Often, people grow tired of, or frustrated with, making resolutions.
Maybe because they have tried and failed in the past.
Maybe because they have lost the dream.
Actually those two reasons are tied together.
We give up on the dream because we have tried and failed so many times – to continue the charade seems pointless.
But take courage, there is still hope.
Let’s take a close look at Habits, because…
That’s where success or failure comes from.
Habits come from repeated behaviors. Period.
The key to success in creating a habit is Persistence.
Anatomy of a Habit
A habit is the result of you doing, saying, thinking – something – over and over.
I get up in the morning, get dressed, make a hot drink, and sit on the couch in the living room. My digital reader is there where I left it the previous evening. I flip it open and start my Bible app. It opens to the place I bookmarked the previous day. I read for up to 30 minutes, or until I encounter a passage that asks for reflection.
My Habit Experience
That’s automatic for me now, after more than a year of repeating the behavior.
But at first it was a challenge. I wanted to do other things, maybe turn on the TV, maybe read something other than the Bible.
I struggled with creating the habit.
I believe that God wants to spend time with me. When I crowd Him out, He is disappointed.
While I was forming the habit I had to remind myself – often – that God was waiting for me to spend time with Him.
I don’t know how many times I said, “This is important! I won’t disappoint God!”
Repeated and repeated, until it is now a habit.
Whether habits begin in behavior or in thoughts – I’m not sure it matters.
Purposeful habits begin in the thoughts – you make a decision. It’s the will taking action. Making a choice.
Act on that choice repeatedly and you have a habit.
Actually, habits are responsible for just about everything we do
during a normal day.
Changing a habit is the trick.
Take some quiet time and list your routine actions – your daily
patterns. With that done, it is likely to be easy to identify some
time – daily time – in which you could replace an old habit with
the new one of God Time.
Bible reading on the couch.
Looking for evidence of God’s love in Nature.
Journaling to record your Spiritual Journey. Writing about it
helps to establish some accountability in the Divine Relationship.
“You can have all the riches and success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” – Steven Adler
When was the last time you thought seriously about your health?
The last time you were sick, right?
We tend to take our health for granted, until there’s a problem.
Too often working for a healthy self isn’t a top priority, until illness whacks us and we can’t live our normal lives.
We need a plan for living that keeps us from getting whacked. Sound good?
Let’s work out a plan for ‘Healthy You’ that increases your enjoyment of life now and that reduces risks of health issues for the rest of your life.
My father volunteered me to be the 24-hour-per-day care-giver/nurse for a quadraplegic who wanted to go to college. The only care-giver.
I had never learned to say no to my father. So Jim moved into the dorm. And I with him.
The room was normally a guest room with a half-bath – sink and toilet, hospital bed and my cot, a chair and desk.
My life stopped. Everything I did was centered around and for Jim.
By the 4th quarter of the term, I was emotionally drained. Physically exhausted.
I didn’t realize at the time that I had slipped into an unhealthy funk.
My grades suffered, my social life was a disaster, and time for spiritual considerations was nonexistent.
But I didn’t realize it at the time.
That’s common when emotional health is at the root of being unhealthy.
After college I somehow secured a job at a Christian camp working to build a walkway through a swamp. The instructions given me were – here are the supplies and equipement – build it.
It was hard, physical work and that turned out to be just what I needed. The exercise and sweat were medicine for my body, my thinking, and my emotions.
I learned that ‘Health’ is a blanket that covers the physical, the mental, and the emotional self.
The good news is that focus and effort in one part of your self, benefits your other selves also.
Reasons to Get Healthy
How does improving your health improve your life?
Regular, consistent exercise rewards you in many ways.
Prevents chronic illnesses (cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases)
Improves attention, concentration, and other functions of the brain
Maintains healthy thinking
Reduces dependence on unhealthy habits
Reduces physical illnesses
It’s Your Move That Counts
Take that first step into creating a healthier You – #BestYou
Increase the amount of daily physical activity you do.
You don’t have to buy a Gym Membership. You don’t have to buy Home Gym Equipment.
If you believe that you are too busy to start ‘going to the gym’ for exercise, here’s a short list of practical modify-what-you’re-already-doing ways to get it done.
If it’s raining, snowing, or too hot, head to the local mall for a walk as you windowshop.
Exerciseat home. Push-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts, lunges, and stretching are good for you and are free of expensive equipment.
Take the stairs as often as possible. You might start by taking the elevator from a different floor than the one on which you work.
Drink plenty of water.
Sip water throughout the day. Drink enough and you have a guilt-free excuse to go for a walk to the washroom and back!
Staying well hydrated may also reduce feelings of hunger, and can often reduce chronic back pain.
Go for a family walk after dinner.
Guard Your Emotional Self with Intent
Nurturing your mind is as important as nurturing your body, and it will make you better able to deal with the stresses of your life routines. Be brave and consult with a mental health professional if your friends or spouse tell you that you need to.
Work on Positive Thinking about Yourself.
Remind yourself of your personal value.
Read Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale, Og Mandino, James Allen. What these authors wrote are in ‘old books’ but they contain timeless wisdom.
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford
Your thinking will either give you permission and power or hold you trapped and timid.
Everything you put into your mind shapes your life. The books you read, the music you listen to, the movies and TV shows you watch. Your reality and expectations from life grow from how you spend your time.
Changing your input, changes your output. The old computer programming comment was: GIGO (Garbage In : Garbage Out)
What you feed your mind will be reflected in your thoughts and choices.
Just as what you feed your stomach is reflected in your body.
Create a healthier mind and it will show up in your physical health.
(That almost looks like a poem – a free verse poem. The title might be Not Getting the Work Done.)
The primary name that I call my enemy is Disorganization.
He usually brings his cousin along for the ride… Distraction.
Some people seem to thrive on disorganization. I have had students who could take a perfectly organized desk or locker and in less than an hour reassemble it into Chaos.
My experiences with Disorganization and Distraction follow a predictable pattern.
Assignment papers are missing, late, incomplete, messy, carelessly worked, found in unexplainable places. Even for students who participate in class with apparent understanding, Disorganization causes them to present work that is mediocre at best.
The Teacher in me rejects Disorganization as an acceptable work style.
In my work now, Writer / Author, I am blessed by the sudden flash of a memory of a previous idea in my brain. Too often that is followed by a disappointing physical search for the notes that document and explain and elaborate on the idea. After the search, which occupies my time and attention, I realize that my thoughts are incomplete, and the inspiration evaporates.
I recently found my brain reluctant to sleep, even though the lights were out and my wife was already dreaming. In that transient world of close-to-sleep-but-still-awake I had the idea for writing a book focused on 5 Cs.
Reluctant to turn on the light and search for paper and pencil to document my brilliance, I lay there and rehearsed the five jewels of thought until I was sure I could never lose them.
I awoke a short time later. My consciousness searched for those 5 gems. Four of them presented themselves to my memory, but the fifth one was absent.
What does this have to do with my enemy? A year ago when I began this venture into writing, I placed paper and pencil, and even a flashlight, on my nightstand. I was ready for night-time inspiration.
I don’t know what happened to those writing tools. I know where they aren’t. My nightstand.
My enemy hid them from me.
Illness often invites Disorganization into the home and life. That’s what happened in my case.
I have discovered Disorganization to be an overwhelming enemy. Clutter piles up. Papers, receipts, notices, discharge documents… They soon cover all flat surfaces. Disorganization rears its ugly head.
Writers often have this enemy: Disorganization.
We get ideas at all times of the day and in the most inconvenient places.
We write notes on napkins in restaurants and fast-food places.
We try to put them on our phones, but the keys are so small the message is often unintelligible.
We use the voice record feature, then can’t find where on the phone the audio is stored, or how to get it downloaded, or how to transfer it to text.
I’m going to learn how to use the selfie-video capabilities of my phone so I can start that app without looking at my phone or fumbling with the touch screen.
While driving is the worst time to have an epiphany. Distracted driving. Oh, my!
I carry a notebook with me everywhere.
I remember a Columbo episode in which he had been gifted a small, battery-powered tape recorder. He tried to use it to take notes as he worked to solve the murder. It was funny for me because he made it seem so inconvenient to retrieve the notes when he needed them.
I guess I’m old-school like Columbo. I like the shuffle-ability of paper notes. But they do add to the clutter. So, I use Composition Books. And I never tear out a page. I fold pages and paperclip pages together after I have used the ideas.
I also use on-line storage for easy access from all of my devices: Google, Amazon, Evernote, OneDrive and OneNote, DropBox, iCloud.
As I read that list of online connectedness, it may be that I am cluttered there, too.
I have hundreds of ideas to turn into blog posts, novels, poetry, instructional directives, on-line courses.
My challenge is usually selecting just one thing to write about. Often life filters through my ideas to distill the surplus and place one drop of inspiration on my worktable to be nurtured into an enjoyable read.
Lacking that serendipity, I dive into the pool of opportunity and thrash around until I catch something.
Maybe I am one of those writers who excels at pulling order out of chaos, who can reach into a pile of ideas and extract one, then develop it into a coherent piece of art that is presentable, and sometimes helpful, even inspirational, for a select few readers.
I enjoy the way that I work, under pressure, looking at a deadline, pushing to create, hoping that the finished composition will speak to some readers. Maybe kick start some thoughts. Maybe it’s just what a few readers will need to make it through the day or the week.
Maybe, after reading about my experiences, someone will find the courage to write, to work, to publish. Their enemies will fail to overcome them. Their ideas and words will flow, to join mine in the network of online inspiration and encouragement and wisdom.
Where do we start on this battlefront to defeat and expel the enemy? There is no convenient answer. But, there is no wrong answer, either.
To quote from Macbeth, “Screw your courage to the sticking place” and begin.
Dream on! Write on! Forward! Ever Forward!
PS: We are going to begin with our office.
Is reading about my experiences helpful to you?
Did this story cause you to reflect on your workflow and how it is affecting you?
Did the story inspire you to work harder toward your dreams?
Write to me about your process for completing tasks that have to be done.
Use the Comment box online, or email me : eldon @ eldonroberts.com
Floating… Lazy… These will lull you to sleep. Those who allow themselves to be lulled to lazy inactivity arrive at destinations unplanned and unprepared.
You may accidentally reach a good place, but then be unable to benefit from the good luck, due to lack of preparation.
Life is filled with opportunities. Some are easy; some are hard. But all new opportunities challenge us to get out of our Comfort Zones.
Change is hard work.
Difficult tasks tend to be scary.
As I visited with a friend yesterday he recounted an experience he had before his retirement. Somehow he managed to upset his boss. There were no grounds for firing him, so the boss reorganized the whole department and gave my friend a new job for which he had no training.
During the required training course the instructor kept repeating, “Just do this every day, even though you don’t know why. In six weeks you’ll understand. The process will make sense.”
He doubted it, but he followed the instructor’s instructions.
One day my friend was busy doing the assigned work, when suddenly he realized, “I know what I’m doing and why!” He had applied the knowledge he had gained and soon became the go-to guy for systems analysis questions from his superiors.
Life is like that. You may easily stay afloat on Lazy Lakes and Lazy Rivers. But you aren’t in control of where you’re going. You aren’t developing knowledge and skills that will create a bright future for yourself and your family.
A caterpillar who doesn’t change, never becomes a butterfly.
A Lazy Lake is easy on the Comfort Zone scale.
River Rapids are scary. Danger lurks in the form of rocks, currents, and unfamiliar skills required of the paddler.
Moving the boundaries of your Comfort Zone to include a new experience, a new skill, a new adventure, is almost overwhelming at times.
But you won’t likely be lulled to sleep on the journey. And you will learn from the experiences.
I’ve taken more than my share of classes. New ideas and new skills have been presented by experts. Some of them have made sense and seemed reasonable – worth doing in my work. I even got excited about some things I learned. I thought, “I can do that!’ Or a particular student or colleague jumped to mind. “This might help him!” I’d decide.
But, I never really understood the new information or technique until I attempted to do it myself in my work.
Sometimes it would be a total disaster. I didn’t do it correctly or well. It didn’t work.
What to do?
Try again. And again. And again.
It was uncomfortable. My muscle memory and performance habits resisted change. It was outside my Comfort Zone.
In time, the process, the skills, became mine. A little modification, a lot of muscle memory development, and I was able to see the hoped-for results. New habits of performance kicked in.
I had to change in order to create change around me.
My colleagues considered me to be the “Early Adopter” – the one always trying new things.
But change is uncomfortable for me, too. I remind myself that Change is only different the first time you do it. So, in theory at least, discomfort with change should be short-lived.
After the first attempt, it is what I do, and how I do it.
Modifications, adjustments, may be applied to perfect it. But now it’s me. It’s mine.
Comfort Zones are dangerous.
Moving out of yours may be scary, but it’s not dangerous.
It quickly becomes, Tah-dah! The New You!!!
The Best You (#BestYou)
As the old adage goes, “Try it; you’ll like it!” (Eventually.)
Did this article give you courage to work on your goals?
Did it inspire you to work harder toward your dreams?
Write to me to share your experiences – or to ask me to write on a particular topic.
Use the Comment box online, or email me : eldon @ eldonroberts.com
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