Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hey You. Yes YOU! Change Your Life.

The more I have been around this 'change' stuff and the more I work to change things in myself, the more I've come to believe the following two things:

First, I think the biggest hurdle in people's quest to become the best possible version of themselves is fear of failure.  It hurts to fail. It is embarrassing.  It brings shame down on us.  There is not much worse than having to say to yourself "well, I blew it again, no surprise there."  That has been a major hurdle in my life anyway. 

The internet is FULL of stories of inventors, sports heroes, businessmen and others who describe in detail how failures in their lives not only occurred, but were necessary for them to ultimately achieve what they did.  I was reminded of this the other day when I saw this old Michael Jordan advertisement:

A few other great quotes:
Winston Churchill: "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
Ben Franklin: " Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out."
Michael Jordan: "I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."
John Wooden: "Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts."

These are just a few, I'm sure entire books have been written compiling great quotes about failure!  

Second, I think that people generally downplay their successes too much.  It is very easy to look at a success and think to ourselves "ya, but anyone could have done that" or "Ya, but I still can't..."  We downplay our accomplishments and we wallow in our failures.  That is COMPLETELY backward!  We should be downplaying our failures (within reason) and celebrating our successes!  

I believe that making changes in our lives operates very much like a muscle does.  At first, our ability to stick with something, to commit to it, to sacrifice for a goal is weak and feeble, but as we go along and have a few successes (even just a few attempts), that muscle begins to get stronger.  Before we know it we've accomplished something.  Before we know it, we've moved on to a few other things and now we've accomplished several things.  And before you know it, we are able to look in our rear view mirrors and see that those were not small things after all; they were actually pretty BIG things and our attitude becomes "Ok, what next?"  

So get out there.  Pick something small.  Stick with it.  Take it seriously.  Focus on it.  Be intentional about it.  Tell your friends and family about it.  Celebrate your successes.  You can do it.  You deserve it. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Change! Stop Being Afraid!

To take the red pill, or the blue pill. That was the question facing Neo in the mega-hit movie The Matrix. One pill led down the rabbit hole, where all of his questions would be answered and the life he knew would be gone forever. The other pill led back to his own bed and his old life and he would be left wondering if this had all been a dream. Because he's the hero in our movie, he chose the new life. He chose to leave his old life behind and face the unknowns of a world he'd never experienced before.

How many of us would have had the courage to make such a choice? Not many, I'm afraid. For most people, change is terrifying, sometimes even infuriating. Try changing the location of the coffee machine at your office or if you're feeling particularly brave, try changing the flavor of the coffee. Do both and you're likely to need a police escort to your car! Such a meaningless thing, but it would generate such a large reaction.

People hate change. Is it because they like their lives so much? I don't believe so. I read that Oprah recently had a poll on her website where the question was simply, "Are you happy with yourself". A whopping 75% of those polled responded 'no'. Only 1 in 4 of us consider ourselves to be happy. Isn't that shocking? Isn't it sad?
So should we conclude that people are generally unhappy and that they generally want to stay that way? That doesn't make any sense either. Walk up to any random person on the street and ask them list off the things that are going badly in their life right now and they are almost certain to rattle off a quick list of five or ten things.

So it's not that we're already happy...and it's not that want to be unhappy. There must be something else to this.

I recently read about a scientific study that had been done on mice. Researchers had set up a pedal that the mice would push to get a food pellet. Once the mice had mastered this, the researchers played a cruel, cruel trick on them. They wired the pedal so that it gave the mice a large shock of electricity at the same time it dispensed the food pellet. It shocked the mice every time they went for a food pellet. Reading the results of that study, it appears that the most a mouse ever went back to that pedal was five times. Never did a mouse go for a 6th time. The mice literally starved to death rather than go back and be shocked again (sounds like a horrible experiment doesn't it?).

I think that as children grow to become adults, with regard to change, we are very much like those mice. I think we've learned that trying to change and failing is very painful. I think we've learned that trying to change all on your own is incredibly difficult. I think we've learned that if we announce to the world that we're trying to change, there will be a long line of people looking to tell us why we won't be able to do it and why we're almost certainly going to fail. I think we've learned that because of their own insecurities, people love to point and laugh when they see someone fall short of their goals.

The world is a cruel place and changing requires courage and thick skin. Those are two qualities that many of us just don't feel like we've got. Not today anyway. Maybe tomorrow. No, not tomorrow, but Monday for sure. Or maybe after the holidays or after New Years.

I think at the most basic level, people don't change because of OTHER people. That is a horribly sad reason to continue on a course that has led to unhappiness. Isn't it time to to start making the best decisions for yourself rather than choosing the path with the least amount of risk or the least amount of difficulty?

You CAN change the way you want to change. You CAN be the person that you want to be. Isn't it time you stood up and embraced your true identity? It all starts with a single choice, a single decision. Make that decision today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why Not Now?

We've had numerous inspiring missions begun over at www.loopchange.com including people wanting to get in shape, wanting to quit television, reading the Bible in 90 days, drink more water, keep a journal, etc.

Now that we're beginning to gather some data, the thing I'm finding the most interesting is the large number of people who register for an account, and then never do anything with it.  They don't start a mission, they don't begin to encourage others in their mission (which is a great first step by the way), they just seem to disappear.

That's had me wondering a bit.  Are these people who want to start a mission, but just can't quite commit?  I know that I've often been faced with a wave of fear and anxiety when I've had to make a hard decision.  I think that's it.  I think it's pretty darn scary to actually admit out loud "I'm going to change X about myself."  It sure opens up an opportunity for a visible failure...

I suppose, in their head, people weigh their options.  Do I really want to change this?  How badly do I want to change this?  How hard is it going to be?  How much is the sacrifice going to hurt?  And those things lead them to say Nahhh, never mind.  I'll do it later.

But I think that is a mistake.  I think you are valuable enough that you are worth suffering for.  Yes, it's going to be hard.  Yes, there is a chance you might fail.  But don't let a little fear stop you from being the best 'you' that you can! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

5 Tips for Breaking Habits

Last year, when we began researching the concept for loopchange, we did an awful lot of research about the process of changing habits, the methods people had found to be successful and we stumbled across an awful lot of sketchy information.  Also in that time, I was constantly attempting to perform my own case study using myself and some friends who agreed to be voluntary lab rats for the "cause."

Through my own successes and failures, here is what I've found so far:

1 - Committing to a change of some kind is HARD.  Your first battle will be fought before you've even begun.  You can safely expect a barrage of reasons that you can't do it, that the timing is wrong, that next week would be better.  You've got to tell that voice to shut up!  I believe that subconsciously that is our 'fear of failure' rearing its ugly head.  Failing hurts.  Failing publicly can be humiliating.  Our deepest being knows that, and wants to keep us away from such 'risks'

 2 - Write down your goals.  Be specific and include details.  Vaguely defining your goal leads down the path of failure.  How, exactly, are you going to change your diet?  How much TV will you allow yourself to watch?  The more details that are provided, the more likely the person is to succeed.

3 - Accountability.  At loopchange we help to connect you with people who will be holding you accountable.  Don't get me wrong though, our community is made up of people who honestly CARE about your progress.  They aren't checking in on you, waiting to pick, poke, prod and point fingers.  They are checking in on you so that you know your mission is important to them (because it is).  Finding some real world accountability helps a great deal as well.  Tell a friend or a family member what you're doing.  Ask them to help if it looks like you're struggling.

4 - Encourage other people who are trying to change something about themselves.  I cannot stress the value of this step enough.  The word 'encourage' originally, literally meant 'to put heart into'.  To build someone up.  There is a fascinating phenomenon that occurs when we encourage other people - we feel encouraged and stronger ourselves.  It's fascinating, but true.

5 - How long will it take to change?  The only scientific research I've found on the topic says 19+ days (where the + can be 200 or more days).  There is no set answer, but it will take exactly as long as it will take.

Using my own experience, I've come to believe that the commitment, faithfulness, dedication and will to change is very much like a muscle.  As you get a few successes under your belt and build up your confidence a bit, you'll find that you become significantly stronger in those areas.  When you've faced and completed a mission to change something, it will be much easier to tackle something else.  Before you know it, what started as a scary, anxiety filled experience will become something that you are excited about - and you will find that you'll gain so much momentum that you will be changing left and right.

But it all begins with that single step.  You have to find a way to ignore that voice in your head telling you it's not worth it - because IT IS!

Monday, September 12, 2011

5 Tips for Breaking Habits

Everyone struggles sometimes.  Everyone feels like giving up (at least a little) when the going gets tough.  Here are 5 tips that might nudge you back on course. 

  1. Our research indicates that the more detail you give; the more likely you are to successfully complete your mission.  Vague missions are almost never successful.  If you’ve made the mistake of being vague, come on back and get specific in your most current day update.  It is never too late to commit to details.
  1. Have you fallen off of the wagon and skipped a few days?  Don’t worry!  Come on back and pick it back up.  Character is not defined by how many times we fall, but by how many times we get back up.  So get up and get back on track.  You won’t be judged by the loopchange community, you’ll be welcomed back with open arms (I don’t think you realize how important you are over there!)
  1. Incorporate some folks in the real world to help keep you accountable.  Mention to friends or family members what you’re trying to accomplish.  Keeping your mission a secret almost never helps you.  Don’t be afraid, we KNOW you can do this!
  1. Stay focused on sticking with your plan 1 day at a time.  It’s very intimidating to commit to changing something for life.  It’s scary to commit to changing something for a year.  But 21 days, 1 day at a time is do-able.  We promise.
  1. Don’t devalue your importance.  When we’re struggling it is easy to begin to believe “it really wasn’t that important.”  That is another way of saying “I’m really not that important.” That is a LIE.  You ARE that important (and more).  It was important enough for you to commit to, so do yourself the service of sticking with it for 21 days. 
So get back on that horse!  If you haven't started a mission yet, then head over to http://www.loopchange.com and start yours today.  It's fast, it's free, it's easy; and you'll be on your way to a new you before you know it.

Have you come with anything the helps you to stick with a new habit?  I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting Healthier by Christmas

It's a big week in loopchange-land.  Another mission hit it's 21 day mark.  Paula has now been encouraging and inspiring us for 21 days and her positive outlook on life has been a refreshing reminder that life is good for each of those 21 days.  
She's shared great (and healthy) recipes, she's been honest about her stumbles and she's shown us what character is all about by staring down temptations and making right choices.  She hasn't quite reached her goal yet, but I have absolutely no doubt that she will and I hope she continues updating her mission because I will be celebrating with her when she does!  

I hope you're as inspired by Paula as I have been.  I think she's honest, genuine, open and committed.  I hope you think so too.

Hi! My name is Paula.  I am 48 years old and have struggled with my weight ever since I married right out of high school. Fifty pounds is what I have put on since that wonderful day when I married my high school sweetheart almost 30 years ago....and he is  still my sweetheart, and we have two children; a son 27 and a daughter 17.  Life has been GOOD, GOD IS GREAT! I have always wanted to loose the weight. I have never dieted seriously, but have always lost about 15 to 20, then gain it back.....and each time I would loose , I would say this feels so good, I am never going to put this weight back on, GUESS WHAT ...I did. I have never been really depressed over my weight.....but knew that I needed to lose it, and wanted to, and wanted to eat healthier and be healthier.
WHAT GOT ME ON THE RIGHT TRACK - My husband and I headed out this past May for our Annual Trip on our Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra. The trip this year was to Tennessee and North Carolina…to see the Smokey Mountains. They have some beautiful Waterfalls, and many of them have to be accessed by trails…which YOU GUESSED IT…are straight up the hills and mountains.  Many times I found myself waiting at the bottom of the trails for my husband and friends to return to bring back their stories and pictures. I WAS SO OUT OF SHAPE….my heart had to pump really hard, and it was beating loudly in my ears, and when I did decided to hike up the mountains I was having to stop so often that I was keeping everyone else from getting on up there in a timely manner.  I felt so bad for my husband, because he was having to go with out me.  I could go on more about the trip, and how it affected me, but I think that the point has already been made….lol. I NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING! SO I DID. 
We arrived back home on May 31st, and on June 1st I started my diet, and started to the gym.  I knew I didn’t just need to be a diet, but needed a healthier way of eating for a life time.  I asked my husband if he was ready to diet, told him I was going to be ready for next years trip…..he agreed and we both are doing it together.
LOOPCHANGE…….I accidently ran on to this site……I was searching for some place to record my daily struggles and my daily excitement (when things were going good)  a place to talk to other’s and to share our experiences, our ideas, our recipes  etc. At the time I joined LOOPCHANGE, I had already lost 27 pounds….and was on my way.  I just today made it to my 21st day,  I have lost another 6 pounds since LOOPCHANGE came into my every day schedule. I am pretty sure that I would not have lost 6 pounds as fast as I did, If it had not been for the encouragement, help, advice and recipes that I got from the nice folks here.  I looked forward each morning to getting online , signing in , and seeing all the comments that had been made on my post….BECAUSE I knew that it would give me strength, encouragement and would just let me know that there are others out their dealing with weight problems and other things just as myself.
MY REGRET……is that I have not been able to reply to as many as their post as I would like…my time is limited do to work …..but my thoughts and well wishes were each and everyone of them…no matter what their mission was.
I will continue to update my mission, and I am sure there will be other missions that I will start as well.   I have about 17 pounds to lose to get to my goal of losing 50.  Part of my mission is to lose it before Christmas….I’m certainly going to try…but if not by Christmas….I know that I will lose it not to far from that. 

So there you have it.  If you're reading this, why haven't YOU started a mission yet?  You can do whatever it is that you want to do.  There is no better day to start than today!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lost 10 Pounds in 21 Days!

One of our users has just completed her first 21 days on the site.  And though her journey isn't complete yet, she's truly been an inspiration.  She has a heart for encouragement and is a born leader.  Reading through her mission again, these two quotes sum it up pretty well for me:

Day 1:  Worked out on the treadmill.  I was "aiming for 30 minutes, but could only do 25"
Day 22:   "Thinking about buying one of those recumbent exercise bike's this weekend, I notice that I am getting stronger and now want more options during my workouts, I think before too long my whole living room will be turned into a gym"

If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is!  You can read Sarah's full journey here:  http://bit.ly/qe7V6N
Without further ado, here's Sarah!

Hello, I'm Sarah and I have begun a weight loss journey.  I was very blessed the day I happened to stumble upon loopchange because it has changed my life in more ways than one.  I am 29 year's old and my starting weight was 322 pounds.  I have attempted many times to lose weight and I never stuck with it.  I always just gave up and told myself I might as well face it, I'll always be over weight. I finally woke up and decided I was making losing weight harder than it actually was.  Why not try and start small? So I did.  I began giving up sodas and sweets.  That was not an easy task.  I struggled with it because I loved my soda more than I did water and it felt like an addiction.  I went through withdraws and I fell off that wagon many times but I picked myself back up and continued with it.  Then I began feeling guilty every time I would drink a soda and I learned a trick with water: I hated tap water and didn't really care for bottled water either; I realized I loved my sodas ice cold, so I decided to just start pouring a cup of ice in my water and I fell in love with it. I started giving the soda and sweets up back in April.  It took me at least until June before I knew I finally kicked the habit. I loved cheesecake, Reese's cups and many more but for me, I was very lucky they were not as hard as I thought they would be to give up.
  I started watching my weight drop on the scale.  By July I had already dropped 20 pounds by just giving up the sweets and sodas and drinking nothing but water. I realized I can do this and it was time to kick it up a notch.  I decided I wanted to purchase a treadmill and happened to stumble on a very nice treadmill at Walmart and made the purchase.  I got it home and set it up over the weekend.  The week of July 20th, starting that Monday I got online and did a lot of research on treadmill routine's.  I asked a question on yahoo questions and found replies to other people's question that was similar to mine, (I cant remember what question it was I asked now).  Well I read one person's reply to the question and it said to try loopchange.com.  It was a website to break habit's in 21 days and you pick a mission (a habit) you want to break and you begin your mission by writing what you want to accomplish and change; what are your fears and so on, and you update it daily, and others can see it and post encouraging words along the way, and you are held accountable when you mess up.  I figured why not give it a try, So I did.  I started a mission July 20th to lose 15 pounds in one month by eating healthy, learning to count calories and daily exercise. The first day started out great, I stuck to my diet and did my exercise for the day.  As the week progressed I stumbled with days of just not wanting to get up and exercise, or over sleeping and not getting up in time for breakfast, or just flat out not wanting to eat breakfast, or skipping lunch here and there.  I fought through the bumps and the temptations. I never gave up though, I kept fighting.

I found myself one night pulling into Whataburger's parking lot fighting a temptation.  I had skipped lunch that day and figured I could splurge a little at Whataburger, so when I pulled in I saw two cars in front of me and changed my mind and pulled away.  My husband looked at me and said "I am so proud of you", that just completely made my night when he said that and began to change my way of thinking when it comes to food. My husband is my biggest supporter.  We are both in this together.  He still struggles with eating healthier foods and I never force him to change his habit's.  If I cook dinner and its something healthy he'll eat it and be ok with it.  If we swing by subway, I'm ordering a turkey on wheat and he's ordering an Italian BMT.  He has lost a lot of weight so far the way he's been working at his job and especially in this heat and drinking less soda's as well.  Total so far we are about even he's lost 30 pounds and I have lost 30 pounds! Crossing that finish line together as a team!!!!!

My weight loss is not over.  I may have crossed that 21 day milestone, and I still have a long way to go, but with loopchange, I am able to log my daily doings, and it has helped me set a routine for myself, getting up and eating breakfast in the morning, a quick snack a few hours later, then have lunch, then another quick snack a bit later and then supper. It's made me more aware of what I am eating everyday and what I am lacking in eating. I have never liked veggies, so I never eat them.  Someone suggested just having a taste test with them and see which one's you can do and start with that, well I did, so far pea's are pretty good, and I love corn, I am still working on the others and I know I will get there I just have to be patient. I was a major couch potato, I hated doing anything strenuous and just never had the motivation, so i began working out on the treadmill.  I had to start out slow so I wouldnt get frustrated and just give up.  I began doing just 15 minute walks on the treadmill.  I aimed for an hour total at first and decided to break them down. Four 15 minute walks on the treadmill a day, then I would change it to 3 20 minute walks on the treadmill.  I was getting better at the treadmill and ventured on to other things. One day I just decided to get up turn the music on and dance, I really enjoyed that!  It gave me a good workout and it was something different. then I decided to buy zumba for the wii.  Now I really enjoy zumba on the wii and it is very difficult to keep up with but fun at the same time, but I started noticing a little pain in my knees when i would walk on the treadmill and figured maybe with the zumba I was putting a lot of pressure on my knees.  I have two bad knees.  My right knee has pins in it holding my knee cap in place.  My left knee cap goes out of place too but I have not had surgery for it yet. So I have kind of slacked off on Zumba, but have continued on with the other exercises I have been doing.  When I started loopchange, my starting weight was 302 within 3 weeks, 21 day's I have lost 10 pounds and I notice a difference in myself, in my confidence and strength. I never thought I would be one to exercise daily, nor eat healthy, or be able to give up sodas. I have broken so many bad habits in 21 days as well as start good habit's. My weight loss journey is no where near done, but I am on the right track and have accomplished so much already in just 21 day's!

No more excuses I dont want to anymore, this is my time!! My time to make that change I've wanted for so many years~
Thank you Sarah! I can't wait to see where you go from here!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Introducing: loopGroups

Today is a big day for loopchange.com.  We are introducing our latest feature (absolutely free, just like everything else on the site).  I think this tool has the potential to be tremendously useful to many, many different types of groups (work out partners, friends, families, church groups, trainers, support groups and just about anything else!)

loopGroup FAQ
  1. What is a loopGroup?
     A loopGroup is a private group that can be created on loopchange.  Missions and comments made within a loopGroup are visible only to members of that loopGroup.  Be aware, all terms of service still apply and loopchange administrators can see all content submitted into a loopGroup.

  1. How do I form a loopGroup?
     On the right side of the ‘Mission List’ page, you will see a link that says ‘join/form a loopGroup’.  Click that link.  Find the section for forming a group and fill out the form.  You will need to name your group; assign a password and then briefly describe the purpose of your group.  All loopGroups must be approved by an administrator.  If your application is denied, you will receive a message explaining why as soon as is possible.

  1. How do I find members for my loopGroup?
      loopGroups are for you and your real-life friends/co-workers/work out partners/church members/family/team/neighborhood/etc.  Before forming a loopGroup, you should already have people in mind who you’d like to invite.  Upon forming your loopGroup, you will receive an email with the name and password associated with your loopGroup.  You can then forward that email to those folks who you’d like to share missions with.

  1. How do I join a loopGroup?
     If you’ve gotten an email invitation from a group leader, just follow the instructions there.  You will need to set up a loopchange account; validate the account and join the loopGroup using the name and password provided to you by your group leader. 

  1. Is there a limit to the number of members a loopGroup can have?
     At this time there is no limit. 

  1. Can I be a member of more than one loopGroup?
      At this time, there will be no limit placed on the number of loopGroups you can join.

  1. If I join a loopGroup, can I still post in the ‘public’ missions?
      Absolutely!  We believe that much of the benefit users get at loopchange is from encouraging others.  loopGroup members are encouraged to continue to support all users in the public domain.  A loopGroup member can also have both private and public missions going at the same time.  We want you to continue to be involved members in all aspects of the site, not only their loopGroups.
Have a question that wasn’t addressed here?  Send an email to admin@loopchange.com and you’ll hear back as soon as possible.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Keeping a Journal for Wife and Kids

Loopchanger - Woody - has done what I think is an amazingly awesome thing.  I asked him here to tell you about it.  Heeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrreeeee's Woody:

Thanks!  I'm really happy to be given the opportunity to share what I've learned through this process that is currently 55 days old (and counting).  It has been an absolutely amazing experience and I believe it has enriched my life tremendously.  Even if the Journals were never read or enjoyed by my Wife and Kids, the benefit that I've gotten is mind boggling.

So awhile back, I was at a conference and one of the speakers was discussing that he keeps a small journal for each of his children.  In this journal, he generally writes a sentence or two every so often when something neat or funny happens.  The amazing thing was that he has 6 kids!!  I can't even imagine.  Anyway, I had actually kept a journal for my first born with sporadic entries through my Wife's pregnancy and into baby/toddler life.  I was probably writing once a month or so.

Unfortunately, when my second child was born, I found that my writing completely dried up.  I think I felt a lot of guilt over the fact that my first born had gotten a lot more entries and at their current age (5 and 2) there was an awful lot more 'interesting' going on with the 5 year old than the 2 year old.  Anyway, this fear of in-equality led to me abandoning the project completely which is horribly sad.  But anyway, this speaker inspired me to begin keeping separate journals for each child with an entry of some kind written every day. 

As sort of an add-on, I decided, why not add my Wife to the mix as well?  And so it was that I decided that I would commit a small part of each morning to write SOMETHING to each member of my family that I got, enjoyed, laughed at or regretted about the previous day.  This was a daunting and scary commitment, but with the help of loopchange and a belief that there was a lot of good that could come from such a project, I committed to a 21 day trial.

It turned out that with practice, I was able to complete my journal entries in just about 15 minutes.  Quite a small price to pay for such a (potentially) meaningful project.  In just the first few days, I experienced some absolutely amazing realizations.  Before this project if I were asked "how are things", my response would have been "nothing new, same old stuff".  But with only 15 minutes of focus each morning, my eyes were suddenly opened. 

Every single day, awesome, inspiring, lump in your throat inducing, hilarious things were happening in my life but somehow I wasn't taking notice of them.  I wasn't dwelling on them.  I wasn't allowing myself any moments to reflect on them and store them away in my memory.  They were very literally passing before my eyes and disappearing from my mind forever.  In retrospect, I find it horribly sad that so many wonderful memories are just lost.  Forever!

As time has gone by, the sense of wonder I get when I reflect on the previous day hasn't diminished at all.  Sure, over the 50+ days there have been plenty of entries where I've phoned it in (normally because of some distraction in my life that is preventing me from getting 'peaceful' before beginning my 15 minutes.  But all in all, it has been wondrous.  Sometimes I write a single sentence.  Sometimes I write a full page.  Some things that I've recorded that stand out in my mind (it will be incredibly difficult to limit this to 5 each):

With my Oldest:
-  first time riding a two wheel bike without training wheels
-  coming to me to talk it over when I'd accidentally hurt her feelings
-  collecting roly-poly's in the yard and researching on the internet what they eat so she could keep them
-  first run-in with some girls at school who didn't like her
-  reading a book by herself for the first time

With the youngest:
  -  first time he said "i yuv you"
  -  first time playing with a baseball and bat
  -  first time he said "I'm Daddy's boy!"
  -  first injury - a little cut over his eye
  -  first trip to Disneyworld (complete with kisses from all the princesses)

And many more, just as good about my Wife.  My only 'rule' is to keep it positive.  I don't re-hash arguments or use the journal as a means of getting in the last word or re-hashing arguments.  All in all, this mission has very literally changed my life. It has also given me an entirely new 'approach' to parenting and marriage.

If I don't have SOMETHING interesting to write each morning, some interaction, something to laugh about, something interesting, something touching, etc then I'm not doing it right (it being parenting and being a husband). 

To sum up - EVERYONE should be doing this.  It will absolutely change your life.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Back Up, Back Up, Back Up

Guess I should back up and mention what the site is all about before continuing (why didn't I think of THAT for the first post??).

What is loopchange?

The world specializes in tearing people down; in discouraging change; in telling you what you can't be and what you can't do. We are tired of accepting that lie. We think it’s time to start taking back our lives and working to become the person that we really want to be deep inside.

Loopchange was built around the concept that by clearly stating our goals in a public way (even if it is technically anonymous) and by giving daily updates on our progress, failures, fears, struggles and successes; a person really can change their patterns and habits. Deep down, many of us are frustrated by the things we do. Many of us wish we could be different – even in small ways – and we’re here to tell you that you CAN be.

Look at how much time you spend at your job; doing laundry; working around the house; watching television and any of the other dozens of daily activities that combine to make up your life. Isn’t it time we carved out just a few minutes a day to begin improving ourselves? Loopchange can help you do that. Spend a few minutes a day here starting a mission; updating your daily progress – and hopefully encouraging others who are going through the very same struggles you are – and we believe you can change your life….one small step at a time.

You can make changes. You can become the person that you want to be. I know it. Deep down you know it. Now, let's get started.

So there you have it.  That is what we're about.

Feel free to pop over for a visit:  www.loopchange.com

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Changing a Habit: Quitting Television

We're going to occasionally ask loopchange users who've completed a mission if they'd be willing to come and 'guest blog' about their experience.  So, without further ado, here is Habanero - one of our users who recently completed a mission to give up television for 21 days.

Hello.  My name is Habanero and I'm a TV junkie.  (Hi Habanero!)  It's been 21 days since I watched my last television show and I feel great! 

It's sad to say, but for the last several years my life has very literally revolved around the television.  What's even worse is that many of the shows I watched, I didn't really even like!  When I was sitting at my desk (at work) letting my mind drift toward post-work events, my first stop was always "what's on tonight?"  I could pretty much recite the line up of programs I watched every day of the week.  It almost seems crazy now looking back at it and it hasn't even been that long!

This site gives some statistics of American television use that is amazing.  They say that the average American watched 4 hours of TV per day.  This equates to 2 months of non-stop television watching PER YEAR!  In a 65 year life, they say that person will have watched television for 9 solid years! 

After I'd stumbled upon the loopchange website, I'd been trying to think of a mission I could try.  My reliance on television quickly came to mind.  At the same time though, I was honestly scared of trying it!  I am married and have two young children.  How would I fill all of that time that the TV had been filling for me?  Would my Wife and I have anything to talk about??  Would I be bored out of my mind?? 

It was an adjustment at first.  At times, I didn't know what to do with myself.  I had moments where I literally sat and did nothing.  But those feelings quickly passed.  I read a lot of books.  My Wife and I had some great conversations.  I got a LOT more sleep!  In retrospect, the overwhelming feeling that I had was freedom.  I was free of the feeling that I was committed to watch a number of television shows each night that I honestly didn't care about anyway!

It felt wonderful.  It continues to feel wonderful!  It has been a little over 40 days since I began my mission.  Between the end of the official mission (21 days in) and now; I have watched a little television.  I actually even began watching an old TV series that I'd been wanting to see (The Wire).  But my life has definitely been changed.  My 4-5 hour a night habit is currently something like 2-3 hours per week.  I like my life a LOT better now. 

So, if you're reading this and you've considered trying to cut down on the amount of time you spend in front of the television; my advice is DO IT!  Right away.  Don't wait.  You won't regret it.

If you're interesting in reading Habanero's full journey - you can read it here: quitting television.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How have you changed lately?

Can you name one way that you've changed in the last month?  The last year?  I don't think "I get my gas at Exxon instead of Valero now" qualifies.  I don't think "I bought fat free yogurt last time I was at the store" qualifies.  I don't think "I switched my cell phone provider from Verizon to Sprint" qualifies.

This is your LIFE we're talking about!  You only get one shot at it.  Stop settling for an existence that allows days on end to pass without you really even making a ripple in your existence; without you committing to get the most out of this life that you possibly can.

Take 2 minutes.  Make a list of 10 things you'd like to change about yourself - make sure they are 10 things that you actually have some amount of control over.  Some examples might be:

- Cut down the amount of time you watch television each day
- Keep a journal for your spouse and kids
- Modify your diet
- Make time for exercise
- Re-adjust your priorities to make sure you get the sleep you need to be all you can be for your family
- Get a habit like email of facebook under control
- Make time to do something you've always wanted to do

There are endless possibilities.  Pick something, ONE thing and go with it.  You'll be amazed at the amount of momentum you can build as you get through the first thing on your list.

Here is your action plan:
- Make your list
- Pick one thing (make it one that seems easier)
- Tell a friend about your plan
- Go to http://www.loopchange.com
- Make an account
- Start a mission
- Come back once per day to update your progress
- Browse the other mission and encourage others in their missions (you'll be amazed at how much strength this step will give you)
- Rinse and Repeat once you've got the first change handled

Now, that voice in your head telling you "I can't", "maybe later", "it's not a good time", "I'm not strong enough to do that kind of thing" - that voice is going to ALWAYS be there.  It will not leave your head until you force it out, so stop listening to it.  You CAN.  Now is perfect.  Today is a GREAT time.  You ARE strong enough and deep down you know it.