Weight Loss Tip Booklet - 151 Simple Ideas

 
 
I’m not dead.

At least when I wrote that; I wasn’t. Being the intelligent reader of this column, you put two and two together and surmised that in a flash. Hopefully, as you read this, I am still in the not-dead state of being — and shall remain so for decades yet to come.

Having proven therefore that I understand very little about what it’s like to die, you will cut me slack about not really knowing — but safely assuming — that no one’s last words were ever, “I wish I would have spent more time working and less time enjoying life.”

We would agree, wouldn’t we?

So, then what’s the deal with non-stop, dawn-to-dusk, 24/7, busy-making? We don’t ever just “chill.” Well, at least I don’t; maybe you do, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that you’re in the same place. There’s so much to get done with so few hours to do it.

Forty-hour workweek; what’s that?  Wake up. Shower. Shave. Throw some frozen waffles down your gullet while checking the mail and packing lunches. Get the kids to school, pick them up, and beat feet to soccer practice and gymnastics. Straightaway back, homework, meals, brush teeth, and off to bed. To accomplish everything requires groundwork: grocery and clothes shopping, housecleaning, home maintenance, and car servicing. These necessitate steady income — and, oh yes — have you heard the news about the economy? You better not slack off at work or they’ll swap you out quicker than a DVD rental on a Saturday night. So, off to the salt mines, bringing our assignments home so we can get them on our kitchen tables in the morning and the bed stands at night. We’re work harder while having the privilege of paying more for everything. Come end of day, it’s drop like a lead brick off a six-foot wall.

It’s no wonder we don’t have time for “a life.” Or do we?

My sister phones, “What are you up to?” She asks.

I reply, “I’m working hard at relaxing.”

Stop the clock. Re-read that response please: “I’m working hard at relaxing.” Huh? That statement makes as much sense as “same difference,” or “kosher ham;” but I swear it was my reply and I’m betting you relate. Our lives are so cluttered, that if tasks were boxes, we’d be featured on the TV series “Hoarders.”  No longer are we human beings, we have become “human doings.”

Last Saturday, you know what I did? I could have worked on my computer, or mowed the lawn. Goodness know, there were bills aplenty requiring my attention. Nope, didn’t do any of those. Instead, I made a conscious decision to do nothing.

It didn’t start that way. My dog, Jack, and I went for a walk. Upon returning, he scampered into the backyard, rolled about on his back, feet to the sky; and then did what animals do so well: Absolutely nothing. Zero. He simply “was.”

I couldn’t remember the last time I did that, so — not having a better plan — I joined him! I didn’t put my feet in the air, but I honest-to-God did lie down in the grass and watched cloud animals pass over my head. I felt the sun on my skin. I let my mind go where it went. For a short time, Jack and I simply appreciated that we exist.

Even machines have an off switch. Surely we deserve as much as do they. The world’s going to keep on turning, even if you’re not the one who’s pushing. Take a moment and recharge. You’ll get more done later.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CRP of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.




 
 
Early morning routine: Jack, my dog, and I are taking our walk. His leash is in my hand, my headphones are clamped over my ears; I am absorbed in the back-and-forth of my favorite podcast. Jack and I; just doin’ our thing.

The neighborhood is residential; no major thoroughfares, so I’m quite cognizant of the large diesel truck that rattles up next to us and slows down. Matching my pace, the driver waves at me. I assume he’s just being friendly so I return the action, figuring he knows me from my decades of living in a smaller community.

He gestures again, this time I recognize he’s motioning me to come over. Pulling Jack’s leash in tight, we walk on to the street and approach the open passenger window.

The white truck’s interior is clean, uncluttered, and modern, with a flat screen in the center of the dashboard. As for its only passenger, he appears to be in his forties, healthy, short-cropped hair, and brandishing a smile as big as the vehicle and as warm as its motor.

Leaning toward me across the center console, he opens, “You probably don't remember me…”

He's correct.

“…About 25 years ago, I applied for a job working for you. You didn't hire me.”

“I'm sorry.” A slight rumbling of anxiety bubbles in my belly. Is this some form of latent workplace revenge?

“No need to apologize,” he quickly adds, waiving away the thought with his hand. “You were very nice and polite. You told me that you thought I was overqualified and that I would get bored, and you felt my talents would be better used elsewhere. I took your advice.”

The truck continues its diesel clattering, I move in closer to hear better.

“I wanted you know that I now run this company; it’s worth a few million dollars. I'm really happy how things turned out. You were right.”

Pleased (and relieved), I respond, “Oh! I’m glad. Maybe YOU should hire ME.”

His laugh is warm, friendly, and relaxed. I suddenly feel like I’m talking to an old friend.

“I see you with your wife walking your dog, and I keep meaning to tell you how grateful I am. But it never seemed the right time — until now.”

“Thank you for doing so. I’m really delighted it worked out so well. It’s nice to know.”

Cars line up and are then forced to drive around us, so, as much as I’m now enjoying this unexpected interlude, I’m self-conscious, and figure I better move on. Before I can, he adds, “Sometimes the Lord pushes you in directions through the people you meet. You are one of those people.” He pauses and looks me in the eyes. “Thank you.”

With that, we shook hands through the window, said goodbye, and the truck disappeared around the corner.

I remained a statue in the road, and reflected on what just happened. I was humbled, uplifted, honored, and — in some way — I had a more pronounced sense of purpose. I don’t know how else to explain it.

We never know, do we, when an action we take will affect someone else in a profound manner? We take care of our families, and ourselves, and in between we try to do our best to treat others with respect and dignity, hoping and praying it all turns out well in the end. Once in awhile, we are lucky enough to find out it did.

What we do matters – in ways we might never even begin to know.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CRP of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.
 
 
I have a very unassuming, quick-thinking question. Don’t ponder the answer; just blurt it out. Ready? (Um, that’s not the question.)

Here we go: “Who are you?”

At first blush, it’s such an innocuous query and our replies come by rote. We provide our name. But, in reality, that’s not accurate, because my name is not WHO I am, it’s WHAT I am called; it’s a label.

Okay, take it down a level: Who is — in my case — Scott Marcus?

Well, I could reply, “a man,” “father,” or even “American.” Those are all true — and actually more descriptive than responding with my name. They deliver more detail, but are still painfully vague. One person’s “man” creates images of football players, while another’s is an accountant, neither of which fit me. Piling on additional descriptors becomes the next step, “56 year old speaker, writer, father of two sons, married, lives in Eureka.”

Certainly this constructs a more vibrant portrayal, but it is still soooooo scratching the surface. For example, should I move from my coastal community to the Arizona desert, would I then be a different person? Better yet, am I still the same person I was a few years ago, or do every 365 days establish a new being?

Circumstances change, but that alone does not mean we are no longer who we were; there is a consistency that remains our core. These modifiers therefore, no matter how many we use, are not answering the core issue. Something lacks.

So, why does this matter?

Words, the vehicle by which we think, create images, which we call “perceptions.” Each of us develops reflex like responses to those perceptions. So, should I say “filthy rich man” or “homeless woman,” we create immediately an image in our mind about who are each of those people. (I know you did when you read them, as did I.)  The hitch is we do not see “individuals;” what we envision are our perceptions of that class of society. Should you be strolling through Old Towne and view someone you perceive to be, for example, a “homeless man,” you create an entire story in your head, BEFORE even meeting him.

This process is not only in action when we see — and label — others. It is also very much in play in how we view ourselves. The words we tap to describe who we are to ourselves affect the images we see about us, portrayed externally to others via our resultant actions.

If I enquire of myself, “Who am I?” And the reply comes: “A clumsy, stupid, moron who cannot do anything right,” I create powerful internal imagery, which in turn, generates an emotional state. Those emotions drive our actions. Logically, therefore, if the language is negative, so too will be its result.

More happily, if my answer is, “A fully-functioning, basically happy, honest, caring, contributing member of society whose doing the best he can to love others, make the world a better place, and take care of himself as well as he can;” those result feelings, and their actions, will be vastly different.  (Saying each answer to yourself and notice how you feel.)

When greeted at a party, that answer might not be appropriate. However, we’ll experience a far healthier and happier life when we can learn to answer our own internal questions in a more positive fashion.

Besides, who would I be if I steered you wrong?

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.



 
 
Between the covers of the business book currently on my nightstand, the author devotes few pages to discussing cash flow or spreadsheets, while much ink is dedicated to changing one’s thoughts about money. It is her premise that our income basically determined more by how we think than by the actions we take. Of course, those considerations then produce behaviors, which lead to results. Therefore, if we “dig down” and adjust them, we will do what we do in an altered manner. This provides fresh results improving our business.

In effect, change your thoughts; change your financial life.

The barricade is our ol’ buddy, Denial.

Thought patterns, much like a river cutting a path through granite, our etched into our psyche over time, with much repetition. To refashion such embedded patterns takes a great deal of effort — and it’s not like we’re not busy already, right? Besides, “there’s always tomorrow.”

The author suggests that such transformation only occurs once “we’re hit by a two-by-four.” Of course, she’s speaking figuratively, not literally. (I hate it when people say “literally” when they mean “figuratively.” Sorry, pet peeve…)

Let me expand: Suppose you’re in a floundering relationship. You didn’t get there overnight; it began subtly, “the small things.” For example, you don’t talk as much.  “It’s no big deal,” you think, “We’re just busy right now.” That might be accurate; having said that, “something” still feels off. But, you put it to back burner until you have more evidence — or time.

After awhile, your “couple’s time” becomes more sparse. You are roommates more than partners, on parallel tracks with no intersections. Logically, you can explain it away. “We’ve both got so much on our plates; things will get back to normal soon.” No action taken.

Soon, intimacy, in all its forms, has become a memory. There is now real distance, even a bit of resentment. Nobody brings anything up; you’re not even sure you want to broach the subject. Also, the chasm is now an additional barrier. Oh sure, you’re thinking about “making some changes” when things settle down. For now, it’s “stay the course.”

Then comes the two-by-four: He wants “out.”

“I don’t even know who you are anymore,” he says, in a difficult, unexpected (?), conversation. “We’ve grown apart.”

It’s a pattern experienced by millions of couples. Despite the warnings, and their ever-increasing appearances, we are able to rationalize what’s going on, while denying what we felt. Therefore, for most, it takes getting slammed upside the head with a brick (again, “figuratively”) before we do what must be done. This is in any facet of our lives, from our relationships to diets to finance.

Newton’s first law of motion says that a body in motion will remain in motion unless acted on by an external force. In effect, we will do what we do until, painfully; we can no longer deny the results of our actions. Once at that place, we are so overwhelmed, that it seems an insurmountable problem and we remain stagnant in unhappiness.

First of all, it is not undefeatable if we break it into small steps, and engage in them with regularly and immediacy.

That stated, it’s still healthier to avoid that unhappy condition by understanding the urgency of emotions when it comes to moving forward. Look at it this way; our feelings are the gasoline fueling the engine; logic is then the steering wheel. Without the first, we’re going nowhere. Without the latter, we’re out of control. Developing both is essential to leading a happy, well-adjusted life.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.
 
 
I hadn’t seen him in years even though we live in the same town. You know how it is, I’m busy, so is he. Time got away from us. It’s not like we had a disagreement, or we didn’t want to see each other; it’s just that, well, life kicked in…

I answered the phone, “Hey Scott,” says he, “I just realized that we haven’t gotten together in a long time and we’ve got so much to catch up on. I thought we could schedule a time.”

“Sounds great,” I replied, “I can do lunch next Thursday. If that doesn’t work, we could get coffee in the afternoon, or, on Wednesday, we could meet early and grab a bagel. Where would you like to go?”

He responded, “You know the park with the duck pond?”

“Yes, the one with all the trails?”

“Yeah, that one. What about Thursday at noon?”

“Sure, that works for me. But I’m not familiar with any restaurants there.”

“There aren’t any. I’ve been trying to get in shape, and I know you’re always watching your weight, so I thought we could walk and talk. It would be nice to catch up outside.”

And so we did. But, can I be honest? It felt really weird; kind of like wearing someone else’s clothes. It seems normal enough at first glance, but you just can’t get comfortable.

I mean, think about it, what’s one of the first questions we ask when we decide to meet up with someone: Lunch or coffee? If you really wanted to crash our economy, ban meetings in restaurants or coffee houses.

I’m sure it goes back to primitive times. It’s conceivable (at least to me) that early Australopithecines at day’s end gathered around a half-devoured gazelle and discussed their events on the plains. After all, a leisurely grunting session with some close hominoids after a long period gathering, scavenging, and escaping from carnivores would be welcome.

Although the evolutionary train has pulled out, our habits have not. We celebrate with food. We do business over dinner. Relationships begin — and end — at restaurants. Even our last tribute, the wake, is deeply intertwined with eating.

There’s nothing wrong with these; don’t get me wrong. But one has to admit, that for most of us, it’s hard to picture doing anything else with each other. If we’re looking to adjust our collective waistlines and get in shape, maybe we need to examine some options. After all, there are book clubs, quilting circles, or even video games.

My son was in town; this usually involves copious amounts of food. Under the television lies our unused video console; the wireless type specializing in sporting events, where one creates icons to compete against each other.

Said he to me, “Bet I can take you in a sword fight.”

I might be 30 years his senior but I still have testosterone; I couldn’t let that stand.

Our characters faced each other. The battle was joined. After several close rounds, lots of laughter, a great deal of sweat, and exclamations of “You’re toast!” or “Take that,” age indeed triumphed over youth.

More important, I can already tell it will be one of my favorite memories, far more than yet another trip to yet another restaurant. Plus the added bonus is I got to show him he’d still better not mess with his old man. (Of course, I still can’t lift my arms; but I’ll deny it if you tell him.)

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.

 
 
He was celebrating four years of sobriety. When I asked how he knew it was time to initially seek help, he said, “I finally realized I had no control over alcohol. I thought about it all the time. I couldn’t wait to drink. I was obsessed with it.” As I listened, I thought, “Substitute the ‘food’ for ‘alcohol,’ and that’s me.” It was one of the triggers in getting me to lose my weight.

It was also the instant I realized that overeating is every bit as much of an addiction as drugs or alcohol.

We don’t like to think of overeating as an addiction for several reasons. First of all, it’s part of the norm to eat too much. That would make us a country of addicts, and true as that might be, we sure don’t want to admit it. Moreover, there are no age restrictions, you can do it in public, and it’s legal. Eating too much might make you fat, but a cop won’t pull you over for a 300-triglyceride level, it won’t cause you to black out, nor do unwise things you’ll regret with morning’s light.

Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary defines addiction as, “persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be physically, psychologically, or socially harmful.” Let’s be clear; when you’re hiding goodies in your purse, lying on the bed to tighten your belt, or avoiding social gatherings because you’re afraid of the reactions; it’s a safe bet you’ve met the entry qualifications for addicted.

The bigger problem is, unlike the more nefarious addictions, we cannot “just say no.” As difficult as it might be, an alcoholic can swear off booze, and a smoker can refuse cigarettes. We, however, must continue to indulge while learning to set arbitrary, always shifting, sometimes ill defined limits about what constitutes “too far.”

Sure, a half-gallon of ice cream is a pretty clear violation of self-control. One could say the same for a quart, maybe. But where do we draw the line? Is a cup all right? What about two? To the alcoholic, an ounce is too much. For us, where does it start?

Let’s set the stage: A healthy, thin person consoles herself after a rough day with “chocolate therapy,” downing a pint of fudge-brownie-chocolate chunk ice cream and a couple of devil’s food cookies as a chaser. After sharing with her co-workers the next day, they all laugh knowingly.

“I’ve been there,” says one, “Sometimes, you just need to go with it.”

No one thinks she’s addicted. She looks great. She’s healthy (albeit sporting a humongous sugar buzz). Yet, when I do the same actions for the same reasons, I’m out of control?

See, it’s not really about the overeating, but the internal dialog. A healthy personality analyzes the calorie overload and thinks, “Well, that was over the top. I better cut back tomorrow” — and she does, regaining her balance.

The food addict blows it out of proportion, thinking, “Oh my God! I blew it! How could I do this? This is awful! I can’t believe what an idiot I am!” Berating her very worth as a human being she finally decides she’s a complete failure. With that observation, she gives herself permission to let herself totally go and accelerates over the cliff.

Yeah, we’ve got issues. Yeah, it stinks. But handling mistakes is part of the process.  If guilt and shame were motivational, we’d be skinny as rails. It’s not about perfection. Everyone slips up; success will be determined in how we handle it afterwards.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.

 
 
Complain, complain, complain…

My, but we’ve become a grouchy lot, haven’t we? Maybe it’s climate change, or the economy; who knows? It could be the alignment of the stars for all I know, but we’ve got our cranky pants hitched on and we’re wearing ‘em a little too snug around our sensitive parts.

Okay, maybe YOU are not cranky, but many of us are, and if you won’t own it, I will.

I’m at the supermarket loading up on low-calorie, high-fiber, sugar-free, non-fat, no-taste foods that I force down my gullet in order to keep my weight in check. I really want chocolate, french fries, and chips; but that’s not happening, so I’m feeling deprived. Adding insult to injury, I don’t have time for this errand, but since my refrigerator resembles an arctic cave, I’m cooling my jets in the check out line. The lady in front of me waits until after the clerk has totaled all her groceries before she takes out her checkbook, enough of a trigger to kick my internal curmudgeon into overdrive, “Hey lady!” the voice in my head screeches. “You didn’t realize you were going to have to pay for this before hand? Couldn’t you have check ready when you got in line … besides you’ve never heard of debit cards?!!”  Since I won’t comment out loud (I’m too “polite”), I roll my eyes, exhale with exasperation (making sure she hears it), shift my feet restlessly, cross my arms, and set my attitude to low burn.

Or have you ever had your cell phone drop a call? Jeeze! That irks me! It wasn’t even a particularly important call, and to be honest, I didn’t want to talk to him anyway, accidentally selecting ACCEPT instead of DECLINE because the layout of the phone is so stupid. Nonetheless, I’m now heavily vested in commiserated about how his 62-inch 3-D TV’s glasses suck. Really? That’s your grievance? There are people who would love simply to witness a sunrise, and you’re grouchy because your nifty cool absolutely amazing invention doesn’t come with rechargeable batteries? I mean, come on!  Yet, I’m empathizing — at least until his call explodes in a burst of static and I detonate a blast of curse words at my phone, cellular carrier, and even the government for allowing such inferior systems to get to market.

Time for a chill pill; on the grand scale of life, most of what rankles us is not even a blip on the radar screen of “real” problems; it’s microscopic. Half the time, we don’t even remember it long enough for it to survive the ride home, let alone why we got so upset in the first place; yet we’re singing “ain’t it awful” with the volume on full.

I’ve got a phone in my pocket that connects me to anyone on the planet, lets me watch family movies, listen to music, and take photographs. It’s got more power than the entire computer system on the Apollo space crafts; and I have the gall to launch a hissy fit because I have to push REDIAL? Or I complain about having to drop a few pounds — while half the planet would beg for what I throw away? Spoiled, you’re table’s waiting.

We don’t live in a golly-gosh-gee-willikers fog of happy thoughts and pink ponies; I’m not saying that either. Sometimes, life is tough, sure.  But equally true is that most of our “problems” are better than what most of the people on most of the planet face most of the time.

For that I need to be mostly grateful.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.
 
 
I’ve heard tell that dog owners (or “guardians” as some prefer) look like their dogs. I did not realize with how much haste that transpires.

We have been considering adopting a dog for a few years. As with any important project, we began by identifying what we wanted. One, he must be a rescue dog. Two, she must not be bothered by our two cats (of course how they respond to the dog will be their decision). Three, we wanted a smaller dog that had some personality but was not hyper.  Those were the “must haves,” the remainder were “would likes.” We surfed websites, monitored our newspaper, and checked shelters and animal control with regularity.

Welcome “Jack.” He’s a five-year old mini-Schnauzer with a persuasive, mostly subdued personality who loves our backyard, follows me like a shadow, is housebroken (yay!), and even understands some commands, allowing me the option to train him even more; something I wanted. While I write, he has already taken to lying in his bed, apparently content to watch me type. (I guess he’s hard-pressed for entertainment.)

As for similarity — although I did not think of it when I picked him up; he already resembles me (or I do him). His hair, although dark of base, is basically “silver,” slightly disheveled, and he sports a gray goatee in need of a shave. More striking is that he is also into yoga; I’ve seen him doing “downward facing dog” repeatedly. (Insert rim shot here…)

The one attribute of which I am NOT fond is that, although he slept through night one without incident, he is evidently an early riser, quite contrary to myself. A perk of self-employment with one’s home as the office, is the ability to grab a few extra winks each morning, since my commute consists of four stairs. Alas, I fear those days have passed, as Jack is part rooster, prone to rise with the sun (especially ill-fated since this is summer and first light is unfortunately early).

Therefore, today, I awoke far earlier than was my pattern. My wife, snickering wickedly, commented, “Looks like your days of staying up late are over.”

Growling (yet another similarity with a dog), I dragged my carcass from my bed to begin this new, unexpected routine. Change had once again scampered into my life, this time in the form of a twenty-pound canine that could not wait to take a walk. “I must teach him the command, ‘sleep,’” I wearily lamented as I secured him in his harness.

But that’s the way it is, isn’t it? We make our plans and move forth into the yet to come. We believe we’re in control — but it’s illusion. Life steers; we are passengers. Whether changing how we eat, seeking mental health, developing relationships, financial planning, or simply adopting a furry friend, the results of our actions cannot always be predicted nor controlled.

So, once again, I am fine-tuning to the unexpected, a progression without end, and one in which we all engage non-stop. Sometimes, the adjustments are painful; other times, thank God, they are minor. Yet it is unavoidable.

I detest getting up early; it fouls my mood.

But, conversely, I can be buoyed by the outpouring of warmth from this newfound community of “dog people,” which has already been as heartwarming and loving as the joy elicited by Jack when I reach for his leash and we head out into the (too early) morning. It’s my choice.

Now, which one of us is really training the other?

About the author:  Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.
 
 
I’ve had a revelation.

Since the “great recession” of 2008 (which appears to still be in process) came trampling through our economic landscape, I have been — like so many others — waiting and hoping for the rebuilding. When will things get back to how they were? Can we soon return to easier times of job security and stable wages? My ship is weary of white caps; I long to navigate calm seas. When can we be there?

While pondering such issues, it fell hard on me, like a load of gold bricks sold on many radio talk shows as a “hedge against hard times.” The economy — and our lifestyle — will NEVER return to how it was. The “good old days” (such as they were) are in the rear view mirror and we have no reverse gear. We cannot turn around and they will not come back.

That's an upsetting — some might say "terrifying" — concept. Never again will we be able to conduct our lives and businesses like we did “back then.” What we are now experiencing is — and will continue to be — the “New Normal.” Until our last days, and those of our grandchildren, “different” will be “ordinary.” Future generations will study the heyday of the 1990s and early 2000s much the same as we picture the gay 1890s or the early 1920s; wild, excessive, booming — and only imaginable as images in history books.

I don’t mean to be a downer, but it’s time we bow to an ever-apparent reality and accept facts for what they are, not what we long for them to be. Denying the obvious delays the inevitable, which furthers great hurt and denigrates our lives. Striving to maintain an illusory status quo by rejecting reality prolongs its effects; and makes worse the pain.

Having said that, I do pride myself on being positive, while understanding that the set up of this column might appear less than optimistic. Yet, it can be. Due to this unhappy situation in which we find ourselves mired, we are becoming more resourceful, better planning our expenses, accepting gratification in that which we took for granted previously, and we are contributing more to our local communities.

These are wonderful changes. Many considered getting “more involved in our communities” or “cutting back on frivolous spending” numerous times before. However, until now, the pressure was not convincing enough to force action. “One of these days…” has arrived. It is today.

Significant change is always born of fear, force, or pain. No one gets up one morning, totally content with life, and says, "Let me see how I can change it.” Rather, when circumstances become too uncomfortable, we decide to do something different. The great recession has inflicted much fear and great pain, and has forced upon us harsh change. Although things will never be as they were, we overlook that they can be better. We will have tools and techniques never before considered. We will at some point re-establish equilibrium. Our world will forever be altered; yet it will also be unique with a new set of advantages and benefits; unknown to us today, but surely waiting over the horizon.

The quicker we accept that there is no turning back, the speedier we will face the future — and the faster we will experience these new advantages.

Some might disagree with my analysis; I accept that. However, should I be off track — and society does return to “how it was” — there’s is no down side, for if we adjust, we will be healthier and stronger for having worked together and supported each other through these times.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.
 
 
Being a news junkie, I’m glued to the cable networks. Wedged between the peccadilloes of badly behaving starlets and inappropriately tweeted photos, the anchor brings in two political panelists to discuss the upcoming election (Already? Really? Oy!) To feign “balance” he has a GOP strategist and his Democratic counterpart (as if there are only two sides to a story – but don’t get me started). I don’t remember the first question, and frankly, it doesn’t matter; but what I do recall was once the argument commenced, it became animated without delay. Lots of energy and of course, disagreement, exchanged between the duo.

It could have been either one; but in this case it was the GOP guy who started “powering” over anything stated contrary to his position. When the Dem countered, the Repub would shout him down, yelling ever louder. He didn’t call names; he wasn’t condescending; and – to be honest – he made logical sense (although I disagreed). But this is not about politics.

After the “discussion” ended, I had a mental image of him talking to his friends off-camera. They were probably all high-fiving, shouting, “Wow! You blew him out of the water,” or “He couldn’t hold a candle to you.” Congratulations would abound; backslapping would ensue.

That’s when it dawned on me; his intention – as far as I could discern – was NEVER to have a discussion, but rather to prove his point; and that’s what showed.

The number one law of change: Intentions direct actions.

When a client asks for advice, my first reply has become: “What’s your intention?” Almost nothing matters more in one’s actions or communications than understanding that unassuming question. Unfortunately, most of us do not take the time to dig deep enough to analyze that. The result is we find ourselves in a most unhappy place.

Let’s take a simple example. You’re upset by someone else’s comments. Your feelings are hurt. So, you decide that you “need to talk to her.” That’s fair; and if done well, it’s even “healthy.” But if the intention of what you’re trying to achieve isn’t clear to her, you’ll get in hot water. If the intention is to “give her a piece of your mind,” your communication will be much different than if it is to better understand what she meant, or to heal a rift. If you are looking to minimize the chance of conflict and actually accomplishing something, slow down long enough to understand the intention (preferably BEFORE opening your mouth; but it’s never too late).

This is because attitude transmits louder than words. A popular study went so far as to say that what we say accounts for less than ten percent of our communication; it’s tone and body language (attitude) that matter most. In effect, we might be able to massage what we say, but it’s a heck of a lot harder to mask what we feel.

We can apply this same principle to our own actions.

When trying to change a habit, it’s imperative to first analyze what is the intention of the offending behavior. What does it get us by continuing it – and what is the resultant cost? Once we realize why we we’re doing it —our intentions — our next question can be “How do we achieve those goals without the unpleasant side effects?”

Every behavior is born of positive intention; one designed to make our lives easier. Unfortunately, if we don’t look beneath and understand those intentions, we can create a mess, even if that wasn’t what was intended.

About the author:  Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.