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New Year's Day is not Championship Day

new-years-day-orchampionshjipheading1Every player wants to win the championship. Professional athletes stay in shape during the off-season but a championship campaign begins with training camp.

After a few weeks, preseason begins. Here the players get back into the groove of competing. While everyone wants to win the real purpose of preseason games is to evaluate the ability of each player to execute both personally and with the team.

Some players won’t make the team. In the end, the manager puts the best team he can on the field with the intention of winning the championship at the end of the season.

Championships are often won or lost before the season begins. It is often the discipline each team member has during off-season, training camp, and preseason that makes all the difference.

What does this have to do with our personal success next year? Everything.

More than half of all people in the world look at New Year’s Day as a new beginning. The other half are in denial. A new year is simply that, “new”.

That’s where trouble begins. We approach New Year’s Day as Championship Day. It’s as if we suddenly are thrown into the biggest game of our lives. And the bad news? We prepared for the big game by doing everything we no longer want to do.

Imagine the manager telling his players, “Ok, listen here guys. During training camp I want you to try to miss the ball when you swing the bat. On the odd chance someone does hit the ball, I want you to be sure not to catch it if it comes near you. And if you’re the one who hits the ball, whatever you do, do not run those bases.”

Then, after camp and pre-season the manager says, “This is it guys. Everything we’ve worked so hard for. It’s Championship Day. Today, make sure that when you swing you don’t miss the ball. When the other guys hit it, you have to catch it every time. And run those bases as if your life depends on it. Go get ‘em!”

Take a professional baseball player and have him practice missing the ball for an extended period of time and it will take him a while to get back to hitting the ball at all.

It’s the same for you and me. We’ve been practicing all the wrong skills.

We desire something better. So we set New Year’s Resolutions or goals. Sadly, most of us will fail. Not because we didn’t earnestly desire or genuinely try, but because we prepared poorly in the off-season (aka last year).

So let’s take a new approach this year. Let New Year’s Day be the beginning of a winning campaign. Let’s bring our best discipline but be aware we’ve been enjoying the “off-season” for a while now. We’re going to make some mistakes, engage in some old behaviors, and yes, we’ll even fail.

But remain diligent and disciplined. When we fail, begin again with the knowledge we gained in failure. Examine what caused the failure and endeavor to avoid those circumstances next time.

In the end, we may find that some players (our new goals) won’t make the team. We just might find that we can win our championship without them. Better still, we may find that goal wasn’t big enough for us.

It’s time to put our best team on the field and begin our winning campaign.

New Year’s Day shouldn’t be the end. New Year’s Day is by its very nature is the beginning.



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The Mother of All Success

Change by doingIf you believe success in any endeavor requires a clear-cut destination, I’m about to rock your paradigm.

More than half the American population has or will make New Year’s Resolutions this week. It is highly unlikely many if any will be, “I resolve to do exactly what I did last year.”

Desire for change is born of dissatisfaction. At some level we are unhappy with certain aspects of our lives so we resolve to change. Simple enough.

Yet change doesn’t come easily, partly because we know it doesn’t come easily. But there is a secret weapon at your disposal that can make change easier, simpler, and faster than you ever thought possible. What is this elixir to our better life? Routine.

“Oh, come on now” you say. In your best Jim Mora press conference impersonation you scream, “Routine? You want to talk about routine? I hope I get through the day and you want to talk about routine?”

I remember my routine screaming moment. I loved golf. All I wanted to do was play golf. Then one day I decided I wanted to be better. My brother taught me, “People love routine.” He said, “If you want to play better, you need a better routine.”

Here’s the paradigm rocking point: As mundane and simple as it sounds, routine is the mother of all success, even the success you have in achieving a life or portions thereof you no longer desire.

If you’re overweight, you have a routine of eating too much of the wrong foods and spending too much time in non-physical activity.

If you smoke cigarettes, you have a routine of lighting them when on the phone, after a meal, and when you wake up that makes you a smoker.

Are you less fit than you’d like? You have a routine that excludes physical activity. You get the idea.

Now for the good news: If you want to successfully make changes in your life you need only start with changes in routine. The best way to do this is to replace a routine with a new routine. You’ll rarely have success going “cold turkey” but even that is a change in routine.

Is your resolution to lose weight? Find those trigger moments and change the routine. It usually isn’t the moment you eat the pint of ice cream that gets you, it’s the moments before you grab the freezer door. What do you routinely do that leads to that moment? That’s where you need to focus. More tips can be found at http://bit.ly/KYNGx9 or check out this useful infographic at http://bit.ly/2hPI6Pz.

Are you focusing on quitting smoking? You’ll need to find something to do with your hands at those key trigger moments. Everything you need to know about quitting smoking can be found here: http://bit.ly/1qlSg5A

Would you like to be more fit? Your best bet is to change your morning routine. If you start your day with some light physical activity you ‘ll likely carry the routine throughout the day. Begin with simple stretching or just a short walk around the block, anything that starts the routine of more activity. Here are some simple tips to get started: http://bit.ly/1ho4N6u

Of course you’ll want to know where you are going and why you want to get there to help ensure arriving at the destination of your choosing, but creating a routine that ensures your success is essential. Start small but get started. And never, ever give up.



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Don't Let This "Creep" Ruin Your Plans

Making lasting change requires learning new skills that will be repeated over and over until they become habits.  Habits are the “remote control” of our lives, governing virtually every action we take.

I remember our first television remote control.  It had four buttons: On, Off, Volume, Channel.  Old Four-Button RemoteOddly, these are the four I use most when I can successfully navigate the remote control to this day.

Today our remote control has sixty-three buttons.  Yours may have more but it is doubtful it has less.  I have no idea what most of the buttons do, but I have them just in case I need them.  I presume I should be comforted by all the extra features at my fingertips and the “just-in-case” features I could use should I find the need.

But I’m not.  Actually, I’m troubled most of the time and frustrated all of the time by my remote.  And yes, you’ve guessed it, I’ve found my way out of the chair and back to the television to turn the volume up or down, change channels, and even turn the set on or off.  It’s just easier than using my multi-featured remote which was designed to make my life easier.

It is called “feature creep” and it refers to the things added to a device simply because there is space for it.  The processor has a bit more space, let’s add a feature.  We need a bigger processor to handle all the buttons, but when we add the bigger processor we have room for more buttons, and the process continues until no one knows why we have all the buttons.

I’ve found that remote control to be a metaphor for my life as well. In my early years there wasn’t much to think about or worry about.  My life was like that early remote with four buttons:  Play, School, Sleep, Eat.

Now my life is much like the sixty-three button remote I have.  Thinking about all those time-saving, money-making, life-changing gadgets I’ve purchased over the years fatigues me.  And that’s just the beginning.  What about all the features I’ve allowed to creep into my life, the ideas and information that seemed useful at the time? And the experiences I’ve had, the careers I’ve been in, the businesses I’ve started, sold or folded.  These things have slowly, methodically, and effectively crippled me.

I literally have hundreds of thousands of pages of information that I’ve downloaded onto my computer for future reference.  I have over seven-hundred bookmarks of websites that one day I’ll refer back to.  I have over seventy domain names for websites I’ll one day build or have built.  Who can keep up with such things?  Certainly not me.  I don’t even know half of them and forget about trying to find a document on my computer.  Not a chance.  I’ve simply created more information than my “remote control” can handle.  I bet you have too.

Which leads me to the first week of January and those pesky resolutions many of us have made.  Statistically, thirty-eight percent of us made no resolutions at all and a whopping twenty-five percent more have already failed at the ones we made.  If you made it this far you have a ninety percent chance to succeed through next week.   After the second week you’re a mere week away from the time experts tell us it takes to create a habit.  And a habit is life’s “remote control”.

And while all that is interesting, what does it have to do with the remote control?  Plenty!  You see, I (and perhaps you) don’t use the remote control or many of its buttons because we don’t understand how to.  We don’t understand how because we haven’t taken the time to learn how from someone who knows and to do it repeatedly until it becomes second nature.

Most of us with New Year’s Resolutions are entering into uncharted territory.  We’re embarking on actions and ideas in which we have no experience.  Imagine you are watching a program on television.  During the commercial break you change the channel to a different program.  Depending upon how interested you become in the new one, you will either stick with the new one or go back to the old one.  In life, by trial and error, we will either find our new “channel” or revert back to our old ones.

But here are some statistics you should know.  While it may be daunting, forty-nine percent of those who do make New Year’s Resolutions have some degree of success in positive change.  Experts say those who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who do not.

And perhaps the most important point of all:  You don’t need New Year’s Day to make a resolution.  Just as you can change the channel at any time if a program is no longer of interest to you, you can resolve to change your habit channel at anytime.  Here’s what you should know.

Delaying a resolution until a future date gives you more days of engaging in the undesired behavior, making it that much more difficult to change.  Further, the emotion you feel when you decide you need to change that is essential in ensuring your success will wane over time.

You will be ten times more likely to achieve your goals when you make a resolution.  You’ll be forty-nine percent likely to achieve some measure of success when doing so.  And when you engage in a new behavior for twenty-one days, you’ll create a habit.  You will effectively change the channel of your life.

So, resolve to be different to attain your goals.  Take action for twenty-one days and switch to a new channel, creating the new habit that will put your new lifestyle on remote control.

As for me, I’ve got to get up and change the channel.



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New Year's Resolutions Are So Last Century!

Today and for the next few weeks you can look most anywhere and find out about New Year's Resolutions. This is the time when we take a good look at the past and plan for a better future. And if you're interested in how to make them, how to keep them, or the purpose or history of New Year's Resolutions, there are literally hundreds of thousands of resources at your disposal. This is not one of them.

This writing serves notice that New Year's Resolutions are passé. New Year's Resolutions were implemented in a time when everyone moved at a much slower pace and change was not as ubiquitous as it is today. Simply put, people looked at New Year's Day as the day when all things could start over, hopefully for the better.

People spent more time in the process of living in days past and they were more dependent on circumstances. Farmers woke before dawn and worked until the sun set and still all their efforts could be thwarted by poor weather or other uncontrollable circumstances. There was no time to plan change nor was there much thought of it. When you were born on a farm you were likely to be a farmer.

Today we can change almost overnight. A young boy born on a farm has the choice to become anything he chooses, including being a farmer. And he can do so quickly. Access to information has provided these options.

But options are what often keep us stymied. We have so many choices in life we often find ourselves as kids in the candy store. Mesmerized by the wonderful choices, we stand still and look up 365 days later only to find we didn't even reach for one. We never chose because the choices were too great.

Unfortunately time chooses for us. Just as our parents would soon whisk us out of the candy store without our favorite candy, time pushes us to a new year without our having chosen how we wish to spend it.

We fail to choose what we want for our lives because there are too many choices. We see what we want but quickly see something else, only to be distracted again. In the end we become confused and a confused mind does nothing.

Which brings us back to why New Year's Resolutions are so last century. Today we move at such a rapid pace and we are faced with so many options, we must resolve and choose more strategically. This means we must resolve regularly. A year is too long a time to wait.

And besides, we are exposed to so much each day that what we think we want for our lives this year on January 1 may become obsolete by January 15th. Of course our desire may wane as well. It's best to keep things short-term.

This year, resolve to choose monthly, weekly, or even daily goals to achieve. Long-term goals have their place and should be a part of the destination of your short-term goals, but don't be so locked into them that you find them obsolete before you even get started. Just because everyone else recognizes January 1 as New Year's Day doesn't mean it is the only day to start anew. A new year for you can begin any day.