Carolyn Weaver – Volunteer – Robin Lane Health and Wellbeing Centre

Gary very kindly offered to come and speak to a group that I help organise – Pudsey Adults with Time to Spare (PATS). I suspect that we are not his usual target audience (mainly aged 60 plus and mostly women). Gary told us his story in a refreshingly direct, engaging and unpatronising way that went down very well with the group. His message that while change can be uncomfortable and habits hard to break it can also be your ‘best friend’ is a timely one at any stage of life. I’m sure his talk will provoke some interesting conversations within PATS.

Be Habitual. But Be Flexible

Us humans are creatures of habit.  
Habits make us feel safe, we like routine and structure in everything, our thoughts, attitude, beliefs, words, behaviours and habits.  

Now let’s just assume your habits are insanely epic. You have a tremendous morning routine and evening routine.  

You prime yourself in the morning to own the day, then you reflect and decompress in the evening.  I have routines based on doing this. See my First Things First routine.

  • Fitness (moving/sweating/hydrate)
  • Inner power (gratitude & meditation)
  • Reading (erm… reading!)
  • Scribing (journalling)
  • Time (schedule the day)

Then in the evening, I reflect on the day, journal more and relax.  

These are powerful routines. The problems start when you feel the benefit, buzz from doing them, feel like it’s your key to continued success then life gets in the way every now and then. And you miss a habit.

Shiiiiiiitttttt, de-railed for the day. Just because you couldn’t get to the gym that day, or your kids got up while you were meditating, or you didn’t do your journal or read that day.  

With your habits, you must remember to be flexible. As in, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a habit one day, sometimes shit just happens, either fit it in later in the day or leave it out. Don’t let it ruin your day.

For example, for me this week, Thursday morning I started my 10mins meditation but then one of the kids came downstairs at 6.30am, I told her to go back to bed but she wouldn’t. So, I just adapted my routine to suit; I asked her if she wanted to try meditating with Daddy and we did, now it wasn’t the true meditation sesh I would get on my own but it was a peaceful time and a lovely moment with my 5yr old daughter Sophie.  So the habit was still completed AND a new experience was added. (which in my evening reflection, I put this as one of my 3 wins for the day). 

For Journals – I’ve tried all the journals and planners out there; from blank notebooks to expensive journals.  I have learnt that a good planner is one you use. I use my own, as in I took the best bits from all the ones I’ve bought and designed my own 13-week super planner which I had printed into hard-wired A5 books. I also have a 30-day version for those wanting to ease themselves in gently.   

Another fact to remember is that new habits take 66 days to form.  So if you can feel the benefits of new habits then keep persevering until they become automatic, a new lifestyle.  

Keep doing the little things, success is simple good habits repeated even when you don’t want to do them.  

Focus and Discipline.  

  • Do the Work when you’re at work.
  • Do the Gym when you’re at the gym.
  • Be a father when you’re with your child.
  • Know what I mean?

I see too many people not being present; allowing themselves to become distracted, being half arsed to the task at hand. And wondering why they’re making very slow progress or no progress. 

Focus on the task at hand, commit to it and discipline yourself to complete it very efficiently.  For example, just yesterday morning in the gym, I smashed through my 30minute routine as I do, but couldn’t help but notice a lass who spent all her time on her phone, transfixed to it.  She was sitting on all the machines, on her phone, just sitting doing nothing, tapping away on phone, then a few reps, not a sweat on her at all. I got a bit closer to watch her screen; all Facebook, Snapchat and Messenger.  What a complete waste of time and lack of effort.

Focus on the process, being present, being productive, being powerful in the moment.  

Focus on the task at hand, complete it with no distractions. That is the key to success.  


I want to……………..BUT

In Durham, last weekend with the family, and we walked past a homeless guy.

Hayley, my wife, said that we should get him some food, great idea I thought and I was proud of her to suggest it too.

So I sat down right next to him, said hello and asked him what food he would like.

His answer:

“I’m not hungry mate, I’ll be honest, I just want alcohol. I’m an alcoholic”.

Now I did appreciate the honesty and I stayed and spoke to him for a bit.

He politely asked if I’d go and buy him some booze but I politely declined.

He told me about his life, his living arrangements, that he’d been an alcoholic for 24yrs, that he doesn’t see his child much, that he wants to get better and one day go into rehab but he CAN’T.

I told him about my struggles with alcohol and how I ended that part of my life 8.5yrs ago and things are so very different now. He said he wants to but CAN’T.

One day he’ll realise that if you tell yourself you CAN’T, then guess what, YOU CAN’T. Nothing will change.

But if you tell yourself YOU CAN. Then guess what, you summon the courage, the desire, the commitment to do the work. And things change. They get better. Slowly. But it gets better. A day at a time. Days turn into weeks then months then years. And that old version of you, that life, is no more.

Change is hard at the start,
Messy in the middle and
Beautiful at the end.

Don’t ever stay in a comfortable yet very painful rut of life. Get help. Do the work.