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Updated: Mar 24, 2021

I don’t think I’ll ever really get stuck in a rut. My personality drives me to look for new things: a new restaurant to try, a new movie to watch, a new park to explore – you get the idea.

At the same time, by contrast, another part of my psyche likes order, systems to get things done, loose ends tied up.

That’s why I like routines. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not referring to a rigid schedule that dictates the day, or an inflexible means of washing the dishes or making the bed.

What I am talking about is a pattern of practices that sets us up for a successful day. Not so much a to-do list, a routine is a regimen of actions that prepare you and me – physically, mentally, spiritually – to prosper in our day.

Let me suggest three “rules,” if you will. To help you set up an effective daily routine and to benefit the most from it. And by the way, I’m gleaning said rules from my own practice of routines.

Good Times

What time do you set up your routine? Possibilities abound. Some folks prefer early in the morning. Others just before bed.

But you dictate what works for you. Now remember that the routine’s job is to give you the best return possible on your day, so first thing in the morning makes sense. On the other hand, a bedtime routine can do the same thing.

So I practice both. I began a routine some time ago to flex my body, clear my head, and prepare myself mentally and spiritually for whatever the morning demanded of me. I recently I also initiated a bedtime routine, which helps me to learn from today’s experiences, get ready for tomorrow, and wind down to rest.

Try either or both. In the end, you choose what’s best.

Good Content

OK, you’re asking, “What are these practices you keep talking about?” In other words, what goes into a daily routine?

Again, you include what delivers your best outcome. But I’ll give you a peek at what I do so that it might get your imagination working on this.

My morning begins with a short mindfulness meditation to give me focus and clarity to shape my day. Stretching gets my blood flowing, 8-16 ounces of water recharges my brain, and a look at my agenda ensures that I don’t miss an important appointment or task. Add a few other actions and you have roughly the first hour of my day.

The bedtime routine leans into a different purpose, so its content is a little different. I begin with a final look at email, read something relaxing, and journal about my day. I look at tomorrow’s agenda, then end with stretching and meditation. It’s all designed to remove me from technology and wind down my mind and body for a good night’s sleep.

Good Movement

By “movement” I mean adaptability, flexibility. Don’t be too legalistic with your routines, rather give yourself a lot of grace.

For example, I’ve worked late into the night and gotten up early in the morning. So my routine focuses on getting started again – a short stretch, a glass of water, brief meditation. That’s about it. Something similar may shorten my evening practices. Or in any routine I may do things outside the normal order.

In short, you don’t serve the routine; the routine serves you.

A “Good” Final Note

I can’t emphasize enough how important a routine is for final success. If it feels awkward at first or you stumble over it early on, that’s normal. Keep practicing!

	 Remember… practice becomes habit, habit becomes culture, culture is the pattern of your life.

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Endless Unfinished Projects That Need To Be Done? Or maybe, it is time, (it will be the last time), to finally shed that Covid 10 pounds you accumulated this past year..... Here are my tips to make it happen.

I’m looking out my window at 4-5 inches of snow still blanketing my front lawn. My one hope, as I write this, is that spring is only a month away.

Spring is when life returns and everything feels, smells, and sounds fresh and new.

Spring is, therefore, the time for fresh beginnings and new starts, arguably even more so than New Year’s Day. It seems to me our ancient ancestors were onto something when they started their new year with the spring equinox.

So what new hopes, ideas, or projects are you storing up for spring? Now indeed is the perfect time to set them into motion – at least if you want to seem them become a reality in the months ahead.

If you don’t want your springtime plans to go the way of the dodo bird or it’s distant cousin the New Year’s resolution, let me suggest three quick, easy steps you can put forward right now to raise the odds of real success.


Be Specific About What You Want

This might be easier with some practical projects, say building a new deck on the back of the house. You generally know what you want, what it should look like.

But firm up that idea as much as you can. What building material will you use? What color will it be? What specifically will be the size or dimensions? And so on. Imagine it with as much clarity in your mind so that you actually “see” it before you build it.

Other goals – physical fitness, for example – can be trickier. You can say, “I want to lose weight, get my ‘beach body’ back before summer.” Specifics will mean the difference between success and discouragement. You may say instead, “I need to lose 20 pounds by May 31.” That’s just a little over a pound each week. Doesn’t losing one pound seem much more achievable than even 20?

The point is, specificity has its advantages. It gives you a vision, a target of time, and often manageable steps to success.

Step 2.

Summon Your Support

Once you know what you want to do, look for people who will back you up. They may partner with you and work alongside you. Or they may simply stand on the sidelines and cheer you on. Both are necessary for success.

I can hear someone saying, “I’ve managed just fine so far by myself.” Truth is, there’s really no such thing as the self-made man or woman. We’ve all helped along the way.

I could easily fall into that trap, that I’ve arrived here alone. Until I take time to assess my support system – too many people to list in any one place. But that list includes parents who encouraged and motivated me through high school and college, good teaches in mentors throughout my career(s), a wife who listened to me and backed all my plays.

Who do you need beside you in this particular goal you’ve chosen? Keep the nay-sayers at bay and surround yourself with people who are solid with their experience, generous with their wisdom, and sincere with their enthusiasm for your success.

And, saving the best for last....Step 3.

Reward Yourself

This is always my favorite piece of advice to clients undertaking an assignment or task: Reward yourself… and often!

We all need a pat on the back for a job well done. Whether or not we get that from someone else, how much more so from ourselves?

For example, when I’ve led couples through pre-marital counseling, I would ask them to complete an assignment in communication and problem-solving. Regardless of the outcome, I would advise them to congratulate each other for taking that risky step in vulnerability and then go do something fun together.

The point is, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right? When we stay too long focused on the task, it becomes drudgery. That’s when giving up becomes a powerful temptation.

Another example. Recently I was following a doctor-guided diet to get in better shape. Diets are tough enough, but the following one relentlessly is almost doomed to failure. That’s why the doctor recommended a “reward day” each week. Not a “cheat day” – a term that carries a weight of baggage-laden connotations. Instead, he said, offer yourself a little more liberality with common-sense food choices. The idea was to ease the burden and elevate the will to persist to the final goal of weight-loss.

So design a fitting, recurring reward for your commitment to the task at hand. In other words, pat yourself on the back. It’s like a reset button for the soul. Take a day off. Hang out one evening with friends. Go to dinner or a show with a special someone. Attend a party. Hike in the forest. Get your mind off the job and remind yourself why you undertook it in the first place.

And of course, when you achieve your goal, celebrate BIG!

And Now For The Breakfast Of Champions Playlist:

If you want to feel like a champion-start with some music:

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See my St. Patrick's Day Playlist Below

They say that everybody is a little Irish on St, Patrick’s Day. And why not? The Irish have a lot to teach us about living to the fullest.

Here are a few of their best lessons that I have embraced in my 60 years of experience.

1. Life Is A Journey

It’s good to find your purpose in life and set goals to achieve it.

There’s also something to be said about the journey on the way. Simply put, the path is often more important than the destination.

Few roads travel as the crow flies. We encounter curves, hills, valleys, crowded byways, remote deserts. We may have to navigate around obstacles or even turn back from them. The trek may be frustrating, even discouraging if you focus only on where you’re headed.

But how many times have you taken a side road only to discover a beautiful waterfall you would have otherwise missed? Or a little diner with the friendliest staff around? A mountain scene of heavenly grandeur?

What beauty lies along the path you’re walking? Have you noticed? What lessons do your experiences teach you? What vistas do they show you?

Even if you face challenges on the road, remember that all great journeys are uphill.

2. Nature Heals The Soul

The journey of life can be long and hard. When it gets you down, one simple tip may help tremendously: Get outside!

Much of contemporary life is spent indoors, maybe at a desk, maybe at a cash register or computer. So much of today’s mind-numbing leisure involves electronic gaming and streaming movies. COVID-related quarantines have trapped us inside that much more.

The outcome? Life lived in shadow, breathing stale air, looking at the same old walls, sharing close quarters endlessly with others.

Take a strep outside. Even 10 minutes on your front porch. Breathe in deeply the fresh air. Get a healthy dose of Vitamin D from Brother Sun. Notice how rejuvenated you feel, reawakened, the gathering rest of Mother Nature’s organic peace.

My favorite places in all the world are outside. A waterfall I hiked to in Yellowstone. The sunset beaches of Presque Isle on Lake Erie. But a simple walk in the local park or just around the block can be enough to clear the mind and revitalize the spirit.

3. There Are Thin Places (and Times)

The Celts like to say that heaven and earth are only three feet apart. In thin places, the two come even closer. Thin places turn our eyes inwardly to our authentic, spirit selves, and remind us that there is more to our world than what we physically see.

In thin places we sense the “other” and the connectedness of all things. Caught up in a reality bigger than ourselves, even momentarily, we experience the peace that passes understanding, realize a new sense of purpose, and find hope again.

The Celts had such places as the Isle of Iona and the Cliffs of Moher. Your thin places may be a forest glade, a nearby creek or lake, a mountain cabin, or a sand dune on a beach at night. Wherever it is, there you find yourself. You may even hear the whispers of God.

I also have found thin times in my life – moments and days that mean more than the passing of the hours. Thanksgiving embraces me in grateful bonds of friends and family. I am mesmerized at Christmas by the wonder of Incarnation, Divinity revealing itself in humanity. Yes, St. Patrick’s Day unveils my connection to the homeland of my ancestors, to its people, to its spiritual heart.

Could it be for you a different holiday, your or another’s birthday, a day or hour that has rich meaning only to you? Whenever that may be, treasure its presence and enjoy the dimensions it gives to an otherwise ordinary day.

St. Patrick’s Day comes and goes every year. The wisdom of our Irish ancestors are for always, and can enrich us beyond measure.

My St. Patrick's Day Playlist:
  1. Screaming Orphans #screamingorphans

  2. House of Hamill #houseofhamill

  3. Enter The Haggis #enterthehaggis

  4. Gothard Sisters #gothardsisters

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