The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of Habit

The other day I climbed into my car and set out for my son’s place. It was a trip that required little attention; I had driven the route many times.

Everything was going just fine as I made turns and crossed streets at traffic signals. Then, I made a visual survey of my surroundings to check my progress. Oops! Something was wrong!

For the past year I had been making frequent trips to a local Cancer Treatment Center, The first half of the trip is along the same route as getting to my son’s place. As I looked out the windows of the car, I realized that I was within sight of the wrong place. I was almost to the Cancer Center parking lot. I had missed a turn.

Every one of us has habits. We need habits to streamline the routines of our lives. Habits help enhance our lives. Without habits we would have to focus energies and extra time on what might be considered minor daily events.

I believe it is safe to say that habits fall into one of three categories: Good, Bad, or Ugly. Certain circumstances may cloud the issue and suggest that a habit is better placed in a different group. Other habits clearly fit in only one.

The science of habit is more clearly understood today than it was years ago. Habits are formed due to repetition of behaviors, events, tasks. It takes about one month of frequent, consistent repetition to establish a habit. Behaviors that are related to an external chemical or emotional, physical duress, may habituate more quickly.

Good Habits

Many routines are good ones, life enhancing one. These are the ones that streamline our lives without adding negative baggage to our daily loads. Getting dressed for work while planning the work day; exercising at the gym; getting food from the plate to our mouths; driving to work. Even relationship events, like talking to my spouse, saying “I love you” often, and going to church.

Rote knowledge also falls into this grouping. Addition facts, multiplication facts, business rules and laws. Things that we know without having to scratch our heads in wonder. Handwriting. Talking. Singing.

When I was a child, I always sat in the same seat at the table for meals. Colors were assigned to each member of the family, also. Tupperware Red was my color. Cereal bowl and tumbler. Life was easier with that pattern. No squabbling over who sits where.

Bad Habits

Wasting time with TV or on digital games. These pastimes are so readily available on our phones and tablets that we are unaware of the amount of time spent. Yet, for most of us, these pursuits are not moving us toward the enhanced life we really want. Snacking probably falls into this group. Mindlessly popping food into our mouths at all hours of the day and night. Drinking diet soda is known to be unhealthy for us, yet many persist in the habit. Artificial sweeteners in general are not as healthful as the advertisements indicate.

Ugly Habits

Destructive behaviors and attitudes take us far away from the Enhanced Life. Oh, the Promise they offer of the Good Life is the opposite of that, but the reality is ugly. We can easily end up with habits that hurt ourselves and others. Chemical addictions are physically and morally bad for us.

But, other Ugly habits can be identified: self-criticism, a negative perspective of self and/or life, seeing myself as a victim, pessimism, distrust – all lead away from an enhanced life. These beliefs and behaviors impact those around us, also, and tend to rub off on family and colleagues.

Steps to Take

As with other parts of our lives, we need to regularly take a purposeful inventory of our habits. I think perhaps this was the real purpose of the New Year’s Resolution process.

With a trusted adviser or coach, analyze the habituated portions of your life. Make a written list – or use a digital tool and store the file for ready access. Just like the drawers and closets of our physical environments, clutter accumulates in our daily routines and relationships.

Identify your habits with names, so you can address them more efficiently. Remember, they are habits, so we likely don’t notice that we do them and where they are taking us.

Be careful who you get to assist with this step. Not all acquaintances are equipped to benefit you on this quest.

Solutions

In the process of enhancing your life, you must be purposeful in creating a plan to replace a few bad habits with good ones. Don’t work on many at one time. One or possibly two (if they are already tied together in some specific co-dependency) at a time. You probably acquired the habits one-at-a-time, it is best to replace them in the same way.

Remember, the Law of Habit indicates a requirement of up to a 66 day strategic plan to create a replacement habit. Use visuals, like pictures, notes, quotes posted around your environment, so you are more aware of the evidences that an old habit is trying to re-assert itself.

We can’t just eliminate a bad habit. The empty space will be filled with something, either the old habit or a new one. Choose wisely.

The Reward

Surround yourself with Positive Influences. Control more carefully what goes into your brain through your eyes and ears. Load your e-reader and library with Positive Thinking books – and load your consciousness with their truths. Look for the good, the beautiful in life.

It is true, whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right. I encourage you to choose “I Can!”

Keep your eyes on the Reward – a changed, enhanced life that makes you, and those around you, happier and healthier.

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Why You Need Silence

I had decisions to make. These were not easy decisions, like whether or not to eat lunch, or if I should ride my bike to the library. I needed to decide if I should let a girl in my class know that I liked her. I was just entering that time of life when I noticed that girls were different from boys.

Girlfriend stuff is tough to decide on.

I know, this is so NOT an adult problem.

Learn from Childhood Events

But, hear me out. Is it possible to learn adult things from childhood experiences? I certainly hope so. I’d hate to have to make a bunch of dumb adult mistakes to learn something I could have learned at twelve years of age. I think people who do that are referred to as immature by other adults who have their act together.

When I was living on the farm with my aunt and uncle, I had lots of time to think. Working several acres of garden takes time… alone. This was way before transistor radios, Walkman players, and all the gadgetry that is ubiquitous today.

After milking was done and cleaned up, I went out into the corn field and worked all morning, with a break only at lunch time. It was so quiet I could almost hear the corn growing. I learned to use the time for thinking and remembering. I learned to not be afraid of silence.

During my childhood I also discovered trees. Climbing trees. If there was a tree near, I could usually be found somewhere near the top, waving slightly in the breeze, looking at the world from above.

Magic in Silence

The magic in both of these experiences, I came to understand, was the silence. I liked silence. I gathered energy and enthusiasm from it. Energy to go back to work, enthusiasm to do the work well.

Many childhood decisions were made for me by my parents: which school I would attend; whether or not the teacher was the boss of me during school hours; if I would attend church, and which one; what time I would go to bed; if home chores were my job; even what books I could check out of the library.

My childhood was mapped out for me by may parents. As I grew older, they might ask for my input on some decisions.

Choosing a girlfriend was strictly my business. So, I climbed a tree to think. I had to also decide how I would let the lucky girl know she had been chosen. High in the tree, with only the breeze and bird calls for music, I could gather my thoughts and decide.

As an adult, I understand that many will identify me as an Introvert from these confessions. That’s okay.

I still seek silence and alone-time when I am writing and when I have decisions to make. I recommend it to you as a good thing.

I also discovered that silence can be found in noise. Silence can be an internal state.

The constant noise of the lawn mower creates a solitude for thinking. Many lesson plans and sermons originated from time behind a mower. Dreams sprang from the time. Reflection on the past day or week, as individual students were analyzed so I could do a better job of meeting his or her needs in the classroom.

Need Silence to Really Hear

Elijah needed to be reminded of a spiritual truth or two, so God sent him to a cave. At the entrance to the cave he experienced a tornado, a firestorm, and an earthquake. The record says, God was not in any of these. There might be a lesson in this as our weather gets crazier all the time.

At last, Elijah heard a still, small voice in the silence of the cave. It was God. Elijah recognized the voice and understood the message and mission he was to complete.

Amid the cacophony of today’s hectic pace, a still, small voice probably will go unheard.

Jesus recognized the wearing away of energy and enthusiasm among his disciples, and gathered them close to direct them: Come apart and rest awhile. Be in the stillness. Hear the voice of God, see His handiwork in nature. Reflect on His presence throughout your life.

What to do with the Sound of Silence? Seek it out. Make silence happen around you. Embrace it. Make it your friend. Feed on it and gain energy for the work you have to do.

Oh, and about the girlfriend decision. I asked my sister to call the Chosen One, then took the phone from her and said, “Don’t tell anyone that I like you!” Immediately, I was embarrassed, and passed the phone back to my sister. From then on I could not even speak to her at school, so the friendship didn’t blossom into girlfriend status. Lesson learned. Silence is better than sticking your foot in your mouth.

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What Does EldonUp Mean?

Perhaps I should explain the Tag <EldonUp> on my blog: .

I have worked hard since I was about 8 years old. First on the farm in Maine, where I was expected to work every day at the tasks that had to be completed:

  • Hilling the corn, and chopping down the weeds at the same time,
  • Calling the cows in for milking, and making sure they were in the correct stalls,
  • Cleaning the gutter behind the cows after the milking, and cleaning their stalls.
  • Picking (selectively) cucumbers to be sold to the pickle factory. (Certain sizes of cukes are more valuable to the picklers. Our goal was to make as much money as we could.)
  • Haying chores: my Uncle Ben got a hay baler the summer of my eighth year. But some fields were still done the old-fashioned way – open-bed truck where one man stood to stack the hay efficiently, and a couple guys on the ground following the truck along the wind-rows, pitching the hay onto the truck.

We were pretty much self-sufficient on the farm. We grew most of what we ate. I was part of the team that cultivated and harvested. At age 8.

I learned a lot about work and family – and myself – on the farm.

To me, then, EldonUp means, Do your work. Period.

Then, of course, there’s the lawn mowing experiences. You will find a number of posts focused on those. To read one Click Here

To EldonUp means, Tough it out.

I attended a boarding high school in Mississippi. My parents couldn’t afford the tuition. I worked two and three jobs on campus, at the same time, making $0.67 per hour, to keep my bill paid. When I left there to go to college, the school owed me a couple hundred dollars.

To EldonUp means, Find a way to get the job done.

I entered teaching after college. I was not trained to do the grade levels that faced me each morning. I made mistakes, admitted them, learned from them, and didn’t repeat them. To read about this Click Here

To EldonUp means, Learn from experience, and get better at the work.

I worked in construction, as a CNA, in sales, in marketing. Success in each of these adventures was due to fast learning and hard work.

To EldonUp means, Push yourself to do more than you think you can.

There are always reasons why a certain task or goal cannot be achieved. Don’t look at those reasons; don’t focus on the reasons why you can’t.

To EldonUp means, to keep your eyes on your goals. And don’t neglect to recognize new opportunities. Look for new challenges.

Most importantly, I believe in God and the Bible.

Since I was a child I have trusted that God is in control and leads my life. The Bible encourages us to “look Up, for your redemption draws near.” I look for the evidences of the God who is Up, entering and guiding my life.

EldonUp means there is an Up in my life.

EldonUp means all of these things to me. My life experiences, what I have learned from them, and observations about them, are the focus of my blog posts.

This is not meant as a Brag, but as background about what has shaped me and my ideas.

I encourage you to join me on this journey.

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The Power of One

I stood there, looking at the Bahia grass waving at me in the afternoon breeze. Seven hours of school had already passed. On a normal day I would be on my bike riding home. But not today. Today I had to begin mowing, or else the lawn would not be ready for the weekend.

In a fit of enthusiasm and wonderment at the opportunity to earn $30, I had put my name in for the job of mowing the property occupied by our church and school. It was about three acres.

Three had seemed like such a small number when the job was being considered. Three now seemed like an impossible number.

My little Sears push mower with a Briggs & Stratton engine, at 22 inches wide, seemed as reluctant as I was to rev up and get started. How many rows of 22 inches would it take to complete three acres?

At the young age of 12 I had never mowed any lawn larger than the meager patch of grass in the lawns of the trailer park where we lived. Four passes of the mower, and that job was completed.

I never dreamed that a Gold Mine of Life Experiences were waiting for me in this job.

Make a Path

I surveyed the job. I wanted each pass to be as long as possible. With trees and bushes and buildings, few long, straight paths available.

A few minutes passed, and no path through the grass had yet been made. Mockingbirds seemed to be mocking me. Blue jays jeered at me. Could I actually do this job?

Finally, I yanked on the starter rope and the machine eagerly jumped to life. The pistons pumped, the blade whirred.

In contrast, the boy stood immobile. Where to start?

With my fingers gripping tightly on the handle, I finally stepped forward, and heard the satisfying sound of grass being chewed up and then spit out the side chute. I took another step, and enjoyed the sounds again. Resolutely, I pushed across the field.

I didn’t look behind to see what I had done. I fixed my eyes on the other side of the field and guided the machine to the target. At last, I stopped, turned my grass-chewing tool 180 degrees and looked back at where I had started.

One Pass

I had successfully completed one pass in that vast sea of waving grass. This was a job I could do, I reasoned. If I can do one pass, I can do two, then three, then… And the job will be done!

One pass. That’s how a job is begun. And that’s how a job is completed. It matters not what the task is, what the challenge is. On that day, long ago, I had begun the first of many experiences that taught me the Power of One.

What is the Power of One? It is you. It is me. It is one person at a time seeing what needs to be accomplished, and taking one step toward the goal.

Write one word. Speak one word. Make one change. Set one goal.

One. I can do One. You can do One.

One day, Today. Begin with one.

Conquer Fear

Fears and doubts will jump out and try to scare you and discourage you. The task may seem too large. The reward may seem inconsequential. You may feel inadequate, overwhelmed, busy… Change is scary. One step in faith is scary.

Find one friend that will be your cheer leader. Find one friend for whom you can be the cheer leader. One.

When the task is worthy, when you are called, take that first step. Make that first pass. Your Power of One may be all that others are waiting for.

But even if not, you will be changed by the work.

A real gold mine is worked in the same way, one pick, one shovel, one cart-full. Life’s Gold Mine contains riches more valuable than yellow nuggets.

Rewards

The changes that you go through, will prepare you for bigger things. The Power of One becomes an Exponent of Two. Exponential development is amazing!

About a year after I began this three acre mowing job, I was offered a five acre job. I took it. And today, I am married to the daughter of the family that hired me. What if I had believed the job too large and turned it down?

Step out. Start the journey today. Get busy creating your own Gold Mine filled with experiences to prepare you for the challenges of tomorrow .

And the joys.

One pass. Experience The Power of One.

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Introducing Eldon

My name is Eldon Roberts. I am an educator.

I entered the classroom for the first time as a student when I was seven. Fifteen years later I drove away from the college campus and entered the classroom as a teacher. Forty-eight years passed. Looking back it seems like last week that I began this journey. I had no intention of getting old and retiring.

My forty-eight years took me into a one-room-all-eight-grades experience, a few middle grades classrooms, elementary school administration, a few high school classrooms, two colleges as professor, a consolidated school (pre-K thru 12th), back to a middle grade classroom, then forced retirement. Most of these years I was on contract for 10 months.

My areas of expertise: History, English, Bible, Math, Composition, Literature, technology, success for students-with-disabilities.

During the summer months, I obtained a Master’s Degree, worked construction, sales, CNA, traveled, and planned and wrote curriculum.

We have adopted and raised three children, been foster parents, and many times taken our consolidated family of seven kids camping.

After my retirement I worked in the wedding industry for a year, as Photographer, Videographer and Officiant.

As a teacher I was an early adopter of technology as instructional tools. I blogged with and for my students. I have created and maintained websites for instructional purposes and for personal interests.

Blog Experiences

Blogs in the areas of Motivation, Opinion, Instructional Methodology, Poetry, Music, Philosophy, and Photography have received my attention and care.

On more than one occasion, I began working to develop a blog, hoping for many followers with the idea of monetizing it. I did this on my own, without the guidance of a person who had already accomplished such a blog or two. Each time I gave up in frustration after a short time. I’d make lists of possible blog topics, read and study blogs on blogging, and buy books about successful blogging.

It seemed that I could not get there. This was a new experience for me. I have been successful in many endeavors over the years. I have become accustomed to success.

Retirement, Cancer

Three years ago I was forced into retirement. I had planned to continue teaching until I was 70. That was a dramatic blow to my ego. A year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. That was strike two to my ego.

Teaching forced structure on me. I came to depend on that structure to orient my life.

Cancer treatment forced structure on me. The doctor visits, the treatments, the tests, the schedule of appointments, making it through this one day-at-a-time created structure and routine that I needed. I am now cancer free. Doctor visits are fewer. Treatments are concluded. What to do?

Recently, I was browsing through Facebook when I saw the teaser from GoinsWriter for the free webinar on blogging. I registered, but life intervened and I missed the broadcast. I received an email the next day with the link for the re-play. I was without an appointment, my wife was gone shopping, the house was quiet – in short, I had no excuse. I watched the re-play.

Introduced to Jeff Goins

There was no hype. Jeff was calmly confident about what he was offering. He seemed to be a person I could befriend – he seemed trustworthy.

I bought the course. I re-purposed one of my websites for a blog and began reading and watching the content from the Intentional Blog Course. I wrote my first blog and posted it. Now I am working through the main course titles. I look forward to this adventure and the success that will come with it.

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