How To Make Lifestyle Changes That Last

A few years ago I wanted to start running. My company paid for the entry fee for a local run. I was playing hockey and was otherwise active and thought it’d be fun experience. I also thought it would be incredibly easy.

I started out running two miles at a time a few weeks before the race. Then two weeks before the race I developed a pain in my knee. No big deal. I kept going. Then shin splints set in and I needed to stop. I’d overdone it and missed the race. I am still not running regularly.

We all have grand plans for our lives. But once we start to change anything it can be nearly impossible to make it stick. Every try to write every day, diet, or exercise? But why is change so hard?

Photo Credit: rosswebsdale via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: rosswebsdale via Compfight cc

One reason, according to the American Psychological Society, is that we start too big. We want to run two miles a day, like I did. Or we want to be a published author, tomorrow.

But, the path to sustainable change starts small.

We should strive to write 100 words a day not 2000. Run a half a mile first, then a mile. We all want change to happen immediately and permanently and we get discouraged and stop trying altogether when we fail.

If you want to change anything start with a small goal and then take it up a notch from there.

I need to start exercising regularly. What do you need to change?

Don’t Daydream. Act!

Before I started writing I would often day dream about it. I would think of a cabin overlooking a pine forest where the gentle morning fog settled on the lowlands. I would finish it, take a long sip of coffee and lean back satisfied knowing I could now exit the land of the cubicle.

What I built felt comfortable. It felt doable. I would get there in some vague part of my future.

Photo Credit: zenobia_joy via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: zenobia_joy via Compfight cc

Have you ever day dreamed about the life you wanted? We all have. It’s fun and it’s easy. And therein lies our problem. We convince ourselves of the lie of someday and we move on with our lives.

If you’ve been writing with any longevity you know being an author is one of the most challenging things you can do for a living. Not only do few make a living from it but you aren’t just battling competition and for your chunk of cheese, you are fighting with yourself, disbelieving that you could actually put something together that people would care to read.

This is why I’ve stopped day dreaming about what I want. Instead, when I start to creep in that direction I make myself think of a one practical thing I can do to move toward it.

Write a blog, write 1000 words on my book, contact someone I know at the local paper to see if I can contribute an article, or contribute a guest post on a blog.

Action. This is the key to avoid simply filing away those comfortable thoughts about where we are called to be in life.

Do You Give One Bad Day Too Much Importance?

If you keep a blog in hopes to use it as a platform to grow your chances at publication, then you know the power of one day. In one day, you can be dancing about as the views and traffic explode. In another day, you can curl up in a ball on your bed as a handful of people stop in to see something that took hours to write.

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I work in sales and the power of one day can be a hard thing to shake. Too good and arrogance and his friend complacency start to creep in. Too bad? You know your family will live under a bridge some point soon.

These two scenarios could happen. But the likelihood is probably zero. Why? Because one day does not define a blog, a career, or a relationship. One day has no more power than any other day.

Here is when I thought about inserting some Gandalfain quote about what to do with time that is given to you, but since we aren’t storming Mount Doom, I thought I’d lend this thought.

We must stay focus on our yearly goals. That is what matters.

If you have one bad day in sales, there is a chance to make it up the next day. One bad blog can be easily forgotten if we hit our goal on the next post. The important moment here is what we do next, no mater the outcome of each day. Do we stop? Or do we keep going knowing we are in ____ for the long haul.

I don’t know about you but I have a lot of work to do, miles to traverse, and rejection letters to battle through before I reach my goals.

Have you ever given one day too much weight? What happened as a result?

On Removing Impulse and Instilling Good Habits

My family traveled to upstate New York to visit my in-laws a few weeks ago. On vacations everything can be a little relaxed. The usage of time, personal goals, and of course being conscious about what I eat.

When I returned from the trip, I weighed myself. I am six feet two inches and for the last ten years I have hovered between 189 and 195 pounds. This time? It read a hefty 201. This may not seem like a big deal to you but we all have that weight we’ll never get to in a million years. Mine was 200. It came as a shock.

Photo Credit: avlxyz via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: avlxyz via Compfight cc

While writing down some new goals on fitness that I plan to begin next week, I pondered how I got to this place.

The reason? I was living on impulse.

When we traveled I gave little heed to what I was eating or drinking. I don’t usually have soda but I know I had plenty. Desserts? Of course. I’m spending time with family gathered around a table, so of course I’m going to have a few dozen cookies.

Also, I drove for over eight hours twice in a four day time period.

This was an extreme lack of discipline, one that came on with the suddenness of a summer storm.

Now, it’s back to good habits. Saying no to some things, like sleep. I need to finish this blog.

Where do you need to work on suppressing impulse and instilling good habits?