Summer 2022, Reflection → Courage, Recap and Outlook
My favorite season of the year is history, the colder days are fast approaching. What a summer it’s been! Not only have us Hamburgers been lucky and enjoyed lots of great weather days, but for me personally, things have gone quite well, too.
Time to take a minute, think about the highs and lows, and make new plans! My next theme for this upcoming fall season has been decided.
🦁 Fall of 2022: The Season of Courage
Coming out of the Summer of Reflection, I was first thinking that reflection should actually be a theme which is worthy of becoming permanent. It’s something I have to remind myself of because the high-stress days just don’t allow for lots of reflection.
For fall, I’m staying with reflection and adding another new value to it, courage. It might not be obvious, but I feel I lack courage in daily life – mostly in the business area. I’ve been running my company for more than 11 years now, but changes have taken a long way to manifest, mainly due to my own restraint and caution. Over the last few years especially, my daily work-life has increased in stressfulness, but decreased in personal fulfillment for me.
Time to show more courage, I’m thinking. Leave my comfort zone, risk something from time to time, adapt more of a “nothing to lose” mentality. Because if I’m being honest with myself, it would be really difficult to in fact lose this company. I’m quite convinced our quality of work and output will stay in demand in the future, nearly regardless of what new things we’re trying along the way – we can always go back to what we’ve been doing so far.
Courage is not only a useful quality in the field of business, but also in life in general. It’s among the four cardinal virtues of the Stoics, who I admire. Those are Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, and Justice.
You could even argue that I have shown courage by not changing much about my company in recent years. The world of the web is changing fast and our type of work has shifted with it in a reactive way. We’ve been doing what’s in demand at the current stages. What I’m aiming to change is to turn this reactivity into a proactivity.
💭 Reflection on the Summer of Reflection
Since the death of my beloved father-in-law, Peter Huggett (see my memorial ultra run post on him), which happened June 22nd, the start of the new season was unusual. July 1st, my youngest turned 4 years old, but Peter’s chair at the table was suddenly empty. It’s a reminder of the finite nature of all of us, which is another core aspect of Stoicism: remember that you will die, or, Memento Mori.
Nearly a year ago now, a distant friend of mine from school suddenly died from a brain aneurysm just a few weeks after giving birth to her first child. That tragedy changed something in me, and now with Peter’s passing, even more so. It seems like the generational shift is about to start for us. Meaning, even more tasks, more responsibilities, less time for ourselves. Taking care of the older generation and the younger generation at the same time. It feels daunting, but I’m sure it’s a task we’re up to. It feels right to have service be the by far biggest part of our lives.
That being said, self-care is important, too.
Think about that standard security briefing in airplanes: you can’t help anyone put on that oxygen mask if you yourself haven’t gotten yours on first.
I need to make sure I recharge from time to time in order to be at my highest capacity to help others, too. A grumpy and depressed version of myself isn’t lifting any spirits and doesn’t get much done either – I know that from experience. Running marathon races is a good way for me to bounce back from the bottom, but since these are short and often only justify one or two days of me-time, the recharging doesn’t last very long.
My new experiment was to go on a proper holiday alone this year. On the introvert-extrovert scale I’m most certainly on the introvert side, meaning, I regain energy when alone. I wrote about it in my weekly newsletter of July 31st. My wife Sophie knows this and thankfully understands me. By the way, one of her ways of recharging is, believe it or not, participating in voluntary seminars and trainings in order to become a better medical doctor! She loves it. Two birds with one stone. She has an 8-day trip coming up next March and did a few of these this year, too, for example a five-day trip to Wiesbaden.
My choice of solo-vacation was a trip to New York City. There was a special offer on cheap flights and I took my chance, having Sophie’s support, of course. I decided to make the absolute most of this unique possibility, after all, I’m incredibly lucky to be able to make a trip like this a reality. Some examples are, I ran the perimeter of Manhattan, I ate at the world’s only 3 Michelin Star restaurant that’s vegan, I rented a Tesla and drove it to run a few miles of the Appalachian Trail, saw two live shows of favorite rock bands of mine (Coheed & Cambria and Polyphia), explored Washington DC, Baltimore, and Amtrak train travel for the first time, had an Impossible Burger, and decided to realize a once in a lifetime dream which is finding out what’s flying transatlantic First and Business class is like. Just the carbon offsetting set me back about three hundred bucks, but you know, once in a lifetime.
It was a trip I was looking forward to for around five months since its inception, and which I enjoyed to the absolute fullest. In retrospect it was incredibly smart to book it this early because the thought of the trip got me through a bunch of bad days just fine and that’s worth a lot. Now that it’s over I haven’t looked back at my journal and my photos yet due to focusing on the present and future mainly, but I recently told a friend I hadn’t seen in a while who asked about the trip how it was and noticed myself almost exploding with enthusiasm. Conclusion: the fond memory of the trip continues to be a source of joy. The whole idea was a huge success.
Other highlights of this past season include a family summer vacation on the island of Fehmarn (during which I did the mentioned Peter Huggett ultra run), the school enrollment of two of my daughters (#1 to secondary, #3 to primary school), they sure are growing up fast, the Hamburg Triathlons of which I did the shorter distance together with Sophie again – this year it was especially great to have these few hours for the two of us, the 42_16 project Hamburg Marathon together with the Runner’s World guys, a trip to Berlin to witness Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, and finally, my Cologne Marathon Sub-3 attempt. Although that last one failed, I enjoyed the weekend and resulting runner’s high quite a lot.
💌 A Season of Newsletters
Also during this past season of summer, I followed through with a new experiment. Writing a weekly newsletter about life, sports, books, ideas, and whatever went through my thoughts during that period. It has been fun to sit down every week to reflect – it’s been part of the Season of Reflection for me –, but it also required quite a lot of time which was hard to find.
After these three months and fourteen editions of the weekly newsletter which I creatively called “Teesche Newsletter”, I decided to stop and focus my attention on long form blog posts again, going into a direction of more timeless content.
Here are the fourteen newsletters, linked in full, and summarized:
- July 3: Scouting marathon for BremenSanktPauli, found conjure.so and had a call with the founder (see below, habits section), reading Nicolas Cole’s book on writing online.
- July 10: Ran with Frank Stamp just before his incredible Deca-Triathlon (38 km swim, 1,800 km bike, 422 km run), said goodbye to my friend Oli who left for a year-long sabbatical, reading Richard Feynman.
- July 17: Hamburg Triathlons with Sophie (her new personal best!), Fastest Known Time on Fehmarn for my deceased FIL Peter Huggett, thoughts about the “Die With Zero” book and financial movement.
- July 24: Published the Peter Huggett Fehmarn blog post, updated the Quantified Teesche section with location and weather tiles, enjoyed 37°C, recipe recommendation for a homemade sports drink.
- July 31: Written sitting in an Amtrak train from NYC to DC, thoughts about making the most of life, Manhattan perimeter ultra run success, the advantages of being an introvert, reading Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens.
- August 7: Eleven Madison Park restaurant, Tesla trip to the Appalachian Trail, running on it, live shows of Coheed & Cambria in Queens and Polyphia in Baltimore, Smithsonian Museum in DC and thoughts about reading Sapiens again.
- August 14: Thoughts about inter-subjective romanticist myths, such as exploration and travel as aspirational activities, thoughts on happiness and my upcoming ultra trail race, the Templiers in France, sad about my DNF at the 2nd Munich Great Breweries Ultramarathon, happy for Frank Stamp’s success at his Deca-Triathlon.
- August 21: Wim Hof breathing, quoting Derek Sivers “creating memories should be a priority for living a good life”, made a new /now page, starting the 8-week Cologne Marathon Sub-3 training cycle, Mottenburger Meile race placed 5th of ~150.
- August 27: Training update, too many hard interval sessions in a week but great progress, got new running gear, happy about the live coverage of the UTMB race, lots of website changes: updated /about page, new front page feed, increased readability, reading Derek Sivers.
- September 4: Stomach bug holding up the training, friend suggested training plan changes, excited for Templiers, announcement of our new BremenSanktPauli race, reading Ross Edgley and Dale Carnegie.
- September 11: New bucket list site finished at /future, growing the company by two new employees, thinking about The Effort is the Reward, got good intervals done, disappointed by cryotherapy, habit tracker update (see below).
- September 18: Training for Cologne Sub-3 going well with 25 km at race pace, put the honorable mentions on the new /future bucket list, reading two books side by side, announcement of the new side project “READ & RUN CLUB” and positive peer pressure.
- September 26: Caught a cold, went to Berlin and witnessed Eliud Kipchoge with my kids, came back exhausted, tapering week for Cologne starts, got the news I’m accepted for Boston Marathon 2023, READ & RUN CLUB updates, /bookshelf section improved with top recommendations.
- October 2: More tapering, then Cologne Marathon and a fail at the Sub-3 project, making new plans and a warm goodbye.
As you can see in this short overview of three months worth of weekly newsletters, a new emerging trend for me was that I found my old love of writing code again. This happened mainly due to a mental reframing which I finally discovered:
The code I write doesn’t have to be perfect and modern, it’s enough if it just does what it’s supposed to.
For many years I had a mental block in my head preventing me from enjoying this hobby of mine. I’m glad I finally found a way out of it.
This way, I made many new pages for this website, teesche.com, among them the revised /about page, the Derek Sivers inspired new /now page, my bucket list at /future, and a list of the current tools and hardware I use for inspiration under /uses. I refined the quantified self project, expanded my own habit tracking tool, started two new side projects (READ & RUN CLUB and STRAVABATTLE) and really immersed myself in the tasks as if I was 19 again. Good times!
Additionally it fits my philosophy of just doing more, because being idle feels like a waste of a life to me.
🎯 Goals of the Year Update
I set three special goals for this year. Here they are and how it’s going.
- 🏃📚 12 & 12: Twelve marathons and twelve books per year. Twelve books was easy and completed on April 24th already, at the end of this third quarter I had reached 19 with a tendency to increase the number even further. Aiming for 26 at the moment, since that would be one book for every two weeks of the year. Twelve marathons are taking longer this time, mainly due to my two focused speed training efforts. Too many marathons could have jeopardized those. With Cologne on October 2nd, I’m at 10 right now, so that’s only 2 more to go during this last part of 2022. Easy.
- 🏃💨 Sub-3: Run a marathon in less than three hours. Tried twice, came close in Hamburg with 3:00:40, failed hard in Cologne with 3:23:22 after 28 good kilometers. There’s no way to try again this year, so that goal has failed and been moved to March 2023, Hannover Marathon. Cheers to not giving up!
- ⛰️🏃 Templiers: This 106 kilometer ultra trail marathon will take place on October 21st. It will take a lot from me but I’m really looking forward to it. My goal is finishing it in less than 19 hours in order to qualified for the Western States 100 lottery for a second time this year.
🎛️ Where Did the Intents Go?
In addition I put down four intents I wanted to prioritize in 2022. These have now dispersed into my habit tracking, mainly. Here’s the quick summary.
- 📴 Less Digital Distractions: From an undefined intent, this has moved into a hard measurement which I track everyday with my self-made habit tracking tool. The goal is to stay below 60 minutes every day and hard tracking helps me to reach it quite often.
- 🪚 More Wood Working: This season I did nothing of the sort but haven’t missed it either. I’m guessing the increased amount of writing code has scratched that itch and helped me find an outlet for the creative flow coming out of me. Not planning on changing that.
- 🏝️ More Solitude: My solo-trip to the USA in July/August helped me a lot to fulfill my need of solitude this year. As it’s not possible to have enough solitude in everyday family life for me, I feel the need for a few of these solo-trips per year. Not sure about the minimum amount yet.
- 🛏️ More Sleep: As with the digital distractions, I started tracking my sleep more rigorously and that has proven to help significantly. I reframed being in bed before 21:30 as a “win” and log that with the mentioned personal habit tracker. Gamification works great with me.
🎖️ The Rituals Have Changed, Too!
I started the year with two daily rituals, running every day and doing a 10-minute core workout every day. This past quarter, I have added a third one after testing its perceived benefits on me: a short session of Wim Hof breathing, which also only takes 10 minutes and helps me reset.
While the core workout and breathing exercise have been going well albeit not perfectly, I’m happy to report that the running streak is still at 100 percent. I haven’t missed a single day despite getting Covid in March and breaking a toe in May. At this point I’m convinced to keep it up even after 2022 is over – it helps me that much and is still my preferred type of therapy.
📝 The New Habit Tracker
Having talked about it quite a lot during this post, here’s finally a visual of it, showing the past three months.
🏃: The amount of kilometers I ran that day. As you can see, there are no empty cells. Perfect!
💪: Core workout. Coincidentally I achieved a 77 percent success rate on every of the three months.
😮💨: Wim Hof breathing. Over the months, I started taking it more seriously. 39 to 58 to 83 percent.
🌱: No animals consumed, just plants. When there’s no checkmark, it doesn’t mean I ate a whole cow. I stopped eating meat eight years ago. The “fail” here means that I had some animal products like eggs or cheese. Very rarely some fish.
🚱: No alcohol. Every day without any consumed alcohol is a win for my body and my general health, too. True for everyone. But I still fail sometimes and have a beer, for example.
🛍️: Not buying anything unessential. Since every item in the world is just one click away these days, I felt a need to restrict my unthinking spending. Gamifying this has helped a lot, too.
🛏️: In bed before 21:30. In summer, that’s especially hard to do, but as the early wake-up time doesn’t change because three quarters of my kids go to school now, I know I need the sleep even if I don’t want to.
📴: Mobile screen time below 60 minutes. I’m measuring the total minutes here to create the perceived need to get my average down. In July, I deliberately did a “standard” month to establish a baseline without any restrictions. The result was 110 minute on average – so much time wasted! The first 10 days of August were spent in the USA, so I needed a good chunk of the mobile screen time for navigation and daily activity related things. September 1st was my way of coping with a day-long sickness in bed. Other than that, the positive trend is visible and makes me happy.
👌 Aiming for Perfect Days
It’s really satisfying to log these achievements every day and especially so on those few days were I actually managed to tick all boxes – the green background ones. Admittedly I copied this perfect day idea from James Whelton, the guy who built the great conjure.so tool which does habit tracking in a similar way but which unfortunately not yet fits my personal requirements.
Are you interested in starting to track some aspects of your life, too?
I can definitely recommend it. Doing so is fulfilling and helps to do the things we actually want to do and know are good for us. You don’t have to be able to code a custom interface to connect with your own database like I did, there are many other easier methods. As well as the mentioned conjure.so, I would suggest to use the tool Notion, which is free and very powerful. I used it before building my own tool and I also use it as a sort of second brain, and even for writing posts like this one right now.
Another good option is always a simple spreadsheet. My favorite financial wisdom blogger, Mr. Money Mustache, recently published a great blog post about positive habit building (featuring everyone’s favorite new neuroscientist Andrew Huberman) and offered his “Badassity Tracker Chart” template for free for everyone to get started. Check it out!
📡 Into the Future – My Plan for 🍂 Fall of 2022
The goals remain, the rituals and intents have merged into the habit tracker and will stay there. The weekly newsletter has stopped. The 💭 Season of Reflection persists and is complemented by the 🦁 Season of Courage. Now, what can I build on top of that?
First, this all is a solid foundation for me staying happy and healthy, which in turn is the basis I need to take care of my family. I have thought about incorporating some family-oriented goals but discarded that idea. I’m very happy with how it’s going. It takes a lot of energy, the noise levels are comparable to a rock concert at times (which I like), the nights are often interrupted, the vacations are tougher to handle than staying at home, and still I wouldn’t miss all this for the world.
Business-wise, on the other hand, I would welcome some changes and I hope that the ones which I have in the works will turn out good and satisfactory results during this season. That’s where the courage comes into play and a clear and tranquil mind from the daily habits will help, too.
In the past I have added some monthly challenges into the mix, but I don’t feel like it anymore. The current system will stay and maybe just slightly refined in the future.
I do have something new for this season. It’s four different side projects, some of which I have mentioned. Here they are, sorted by priority.
- 🥊 STRAVABATTLE.com: The idea is that you can challenge a friend for an athletic endurance competition between the two of you, using the logged kilometers with your strava.com account. It still requires some more work but the basic functionality (including a few bugs) is there. Give it a try! My goal is to finish it as soon as possible so people can still set up battles which last until the end of this year.
- 📚🏃 READ & RUN CLUB: A web tool for everyone to start tracking marathon runs and completely read books. It stems from my own 12 & 12 goal. We can motivate each other using positive peer pressure, is my hope. But if no one cares and I’m going to be my only user, that’s fine, too. Basic functionality is done, tracking marathons via the Strava API works, but logging books isn’t finished. Goal is end of 2022 also.
- 🦮 The Complete Guide for Running Your First Marathon: This fell victim to procrastination as well as low priority. The draft has been finished for a long time, but I want to fix mistakes and rewrite a few sections of it before publishing it for free.
- 🇪🇺 An EU Marathon landing page on teesche.com: As you might know, I ran every single EU member state capital city marathon and wrote about them. It’s all on my old blog over at teesches-marathons.eu. Since that website is lying dormant because the project has been finished for a few years now, and the traffic on this blog significantly outnumbers that one’s, I drew the conclusion that it would be more of a complete website if teesche.com offered an convenient overview of the project. Shouldn’t be too much work, so hopefully I’ll get this one done before December 31st, as well.
Let’s find out!
For a more big picture plan of things I want to do, take a look at my new bucket list under teesche.com/future.
Thank you for reading and please enjoy this fall season to the fullest. See you at the end of the year for a recap! All the best.