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Ahead of the 2018 Tax Season, Consider the Splendor of Living in the Present

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Dec 11th 2017
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As the year draws to a close and you prepare for the tax busy season, here is a little personal story that might be worth contemplating.

I ballooned up to 202 pounds in July 1993 and couldn't stand it. I had been about 182 for most of my adult life and felt comfortable at that weight. As a professional speaker, flying across the country speaking to groups, I felt that it was important for me to "walk my talk," every minute of the day.

To optimally influence others, I decided to embody the message that I was verbally disseminating. If people were to believe me, that they could in fact win back their time, I needed to show up in the present as someone who looked like he had won his time back.

Here is what embodying the message I wished to impart meant for me:

  • Maintaining my ideal weight of 182 pounds.
  • Wear no watch. If I have appointments I simply make sure I'm near a timepiece.
  • Staying off most mailing lists, except for the few that matter.
  • Supplying business reply envelopes to others to ensure their ability of interacting with me.
  • Pausing for at least ten minutes each day to stop, collect my thoughts, and take a deep breath.
  • Avoiding television and electronic addiction; recognizing that a walk outdoors, talking to a good friend, reading, and other activities are more rewarding.
  • Keeping letters and correspondence to one page or, at worst, both sides of the same sheet of paper.
  • Wearing clothing without messages or printing on them.
  • Doing one thing at a time. I don't eat while I read, doodle while I talk on the phone, or give divided attention while in conversation.

Rationalizing Leads to Ineffectiveness
As I began speaking to more groups, it became easy for me to rationalize that my normal exercise routine would be disrupted when traveling, and that it was okay for me to wait until I got back home. The groups to whom I spoke covered my meals on the road, and often had huge luncheons or dinner banquets. It was easy to tank-up on great food, and rationalize that eating was part of the job.

While becoming more successful as a speaker, I had to devise a plan for staying fit both on the road and in between. I had to do so as to not experience hunger cravings, resort to diet pills, or make extreme sacrifices. In the present, in real time, I would honor my weigh and fitness related goals

Here's a brief description of the six key action steps that enabled me to stay in shape and have more energy day in and day out (and, by golly, I'll bet these tips will work for you as well!):

  1.  Do Some Kind of Exercise Every Day. I learned a valuable tip from a friend who is trim and toned. He makes it a rule to exercise at least some portion of each day, even if only a 15-minute walk around the block. Some exercising each day is not just a good idea, it becomes a challenge for you to find ways to work out in confined areas. Suppose you're stuck in a small city, in a hotel without athletic facilities, and there's a thundering rainstorm outside. The test becomes using the hotel's hallways, or even your own hotel room as your gym.
  2. Use your Hotel Room as a Health Club. When you check into your hotel, ask for a non-smoking room on a non-smoking floor. You get your best exercise in rooms where nicotine does not infiltrate the carpets and curtains. You also want to ask if the hotel has a health club, pool, or other type of exercise facility. If they do, great. If not, it's easy to use your hotel room for your workout. When I check into hotels I often ask if a third-floor room is available. (If there's ever a fire I could jump or climb down). Staying on lower floors prompts me to take the stairs more often than usual — I feel guilty taking the elevator to go up a floor or two. Walking up and down stairs is excellent exercise that gives a good workout to muscles of your back, derriere, and legs. Don't use the stairs when you're toting luggage, but once you put the luggage down, use the stairs as often as you can. When it comes to television, work out while you watch. Run in place, do arm circles, or squats. If you've ever taken an aerobics class, you know a variety of exercises that you can do in a four-foot square space.
  3. Patronize the Hotel Health Club. If the hotel has a health club, then you have more tools at your convenience. The treadmills and bike machines are great for warm-ups; in each case you can start at slow speed. While exercising on the road, keep any health club workout light. This is not the time to try to break endurance records.
  4. Walk the Halls. When the hotel has no health club facility, walk the halls or, if the weather is favorable, the grounds of the hotel facility. In many cases, a couple of times around the block will give you 15 minutes of solid walking. If you're near a supermarket or neighborhood shopping center — or better yet, a large shopping mall — you can easily spend an hour walking up and down the aisles and hallways. Don't stop to linger too much to look at the goods; your goal is to stay in motion.
  5.  Using Airports as Your Playground. Suppose you have a layover in an airport for an hour and 45 minutes. Check your largest bag, or all your bags, so you're free and unencumbered. One of the great advantages of airports is that there are water fountains, bathrooms, lots of people to look at, and shops to pass by.
  6.  Break the Cycle. When you work out vigorously for hours on end like many people in health clubs do, you fall into a cycle that's hard to undo:
  • Dehydration, so you fill up on water.
  • Hunger, so you fill up on food.
  • Weariness, so you get a lot of rest.

You wake up the next day hungry and thirsty again, and can end up overeating as a result of your vigorous workouts. When you simply walk, do calisthenics in front of the TV, and pursue other methods of light exercising, you never face the dehydration, hunger, and tiredness cycle. I was able to drop 21 pounds with no hunger cravings whatsoever, and without tiredness. It felt natural, it was relatively easy, and now I don't know how I ever let myself balloon up to 202.

With my newfound energy, I began playing basketball with 18 to 24 year-olds, and walking the historic parts of cities where I speak. All my clothes fit, people routinely mistook me for someone several years younger, and I felt great.

Your goal now is to pick something you wish to master and create measures for proceeding now, as your day and life unfold. Based on the measures that you choose, and the particular circumstances of your life, your plan will be different from someone else's. The plan will work best if you can initiate a part of it every day.

Here are reinforcement techniques:

  • Seek others with goals similar to yours.
  • Post reinforcing statements and reminders in view.
  • Record affirming statements on audio.
  • Determine any cash outlays in advance.
  • Take bite-size action steps.
  • Have someone waiting to hear of your progress.
  • Envision yourself succeeding.
  • Plot your plan on the calendar starting from the end date.
  • Build in some flexibility.

There are people who actually live in the present. These people can open the mail and deal with it when it arrives, respond to phone calls when they come, and depart from the office each evening at a reasonable hour. People who live in the present have a life after work, and take regular vacations. There's no reason you can't be one of these people.

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