One Day – Two Day – Three Day – Four Day….Equals A Lifetime

A few weeks ago I picked up a book and skimmed a few pages. When I picked the book up I knew it really held no interest for me, I don’t really recall the name or who wrote it. The title was something like “What’s it like to be married to me?” I am very certain I do not wish to know the answer to this question – so, why read the book!

However, in my short perusal, I encountered an idea that so perfectly dove-tailed with something I have been thinking and meditating on for most of this year – allow me to share.

The story in the book invites you to imagine that 30 years in the future you are attending a funeral. When you arrive you know all the people in attendance and as you approach the casket you realize it’s you that has died. Your spouse is prepared to give a eulogy about you. What would they say? The idea is that your spouse – the person who knows you best – will have far different insights into who you really are than anyone else in the room. If they honestly stood in to look back at your ‘body of work’ a true look at your at your lifetime; what would they say?

The author then talks about how we are all DAILY beings. It is the things we do everyday that make up the whole of who we are.

DAILY BEINGS! 

In the grand scheme of things I would want to be painted with broad brush strokes. I sometimes think the broad strokes cover the small daily missteps or miscues. However, this book drives home the point that our life is just the opposite. The things we do daily make up the broad stroke picture of our lives! Everyday is just one more pixel in the picture of your life.

Just as Pixels create a picture - Days create a lifetime

Just as Pixels create a picture – Days create a lifetime

I have written several places where I am sure to see it daily the following quote:

The Difference Between Who You Are And Who You Want To Be IS What You Do TODAY. 

Do you complain everyday?

Do you laugh everyday?

Is nothing ever good enough?

Do you hug your spouse or kids everyday?

Do you worry everyday?

Do you learn or try something new everyday?

Do you yell at your kids or spouse everyday?

Do you take time to meditate everyday?

Are your days too busy to take time to appreciate little things?

Do you exercise everyday?

Are your food choices healthy everyday?

At the beginning of 2013 we began a practice in our house of putting a smiley face on the kitchen calendar every day we successfully ate every meal at home. Our budget said we ate out WAY too much. However, it didn’t feel like we ate out a lot. We quickly learned that although it didn’t seem like much – it was easy to make excuses, develop reasons, or conveniently forget previous dining – we were indeed eating out far more than we should! I have said this before –

If you can’t measure it you can’t change it

Maybe you are like me, just because you know how to do something; just because you can identify the problem, you believe that in some magic way the problem is already solved.

For example, I know I should avoid sweet treats (even though I love them). I also know that I can occasionally indulge in a sweet cheat without dire consequences. However, when I conveniently forget prior indulgences, when I make excuses, when I allow an occasional cheat to be come a daily habit, the consequences (weight gain, higher blood sugar levels, etc) become clear.

Because we are experts at rationalizing to ourselves the one little indulgence – the one little indulgence that becomes a daily habit – it is helpful to track and measure.

It may seem silly. 

But you can track and measure anything. Track the days when you avoid complaining. Track when you laugh. Track when you hug your spouse or kids. Track when you meditate. Track when you avoid worry. Track and document your appreciation of little things.

For me, the smiley face on the calendar is reason enough for me to pass by convenient lunch or dinner and come home and cook. The orange squares (signifying completed) on my marathon training calendar are motivation to do it again tomorrow. The joy of seeing the physical manifestations of success helps me to stay on the path of being who I really want to be and meet my goals to get there.

Decide who you wish to be today – repeat it everyday (even if it means giving yourself a smiley face for the day) – and you will be exactly who you wish to be.

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Walking Into A New Habit

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao-tzuThe Way of Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

Sometimes it feels like every step I take, every plan I make just turns to poop before I can accomplish much. Last year, I made great and elaborate plans to walk the Disney Marathon the weekend of my 50th birthday; except I never actually took the steps necessary to complete the journey.

When January rolled around, I was sad because I wasn’t walking in Disney but I knew there was no one to blame but Gayle Tabor.

However, I rallied to walk a 50k in the month of January (the month of my birthday). What I noticed, as I was dedicated to and completing the 50k, was that I was better able to achieve other goals. I watched less television and read more. I was more productive with my days. I ate out less and ate better.

A week or so ago I checked out a book from the public library (yes, I still do that – only now it’s a digital copy downloaded to my nook). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (affiliate link). Somewhere in my readings I had seen a reference to the book and it looked interesting.

Wow! This book is so interesting I can hardly put it down.

The information is not only interesting, but the writing style is also enjoyable. I’d like to tell you all the things I have learned; but it really would just require me to retype the book. I have already decided this book will become a part of my collection (and not the digital version). I can’t imagine that I won’t want to have it on hand to refer back to from time to time.

While I can’t tell you everything I have learned from the book, I can share a few golden nuggets:

 

  1. Keystone Habits – are habits that have a ripple effect. An example Duhigg uses is exercise. When people have a regular exercise routing they tend to eat better, drink less, and become healthier.
  2. Willpower is limited – using willpower to resist junk foods leaves less willpower to work toward other goals.
  3. Willpower can grow with exercise – willpower like a muscle can grow with training and use.
  4. Have a plan – there are always setbacks and readily available excuses. Having a plan for how to deal with them makes you more successful.

I’m sure that had you been looking at me as I read The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business you probably would have seen a light bulb glowing over my head as I read about keystone habits; especially how exercise is a keystone habit.

I realized immediately, that I needed to develop a good exercise habit! However, I still had (have) the desire to walk the Disney Marathon!

I’m renewing my Marathon Goal! 

I have a plan!

The plan is 3 pronged

  • get in shape and lose weight
  • build endurance to walk a marathon distance
  • build speed to be able to finish in the time limit

I spent hours on Saturday night writing out the plan. It involves green smoothies (yep, you read that right), salads for lunch and exercise. It also includes a plan for being marathon ready. The first race – the Battleship 1/2 Marathon is on November 3rd. Additionally, I tried to think about the trouble spots I might run in to along the way and decide on a plan of action for getting back on track when they hit.

I’ll be blogging much more of my plan and also tracking my progress on the EPIC-QUEST part of my blog (I don’t want everyone to be bored with all the details).

the power of habit

There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of behavioral chunks we rely on everyday. From the act of putting toothpaste on your toothbrush to the complicated process of backing your car from the driveway. These little habits that we do by rote without thinking.

I encourage you to think about your habits. The habits you’d like to change. The goals you’d like to achieve. What habits or behavioral chunks are standing in your way?

What keystone habit can you  can change? What new habit will change  your entire life?

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Z is for Change

Do you ever know what you want to say but can’t seem to get the words out of your mouth (or in my case, on to the page)? It seems to be happening to me more and more often these days.

For example, I have been trying to write this blog post for days!

I know that I want to tell you about Zorro and how he wasn’t always the swashbuckling hero. I want to tell you about how he found a mentor who helped him to achieve his own goals. I want to tell you about how he trained to do great things starting by creating a small circle and then defending just that circle. I want to tell you how you can use this principle in your own life to accomplish your goals.

But, I sit and look at the computer screen. I type and erase. I type and erase. I type and erase.

So rather than tell you about Zorro, I have decided to tell you about me.  Last week after reading about how the Zorro principle of small circles can be applied to  life and acheiving our goals in The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (affiliate link) by Shawn Achor. I began to apply the principles to my own life.

The idea is to start small. Create a circle of change and defend it!

Make small movements toward your ultimate goal. As many readers may know, last year around this time I became ill (ending with major surgery in December) and although I was fully recovered by April, it still took a long time for me to regain my strength (and I’m still working on stamina). During this time I fell behind on little household chores. Eventually those little things felt so big I didn’t want to face the challenges. As things tend to do the list of things to get done continued to grow and eventually it seemed so large it seemed futile to tackle even the simplest of projects. But I decided to tackle one small project each day.

I drew a circle around one small project!

My first project was to replace a light bulb at the back door. I completed the project and patted myself on the back! The next day I drew another small circle around one project (to take my loppers and cut a limb that was  ‘in the way’.) and again congratulated my accomplishment.  And on and on, so forth and so on each day. As the days passed and small projects were completed (and after all the congratulations I bestowed on myself) a week had passed and I felt good! I was starting to feel that my list wasn’t nearly as daunting!

One week of applying my Zorro Small Circle Principle has made a huge difference!

Let me warn you, once to start to tick things off your list, you’ll just want to do more. But beware of expanding your circles too far too fast. For example one of my circles was to clear a portion of my desk that becomes the dump land. Things I don’t wish to deal with right now get dumped there for later. Once I cleared that area (i.e. made it my circle) I was obligated to  defend it and keep it free from reemerging as a dump site (it’s been over a week – and it’s still clear and organized). I was so thrilled with my desk accomplishment I was tempted to expand the circle to my whole office – but I have resisted because I need to be able to defend the ground I gain.

Trying to defend too much before it becomes a habit is a recipe for disaster. So, take it slow Joe!

My circle of home improvements continues to expand and I am defending my desk against all enemies foreign (other people) or domestic (me).

What circles of change will you draw today?

My challenge to you for the month of November is to create your circles of change. Perhaps you will join me! Here are the circles of improvement I have set forth for me:

First circle: Eliminate gossip from my life. I’m not saying this is really an issue for me, except in my own home with Jenn. Actually, I’ve never considered it gossip, I’ve always just thought of it as a discussion. However, after reading a blog post yesterday (one I can’t relocate today) I have decided I need to eliminate it from my repertoire.

Second Circle: Continue Shouting “Don’t Quit”. Encouraging others has brought me so much joy and happiness that can’t help but continue.

Third Circle: Continue my home improvement a day project! I hope that by the end of the month I’ll have worked up to cleaning out the frig 😐  (ironically November 15th is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day)

Fourth Circle: Keep walking! (More on that later this month)

Fifth Circle: Be Thankful. It is very easy for me to see only what I don’t have or what is missing or wrong. This month I am making a concerted effort to see and be thankful for what I have! One thing at a time!

What about you?

What circles of improvement will you commit to for the month of November? I’d love to hear about them.

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What will you do today?

Do you ever feel like a fraud?

I do! Sometimes I write my blog of happiness and encouragement when I feel anything but happy or encouraged.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.

~~Dalai Lama

 

In my life I often complain saying:

“We never DO ANYthing fun any more”. I complain about how “all we do is work and watch TV”.

Yet, I am the first one to plop down in front of the television and refuse to budge! On Saturday following our usual routine following Farmers Market – I said, “Let’s go to the Dog Show” to which Jenn replied “Do you really want to go stand around at the dog show after we’ve just stood for FIVE hours?” It is a common theme, I suspect in everyone’s life.

Do You Really Want To Do That Now?

However, I believe the question being asked is the wrong question. No, I didn’t want to go to the dog show and stand more after standing for hours. But, I wanted to go to the Dog Show, and now was the time available.

The question we must begin to ask is two-fold “Do you want to do it?” followed by “Do you have time right now?”

If you want to do things, you must do them.

It is a simple and obvious statement; but one that is easy to forget while on the couch.

For the record, we did go to the Dog Show on Saturday. The dogs were beautiful, we were able to spend time with friends we rarely get to see. And most importantly, those friends had chairs we could use! 🙂

What will you do today?

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Let’s Face It: Change is Hard

I like consistency. Maybe that makes me boring. Maybe it means I am old and set in my ways (you know how old dogs are with new tricks). However, it seems as if the universe has decided I need changes in my life. It started with little things…like, my cereal that I eat every morning has become virtually impossible to find. While not having my preferred breakfast isn’t the end of the world, it does change my pattern of behavior.

Last Tuesday afternoon, a thunder storm passed through. I was excited because I had just come off of a long and emotional weekend. I saw the storm as an excuse to shut off my computer and nap. However, as fate would have it, the storm knocked out my television, refrigerator and computer. Change it is a coming!

All of these things made me think. I began to wonder

Why is Change so Hard?

In my usual way I began to research the reasons. I stumbled across a blog post ‘4 REASONS CHANGE IS SO DAMN HARD’ I thought his reasons were good (and I enjoyed his explainations):

1. We’re Creatures of Habit – Tomorrow morning I want you to try a little experiment. When you step into the shower, try mixing up the order of your washing routine. Chances are you’ll fumble around and end up forgetting to rinse some nook or completely miss a particularly filthy cranny. And when you realize how futile (and unsanitary) this change can be, chances are you’ll go back to your old comfortable habits the next day. For it to stick, change requires persistent awareness and diligence.

2. We’re Stuck In The Past – Change carries the implication that the current state is no longer relevant. If you happen to personally be the catalyst for change, this requires the presence of mind to accept that what came before was flawed and no longer tenable. In the more likely scenario of change being thrust upon you, others are stating that the old way is either materially flawed or could be a hell of a lot better. Although it sounds like mumbo-jumbo bullshit, the reality is that change is a constant process, so whatever you love about the past will likely be dead and gone tomorrow.

3. We’re Part Of The Problem – You know that irritating adage that says, “You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem“? The pressure to come up with great ideas and solve world hunger while stopping smoking and losing twenty pounds can be a bit much at times. And then some jackass consultant/coach/advisor says, “Hey, all you need to do is [insert platitude] and you’ll be all set.” The truth of the matter is that sustainable change either happens from within or doesn’t happen at all.

4. Our Perspective Sucks – Remember borrowing a friends glasses for the first time and feeling like the world suddenly morphed into a funky, twisted mess? Chances are you immediately removed them and said something like, “Man, that gave me a headache. How do you wear those all day?” Your friend probably harrumphed, ripped them from your claw and wasn’t too pleased. When you look at a problem you might see nothing more than a funky, twisted mess, so find someone who can see the destination clearly because true change requires a completely new perspective.

So friends, wish me luck as I adjust to changes in my life and be prepared for me to yell, Hey, where’s the milk? As I rummage through the refrigerator.

 

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What do Your Social Media Posting Say about You?

Recently, someone said to me ‘you must live the happiest life ever’ I was shocked and said, ‘Why, do you think so?’ to which she replied ‘Well, your Facebook is full of pictures of reading, or going places and doing things and unless what you’re posting isn’t true – you’re living a happy life.’ I stammered a bit and assured my friend that I was not posting things that did not happen and that yes, it was all true. I even confirmed that I live a pretty happy life. But that conversation has made me think.

Photo Credit: Avakian Consulting

Several days later I related the above story to my friend Dawn Bugni. Dawn is a Master Resume Writer (one of only a handful in the world) and she is always insightful in her comments.  We were having dinner and as is common for our conversations we started talking about social media – Dawn and I met via Facebook, we learned twitter together back in the day, and we both successfully use social media to drive business to our respective ventures. When I related the above story to Dawn her reaction was ‘well, yeah! You don’t post a pic of cleaning the toilets, paying the bills or arguing.’ This naturally lead to discussions on things we have seen posted via social media that are inappropriate.

Here are a few examples:

  • status updates that nearly always contain some form of alcohol consumption;
  • status updates where you complain about money (especially if you often post about extravagant purchases – people put two and two together);
  • status updates that contain personal relationship information (I don’t want to know that much about your sex life – good or bad);
  • status updates that complain about an employer (yes, we all know why you change jobs regularly)
  • and the list goes on and on.

According to the consumer reports survey ‘Insurers, employers, and college admissions officers sometimes use social media to evaluate people. They may, for example, turn to a service such as Social Intelligence that scours public postings on Facebook and other social networks as part of a background check.’

 

via Mashable

69% of Human Resources managers say they’ve rejected job applicants because of what was on their social media pages and 25% of College recruiters say they are using Social Media as a means to determine to whom they send letters of acceptance.

It seems obvious that what you say in public reflects on you, on your life and on your character.

I like to believe that I do live a happy life and if you read my blog you know that is an active pursuit for me. I also learned at my mother’s knee that you always put your best foot forward in public (I don’t think that is just a southern thing). My father was a man who loved to build things; he often said to me ‘measure twice cut once’. It really just means be sure of your measurement before you make you cut. I believe this is an adage we can adapt to social media postings. Be sure of the picture you are painting of your life via social media.

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