New Routines = Better Outcomes

I’m in the middle of reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

I find it fascinating. He masterfully distills tons of research into simple, easy-to-grasp concepts, and leverages the power of story to illustrate not only the how, but more importantly, the what and why.

I’m only 1/3 of the way in, but I just got through reading about how all habits are really a function of three elements: cues, routines, and rewards. Charles also used the back story of AA and the 12-steps of recovery as one example of how changing our routines can literally change our lives.

He got it right.

I know, as I have successfully used and applied the 12-steps for more than three decades. I can attest to the effectiveness of his key premise—that when you change your routines, you change your habits and create new, healthy cravings that produce the results or rewards you desire. The old habits never completely go away. We just learn to replace or override them with new routines. Ones that enhance, and often improve, our outcomes and results.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to it. But one thing is certain, as I’ve heard many times from different people—if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you got. Doing the same things expecting different results is, according to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity.

Am I calling you insane? No. But repeating the same routines and patterns of (often destructive) behavior will not produce a different or better outcome. So stop. Do something different. Aren’t you worth it?

Or, perhaps you’re content with what you have. If so, great. But, if you are like me and the millions of others who struggle with a garden variety of quirks, habits, even compulsions or obsessions, and if you’re not happy with how you feel and where you are, then wouldn’t it be prudent to look at mixing up your routine a bit?

I’ve had to change routines many times throughout my life. I probably always will. So will you.

Here’s one thing I learned in thirty-five years of recovery—changing the habit is often not as hard as the first step: recognizing, admitting, or identifying something that isn’t working. (In my case, the first step: acknowledging that I was an alcoholic and that my life was unmanageable). I’ve practiced that routine— identify the problem before looking at possible solutions—so many times that it has become automatic.

Once I do the first step, then I need to become really clear about what I want (solution/reward), then I need to find the courage to change—to try something different and stick with it until it becomes new routine or habit. Whenever I do this—change my routine (my habits)—just as Duhigg shows in The Power of Habit, my life improves. Yours will too.

Recovering from my addiction to alcohol was just one of many areas where I replaced a routine that was no longer working with one that would.

If we had more time, I could list hundreds of examples from my career, relationships, as a parent, as a leader, as human with normal “life problems” where what I was doing stopped producing the results I wanted and forced or inspired me to want to change. I am sure you have your own list. But the important questions to ask are: what have you done about it that’s worked and what isn’t working? And the bigger question is do you want to do anything about it? If so, I hope you do.

My inspiration and desire to change varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the problems or opportunities I am facing—in other words, if I am not in enough pain or have a big enough need to change, I probably won’t. That’s perfectly normal.

With my addiction, the need was clear— it really was a matter of life or death. In my sales career, I had to stop being afraid of rejection and learn to become more empathetic and confident. In my relationships, I had to stop being a self-centered asshole. You get the idea. In most cases, the threat or reality of losing something was a catalysts for me to get off my ass and do something different.

Sure, each change was uncomfortable, awkward, and even painful at first. Many new habits are. Most change requires courage, boldness, and some deep sense of why (a reward) that adds significance and meaning to the inevitable pain and suffering. But, over time, in recovery and in life, as I learned to replace my old habits with new ones—new routines—my life improved.

I learned not to fear change and that most of what I thought I was afraid of was False Evidence Appearing Real. Lies. Bullshit I believed about who I was and what my worth was and, as a result, I kept repeating the same bad habits expecting different results. Newsflash: That is not a recipe for change or success. But Duhigg’s book is. So is my upcoming release—Ten Seconds of Boldness, as well as hundreds of other proven systems, programs, and resources specific to helping you solve whatever problem or opportunity you have or seek.

But, none of them work, unless you put them into action. Nothing will ever change unless you change your routine, habits, and behavior.

Whatever it is that you may be struggling with or seeking, I hope you A) clearly identify it, B)decide to do something different and, C) find a reason why that is big enough to motivate and sustain you through the pain of change.

I can tell you from personal experience that when you identify the problem, find your why, and harness the courage to change, your life will never be the same again, ever!

If you liked this post and want a little more inspiration and encouragement, please follow me. I will be posting many more blogs and encouraging stories like this which could have a significant impact on your future. You can find more on my website at

Seven Tips for Improving Our Self-Image and Building Self-Confidence:

“All you need to succeed is a willingness to face the unknown and apply the principles of Ten Seconds of Boldness, and enough courage to make a decision and take the first step.” – Shawn Langwell

  1. There are no shortcuts to self-confidence or success. All worthwhile achievement in life is a direct result of having a dream or a vision that requires learning, practicing, and developing the habits necessary to be, have, or do that which you desire. At its core, confidence and success must start with you. Nobody else can determine your dreams or goals. No amount of external motivation will fire you up long enough to help you develop the confidence necessary to feel a meaningful sense of belonging, purpose, and accomplishment.
  2. It’s normal to suffer occasional blows to our confidence. We all do— even star athletes or celebrities. So why then is confidence so hard to build, develop, and maintain? Can it be that we feel the need always to be at the top of our game? That we are so afraid of failing that we don’t ever really try. Or is it more like the song, “Looking for love in all the wrong places”? Are we trying too hard to find confidence in things outside ourselves?
  3. Confidence is not some magic potion. It is built and developed over time, through countless hours of practice and repetition.
  4. Confidence is an experience of being fully present, and at peace with who you are, where you are, now.
  5. Confidence is acceptance of things as they are‑—“It is what it is”— and believing that if you don’t like that, you have the power to respond and react differently.
  6. Building self-confidence is a perpetual quest; it is found in the process of discovering who you really are and who you want to become.
  7. Life is a lot more fun with confidence. When I think of confidence, I think of Stephen Curry. He is, in my opinion, a penultimate superstar. Because of hard work, lots of practice, mental and physical conditioning, creativity, and his willingness to take risks, he dazzles fans around the world with his ball-handling and shooting mastery playing the game he loves—basketball. He exudes fun, joy, humility, and a sense of teamwork that, to me, is the epitome of confidence. But even Steph has off nights. Don’t we all?

If you’d like to learn more, check out my forthcoming book, Ten Seconds of Boldness: The Essential Guide to Solving Problems and Building Self-Confidence. Sign up for early release notification and other helpful tips here:

Avocados, Oatmeal, and Hot Yoga— Bikram Style

Hiking for better health

You may wonder, what do these three things have in common?

Five years ago, after a physical, I was told my cholesterol was too high.  I went on statins which helped to reduce the bad Cholesterol. Later, a good friend of mine suggested a book, “Cholesterol Down” which I’m staring at now. It remains unread. He also suggested that I eat an apple a day, almonds, avocados, and oatmeal, to reduce my cholesterol and get off the statins. I didn’t ask or read the book to find out why.  Instead, I ate an apple, once. I even made avocado toast for a couple days, and had oatmeal once or twice but it gave me gas, so I stopped.  Frankly, the convenience of popping a pill once a day, just seemed easier, far less embarrassing, and the proper protocol to avoid public pollution.

  Three years later my doctor retired, I changed jobs, and had to find a new doc, which also meant another physical. I told my new doc about my high cholesterol and asked her what her thoughts were on statins. “Oatmeal.” She said. “Eat oatmeal. As much as possible. And add flax seed oil to your diet. How much exercise are you getting?” She then asked. Sheepishly, I replied, not much.  “You should exercise at least a half an hour a day, 3-5 days a week,” she said directly.

From that point forward, mostly on weekends over the past five years, I have hiked 70-75% of the Point Reyes National seashore from the Tule Elk Preserve at Pierce Point Ranch, to Alamere Falls, and miles of shoreline between and further south to Tennessee Valley in Mill Valley. Nature is where I connect with my inner spirit and fill my lungs with healing salty air. I also joined a gym and have been playing basketball regularly (2-3x a week) for the past 2 years. All have helped improve my health, lower my cholesterol, and made me feel better about myself.

Fast forward to today. I’ve heard of hot yoga and have had several friends who swore by it. I frequently pass a place called Bikram Yoga Petaluma aka Yoga Hell that was calling my name like a siren at sea. That and the fact that my wife had recently started doing yoga from home again and was extolling how much better it made her feel, led me to go to my first Hot Yoga class.

I could’ve saved a few bucks and tried it at home, watching a video on our TV, but, for me, this coming year is about resilience and stretching my own comfort zone. I needed to feel the HEAT; Hot Yoga was the perfect ticket.

I showed up somewhat apprehensive. The place smelled like the inside of a teenage sneaker and the yoga room was sweaty hot. I found a spot in the back of the room and waited.  Looking around I was one of the oldest guys in the class except for the instructor, who looked to be in his 60’s, but to me, age didn’t seem to matter. I was there to get flexible and increase my lung capacity and maybe help keep my cholesterol down.  Inside, thirty or so men and women, most fit, many young and limber seemed to stretch and breathe with ease. I, along with a few others likely in their 40’s and 50’s seemed to keep pace and do their best.

Sure, I wanted to be able to have perfect form and flexibility but that comes with time. Everything and everyone start at the same place—the beginning. Not once did I feel shamed or judged. I was there. Sweating my ass off and doing it. I wasn’t on my ass in bed watching Netflix and that felt great.

Here’s to you and your healthy goals for 2020. To you becoming willing to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Whatever it is that motivates I encourage you to, at the very least, do something new in 2020. You will be glad you did. It’s been 3 years since I gave up statins.

I recently started eating more avocados, and oatmeal and now, I’m trying out hot sweaty yoga. My cholesterol is back in the safe zone and I feel terrific.

Happy New Year. Happy New You.