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Back in my twenties, I listened to a lot self-help gurus. I only liked a few of them, like Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn, but I listened to and read all of them. They all basically had the same “you can do it” message, as well as the same strategies like “write down your goals” and “never quit”.

Some advice worked really well for me, and some didn’t. One thing that surprised me was how meaningful an end-of-the-year tip turned out to be: “Take inventory of the last year”. In my early twenties, that usually meant nothing more than thinking about college classes. But nowadays, I’m surprised how much can change and be learned in one year’s time.


For example, at the beginning of 2011, I worked with a person who nearly lost his job because of chronic fatigue after undergoing chemotherapy. He had to take naps in his car during his lunch hour. His name was on a list for an organ transplant. Death seemed inevitable in his mind.


Today, he seems like the picture of health. He works out very hard every evening. He goes to sleep easily at night and wakes up refreshed every morning. He has energy to spare.


Now, this story sounds like an overnight success, but it wasn’t. It took a year! Months went by with no improvement whatsoever. None. Maybe a little marginal success eased in after a while, but nothing to celebrate. Success was so gradual that even he didn’t realize there was much of a change until people around him made comments about his looking better. The glimmer in his eye. His skin color. His joining colleagues for lunch.


It wasn’t until August that he was actually aware of the change. It wasn’t until September that he was able to do light exercises. It wasn’t until November that he found himself exercising most evenings after work. It was not instantaneous.


The point is that when you read the story, you’re hearing the highlights. But you aren’t feeling the struggle. The urge to throw in the towel. Another day of eating the right things, another bottle of supplements that didn’t feel like they made much of a difference last month, etc. But those daily decisions are where the front lines of the battle take place.


I want you to see this as an example of how crucial the daily habits are. Very often, you don’t feel the changes taking place (positively or negatively).


Another story is of a man I met last month who was physically challenged after having had polio. He rolled up to me in one of those seated electric carts that you see in grocery stores. His attitude was incredible.  


He told me to tell Doug how thankful he was for the TV show and books. How the daily education and inspiration has kept him going. He doesn’t have much money, but he eats as well as he can. He takes whatever supplements he can afford. His goal was to get back to work after being physically incapable of working for so long. He was an incredible inspiration.


But his story isn’t THE story. THE story is about this man’s father who died earlier this year. The dad wasn’t physically challenged. He wasn’t too fatigued. He had resources. But he died.


The man in the electric cart said that his dad was diagnosed with a serious but manageable illness. The doctors told him to keep doing what he had always done, and that what he ate had nothing to do with his condition. His son encouraged him to watch Doug’s show, change his diet, take a few supplements here and there, and get out and take a walk every day. The dad said that he would, but he never did. In fact, as things digressed, the dad even became angry at his son for pushing him so hard to make changes.


The son told me this story in the middle of an aisle in a health food store. He saw what Doug and I have seen over and over again. That is, a capable person gets a diagnosis but refuses to take any steps to fight it. The story was even more extraordinary in light of the man who told it. Sitting in an electric cart, fighting tooth and nail to walk again and work again.


To summarize what one of those self-help gurus used to say, “Here’s the definition of success: A few good habits repeated every day. Here’s the definition of failure: A few errors in judgment repeated every day.”


I continue to be amazed by stories of people who have had almost no shot at overcoming a challenge, yet press on until they get what they were striving for. I’m equally shocked by all the times I meet people who literally have everything going for them, but who refuse to implement of few good habits, and repeat them every day.


I sat next to a psychologist on a plane once, and we had a marvelously practical conversation about human nature. In my amateurish way, I asked him, “What is the thing that most ‘messes’ with people’s minds?” He leaned in, looked me squarely in the eye and said, “The thing that most messes with people is when their lives reflect these three words: Could. Should. Don’t.”


In other words, you ought to do something. You’re fully capable of doing it to some extent. But you just don’t do it. OH, how familiar that sounds to most of us.




1). Take some time and reflect on what happened to you in 2011. Were there challenges that hit you that you weren’t expecting? Did you succumb to them, or did you press on?  


2). Are you giving yourself enough time to succeed with your health turnaround? Remember the guy who had the chemotherapy and could barely get up each morning. I have no idea why he didn’t quit, but something kept him going. He didn’t feel significant progress for eight months. It took time. But today he has his life back. If you had met him this time last year, and then saw him again today, you’d be shocked by the change and may even be inspired to do what he did. But that means you’d have to decide that you’re in it for the long haul.


3). You should note that none of the “over-comers” in this article or the hundreds I’ve seen battle back for health over the years did anything perfectly, without flaw. I know of none who ate organic food even most of the time. None took every single supplement they could have taken. Every one of them missed a workout here and there, and most slipped a sweet treat during the holidays. All of them even got discouraged from time to time either by the slow progress or by an ancillary life challenge. But imperfect as they were, they kept going. There’s just something about those who refuse to quit.


4).  Many of us are left without excuse. Our lives sometimes reflect the psychologist’s diagnosis of Could-Should-Don’t Syndrome. As we take inventory of the past year, perhaps some of us need to decide to become amateurs again. Today, we think we know all of the right health answers. We watch Doug. We read all the books. We research all the supplements. We tell everyone what they should be doing. Yet we’ve never translated that knowledge into our own life’s story. It’s as if we know everything except how to take Step One, ourselves. For those who relate to this, instead of reflecting on the facts and statistics we learned this year, maybe we should think about the practical progress we’ve made in our lives as a result of that “head knowledge”. If there wasn’t much progress, ask questions like, did I try to do too much too soon? Was I discouraged by my lack of perfection? Did I quit because I didn’t want to take baby steps in the beginning, or that I didn’t achieve my goals as quickly as I wanted? Whatever it is, find out what the problem was and TAKE ACTION to correct it.


I’m enormously blessed to be part of Doug’s team and Know the Cause, and I’m humbled by your kind e-mail comments and questions throughout the year. May God bless you and your family.


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