July is coming to a close…

I have a hard time believing that the year is more than half over. Maybe that’s because I’ve been able to do some things, and travel a little for the first time since August 2019.

Still, there are things I meant to do that I have left undone. I’m always behind in my writing, my exercise, my reading and my keeping up with the friends and relatives I have begun to catch up with after 50 years of benign neglect.

Yes, whether it’s Covid or alcohol or medical difficulties, we do tend to find ourselves with skewed priorities. Even when it’s more a feeling than an active concern, most of us find ourselves coming up short in what we claim we value and what our time sheets would actually say.

Example? If I really want to know my actual priorities it’s easy to discover. Just take a week or two and track how much time you spend doing what. Bur before you start, list what you tell yourself is important.

Most of us who do this discover a wide discrepancy between what we think and say and what we actually do.

Yes, I’m as guilty as anyone. If not then I’d be emulating Stephen King and writing 3 hours a day, 365 days a year, or the equivalent. Instead, actually, I write about 1 – 2 hours a day, 4 – 5 days a week. And I watch a lot more TV than I would ever admit to.

Then there is the other side. Even when I plan I underestimate the work involved and overestimate how much I can/will get done. My “guess-timates” might have been accurate 15 or 20 years ago, but not now that my endurance has dripped 30% since I was 55.

A real example from this month. Friend Judy went off to spend 4 days on a spa retreat to Canyon Ranch with her daughter. I thought, “Great. Now I can get the front entry doors, screen doors and sidelights repainted inside and out.” A project that Judy has wanted to get done for a couple of years.

The results? I did finish the project but it took 12 days of off and on work, not the concentrated 4 days she was gone.

Yes, there were lots of complications including the usual “everything takes longer than it does,” and temperatures that climbed above 100 degrees every day and, as I know, I can’t do diddly when the temp is above 80 or so. My physiology says no (Alaska worked well for me).

Of course there were also the usual suspects – most surfaces needed 3 coats of paint not 2; Masking was an endless nightmare; hardware had to be replaced and so on and on and on.

The point? I’d have been happier if I had been more realistic about the time frame. Yes, the entry looks great, Judy is thrilled, and I’m off the hook for a couple of other projects for a while. But? I’d have felt happier had I been realistic in the planning instead of feeling like I was always behind.

As usual, what’s my point?

If you’re reading this then you’ve either come to work with Mary Ellen and me, either in person or via Zoom, or you’ve been thinking about modifying your relationship with alcohol but haven’t gotten around to it nor do you really have any plan to do that.

Just to put the squeeze on you slightly, the newsletter and our services are going to expire in about 6 months.

Back to the intro here. How many hours a week do you actually spend drinking, planning to drink, recovering from drinking, hiding your drinking, minimizing your drinking and taking 10 minutes a week to reading this newsletter as a way of pretending you are doing something about your problems?

Contemplation Hell

I’ve written about it before, and probably will again before January rolls around, but regardless of the issues we face at any point in our lives, the usual response is to camp out in “contemplation hell.”

Lose weight? Quit smoking? Get married or divorced? Quit or modify drinking habits? Go back to school? Change jobs, professions, careers? Feel free to add your own collection at this point.

Essentially it comes down to change – something we are all loathe to do.

The research on change is clear, thanks to Doctors Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente as outlined in their groundbreaking book, Changing For Good.

As they outline, change follows a predicable course:

Precontemplation – denial;
Contemplation – awareness;
Preparation – research;
Action – movement;
Maintenance – Staying there;
Recycling – learning from “relapse.”

No one who is reading this is in “Precontemplation,” obviously. But many will spend the rest of their lives in contemplation and preparation, never taking action. Many of our clients have seen signing up to work with us as the first real action they have taken. They are usually right.

Another co-occurring consideration is motivation. Why bother?

Motivation is very individual and isn’t something you need to share but you do need to be very specific about what really motivates you, and, no, it doesn’t need to be politically correct or high-minded, it just needs to involve being honest with yourself. I didn’t quit smoking because it was healthy or expensive but because not smoking allowed me, single at 55, to date a better group of women. Effective if not admirable.

That’s the point. What will motivate you to move from contemplation and preparation to action?

If I knew that I could write more effective newsletters and web page copy but I really don’t know because motivation is nearly always personal and individual. Most of us spend one day saying it’s time to change and the next saying not yet.

So tell me, how can I help you move off the dime, as the saying goes?