Fatherhood & Freedom

2010 May 31
by Alan Aragon

Reflecting upon the path

Memorial Day, the unofficial start of Summer, elicits a lot of reflection upon the path I’ve walked and the path I’m creating. Undoubtedly, it makes me thankful to those who made the freedom I enjoy possible. The picture above was taken yesterday after church; that’s my 3 year-old (going on 13) son. In reviewing the pics within the small format of the camera, I initially mistook him for my 6 year-old, since I normally think of him as the baby, but apparently, that perception is already disappearing.  Time seems to accelerate with each passing year. I’d like to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger recalling a particularly hectic time in his life (1975) right after he filmed Stay Hungry and was in the midst of filming Pumping Iron:

“What it came down to was this: You have 24 hours in a day, and you have so many years to reach your dreams. I utilized the 24 hours more than anyone I know. You snooze, you loose. So what are you gonna do?”

Our time is limited, but do we really get that?

Fatherhood has been one big wake-up call for me. Before the kids hit the deck, the passage of time was a slow-to-nonexistent grind. However, seeing my kids grow and change on almost a daily basis reminds me that time is whizzing by whether we like it or not, and squandering the time we’re given is downright criminal. You might recall from the career series that I’ve cut my in-person client days at the office down to 2 per week, and work from home the rest of the week.

Necessary roughness

Some of you may have also noticed that I’ve had to resort to putting prospective clients on a 2-month waiting list to work with me. This is great in the sense that my expertise is in demand, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel bad for those who I’ve had to put on hold. But alas, managing my time is an ongoing learning process, and an art that might take me forever to master. During my lifetime, I want to be able to look back and be satisfied with the amount (& quality) of time I put into being the best dad I could. This, among other things, involves being physically & mentally present when hanging out with the kids. And yes, it also involves putting the brakes on how much work I think I’m able to do each day without disrupting the balance in my work & family life. Controlling the quantity of my work will also inevitably improve the quality of it. And that’s really what matters.

For those of you who aren’t parents

I know that for me, my kids are really the ‘hourglass’ that lights the fire under my feet to wring the most out of my time on this planet. For those of you who do not have kids (or don’t plan to), let me suggest you find your own metaphoric hourglass that reminds you that the clock is ticking away relentlessly. This is also the perfect time to remember that our forefathers have shed much blood, sweat, and tears to allow us the freedom to be the architects of our own lives and accomplish great things. So, let me encourage you all to get out there and do more stuff that matters and less stuff that doesn’t.


Microsoft Word - AARR wide banner 1.doc

37 Responses
  1. May 31, 2010

    This was quite touching Alan. I’ll see you in June.

  2. May 31, 2010

    This is one worth saving. Dipping back into articles like this, however briefly, serves as a great reminder and motivator to forge on. Thanks for this one Alan!

  3. Martin permalink
    May 31, 2010

    An interesting perspective to view life from, Alan. The way you’ve split your priorities, your children will appreciate you for when they’re old enough to realize it. I know I did.

  4. Stefan permalink
    May 31, 2010

    Agreed with everyone so far. Great article. That last line in particular resonates really well with me.. it’s too easy to waste time on the trivial stuff in life, when you should be spending the time on what’s important

  5. Eric permalink
    May 31, 2010

    Very appropriate blog, really hit home for me since I’ll be a dad pretty much any day now. Big changes all around, new priorities, new job, new little guy in my life. I know that I really need to focus on what’s important and find a balance in everything I do. Thanks for the post.

    and that’s a fantastic picture.

  6. darkseeker permalink
    May 31, 2010

    Hey Alan, great post. This gives me some good food for thought since I’m far from having any kids. The most pressing thing on my mind is getting through school. By the way, you look pretty dang strong, sort of like a powerlifter in this shot (I mean this as a compliment). A little off-topic here, but I’ve had a hell of a time bringing my traps up. What do you do for yours? Thanks for your response.

  7. Jean Paulo permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Nice post Alan! I can relate a lot because I also have 2 kids. Being busy in our everyday jobs should never compromise the time spent with our family. God bless and Happy memorial day!

  8. June 1, 2010

    Nice post Alan.

    I find getting the balance between work and personal pretty tough, but am getting better at it. I love working and I feel if you want to be successful in life, you gotta hustle and get as much done as possible.

    Having said that, switch off time is essential. What’s the point of working and getting all the nice stuff if you neglect your loved ones and ultimately end of lonely? I am blocking out time at the weekend and evenings now to spend QUALITY TIME (away from any work temptations) with the girlfriend now and it feels good to just forget work for a bit.

  9. June 1, 2010

    Hey Alan,

    Fantastic post! My daughter just celebrated her 6 month birthday two days ago and that was a powerful reminder for me that life is just flying by and that it is important for us to spend out time wisely.

    A story I once heard talks about a man who estimated his death to occur at age 80 and he counted all the Saturdays until that day. He purchased a marble for each Saturday until that day and put them in a large container. Each Saturday he took one marble out of the container to serve as a visual reminder as the passage of time.

    Whether through our children or our marbles, we can never get back lost time. I’m trying to live my life every day with no regrets.

    Thanks again for the great post!

  10. Jordan permalink
    June 1, 2010

    do more stuff that matters and less stuff that doesn’t.

    This really struck a chord with me. As a society, I believe we stretch ourselves too thin. We try and be all things to all people, thinking the more we do, the more we’ll get done. Not so, I’m afraid. By all means go out and do stuff, but focus on what matters. Spend your limited time on Earth doing stuff that fulfills you.

    I’m only 22, but I have a soon-to-be- 2 year old nephew whom I’ll be seeing in a few days, and I’m preparing myself for the inevitable shock at how much he’s grown already. You’re right, things change when you find your hourglass.

    Time moves swiftly, it’s up to you to decide what to do when faced with that.

    Good post as always Alan!


  11. Jordan permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Note to self: html doesn’t work in comments like it does in forums, lol.

  12. Andre Gregoire permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Alan great blog. As the father of a 2.5yr old boy I know exactly what you are talking about.

  13. snorkelman permalink
    June 1, 2010

    As the father of twin 5.5 year-old girls I recently attended their pre-k graduation. While I personally think Hallmark and others with too much time have created an excuse for making everything into a party (or at least a card-worthy) event, I arranged my workload so I could be at the pre-k graduation. The event was a big deal to my kids, and THAT is the reason it was important for me to be there for them. Also, like your oldest child, Alan, now they are old enough to be able to remember things for life. You want to minimize the memories of you not being there and maximize their memories where they remember you being present and actively involved at milestones. It is funny about milestones because some are easy to point out (graduations) but others become monumental to the child (getting lost in a crowd for 30 seconds) but there is no way to predict when they will happen. Good luck on your journey.

  14. June 1, 2010

    Thank you for the inspiration, Alan. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day craziness and to not reflect upon what matters most…so what I learned from your blog is that I need to sleep less so I can get more accomplished :)! I do love that expression, “you will rest when you’re dead”. SO true! Cheers!

  15. June 1, 2010

    Nice one, Alan.

  16. Vickie permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Sage Advice as usual Alan. I find those that don’t understand family priorities generally make miserable clients in the long run.

    “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”

    Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

  17. June 1, 2010

    Darkseeker — I used to feel like traps were a weak point as well, but like anything else, it just takes time, the right progression, and a caloric surplus helps. If you’re trying to bring up any given muscle group, it isn’t likely to happen during a cutting phase. Aside from that, I just hit them with roughly 4 worksets of shrugs in the 8-12 rep range twice a week, and I don’t kill myself over it. I mainly train them at maintenance; that is, I’m no longer at the point where I’m gunning for more reps and/or more weight with direct trap work. Also, they get a bunch of work indirectly during rows. They also get a bunch of indirect work during deadlifts.

    Jordan — I fixed it for ya. The code for quoting is this (without any spaces in the code):
    < blockquote > quoted text here < / blockquote >

    The code for bolding is this (without any spaces in the code):
    < b > bolded text here < / b >

    All — Thanks so much for the feedback. I’m glad that this post resonated with you, parents & parents to-be, and non-parents. I just got an email from someone who was relieved that my overall message was not to cram as much work as possible into every waking moment, but rather to achieve a reasonable balance between work and time with family/friends.

  18. Karla permalink
    June 1, 2010

    So is this your long and drawn out way to tell us that AARR is going to be late?

    HA HA HA

    Luv ya brah!!

    Karla (both kids grown and good and relivn’ the childhood)

  19. June 1, 2010

    Hurricane Karla — Basically, yeah :)… I’ll get it posted earlier than last month, though. Same with the month after this. And the month after that. In due time, I will shock the world with the crazy punctuality of my AARR postings.

  20. Ross permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Great post, Alan. I emailed you last week and mentioned that my daughter is almost 11 months now. Quite a life-changer, for sure. It certainly motivates me to take even better care of myself and set a good example for her.

  21. Karla permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Okay on a more serious note… I had the pleasure of spending time with both of my grown children this past month. You know what we talked about? (Hint: It wasn’t about how succesful my career was or how much money we had…) We talked about the little things in life like the time we spend at the playground, camping, hiking and just being together. I don’t know… In the grand scheme of things getting AARR on time every time seems like pretty small potatoes…

    Mmmmmm….. potatoes…. French Fried for me please.

    How do I get my pic up here btw?

  22. Kelechi permalink
    June 1, 2010

    This really hits home Alan. It gives me a lot to chew on. I believe one of the first of orders of business will be to make a list of unnecessary crap that wastes my time then shed them. I had been thinking about how time seems to fly but this blog gives coherence to that thought process.

  23. David Ramsey permalink
    June 2, 2010


    One of my favorite pictures is of me carrying my youngest son and holding my oldest son’s hand as we walk away from the camera. I guess Adam was 18 months old and Alex was about 6. Time passes by, now they’re 11 and 16. It was really a funny feeling to watch them drive off together in my car, thinking that most of my world could be wiped out if Alex made a mistake.
    Alex came into the living room one night and I asked him, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” He said, “I don’t know, but I don’t want to be like you and Mom.” How’s that? He said,”Boring.”
    I guess Fatherhood does that to a guy.

  24. June 2, 2010

    Thanks a lot for making this post, Alan. I have lots of thoughts swirling around in my head, which doesn’t happen too often, but I’m certainly moved and inspired by it.

  25. June 2, 2010

    Everyone — Thanks for reading the post & dropping some feedback. I read it all & your experiences are all very engaging.

    Karla — I’ll email you the code for posting pics since it’s tough to post it here without it disappearing (due to the code itself).

  26. June 3, 2010

    Great post, Alan. You brought up some things I’m struggling with right now….spreading myself a bit thin between a full time job, trading, getting my new website up and running and building an audience, and still trying to spend time with my wife and friends. And unfortunately the only thing really paying the bills right now is the full time job that I have no passion for; otherwise I would make more time for the true passions, goals, and dreams.

  27. June 4, 2010

    Hi Alan,
    I’ve just written about the same thing right now (only I’m talking about the balance in motherhood, amongst other things). Fitness and coaching are passions of mine, but ultimately my family is what is most important! Great post!
    Liz N

  28. June 5, 2010

    Thanks for the advice Alan.

    – Jon

  29. Dawna Houston permalink
    June 7, 2010

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  30. June 14, 2010


    That 2 month waiting list must also weed out the feelers and let you know that people who really want to work with you waited to get there. It´s like a friend of mine experienced in China when he wanted to learn tai chi. The master said he could come watch for some long period of time before he could participate.

    I can´t do this with my clients yet (I don´t own the studio) but I´d sure like to for this very reason.


  31. June 14, 2010

    Skyler — Yeah, I guess it does have that “weeding-out” effect, although I still regret having to make folks wait to work with me. The wait is only gonna get worse, oh well. Until I can split into several people… PS – have you looked into spots where you could set up your own operation?

  32. June 25, 2010

    Alan – I have been on sabbatical for the better part of June, hence the late response.

    It is also my unique situation; I’ve helped to build the business in which I work. I have salary and benefits, which seems to be very unique in this industry. I plan to open my own studio location in the next few years.

    One question: I’ve been considering pursuing an MS in nutrition. However, I have no interest in teaching at a CC or having a separate nutrition practice. I’ve also seen the Graduate Certificates that universities offer, which seems like a cheaper way to expand my knowledge base while gaining some additional credibility for my business. Do you have a take on these?


  33. August 19, 2010

    Nice article Alan 🙂

  34. May 10, 2011

    Freedom After Fatherhood

    When a man becomes a father, he can naturally do what some animal species do – leave the offspring with the mother and go on about his own business. In our modern world, the man who wishes his son to have the most freedom must by ironic necessity enslave himself to the growth and development of his progeny. This is the paradox of freedom in fatherhood that is of great interest,….

  35. May 11, 2011

    Hi Alan, I run a health and wellness business in Brisbane Australia called Healthy Men Strong Fathers. I focus on helping men become the healthy role models we need in our society. A friend recomended I check out your web site and it was a plessure reading your blog on Fatherhood. I look forward to checking out your website on a regular basis and recomending it to my clients.
    Kind regards,
    Dean Martin

  36. July 30, 2011

    Great post…..Time is money is something oft heard but that is incorrect,you can lose money and get it back but you can never get back lost time.

  37. March 13, 2012

    Awesome article Alan. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Comments are closed.