One Take from the Week #4: Harder-than-I-Thought New Habit

Art of Manliness #462: How to Tell Better Stories

A few weeks ago, I listened to the above podcast episode interviewing Matthew Dicks, the author of Storyworthy. He is a professional storyteller and gives his advice on how we can learn to tell better stories. This seemed right up my alley of interests, and I was eager to learn what I could.

It all starts with homework. Okay, homework. I can do that. It sounds simple enough. So, what exactly do I need to do? Every night before I go to bed, I need to spend five minutes recapping the most interesting part of my day. This information will go into an Excel file. There is no need for a lot of details, just a few bullet points. Then, on a weekly basis, I can go back pick one and come up with a worthy story. This is the first step and the inspiration behind my new weekend series of posts, “One Take from the Week.”

A new habit that takes five minutes. This is so simple that anybody can do it! Except me. The first week, I completed it a couple of nights, skipped a night, did another night, and skipped a few more. That didn’t go so well. Why? Well, at the end of the night, I am ready to shut down. After a day of working out, reading, writing, coaching, and going to the job that pays the bills, the last thing I want is to do the homework. And it is not about wanting to do the homework, so much as it is about forgetting.

What went wrong? I never set the alarm. Now I have a ton of alarms on my phone for just about everything that needs a reminder. Some of these alarms go off, and I immediately dismiss it. Yes, I know I need to take the dog for walk, coach in an hour, and even get out of the car and start walking to work when it is time to clock-in. Often, another alarm gets lost in the multitude and gets silenced.

But I set the new alarm anyway. Why? Because I must do better. I believe this habit is important, and I really want it in my life.

The successful person makes a habit of doing what the failing person doesn’t like to do.

Thomas Edison

Now, what I am not saying is that this will make me successful and you, for not doing this homework, will be a failure. But if this something I want to do and cannot get it done, then I have failed (in this instance). Nathanael Emmons said, “Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters.” This is a new habit that will serve me well in the future. If, I can develop the discipline to see it through. Five minutes is all it takes to turn off the alarm, stop what I am doing, and think and record something that was impactful during my day. Just five minutes. We need our habit to serve us. We need them to help us optimize our lives. Is there a new habit you are wanting to begin or have recently started? I would love to hear about it and any tricks you used to make it stick.

Dream Time

Begin with the end in mind.

I have heard the above quote before, but I was reminded of it this week while listening to The Art of Manliness Podcast #607  with Stephen M.R. Covey covering his father’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

What is the ultimate end? Death. For a moment, consider what might be said at your funeral. How will you be remembered by your spouse, children, co-workers, and community? What would you like them to say about you? That is your end. And if your goal is to get them to say what you would like them to say, then it would be best if you begin planning and working on it now.

In the same fashion, you could imagine where you want to be in 5, 10, or even 20 years. Once the seed is planted in the imagination, we must begin the cultivation process and allow that seed to grow into reality. Start at the end, draw out the blueprints, lay the foundation, and then complete the project.

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. -T.E. Lawrence

As long as we have breath in our bodies, we can set a new goal. We can have the waking dreams that make us dangerous in the good way. In the book Super Brain by Rudolph E. Tanzi and Deepak Chopra, we learn that cells are dynamic. As long as they keep moving, they live. But once they stop, they die. Even into our later years, we can continue moving. It is only when we become stagnant that we lose the dynamic ability to achieve new growth. The key is to keep growing, to keep improving.

For some of us, we suddenly have more time on our hands than ever before. What will you do with this time? If you have nothing to keep you occupied, it might be a good time to start dreaming. Set a new goal. Dream a new dream. Become the person you want to be known as when you come to your journey’s end.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. –C.S. Lewis