The 21-Day Turnaround

Good morning! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.

Well, it never fails. I bragged Friday morning about losing a few pounds and something happened over the weekend to spike my appetite. I know what part of the problem was, but the end result was I shoveled more food in my mouth than I needed and I’m back up a couple of pounds. Still a net loss since a week ago, but not as much as I’d hoped.

That’s the reality of weight loss, especially as we get older. I’ve learned that my body likes consistency. Whatever I weigh now, it’ll try to maintain that weight despite any amount of dieting and exercise. The body, and especially the mind, are intricate systems that are designed for self-preservation. And they resist any change that threatens that consistency.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that when I begin to consistently lose (or gain) weight, my body tries to maintain that momentum. I guess the trick is to get moving in the right direction and maintain that movement long enough that the body can adapt and accept the new direction. A week just isn’t enough. Thankfully, a week of weight gain isn’t enough either. If it was, I’d be in serious trouble.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. We decide we need a change and start going through the motions to make it happen. If we’re really sold on the idea, that first week is easy. We do the things we need to do, or stop doing the things we shouldn’t do and, by all outward appearances, we’re on the way to success. Then comes the weekend. Or the second week, or the third.

It takes 21 days to form a new habit. For the first three weeks, whatever changes we’re trying to make are completely out of our comfort zone, whether it feels that way or not. We’re taking something we’ve done for probably a long time and trying to force ourselves to do something different. And our mind and body will resist that change until it becomes a habit.

Habits are things we do without thinking about them. They’re second nature. We do them just because that’s what we do. And the longer we maintain a habit, the more automatic it becomes. Which is why it’s just as hard to break an old habit as it is to start a new one. In fact, new habits usually mean we have to give up old habits. I guess it’s just nature’s way of maintaining balance.

I smoked for 23 years. Quitting wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, once I really decided to do it. But for the first three weeks, I had to continually remind myself not to smoke. At the end of meals, I had to think about it. Waking up in the morning, I had to think about it. At work when we went on break, I had to think about it. Until one day, not smoking became a habit.

The same is true when we’re just trying to form a good habit. Maybe you want to start getting up earlier each day. Or maybe you want to start spending an hour each day reading something inspirational. It could be something you want to do to earn extra income or spending more time with family. Whatever it is, it’ll take about three weeks before that new action becomes a habit.

And once that happens, you’ll find that you no longer have to figure out what to rearrange in your schedule to accommodate your new habit. You’ll move things around without thinking about them. And when something else comes along and tries to take up that time, you’ll say no. “That’s my time for doing (whatever).” It just becomes part of your day.

That’s not to say things won’t happen to throw you off track. They will. And there will be days you just can’t make it happen. You handle the situation and move on. But once that’s over, you get back to normal. So, the trick is getting to a point where “normal” includes the things you need to do. If not, you’ll have to start those habits all over.

If there’s something you want to change, then do it. Let today be the first day. Mark it on the calendar. Then mark another date three weeks out – that’s the day your new life becomes a habit. All you have to do until then is just keep on doing whatever it is you’ve decided to do (or not do). And if you slip up a little along the way (you will), just get back on track. Success is still there, waiting for you to arrive.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Are You Winning?

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

It’s hump day, and that means the week is just about half over. It’s also the midway point for all those things we’d hoped to accomplish this week. How are you doing on your assignments? More importantly (don’t tell the boss), how are you doing on your personal goals? You know, those things you’re doing just for you?

As we near the mid-point of February, those New Year’s resolutions are beginning to nag. And, like most “adoring” husbands, we find a way of shutting down that nagging voice to the point we no longer even hear it. Yes, by this point we should have lost ten pounds, or been to the gym 30 times, or whatever it is we promised ourselves what we’d do. We don’t need to be reminded every day!

Part of the problem is we try to set goals for the entire year. And if the weather is bad, or there are leftover goodies from the holidays, or whatever, we look at our progress so far (or lack of it) and say, “I’ve still got plenty of time. It’s only February!” All the more reason to do those Monday morning resolutions we’ve talked about.

But the even bigger problem is we set lofty goals that will require an immediate and complete change in habits, personality, and lifestyle. And when we don’t find ourselves progressing as we think we should, it’s easy to get discouraged. And then that nagging voice kicks in … “You knew you’d never be able to do that.” And the easiest way to shut that voice down is to simply give up.

Goals should be challenging. If your goal is to get up every morning and tie your shoes, that’s not much of a stretch, and not much to celebrate. But if your goal is to go to the gym for three hours every day of the week, and you haven’t been near a gym in the past year, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure.

Most of life is about setting and achieving goals. Sometimes we don’t even think about it. And sometimes, those goals are set for us with deadlines we think we can never meet. It may be an assignment at work, something for one of the kids, or an emergency repair that’ll take everything in the bank and then some.

When those goals require us to operate at peak efficiency and dig down deep into our creativity, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But when they require everything we’ve got, week after week, there comes a point where you’re just physically drained and something has to go. Sadly enough, when we look over the list of possible cuts, our personal goals are usually at the top of the list.

And it’s possible that we set our sights too high there as well. If you’re working a job that requires 8-9 hours a day, raising a family, maintaining a home, and working a part-time job or building a business on the side, it’s a safe bet your goal of getting to the gym every day is doomed to fail.

As we set goals, we need to be realistic. Sure, stretch yourself a little. That’s what makes the goal worthwhile. But make it something where you have at least a reasonable chance of success. Several smaller goals will get you to the finish line faster and easier than one huge leap. And as you complete those smaller goals, you not only see progress – you see yourself winning, week after week.

It’s all part of the habit of success. If you’ve been with me a while, we’ve talked about that before. It’s like a small child staring at the cookies on top of the refrigerator, completely out of reach. So, they stand on a small stool. That gets them closer, so they try something else. And with each piece of the rickety ladder they construct, they get closer and more excited until finally they reach their goal.

If your personal goals are a bit too much, it’s okay to trim them down a little. Or just stretch out your self-imposed deadline and set some smaller intermediate goals along the way. With each success, you’ll get closer and more energized. And, if there are corrections to be made along the way, you can spot them earlier and get back on track.

Goals should be challenging, but realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make those Monday morning resolutions and celebrate your success at the end of every week. You’ll move closer to your ultimate goal, building confidence every step of the way. And it’s that confidence that will see you through to the end.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved