throughout the year.

EVER  FELT  THIS  WAY?

EVER FELT THIS WAY?

I was understandably concerned with my health so I visited my doctor who conducted all the usual tests which all came back negative; this was very good news but there was still no official diagnosis or reason why I was feeling this way.  I remember listening to my doctor during one appointment explaining my symptoms to one of his colleagues who used the word “perplexed” with my symptomolgy.

This got me an appointment with an internal medicine specialist who also could not make any formal diagnosis.  I was resigned to the fact that my intensive triathlon training left me feeling tired and weak and that I had done too much.  The good news was that there were no major issues with my health.
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LOOSE ENDS

Posted on 9th March 2013 in CHANGE, EXPLORING OURSELVES, ONE DAN'S OPINION

imagesHave you ever heard someone describe their day as productive and successful because they “tied up a bunch of loose ends”?

What does that actually mean?

What are loose ends, and do I have any?

Chances are likely a resounding YES!  So what are they?

Loose ends come in many sizes and forms, from work related tasks, around the house projects or personal obligations which we have started but not yet finished.  Wether it’s a fix up job you promised your partner you’d take care of, a car service that is long overdue, or and unfinished work project, most of us have them.

Good and Bad Loose Ends 

Just to be clear not all loose ends are a problem; just the ones which bother you. Loose ends that you don’t want can take a lot of mental energy out of you.  These are the bad loose ends.

Back to the car service example. Perhaps you have been putting off a blinking light on the dash board or a squeak under the hood because you suspect that the mechanic will notice it and several other issues that you can’t afford.  So you put it off because you are afraid of bad news.  You are not helping yourself by ignoring the problem that could be getting worse, and potentially more expensive, but you do anyways out of fear. Plus you just don’t have the time to deal with it right now because you have too much else going on, too many loose ends.

Bad loose ends are not something we think about “all the time”.  Usually we remind ourselves about bad loose ends when there are fewer distractions (or no distractions), thus the loose ends never give us a chance to relax. This can create a tremendous amount of stress for us.

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HELPING OTHERS SUCCEED

Posted on 23rd February 2013 in HELPING OTHERS, ONE DAN'S OPINION

Have you ever wondered how you can make an impact in someone else’s life? Consider these stories:

Mr. Ramón lives in the town of Ticuantepe, Nicaragua with his wife and children. His hopes are to improve the lifesytle of his family by growing his farming business. For several years now he has been growing pineapples. His biggest challenge has been with having enough capital to harvest his crops and provide adequate fertilizer for successful yields.

He is grateful for the loan given through Kiva as he would not have been able to achieve a good harvest without this type of program. Mr. Ramón is grateful for the opportunity to create a better life for his family and is appreciative of the confidence and trust people have demonstrated in his farming abilities.

HASHEM'S BARBER SHOP

Hashem lives in the Gaza Strip of the Palestine region and is interested in a loan which he will use to purchase furniture in order to open his own barber shop.  Hashem is extremely grateful that someone has shown a willingness to support him in his business.

Who are Mr. Ramón and Hashem? They are two men who have many things in common, three of which are: they both aspire to create a successful life for themselves, they are two men I have never met and likely never will meet, and they have both been the recipient of micro loans from me via a non-profit organization called Kiva.

So what is Kiva?

Kiva is a non-profit organization who’s mission is to connect people through lending (via micro loans) with the hope to alleviate poverty, mostly in underdeveloped countries around the globe. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals like you and I lend as little as $25 to help create opportunities for those less fortunate around the world.

Kiva includes the personal stories of each person who is looking for a loan because they want their lenders to connect with their entrepreneurs on a human level. Kiva itself does not collect any interest on the loans it facilitates. It is purely supported by grants, loans, and donations from its users.

Kiva gives people like Mr. Ramón and Hashem a chance to take out small loans and work to start a business and improve their lives. Each time one of the borrowers pays back a portion of the loan the money goes back into your individual Kiva account. I always choose to re-loan the monies to another aspiring entrepeneur.

If you are reading this on your computer, laptop or smart phone then I think its safe to assume that you are very fortunate to have been born into life circumstances with opportunities. Others around the world in developing countries must work harder to acheive success. An amount of money that can seem small to us can make a significant impact for someone less fortunate.

I have been lending on Kiva for several years now and thought you might want to join me in this worthwhile cause. If you are interested in making a difference in someone’s life then Kiva micro loans is a terrific option.

What are you waiting for? It only takes a few moments to give someone less fortunate an opportunity to create a success for themselves. Remember a time when someone gave you an opportunity and you were able to create something awesome with it?

http://www.kiva.org

An opportunity just might be the greatest gift you can give someone,

Dan McCaughan

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DO YOU HAVE TIME VAMPIRES IN YOUR LIFE?

Posted on 7th January 2013 in EXPLORING OURSELVES, HELPING OTHERS, ONE DAN'S OPINION

Each of us gets 24 hours a day to get things done regardless of who you are, no more, no less. We are all busy in today’s world with many family and work responsibilities along with social obligations and the like. Life can be very stressful when we feel like there are more things that need to get done than hours in the day.

 

I Vant To Vaste Your Time

Have you ever heard yourself saying things like:

 

- “Where did the day go?”
- “I wish there were more hours in the day”
- “If I only had more time”
- “I just don’t have the time”

 

There could be many reasons why you might feel and think this way. Perhaps you have an overburdened workload, poor organization skills, family demands, social obligations or ineffective time management skills. The other possibility might be that you have “Time Vampires” lurking in your life sucking the time and energy from you.

 

What are Time Vampires? Well, they are the people who eat up your valuable time complaining, talking about themselves, going around and around about their personal issues until your head starts to spin. Your little vampire actually enjoys the experience of talking to you about their problems and isn’t interested in actually fixing them. When they vent to you it relieves their stress around the situation so they leave the conversation feeling re-energized. Meanwhile, you are left with even less time to finish many tasks before the day ends. Add up a half dozen or so of these conversations a day, and you can quickly find yourself falling behind.

 

Time Vampires might also appear in the form of a co-worker who is avoiding their work or does not have enough work to fill their day. They might also lurk in the form of someone who does not get their social needs met outside the work environment. Regardless of who they are, these types of people can consume valuable time (potentially hours per day) which could be spent on the tasks and relationships which require your attention.

 

Now I don’t want to seem insensitive, impersonal, or judgemental, but if you want to gain more time in your day to do the things which matter most to you and inevitably make your life less stressful, then it might be helpful to eliminate the Time Vampires from your life, or at least limit your contact with them.

 

First, assess who might fall into the description of Time Vampire. Is there anyone in your life who consumes blocks of your time:

 

- seeking attention for themselves,
- ranting and raving about situations they have no control over,
- criticizing about others or complaining a lot,
- talking exclusively about their own issues while showing no interest in your concerns,
- dodging their own work,
- discussing any topic you deem unproductive

 

If you answered yes to any of these then you might have a Time Vampire in your midst.
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WHO IS “STARING” IN THE MOVIE OF YOUR LIFE?

Posted on 2nd November 2012 in EXPLORING OURSELVES, ONE DAN'S OPINION

I was recently talking with a friend who referred to herself as “a supporter” in her husband’s life.  I asked her who she felt was the “lead actor in her life story” to which she humbly responded, “I don’t know”.  I thought it was interesting that she viewed her role in life primarily as a support person.  It seemed that her identity may have been too wrapped up in the lives of others and she appeared to have forgotten about her own identity.

What intrigued me was that she considered her identity to be that of a support person.  As the conversation went on I wondered if it  could be possible that she was the co-star in the husbands life and vice versa?

Although it is both admirable and considerate to be of service to others, it might not be helpful if this is how someone perceives themselves.  Being mindful that if each of us aren’t the “stars in our own lives”, who is?

I believe that not only am I the “star in my life”, but also the director, producer, writer, costume designer, villain, and so on; you get
the drift.  Each of us are all these roles in each of our lives.  This way of thinking has the potential for each of us to assume complete ownership of our lives, thus making us accountable for all of our thoughts, emotions, choices and behaviors.

No one person only serves one role in life.  As we are social beings who have family and friends we serve many roles in our lives (including co-stars in the lives of our loved ones and friends).  The stronger the relationship, the  stronger the role.

The next time someone asks you who you are, perhaps you might consider responding the “the star in my own life”.

Write your own story,

Dan McCaughan

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THOUGHT: IS IT WRONG TO SEEK PERFECTION?

Posted on 2nd October 2012 in EXPLORING OURSELVES, ONE DAN'S OPINION

I believe that all of life is connected, especially when it comes to our health and energy.  Everyone has likely noticed that when our energy levels are down most other areas of our lives will be down as well.

For instance, if your work life isn’t going well it will invariably affect other areas of your life; the same goes when we have relationship issues, then the other areas of our life seem to suffer.

So does this mean you can’t ever get to a point in your life where all areas are a perfect 10 out of 10? Sure you can, but it usually won’t last.  And why is that?

Likely because if everything was rolling along at a perfect 10 out of 10, then there would be no room for Growth.  To illustrate this idea just look around at everything in the universe; evidence clearly points to the fact that “if you are not growing, then you are dying”.  This leads me to believe that there is no in between for any area of your life, you are either getting better or worse, no middle ground. 

Admittedly we grow at different paces throughout the course of our lives.  Sometimes we see huge gains, while other times the growth is less obvious. Perhaps because we might be in an energy or health slump, or maybe more intently focused on other areas of our life. 

So if you are seeking perfection in any area of your life, stop it, it’s going to drive you insane as there is nothing such as perfection.  The notion that there is a “future” moment in time when everything will be perfect is a preposterous and futile ideation.

Besides, remember the idea “if everything were perfect then there would be no room for growth”. If there is no room for growth then we would not be improving. 

Although perfection might sound like an awesome goal, at what cost is it to your psyche?  I prefer to be in a continual growth mode versus stagnation or worse yet, dying.

So if fulfillment doesn’t come from being “perfect” then where might it come from?  Perhaps it’s from being aware of the momentum of continual growth running through the different areas of your life. 

Think about all the individual areas of your life; you are either growing or dying, only you know for sure.

This has been one Dan’s opinion

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CHANGE IS CONSTANT

Posted on 7th September 2012 in CHANGE, EXPLORING OURSELVES, ONE DAN'S OPINION

Change is constant; intuitively we understand the concept and can absorb it with little difficulty. Yet when change occurs in our lives; when people pass on, when friendships shift form intimate to distant, or when we notice we are aging, these truths can terrify us. Sometimes we need years to recover from changes that we weren’t ready to accept as we had hoped the situation would always stay the same. We knew all along that nothing lasts forever, yet we tend to hold onto the desire for good things to last forever.

 

Do we do this in order to punish ourselves? Likely not. Then why do we hold onto this idea of wanting things to not change?

 

When “change is constant” feels like an enemy which zaps our energy, it might be helpful to remind ourselves of the song lyrics from a song titled Closing Time by the band Semisonic, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”. That’s right; the promise inherent in “change is constant” is that new beginnings always follow closures and provide us with opportunities we might otherwise not have had.

 

Being mindful of this creates the ability to release the old and embrace the new, if we believe that all things end at the appropriate time and that all things begin at the appropriate time. This level of detachment from a situation is not meant to be cold or impersonal. This truth (i.e. reality) can be difficult to accept as we as humans seek stability, structure, routine, and often the absence of change. Trying to make things remain the same is a futile endeavour as all life lessons lead us back to the concept of change being inevitable.

 

If we want to “go with the flow” of life we must understand that change is inevitable. Rather than fighting change it might be more useful to understand that we influence, but do not control, what we will experience tomorrow. That being said, our task should be to invest our best energy into every situation; because change is constant every moment is unique and won’t be repeated. Resistance to this reality only leads to heartache and internal struggle; what we resist persists…

 

It just might be much easier to accept this reality than to fight it. One thing I know for sure is that “change is constant”.

 

This has been one Dan’s opinion.

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HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?

Posted on 1st August 2012 in CHANGE, EXPLORING OURSELVES, ONE DAN'S OPINION

How do you view your life? Do you see it as a “rehearsal” or a “performance”? Or perhaps as a practice for something bigger?

During rehearsals and practices when you make mistakes nobody cares.

But in a performance, when the curtain goes up it’s “GO TIME”. The spotlight pops up and all lights are pointed on you.

One of my most liberating beliefs is “my life is not the rehearsal or a practice, it’s ALWAYS a performance”.

What I mean by this is we are all choosing and creating our own lives. As far as I know we only get one life each, so why not live it the best you can with maximum fulfillment? While on your deathbed if you were to look back at what you are doing right now, would that put a smile on your face? Yes, of course I realize that life isn’t all fun and games, but in general terms, is the way you are conducting yourself and the way you are living making you happy?

And don’t give me some excuse that you’re doing something you don’t want to do because you “have to”, or “you can’t.” Unless you are currently held hostage or someone is pointing a gun to your head, you are not a slave. You have choices; there are always options.

Every single moment is a choice.

You can choose to sit at home watching television, or you can choose to do something which excites you, whatever that might be. For me it’s travel and triathlon, so I have incorporated both into my most recent “career break” in Central America which I have created for myself this January and February (2012).

You can choose to do the same old stuff every day until you turn numb and eventually don’t realize the pages of the calendar flip over and over, while the months and years pass you by. While I sit on a beach writing this post, in the midst of training for triathlon, overlooking the waves crashing the beach, I can honestly say that while on my “deathbed” I will be able to look back fondly on this moment I have created for myself.

For a moment reflect on what you’d rather be doing. Just imagine the choices you could make:
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DAN’S IRONMAN EXPERIENCE

Posted on 10th July 2012 in TRIATHLON

Those responsible for the news letter at the company where I work recently asked me to share my experience of competing in a IronMan triathlon. In June 2012 I completed an IronMan in Coeur d’Alene (CDA) Idaho which was an awesome place to do a triathlon. The community was very welcoming; the spectators were enthusiastic, the volunteers were outstanding and it was a first class event hosted in a very beautiful city.

I heard you recently completed an IronMan triathlon.  What is an IronMan exactly?

IronMan is a full distance triathlon.  There are many different distances of triathlon which all include swimming, cycling and running, in that order.  A full length IronMan consists of a 3.8 km swim, followed by 180 kms of cycling, and then finishes off with a full distance marathon of 42 kms.

END OF A LONG DAY

Do you complete all three of those things in one day?  How long does it usually take?
Yes.  A person’s time will depend on many factors such as ability, fitness, nutrition, weather etc.  There is a time limit of 17 hours and many people don’t complete the race for various reasons.  I did a lot of training leading up to the race, so was able to complete my race in 11 hours and 58 minutes which placed me in the top 20% of competitors.

You mentioned that you did a lot of training.  How many hours of training per week?
Training for IronMan was a long journey considering I began a structured training plan in back in November; I guess it took me about 7 months to prepare.  Training consisted of an average of 9 workouts per week (3 swims, 3 bike rides, 3 runs).  It started with about 10 hours per week back in November and eventually peaked to 17- 20 hours per week in April and May. Click here to read more.. »

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TRIATHLON TRAINING IN NICARAGUA

Posted on 1st February 2012 in CAREER BREAKS - MINI RETIREMENTS, TRIATHLON

Riding down a stretch of freshly paved asphalt I see the sun rising, while overlooking local farmers working in their peanut, yucca, and sugar cane fields. Glancing to the left I see a series of eight volcanoes, none more ominous than the one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Central America and its smoldering, gaseous fumes, San Cristobal.

What’s a guy from Winnipeg, Canada doing riding a bike in Nicaragua in January?  Well, it all started as a rough idea about six months ago.  I travel each year to a different continent to explore different countries and cultures, and what they have to offer.

Training in the midst of an active volcano, San Cristobal

As a triathlete I am an active person, so my travel plans always include some sort of active adventure. For instance, in 2011 I rode a mountain bike 1000 kilometers across Tanzania, followed up a few weeks later with summiting the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. In 2010, I mountain biked and trekked into the ruins of Machu Pichu, Peru, and in 2009 I trekked into the Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

My plan this year was to somehow combine two of my greatest passions, which are traveling and triathlon.  I had few parameters other than my preference to avoid as much of the cold Canadian winter as possible by traveling during the winter months.

An online search for half-Ironman races led me to quickly conclude that the half-Ironman (1.9 km swim, 90 km cycle, and 21km half marathon) triathlon in Panama City, Panama on February 12, 2012 was going to be the one. I have long been interested in Central America and thus a plan was born. There were logistics that needed to be figured out (time away from my career, support from family, developing a training plan, pre-training) but I was convinced this could work out.

A few month later and here I am, basking on the beautiful beach of Las Penitas, Nicaragua after a terrific training ride of 120 km. Las Penitas is about 110 kilometers northwest of Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua.  I have been training (swimming, cycling, and running) on the beaches and roads of this sleepy little fishing village for almost two weeks and it has been a terrific experience to say the least.

I feel like I have found a little slice of triathlon training heaven; who would have thought that something like this was possible in Nicaragua? Click here to read more.. »

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