Saturday, February 28, 2015

Changing Behavior

Most of this post will go below the line because, as Dan would say, it's boring.  This post is about behavior change since I've tried to do a lot of it over the last year or so.

My life is probably less complicated than other peoples' lives because 1) I don't have kids 2) the people in my extended family have avoided health crises (knock on wood).  While #1 won't change we obviously all have to face #2 at some point in our lives.

You often don't realize it but after many years' the habits that you do every day become engrained.  Then you look at your life and ask, like Dr. Phil famously used to, "How's this working for you?"  And then if you want to do so, you change.

As I get older many of my friends have undergone dramatic change.  I think that various events like kids, health scares, or just disgust cause people to re-examine their lives and make significant change.  At one point Dan, for instance, was a regular guy with regular health.  Now for all practical purposes he is an athletic freak way out in the 1% for his age (especially given his peer group of professionals).  My other friend Brian did the same thing and now runs marathons and the like all the time.

So for me I've just tried to shake up some stuff I've been doing for years and see how life is like on the other side.

Baseball - for years and years I've gone to baseball games.  I generally go to a lot of White Sox games although I used to go to more Cubs games when we lived near Wrigley Field.  However, given that the Sox have been so damn terrible the last few years, going there has become mostly a chore and I have to drag people there like they are doing me a favor.  To top it off, weather for most of the year is either cold / rainy or terribly hot and in the end last year I just gave up entirely and didn't go to  a single game.  That's the first time I haven't been to a single game since maybe the mid 1980's.  Bye bye baseball.

Music - for 35+ years I've listened to music all the time.  I brought headphones and listened to music all the way to and from work, maybe 20 minutes each way.  I bought a lot of music too, and stored it in various devices. I've had every kind of ipod and discman and everything you can imagine.  Then, this year, I just decided to stop.  Music was a lot of work, and organizing it was a pain, and I don't know if it was taking me to a happy place anymore.  So this year I just stopped.  It seems like that was a good idea because I don't miss it.  My workouts are better too, focusing on what I am doing not messing around with songs.

Beer - this one is hard.  I am trying to break up with beer.  Beer isn't good for me and it is usually tied with eating a lot of unhealthy food.  I am mostly winning this one.  Will try to save beer for special occasions like the 3-4 decent Bears games and trips to Reno and stuff like that.  But taking it out of the day to day rotation.

Sugar - broke up totally with sugar.  As part of my diet (a topic too boring to discuss here at all) there is no candy, no sugar, nothing.  Sure if we are out for a special dinner I will have some cake or something but that is far and away the exception.  This is a major change but one I have to keep up with.  Sugar should be a schedule 1 drug as far as I am concerned... kidding but sort of not.

Coffee - I am trying to drink just a cup a day.  Sure sometimes I drink more but I am staying out of Starbucks.  It was just winding me up too much and impacting my sleep.  This one is like beer hard to do entirely but I am trying.  As I drink a diet Coke right now....

So what do you replace stuff with?  That's a good question...

Career - beyond my current work place I am working on a parallel career doing technology business management stuff.  I really like talking and thinking about it conceptually and I have met a lot of great people who are peers.  I learn so much when I get out of my comfort zone and listen to other peoples' experience, and they seem to value my thoughts, as well.  This will be even bigger since my friend Brian is going into a career very similar to mine in the near future.  We will be able to work together on this stuff.   This also gives me flexibility should I ever tire of corporations or if the corporations tire of me, because that happens all the time.

Family - I should do more here.  I should get out and meet and talk with them more and visit.  It is hard in the winter with traffic and everyone is so busy but I need to just get out there and try.

Non profits - I do a lot of work for my condo association.  I guess you could say that it benefits me but the benefits I receive are dwarfed by the "free rider" benefits that everyone else gets from my efforts.  But still, someone has to do it, and I learn a lot about areas I don't understand and it is also a leadership test being a board member.  A lot of it is listening and empathy which are two areas I'm not very good at.

Exercise - I need to refine my routine.  I can't jog because of my foot (another story too damn boring even to talk about here) but that shouldn't limit me because there is the elliptical and a million other things I can do.  I dropped the health club because we have a gym in the building and I also am doing more walking the stairs.  That is a hard thing to do.

Leading - I am trying to be more of a leader.  It is hard because there are a lot of items that stand in the way, and you don't get positive feedback when you bring up problems.  But my view of the world is that most of my issues are self inflicted and I am self driven so I see myself as the solution to my problems.  Just admit you are wrong and try not to make the same mistakes next time.


Dan from Madison said...

This is excellent. I will write one up like it in a week or two.

Anonymous said...

You are a brave man.
"But my view of the world is that most of my issues are self inflicted and I am self driven so I see myself as the solution to my problems."

I'll sign under that.

Gerry from Valpo said...

Haha…It's official….welcome to middle age.

If I can be an example you will do this again a time or two at least in the next ten years. It's normal. Good luck with your plans and don't be afraid to make adjustments along the way.

Here's something I read earlier today that is kinda' related.

BTW, I created a blog category for this subject…Getting Old. Feel free to use it : )

Terry from Crown Point said...

"...see how life is like on the other side."

Let me know when you find the other side.

To paraphrase an exchange between Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell in the movie Tombstone.

Doc: What is it you want Wyatt?
Wyatt: I don't know, just to live a normal life.
Doc: There is no normal life Wyatt, just life, so live.