Marino D’Agostino died 4 months ago. He had a larger-than-life presence, and with very little formal education, Marino had an instinctual wisdom about what it took to succeed in life. He himself succeeded on many fronts against all odds– in business, social life, and even health and longevity (he was 100 years old). I learned a few important insights from this man; one of which I will share with you in this piece. You see, Marino D’Agostino was my father, and one of the most important principles he taught me, was to TAKE ACTION and follow through when I had an idea that I was excited about. It didn’t matter if it worked out or failed, because if I learned something from failure; it was not a wasted effort.
This is what he said, whenever I expressed a desire to go back to school, get another training, start a new writing project, or make a career change. “Start working on it now and by the end of whatever time it takes, that time will have gone by whether you did something about it or not. Take action and you will have something to show for it, instead of just wishing you had done something.”
I hear many people say they have “let themselves go” during the past year and a half. Our lives have changed. Many of us got out of the routines we had pre-pandemic. An example is our exercise, self-care routines, or our nutritious eating habits. We’ve maybe spent more time in front of the computer or TV, less time out dancing, going to the gym or socializing.
Do you feel you have let some of your good self-care habits go since the pandemic, and want to re-boot and reset your direction on a more positive track? Let November be YOUR month to get it done. The month will pass whether you take action or not. Start working towards it now, and at the end of the month you will have something to show for it.
Whatever you goal is, start small and stay focused for the entire month. Research in self-managed behavior outlines 7 specific steps you can take to increase the positive habits you want to see happen or decrease those habits that make you feel bad about yourself. I will lay out an example, that I have used to get back into the habit of daily walking that seemed to go by the wayside during times of lockdown and quarantine.
- CHOOSE A TARGET BEHAVIOR. (e.g., a daily fitness walk)
- RECORD A BASELINE (0, other than saunterings with my dogs)
- ESTABLISH GOAL (start out with 15 minutes a day for the first week, 20 the second week then 30 each day for the rest of the month)
- CHOOSE REINFORCERS (check marks on a calendar, positive self-talk, a restaurant take-out, a special gift I have been wanting)
- RECORD YOUR PROGRESS (I made a weekly graph of the number of times I met my daily walking goal each week for the entire month)
- REWARD SUCCESSES (at the end of the day, if I met my walking goal, I would make a checkmark on the calendar and give myself a thumbs up. Meeting a weekly goal would earn me a Thai take-out meal, at the end of the month I would buy myself something special.
- ADJUST YOUR PLAN AS YOU LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR BEHAVIOR (I made plans to increase my walking to 40 minutes a day before I start my workday, and also add in 3 days of light hand weights for 15 minutes.
In what areas would YOU like to re-set your life and get back on track to feeling and looking your best? Make a commitment to yourself to improve a particular area of your life and keep that promise to yourself by using a focused blueprint, like the one above, to get there. Remember the words of my father: “This time will pass whether you take action or not. So take it.” Let’s just say that this is the month you become your own best friend.
©Raeleen Mautner, Ph.D., LLC
Martin, G., & Pear, J. (2003) Behavior modification. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.