Maintenance, Do You Do It?

by Lance Ekum on · 37 comments

MS 150
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sveden

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.  If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. ” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Over the weekend, I spent a little time maintaining my bike.  I filled the tires with air, check the chain, checked the brakes, and made sure all the bolts were tight.  Yesterday, I rode it for the first time after my minor maintenance job to it.  What happened?  It was the easiest and fastest ride I’ve had all summer!  This wasn’t because the wind was in my favor.  This wasn’t because I was riding a course that was more downhill than usual.  This wasn’t because I was more physically prepared to ride.  No, this was simply because I had taken time to maintain the bike.

Our cars should have oil changes every 3,000 miles.  Our furnace should have a yearly checkup.  Our kids should have yearly physicals at the doctor.

So, we maintain our cars, our houses, our kids.  But how do we maintain ourselves?

Physical Maintenance

Exercise: We should exercise on a regular basis.  This includes both cardio vascular type activities (running, biking, interval training, walking, jump rope, etc.) and strength training (weight training, resistance exercises, etc.).  Not going into much detail here, we should have a mix of the two for the most efficient fat loss and muscle building activity.

Nutrition: Proper nutrition is a very important part of our physical maintenance.  We should be getting a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.  Included in this should be lots of fruits and vegetables.  And we should also look at how much we are eating.  Keep portion sizes small.  Know what you are eating.  Don’t overstuff yourself.  On the other hand, don’t be too restrictive in the number of calories you are eating as well.  Just like overeating, under eating is a downward spiral you want to avoid as well.

Mental Maintenance

Just as important as our physical maintenance is our mental maintenance.  How do we remain sharp, focused, and create the life we desire?

This one is not as easy to define.  The key is that we need to do something.  What that something is for you will really depend upon what works for you.

First off, it is important to do some regular, daily or weekly mental maintenance.  This could include some sort of meditation or quiet time each day to collect your thoughts and plan your day.  Or taking time to read a book.  Or going out for an evening run (physically this is good, but it can also be a mental maintenance activity as well) – and clearing your mind after a long day.  Maybe it’s playing a game with family members.  Or whatever it is that gives you some time to clear your mind and re-focus.  Think of these as regular activities that are done fairly often (up to several times a week).

On top of that, it is also important to do some more thorough mental maintenance.  This would be less often – think about an annual checkup with your doctor.  This can come in many forms, the key is to do something.  And write it down.  What you write down you are more likely to accomplish.  This could be called your goals list, your New Year’s resolutions, your “Things To Do Before You Die” list.  Note that I’m not personally a big fan of New Year’s resolutions since they usually tend to be quickly thought out and also quickly forgotten.  But if it works for you, then that’s what you should do.  What you want is something that helps you define who you are and who you want to be.  This helps to give your life direction.  Otherwise, we become controlled by forces outside of our control, instead of choosing the directions we want to go.

This is not to say that any of this is easy to do, or even more so, easy to accomplish.  All of this takes time and real introspection into who you are.  And we have to decide, is it worth the effort to  understand ourselves better.  I hope the answer is yes.  Yes, that we want to lead our lives the way we desire.  Yes, that we want to choose the paths we go down.  Yes, that we want to be successful in our terms.  Yes, that we want to create a great life!


We maintain “things” we have in our life so they’ll continue to perform optimally.  What’s also important, in fact, more important, is that we maintain ourselves – both physically and mentally.  Through a combination of proper physical and mental maintenance, we can lead the lives of abundance and joy we desire.

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Marelisa August 13, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Hi Lance: I think prevention is vital. The best way to fix something is not allow it to break down in the first place. More and more studies are showing how we can live longer, better quality lives by doing the things you suggest here: exercise, eat well, get enough sleep, keep our minds active, and so on. We should definitely come up with a maintenance schedule for ourselves.


Writer Dad August 13, 2008 at 4:26 pm

I’m pretty good about most things, but lately, I’ve been terrible about sleeping. I need to do it more than I am, but I’m finding it hard to shut my brain down. The rest of the stuff though, check.

Writer Dads last blog post..Crabs Don’t Walk Straight For a Reason


Annette August 13, 2008 at 6:03 pm

great advice as always 😉 I think I need to work on the mental maintenance a little more.

Annettes last blog post..Relax


RooBabs August 13, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Oooh, great post. You could publish this as a bible for a healthy life. My physical maintenance is good, although my nutrition could use a little refining. However, my mental maintenance has been down the tube lately. As much as running helps me to sort out my thoughts, there are still issues that can’t be solved on the streets. Thanks for the great “food for thought”.

RooBabss last blog post..Pounding the Pavement


Davina August 14, 2008 at 12:44 am

All great information Lance. I find that there is a cycle to this in my life. I never seem to do these all in balance. Right now my diet is so-so and my exercise (since discovering blogging) is almost non-existant — eeek! My mental fitness is getting the most attention these days. I’m not a runner like you, nor am I into aerobics. Actually come to think of it, I’m not really fond of any exertion 🙂 Yoga and walking is about it. But there are some great hills in this area waving at me.


Barbara Swafford August 14, 2008 at 12:48 am

Hi Lance,

I love how you went from maintaining your bike to telling us we need to maintain all aspects of our lives. Such good advice. I can’t say I always follow it, but I do believe it to be true.

Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Your Audience – Hitting The Bulls Eye


Evelyn Lim August 14, 2008 at 1:00 am

I would add meditation as part of my mental maintenance. I used to think sitting quietly as a waste of time and never quite understood that the time spent in Silence is an investment in clarity. Mental clearing is part of my everyday life, just like oiling a bike.

Evelyn Lims last blog post..7 Wise Confucius Sayings


Lanceman August 14, 2008 at 5:10 am

@Marelisa – Sleep! How did I miss that one. Oh yeah, probably because I’ve had a lack of it!

@Writer Dad – Nice job! Well, except for the sleep thing. The thing is, though, we can all find areas to improve – and sleeping is a great place to start!

@Annette – Well, I think we can all work on our mental maintenance a little more (and our physical). It’s easy to put a little more focus on one or the other. Like you, physical maintenance is easier for me to do than mental maintenance. The key is recognizing where we can improve, and then doing it. Easier said than done, but awareness is the first thing we need.

@RooBabs – Thanks! Nutrition IS tough! Too many food choices – I struggle with this daily. Running is a good way to get some mental clarity. But it doesn’t solve all of life’s problems. But then you know that already. Hang in there.

@Davina – Hey, whatever works for you, right! You’ve hit on a great point, that I think we all tend to focus on one area over the others (even if we’re doing well in all areas). We go with what we like best. If you like to cook, then nutrition might be an area of focus. If you like to read, mental maintenance may get more priority. Great point!

@Barbara – I’m exactly with you on this one. I know what is right and needs to be done, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I guess we try the best we can!

@Evelyn – That’s awesome – you’ve found a great way to build mental maintenance into your daily life! It’s interesting, isn’t it, that some things we thought were rubbish earlier in our lives, turn out to be really awesome things to do (like meditation). We just have to be open to new ideas…


Dave Fowler August 14, 2008 at 6:38 am

It’s funny isn’t it, that when life gets stupidly chaotic and overwhelming, maintenance is one of the first things to drop off.

Of course this only compounds the problems.

I must admit that I’m terribly guilty at failing to maintain my relationships. I see maintaining relationships as crucial, because once they start falling apart, it can seem like your world is imploding. From time to time I have to remind myself of this and make sure I do something about it.

You made me think again, Lance. Thank you.



Mark Salinas August 14, 2008 at 8:40 am

“First off, it is important to do some regular, daily or weekly mental maintenance. This could include some sort of meditation or quiet time each day to collect your thoughts and plan your day” Right on…very good post!

Mark Salinass last blog post..YOUR FAT-BURNING GAME PLAN


Rachel D August 14, 2008 at 1:39 pm

So true. Maintenance is so important if you want things to last as long as possible. I hope to keep my body working for a long time so do all the maintenance in the world to keep it running the best it possibly can. Great post!

Rachel Ds last blog post..Red Pepper Pesto Pizza


Urban Panther August 14, 2008 at 3:50 pm

I used to spend every Sunday morning meditating, journaling, organizing my thoughts and my week. I have gotten away from it, and I am starting to feel disconnected. Time to get back to it!

Urban Panthers last blog post..Who is the Panther anyway?


Dr. Cason August 14, 2008 at 5:17 pm

That’s funny I clicked to your blog (didn’t read it yet) but then told myself to step away and call the maintenance people to fix some things in the house. That done and I come back to you and what are you talking about? Maintenance! Soooo true!

I think most people forget about the mental part. That’s perhaps the most important.


Lanceman August 14, 2008 at 7:08 pm

@Dave – Exactly! When it gets chaotic, maintenance is quickly forgotten. And that’s probably when we need it the most. Great point.

@Mark – Thanks!

@Rachel – Another great point – maintenance makes things last (like cars and us!). I really like that way of looking at it – thanks!

@Urban Panther – I go in streaks too. For me, I need to get back into a more “regular” workout routine.

@Dr. Cason – Very funny!! It’s strange how things like that happen sometimes. I agree, mental is probably the most important, but also the most neglected.


Leanne Magraith August 14, 2008 at 11:18 pm

By coincidence I am taking today off work for a full maintenance check up. I will be firing on all cylinders by tomorrow!

Leanne Magraiths last blog post..Behaving Like Animals


Jarrod - Warrior Development August 15, 2008 at 12:14 am

Doing some regular life maintenance is pretty important. Just to check that you are still heading in the direction you want to go


Lanceman August 15, 2008 at 5:40 pm

@Leanne – Awesome! It will pay big dividends.

@Jarrod – That’s right, otherwise we might end up going in a direction not in alignment with our desires, and not even know we’re heading down the wrong path.


Robin August 15, 2008 at 7:55 pm

Hi Lance

It’s interesting how putting some time into something can make things go easily and better afterwards.

I really like the quote – the foundation under the air-castles bit was great!

Robins last blog post..Letting Creativity Just Slip In


Vered August 15, 2008 at 8:13 pm

I love this post.

May I add, on the physical maintenance side… DRINK A LOT. Being hydrated is really important.

As for the mental side, my biggest challenge is taking time off and relaxing.

Vereds last blog post..Are You A Parent? Stressed Much? You Should Check Out UpToUs


Stacey / CreateaBalance August 15, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Thank you for visiting and contributing the conversation. I love the philosophy behind your blog.

For me, part of my maintenance is a monthly life balance report that I conduct at the end of each month. I currently evaluate myself in five categories: embracing self, monitoring physical well being, nurturing relationships, staying organization, and managing money. I assess what I did well that month and determine areas for improvement.

Stacey / CreateaBalances last blog post..Achieving Your Childhood Dreams


Chris Wood August 15, 2008 at 10:35 pm

Hi Lance – I like your post, it makes good sense.

I popped by as I saw your reaction to Writer Dad’s last blog. Can I invite you to have a look at mine? It’s about the simple pleasures.

All the best



MizFit August 16, 2008 at 4:57 am

I did zero mental maintaining until a year or so ago….it suddenly hit my old self that I was focusing on the vessel and the spiritual (somewhat) but NOT AT ALL on my brainfitness…

now Im striving to maintain it all and (braceyourself) holycrap it’s hard 🙂

MizFits last blog post..It’s SCAVENGER HUNT TIME!!


Tom Volkar / Delightful Work August 16, 2008 at 6:12 am

How about emotional maintenance as well? Without regularly feeling our feelings fully they can really come back to gum up the works.

Tom Volkar / Delightful Works last blog post..Starting Over


Lanceman August 16, 2008 at 6:51 am

@Robin – and it’s up to us to determine where we put our time…

@Vered – being hydrated – so important – thanks for bringing that one up. Taking time off can be hard sometimes with all our other commitments.

@Stacey – That’s awesome! It has to give you a great picture of where you’re at and where you want to go.

@Chris – Thanks!

@MizFit – Holycrap it’s hard — that’s the truth! Finding the time and energy can sometimes be difficult (at best).

@Tom – yes, emotional maintenance is just as important, as well. Thanks for bringing it up! The list keeps getting longer, but then, we just keep getting better!


Stacey August 16, 2008 at 7:10 am

I have been saying this exact thing to people for years. If we only took care of ourselves just as we take care of a lot of our material goods, we’d be in great shape and in great health! Now to figure out what is keeping society from doing it. Great reminder. And thanks for commenting on my blog and introducing me to yours – look forward to more reads here.


Lanceman August 16, 2008 at 7:47 am

Stacey, excellent point. We do better at taking caring of the material things instead of taking care of what is really important – ourselves – that’s a great way to look at it! I think it’s easier to spend money (whether you have it or not) than it is to put in the “work” required to keep yourself in top condition. We live through our possessions – and that’s a dangerous path to go down…


Urbane Lion August 16, 2008 at 8:24 am

Although I am not very good at perfoming routine maintenance of my material possessions, I’m glad to say that I am pretty good at taking care of myself. I have reached an age where I am still in top shape but see people my age around me slowly starting to deteriorate and even die. ‘ Mens sana in corpore sano’

Urbane Lions last blog post..Manjigglies III – The Prequel


Kelly@SHE-POWER August 16, 2008 at 9:02 am

Reading this I can see i am really weak in the maintenance area. I’m good at starting new habits and am good in fits and bursts, ut steady maintenance I’m really quite crap. And I hadn’t really thought before about how important it probably is with our mental state as well as our physical bodies.

Lance, ‘m not sure if i feel empowered or depressed by this post. But I really do resolve to move that running schedule up a notch this week.



Cath Lawson August 16, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Hi Lance – This is great advice. I didn’t maintain my bike properly and when I was cycling along a few weeks ago, I realised the handles had become loose – very loose. Luckily I noticed before I’d gone too far, or the consequences could have been disasterous.

I’m reading through your list and nodding my head. For a long time I concentrated on work and ignored all the types of maintenance I should be doing – and it definitely didn’t help me to perform better.

Cath Lawsons last blog post..Was I Talking About You?


CK Reyes August 16, 2008 at 1:31 pm

I love the maintenance analogy. I think we need a daily thought maintenance… Identify which thoughts hold you back and need to be removed from your brain. Then replace them with an empowering thought. If everyone did this daily maintenance, we would all be riding more powerfully!

CK Reyess last blog post..How Giving Up Myths, Lies, and Excuses Empowers Me!


Lanceman August 16, 2008 at 1:56 pm

@Urbane Lion – I’d say you’re the opposite of most people – and that’s a good thing – you’re taking care of yourself – the “thing” you want to last the longest.

@Kelly – Well…this wasn’t meant to depress – so hopefully empowerment is winning over. That”s the goal. Of course, we all internalize things differently. So, I’m here to encourage you to take this as a nudge to work on maintenance. It’s a nudge for me as well – in fact, I don’t think any of us are perfect at this. And it’s easy to work on one area, and neglect another. I go in bursts. In fact, I was just discussing with my wife this morning how I need to get myself back into our fitness room and start lifting some weights – something I have done regularly for the last couple of years up until a couple of months ago.

@Cath – Your bike story is a great example of maintenance gone missing. All of the sudden, something “bad” could happen because of this. And that doesn’t matter whether it’s our possessions or our life. Thanks for sharing this story.

@CK Reyes – Daily thought maintenance is an excellent idea. Done daily, we are more aware of what been happening in our mind since the last time we did it. And we can implement changes right away before bad things become habits, and are tougher to break. We sure would all ride more powerfully!


Chris - Zen to Fitness August 17, 2008 at 3:04 am

Great article Lance! I mental maintenance is something I often neglect and need to get into a better habit of doing. Thanks for checking out my blog yesterday!

Chris – Zen to Fitnesss last blog post..Simple ways to drop sugar from your diet


Steve Roesler August 17, 2008 at 1:30 pm


We live in a world–certainly a society–that worships at the altar of “More!” or “What’s Next?”

Seldom do we see a rallying cry for maintaining a solid, well-cared-for foundation; it’s just not as exciting. Yet the cost of ignoring one’s personal maintenance can very well undermine one’s ability to perform when a wonderful opportunity suddenly presents itself.

Let’s hear it for Maintenance!

Steve Roeslers last blog post.."Aha!" Signals A Beginning


Lanceman August 17, 2008 at 3:48 pm

@Chris – Zen to Fitness — Thanks! I think we can all improve on our mental maintenance, and I also think it’s one that’s easy to let slide. It’s important, but it’s not urgent – so it’s easy to put off. And put off. Until pretty soon, we wonder where time has gone, and wonder what it is we are doing with our life.

@Steve – That is so true. Maintenance is not exciting or glamorous. But it really is our foundation. And without a solid foundation, what do we really have? Our foundation, our core, is what gives us direction and guidance. So important. Thanks for stopping by!


Grace September 16, 2008 at 2:09 pm

In order to think clearly, I need space about me. So part of my ‘mental maintenance’ involves getting rid of stuff that tends to accumulate: books that I can recycle to libraries & friends, magazines & newspapers that I can recycle, paper that seems to multiply like rabbits [do I REALLY need three copies of that electric bill?], food turning green in the frig. It all gets cleared out so I can think again. G.


Lance September 17, 2008 at 4:56 am

Grace – That’s a great point! Clutter can not only clutter our physical lives, but also our mental lives as well. Clearing out the physical can also help with the mental…Thanks for stopping by!


scheng1 May 6, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I think most of us maintain our cars better than our bodies!
.-= scheng1´s Last Fabulous Post ..Healthy eating and Raw Food Diet =-.


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