What do Trips, Illness and Celebrations Have In Common?

What do Trips, Illness and Celebrations Have In Common?


Newly hatched habits are cute and cuddly—everyone loves them—but they’re basically defenseless and they must be carefully protected. Special days (like holidays) and special circumstances (like illnesses or vacations) can be deadly to young, defenseless habits.

Habits are triggered by cues. I have developed a bunch of habits that are cued by the regular events of my work day.

I get on the train in the morning and I meditate and then I write.


At 12:00 I get a notice on my computer to go to the gym. I get to the gym and I work out.


I’m a meditating, working out, writing, productive monster!!!

But what if I don’t go to work on the train? Do I do all those things anyway?

Of course…

I don’t.

Actually I sometimes do but not regularly. On vacation in Hawaii I kept up with my workouts and mediation but I didn’t write. In Maine I went for one run and that was it. No meditation. No writing.

I had a great time but it broke up the flow of getting things done and establishing patterns and it took an effort to get back on track. Some habits, like writing a gratitude list and a poem every evening, were all but killed by a break in routine.

Actually they did die. Who am I kidding. The trip to Maine put them in the hospital and then Labor Day pulled the plug.

But I’m going to bring them back to life. In this grotesquely extended metaphor that is making everyone uncomfortable including me, I am going to open up the skylight during a thunderstorm and shoot lightning into their cold, dead bodies until they rise from the slab as I laugh like a maniac,

Okay, back to practicality.

The key is to create structures that support positive action. Habits are structures. So are support groups, calendar reminders, accountability buddies, temptation bundles, motivational kitty posters and bets. The secret is to create structures that work even when you travel or have a day or two with a weird schedule.

I have a mild illness right now and I’m not going to work today. That means no train and no outlook calendar reminder. Depending on how I feel I may forgo the workout but I’m going to meditate and write and I’m going to figure out a way to support those habits even when I’m at home.

PLEASE let me know if you have systems or structures that work on normal days and unusual days.

Now it’s time to roll back the skylight and let in the lightning.


Gratitude List:

  • I’m grateful to have people like you who read my blog.
  • I’m grateful for the support and help I get from Shelley.
  • I’m grateful for my air conditioner.




An NFL team in LA
Moved to Saint Louis one day
Then they came back
But alas and alack
They still didn’t know how to play


If you got something out of this, please share with your friends!

3 thoughts on “What do Trips, Illness and Celebrations Have In Common?

  1. This was just what I needed to read today John. Tonight I have a birthday dinner, Thursday I fly to New York for a long weekend. I am going to try to put some accountability structures into these events so I can stay on track. XOXOX

    1. Very glad it was helpful! What are you going to do? (You don’t have to share but if you come up with good ideas it may help other people).

      I know you’ve been working out regularly. Maybe schedule workout/run in NY and tell your trainer your plan.

      Let me know how it goes!

  2. Very entertaining entry. So much truth! You remind me of someone I know who lives down the road. You are your mother’s son, afterall!
    Now, as for habits, break them all and fly!

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