It’s that time of year again when loads of people make good intentioned resolutions for self improvement. Around this time last year I did a series of posts about my research into self improvement strategies. Here is a quick refresher.
It’s about habits not willpower
I recently read an online conversation. A person was claiming it was impossible to be a healthy weight forever. The claim was that it would require constant willpower all the time forever until you die. I can understand were the person gets this idea. This person has probably tried some sort of crash or fad diet. They had the best of intentions and only managed a few days, maybe even held out for a whole week but the temptations just ended up being to strong. They looked a lifetime, years and years, of every day tiring themselves out resisting temptations and gave up. The good news is this is not remotely true. If every single time you got up early to go work out it was as hard as the very first time, no one would ever work out for more than a month. My number one message to someone starting out on a self improvement quest; It will get easier.
Make Your Plan and Execute It
We will achieve long term improvement by making small incremental changes that can be maintained. I’ll use my quest to get out of debt as our example. First, we come up with our big goal. I am going to pay off all my credit card debt. Now that we have a big picture goal we need to divide that into smaller attainable goals. I will pay off 1/3 of my debt by… I will have it half paid off at.. etc. After we have decided on some goals, we need to come up with what you need to do to achieve those goals. I need to consistently bring in more money than I spend and use the excess to pay off my debt.
At this point we have to think of the practical steps you can take to reach our goals. I will increase my income by taking a second job. I will reduce my expenditures by tracking my expenses and then cutting out excess spending. For earning more money I made a list of what time I had available for extra work and then thought about what skills and tools I had to make money. I had a car so I could do food delivery. I had time on the weekends and skills I could use. I noticed I spent a lot of money eating our so I could reduce the number of days I went out to eat for lunch and dinner.
We take this information and make a very specific action point that we will make a habit. I will bring my lunch to work every day except for one day a week. We then spend weeks working on bringing lunch to work and building the new habit of not eating out. Once we have established the new habit we move onto the next. If later down the road we find that we are spending too much money eating out, we concentrate for a couple of weeks on returning to the proper habit.
Most big improvements in our lives are just the summation of all the little decisions and choices we make.
It was a cold and icy night. The kind of night were smart people huddle at home and watch netflix. I had only one problem. I had committed a grave and unforgivable sin. I had let us run out of gushy cat food. I groveled and attempted to explain to the angry fuzzy face. I was soooo sorry but it was horrible outside. You can’t send me out in this!!!! The old furry patriarch did not relent and I was cast out onto the icy roads.
It wasn’t that bad. I got to the store and purchased the all important gushy food. After feeding the manor lord I went to get my phone for something. I couldn’t find it. I searched the apartment to no avail. I went out to the care were the ice had started to coat everything. I looked under the seats. I looked everywhere. Then I had an idea. I have a bluetooth dongle thing in the car that will connect if it’s close to the phone. I turned it on. No connection. The phone was not in the car. I was not sure if the range is good enough for me to confirm that the phone was not in my place. I cleaned the ice off and slowly drove to the grocery store. I drove near where I had parked thinking that maybe the phone had fallen out of my pocket. I kept the bluetooth on an listened to the tone indicating a connection. Nothing. I went inside and asked if anybody had turned in a phone. Nope. I drove home defected thinking someone had stole my phone.
I searched the apartment one more time. Then I remembered I had a bluetooth speaker that the phone automatically connected to. I grabbed the speaker and turned it on. I waited watching the blue led blink. “Connected” came the response. So the phone was here. I searched everywhere. I looked in the garbage. I looked in the freezer. I looked under things. I walked into the bathroom defected. It was sitting on the bathroom counter.
Monday I went out to lunch with my boss. We needed to go to Best Buy to pick something up. On the way out of the store, I was talking about something technical. My boss went around a curb and I went over it. I stumbled a bit as I stepped over. I lost my train of thought and started trying to make my point again. I realized I wasn’t regaining my balance. This confused me. This was a simple task. My weight pitched more and more forward as I started to accelerate. It dawned on my that I wasn’t going to save this and was about to face plant into the Best Buy parking lot. As I flashed by my bemused boss my face was heading right to the pavement. I managed to turn my body and slammed down with my elbow and knee taking most of the impact. I scraped up my palms a bit and my cheek just grazed the asphalt.
My boss started frantically asking what happened and if I was ok. I lay there shocked but took stock and realized I had escaped most serious damage. The most annoying results of the tumble wasn’t the bruised knee ( still bruised as I write this) or my painful elbow. The worst part didn’t show up later that day. I had sprained my big toe. It made it painful to walk or stand. In fact, It is still a little sore.
They’re Using Artillery on Us!
Over the weekend, winter came in with a vengeance. I think it was one of them polar vortex thingies. But before that happened things warmed up and it rained Friday and Saturday…. actually I am wrong it iced. Everything got covered in a layer of ice. My car, the streets, the sidewalks, everything. Then it got cold. And I mean really cold.
That’s F by the way for those of you in the rest of the world. It’s only gotten this cold a few times since I have lived in this building. But a weird things happen to this building when it gets this cold. I woke up about 4 am to the worrying sound of banging and popping. It sounded like someone was throwing bowling balls at the side of the building. I have no idea what makes that sound but I just hoped it would end so I could go back to sleep.
I live alone ( well except for Jobu but he doesn’t do any domestic chores) and my apartment has a dish washing machine, so my process for dishes is simple. When I have dirty dishes I rinse them off and put them in the dish washer. When the dish washer gets full I grab one of those little plastic things full of detergent and start it up. At this point I usually just let the new dirty dishes just pile up until I finally give in and unload the dish washer and start the process over again.
On Saturday the dish washer was full. I popped in the detergent, slammed the door shut, turned the dial, and walked away. But, there was no sound. I jiggled the dial. I open and closed the door. I even checked the breaker. Nothing worked. What did I do now? I had all sorts of dirty dishes. I guess I’d just have to throw them out and buy new dishes.
I filled the sink with hot water, found an old expired bottle of dish soap, and went to work hand washing dishes. On a side note: how does dish soap expire??!!! I mean it still worked fine even expired by years. It’s soap. I had to find a clean rag to dry the dishes but over the next 2 days I managed to wash all those dishes 🙂
The work week was a normal week. I don’t really remember most of it. I am sure stuff happened, Jobu probably did something funny, and there was weather.
Saturday I went on a little trip/adventure. I drove downstate. The two main reasons for my trip was to see my Grandpa, he recently turned 98, and to help a friend on his property. On the way down I though I would stop by and see a house my mom has bought near where my grandparents live. My mom plans on moving them into the house once it is ready. It can be a little odd to get to and is in a part of the country down there I have never been to. I assumed I wouldn’t have a data signal so I had memorized( I thought) how to get there. I found the first turn, then the second. I then took a wrong turn and another and another. I wandered around a lake I hadn’t known was there until a few days ago. I finally pulled out my phone and got a location but still couldn’t find the place. I finally went back to a rode a new and decided to just go see my Grandpa.
After visiting my Grandpa I visited the new house. I got a data signal and had been able to map out the way. I checked out the house and then started north driving along small country roads. As I drove through the countryside I marveled at the beauty around me. The land is gently rolling fields and woods filled with life. I realized this is my God’s country. I would like to live in the south of France but I want to retire to southern Illinois. Yeah that is weird.
I eventually ended up in Omega. Where I visited the world famous Omega General Store.