The Lost Art of Punctuality

I’m apparently old. I know this because I can remember when being on time mattered. Punctuality was considered proper and showed manners. When you showed up on time it sent a message that you were considerate of other people’s time. It showed a certain level of professionalism and organizational skills that could help differentiate people.

I attended a Catholic Military High School. One of the very first lessons you learned was to be on time. When you weren’t on time bad things happened. Very bad things. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw the same person be late twice in four years. I never saw the same person be late three times. Never!

It makes me think that being on time is still possible if it’s important enough to you. In high school it was important to me because I didn’t like to bleed. There were absolutely no excuses accepted for being late. Punishment was swift and severe. You quickly learned the value of controlling your schedule and always leaving early enough to ensure that no matter what, you would be on time. You might get some place way early but that was very much preferred over being a second late.

You learned the importance of time management and effective planning. You learned just how bad procrastination can affect your chances at success. You learned that it really is possible to always be on time if you really really want to be on time. It’s just a question of priorities.

Today it seems as if punctuality matters less. Heck, if we’re running a little late we can just call from our cell and tell the person we are meeting with that our time is more important than theirs. I know we wouldn’t actually say that but don’t kid yourself, whether you say it of not, they may well be thinking it.

Being “fashionably” late has become socially acceptably and society is worse off for it. Business is worse off for it and you are worse off for it. 

Live for one week as if being on time was of major importance and you’ll be on time. I’m not talking about just work stuff, I’m talking about family and social events too. People who are chronically late are chronically late for everything. 

You can separate yourself from your professional competition by always being on time and you can show respect for family and friends by never making them wait on you.  

If you need to be somewhere in 60 minutes then give yourself 70. Not only will your punctuality improve, your stress levels from “just making it there” will go way down.

Punctuality is a choice, I encourage you to make it your choice today.

Your Last New Year’s Resolution

If you’re like most people you’ll make at least one or two New Year’s Resolutions in the next couple of weeks. If you’re like nearly 90% of the people who make New Year’s Resolutions you won’t keep even one. 

Now, I have no proof to back me up on this but I’d be willing to bet that most of the 10% of people who do keep a resolution keep the “fun” ones. The ones where they resolve to eat more chocolate in 2014. I could keep that one without even trying!

Resolutions fail for a variety of reasons; first they are intangible, not actually real, just kind of a thought. I sort of have the feeling that a good many resolutions are made with the “benefit” of liquid lubrication and hence are soon forgotten completely. There are also lots of scientific reasons why our brain can’t process a weak commitment like a resolution but we won’t get into the heavy science here. 

Whatever the reason this much seems clear; resolutions are just not an effective way to change or improve your life. 

Goals are.

If you want a better 2014 then don’t make resolutions, set goals. I write and speak a lot about a very formal goal-setting process. That’s a big undertaking, many people start that process and just don’t have the discipline to follow-through. So let’s not do the whole goal-setting process here, lets do a little one, an easy one. Let’s talk about setting some goals that anyone, well almost anyone, can achieve. 

Let’s set a goal to change one little habit each month in 2014. You’ll work on one thing in January and by the end of the month when this new thing has become a habit you’ll be ready for another new habit in February. 

If you want this to work for you then here’s what you need to do:

Change only one habit a month. No matter how easy this seems early on, don’t get over-confident and try to take on more. Our chances of over-all success go way down the first time we revert back to “old” habits so focus on ONE thing until it has become a part of you. 

Start small and stay small. You’ve got a year, there is no need to make big changes on any day when you have the perspective that 365 of those days make a year. You need to do something everyday but you don’t have to do everything on any day. If your goal is to lose weight that make it a habit to switch a candy bar for something more healthy at least once a week. Every week! 

Share it with others. Good habit building becomes so much easier when we add accountability. Write down what your new habits will be and tell everyone who cares about you. (Don’t bother telling people who don’t care about you, you’ll find that they are a major obstacle to your success) Ask them to help by checking on you frequently. Report your results to them; go ahead and brag  a little bit, after all, you’re building a better life for yourself. 

Reward yourself. All work and no play doesn’t just make you boring, in all likelihood it makes you less than successful too. If you’re going to develop new, better habits in 2014 then there needs to be something tangible in it for you. That doesn’t make you a selfish or greedy person, it makes you human. That’s just the way it is. So give yourself small rewards along the way; just make certain the rewards don’t conflict with the new habit you’re trying to develop. 

Before we begin how about one final New Year’s Resolution? Let’s all resolve to make no more resolutions. 

Now that’s a habit I could get used to!