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Writing Down the Urgent Stuff

February 16, 2020 by  
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Last week I wrote about how important it was to write down your goals, your intentions, your dreams, and your to do lists. Why do that? Because if you do, the odds that you will follow through and complete those tasks and dreams increases big time.

There are many other benefits to writing. If you commit your dreams to paper, or on a document in your computer, for some strange reason, the act of writing your fears and negative thoughts down helps you  deal with those bad thoughts and then you can more easily  overcome them.

So, getting into the habit of not only writing your good dreams and goals down but also those fears and negative feelings we all have, can become a huge asset in your life.

Here’s 17 questions from a list in Ilchi Lee’s wonderful book I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers.

  1. What things have I achieved in my life?
  2. When was I most joyful?
  3. When were things most trying?
  4. How did I overcome hardship in those trying moments, and what did I learn through them?
  5. What moments in my life do I regret?
  6. When did I do things that made me feel proud and that I found rewarding?
  7. What momentary choices became opportunities that changed my life?
  8. What values did I try to remain true to throughout my life?
  9. What goals have I had so far?
  10. What motivated me to establish those goals?
  11. Which of my goals have I had so far?
  12. Which of my goals have I achieved?
  13. Which goals have I failed to achieve?
  14. Who has had the greatest impact on my life?
  15. With whom have I shared my gratitude?
  16. With whom do I have emotional issues that I need to resolve?
  17. Which of my habits do I want to keep and develop?

Lee goes on to say, “If possible, write down your thoughts about these questions. Organizing them in writing and not just thinking about them will help you unravel the tangle of thoughts rolling around in your head.”

Like Mr. Lee’s book, Henriette Klauser’s book, Write It down, Make It Happen, makes some of the same points. Klauser likewise emphasizes how absolutely critical it is to get into the habit of writing your goals and dreams down, explaining how, “putting it on paper alerts the part of the brain known as the reticular activating system to join in the play.”

She goes on to explain this mechanism. “At the base of the brain, about the size of a little finger, is a group of cells whose job it is to sort and evaluate incoming data. This control center is known as the reticular activating system (RAS}. The RAS sends the urgent stuff to the active part of your brain and sends the nonurgent to the subconscious. The RAS awakens the brain to consciousness and keeps it alert.”  So, if you write something down, then it becomes the urgent stuff and your brain will keep it accessible to the active part of your mind.

Hope I’m not getting too scientific but knowing all about the RAS and what good it does all of us should be good motivation to keep writing our goals and dreams down. So now we know, when it comes to bad feelings, ideas, or worries, paper is a good place to park those negative mind games.

Bad Habits into Good

January 26, 2020 by  
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Most of us humans have at least a few bad habits. I certainly have a few. In last week’s blog, I listed 30 fairly common bad habits, but now I want to list a few proven ways to change or drop those bad ones.

  1. It is wise to first take some time, maybe a week or two, thinking about your habits, which ones you want to change and why, before you begin trying to drop or alter the bad ones.
  2. Try to figure out what triggers a particular bad habit.
  3. See yourself as a coach and direct yourself like you think, or know, a coach would.
  4. Make small changes at first.
  5. Identify good reasons you want to stop that bad habit.
  6. Identify the cause of the bad habit, like stress or boredom.
  7. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  8. Think about what good habits you can use to replace the bad habit.
  9. Focus on how much good changing that bad habit will do for your life.
  10. Get a friend or relative to help coach you.
  11. Try not to hang out with people that have the same bad habit. Seek out new or other friends that don’t have the same bad habit.
  12. Form a new routine that keeps you away from the triggers that moves you into the bad habit.
  13. Develop substitute routines, plans, and actions.
  14. Reward yourself each time you resist the bad habit.
  15. Visualize and see yourself succeeding.

A very dear and very smart friend of mine said this about habits:

“Habits are driven by a 3 part loop. 1. TRIGGER–the stimulus that starts the habit. 2. ROUTINE–the doing of the habit and behavior itself. 3. REWARD–the benefits associated with the behavior.

By the way, one of my rather good habits was aggressively pursuing very successful people and picking their brain about how they made their millions. One of the best, who turned out to be a very good friend, was this guy who I just quoted. His name was Zig Ziglar. He was a super successful guy in many, many ways. He motivated me and many thousands or others big time. Sadly, he is no longer with us but his legend and what he taught me, and so many others, lives on forever.

 

Habits That Hinder

January 19, 2020 by  
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Wow, how stupid am I or, I guess I should say, what a habit driven man am I?  A few days ago, my wife and I drove our SUV to do a little shopping.  We spent maybe a half an hour at Walmart, walked back to the car, and were surprised to see, when I turned the key, that the car was already running! The SUV is the vehicle that my wife drives, while I have become totally used to driving my Tesla that doesn’t use a key and starts by putting your foot on the brake pedal. When you leave the car, you just walk away, with the electric engine stopping on its own and the car doors locking when you are a few yards away. So, my habit from driving the Tesla was so strong that when I drove our SUV, that habit took over and I didn’t even know it.

Most of the time, when we talk or read about habits, we are usually referring to bad habits.  One interesting and good thing to know, which sadly many people don’t, is that there are methods that can help you change your bad habits and develop good habits. It takes time and you need to consistently stick with the plan or method to make those changes but it can be done.

The most common bad habits make up quite a list. The following is not even close to a complete list of bad habits, but take a look and ask yourself if you suffer from any of these:

  1. Smoking
  2. Heavy alcohol drinking
  3. Watching too much TV
  4. Being on the computer or smart phone too much
  5. Spending too much time playing video games
  6. Eating unhealthy junk food
  7. Eating way too much food
  8. Consuming too much sugar
  9. Eating late night snacks
  10. Not allowing enough time for a full night sleep
  11. Complaining about almost everything
  12. Behavior that leaves you angry, worried or stressed
  13. Overspending your way into debt
  14. Being consistently late
  15. Being rude to others
  16. Road rage
  17. Driving too fast
  18. Losing your temper
  19. Lying
  20. Procrastinating
  21. Always bragging
  22. Being a know it all
  23. Letting fear stop you from doing something new
  24. Spending time with negative friends to bring you down
  25. Being pessimistic
  26. Always interrupting other people
  27. Swearing constantly
  28. Nail biting
  29. Picking your nose
  30. Slouching and poor posture

And, yes, that is just a very short list compared to some of the lists I have seen. So how many, if any, of these bad habits do you have and would like to get rid of? What causes bad habits in the first place and what can you do to drop a bad habit and take on good habits? I will address the answers to those questions in next week’s blog.

The Umbrella Goal of Health

March 30, 2019 by  
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I know I said I was going to give you the other half of that 20 life list but there’s been a lot going on this week so we’re going to revisit a post, revised and updated, from 10 years ago, basically about the same subject.

I do regularly talk about health and the benefits of a good diet and hopefully it’s often inspired you to eat better and take care of yourself. The question is, are you, or will you be committed to it, not just for the near future but for life?

Getting down to an ideal weight and getting off junk food are great goals, but your hard efforts will be wasted if you don’t make it a modification to your lifestyle rather not just a temporary change.

These healthier eating habits can lengthen your life as they are and actual fountain of youth! But if you can’t keep it up, it probably won’t get you very far.

Because, here’s the thing … if you lose 30 pounds then gain back 20 a few months later, lose another 10, gain another 15, and keep this yo-yo dieting going, you aren’t helping your health at all. In fact, you’re stressing your system. Same goes for the ‘occasional’ junk food meal. Can a coke addict get high just once in a while?

The bottom line is, you have to decide that you want to live healthy–determine the specific weight you want to reach and stay at it while committing to eating healthy, minimally processed, whole foods, and keeping active. Look at this commitment as a commitment for life, an umbrella goal that will support every other goal you make by giving you the health and energy to pursue all your dreams.

So, be good to yourself these next few weeks and aim to eat and live healthy for the rest of your life. You can start by reading Chapter 10: An Umbrella Goal for Life in my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. As I explain, 42 days is all it takes to form a new eating habit. After that it’s just a little bit of vigilance.

Use the goal planning tips in my book and you’ll certainly get there. Do this for yourself, your family, and, of course, for the success of all your dreams.

The 66 Day Habit

November 6, 2015 by  
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I thought that changing the habit of driving on the right side of the road to the left side as I did recently in Ireland was a tough habit to change. Well, believe it or not driving my new car here in America is proving to be just about as hard. Ok, I can hear you asking, how can driving a new car on the right side of the road in the country you grew up in require a person to form a new habit?  Well, the car is different from every car I’ve ever had. It’s a Tesla and it can operate almost completely on its own. So why would that require a change of habit? Because all of us are in the habit of controlling our car and it’s counter-intuitive to turn that power over to the car and its computer.

Especially if you are traveling at 80 miles an hour on the freeway in traffic and going around curves.

I’ve had the Tesla for a little over a month and I am still working on shifting my usual driving habits. I remember reading many years ago that changing or developing a new habit takes 21 days. I think I read that in an old classic book by Maxwell Maltz, Psycho Cybernetics. So here it’s been over a month and I’m still trying to relax and let the car take over.

I began to question the 21-day thing and found out that was a bit of a myth started by Maltz all those years ago. A more recent study done by Phillippa Lally, a health psychologist at University college London, studied 96 people as they tried to change a habit. Her research showed that a change in habit or developing a totally new habit takes a little over 2 months–66 days to be more accurate. This is a very good thing to know because our habits, good and bad, really make or break our entire lives and if we held on to the 21-day myth we could easily become disappointed when we failed to change or develop a habit after 3 weeks. This could cause us to give up.

When I look at my own life with its big ups and downs I can’t help but see where some bad habits have held me back, causing me pain and failure. But then again, when I look at the good habits I have, I can see why it was such a good thing that I worked hard to form them. My dad for example, pushed and pushed me to form the habit of reading good books, which I finally did. I also pushed myself to develop the habit of working out, running, walking a ton and playing tennis virtually every single day and now at almost age 72 I am seeing the huge benefit of this habit and it’s not even hard to do anymore.

I also have to attribute my wealth to forming some very powerful and productive financial habits that have served me so well. Some are very simple, like saving at least 10% of every bit of income, which I did even when I was poor and making only $600 a month. Early on I also formed the habit of reading every financial book I could get my hands on as well as investing every penny I could into wise investments.

So I would plead with you to look at yourself and your habits and make a list of both your good and bad habits noting how the good ones serve and the bad ones aggravate your life and your family. Determine to keep up with the good ones but also add new habits and to change the bad ones. Stick with each new or changed habit for at least 66 days and watch the results! Try also to get your kids, significant other, parents and friends to do the same thing. I pretty sure you won’t be sorry.

A well ingrained habit is second nature and we will do it automatically, even those things we don’t enjoy doing all that much. The thing is, we love the results and if you keep your eye on what good habits can do for you, you can do it 66 times and beyond.

 

 

Re-training Your Habits

February 8, 2013 by  
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On January 4th I posted a blog about the great book called “The Power of Habit” and how it can change people lives for the better. The author, Charles Duhigg makes so many excellent points showing how habits are formed and how to change habits that you don’t like in yourself and are not good for you. You see, we all respond to certain cues or triggers which set us off to follow certain routines which then give us rewards.  If we want to change a habit we should think through and plan out, in mind and on paper, what our “new routine” is going to be when we face “the cue” again and then follow that new routine which also needs to have a reward attached.

Duhigg uses this example: At 3pm every day he eats a chocolate cookie. This habit has an obvious reward—the cookie. To change this he plans a new routine so when he is hit by the cue or trigger—the hour of 3pm—he takes a walk around the office building instead. This starts to form a new habit.  To make the reward more rewarding, if he can find a friend or co-worker to do it with him. Having someone to talk to adds to the physical exercise reward with this chance to socialize.

If you do this activity and reward replacement over and over again until you hardly even think about it, then you have a new habit!  So, if you have habits you’d like to change, take some time to think of new routines that may interest you that you can attach to these unwanted habits so when you are hit with the cue or trigger you can start a new and healthier habit. Try it. You will love it because it really works. Even though it sounds simple, it’s obviously not going to be all that easy because you will be facing a strong instinct to fall into the prior habit but if you stick with it you will end up with a new habit and soon you won’t even give it a second thought.