Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Power of 40

Expert Online Mental Health Counselors | Let's Put Smart To Work “I can’t do everything today, but I will take one small step.”
road sign showing turns ahead with speed limit of 40 as a preface to defining the meaning of the  number 40 as a completion of journey that can be guided by a telephone counselor.
Have you ever noticed the power of the number 40?  It’s mysteriously woven itself into the fabric of our society in some interesting ways.  For instance:
  1. Celsius and Fahrenheit are equal at negative 40
  2. A significant milestone birth-day is 40
  3. In math, 40 is a semi-perfect number – that is, if you add up all the numbers it can be divided into, you get 40.
  4. The word Forty is alphabetically ordered
  5. There are 40 players on a baseball teams’ roster
  6. In football, teams assess speed/agility of players by having them complete a 40-yard dash
  7. On Sesame street the highest they count up to is 40
  8. U2’s 1983 song album contains lyrics from Psalm 40
  9. Average television programming schedule is 40 weeks
  10. During the bubonic plague, ships stayed in harbor for 40 days before passengers were let off
  11. The Bible was written by 40 different people
  12. A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks
  13. There is a saying “Life Begins at 40”
  14. A quick nap is 40 winks
  15. A customary work week is 40 hours
  16. The number of spaces on a monopoly board is 40
  17. To remove a rusty bolt, use WD40 (brand name signifies 40 attempts to get the formula right)
  18. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness
  19. The great flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights
  20. Jewish people wandered in the desert for 40 years

In general, the number 40 typically symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation and its emphasis is on patience, order and management. Interestingly enough, it also takes about 40 days of concerted effort to create a new habit and foster real, lasting, lifelong change in a person.  Once that period of trial, testing and patient endurance is finished, a new habit is created that can last a life-time.  Perfect! thank you for that knowledge, I know that I need to change a few things in my life, so I’ll just force myself to focus on changing that for 40 days and voila - a new me!  Well, yes that is basically what is being said, however, the problem for most people is that doing it alone, using your will-power, with no outside force pushing you toward that end is difficult and failure rates are high.

What is Willpower?
The definition of willpower is the ability to resist short-term gratification in pursuit of long-term goals or objectives.  Ohhhh but we love short-term gratification. I want it, I need it, I gotta gotta have it.  In a society that’s so driven off external short-term gratification, it’s almost impossible for an individual’s willpower to win.  There are simply too many external forces pushing against you in another direction and your best intentions are set to fail before you start.  And when willpower fails you get frustrated, emotionally charged, and often end up doing something irrational.   Some common effects of a depleted willpower can be:
  • reduced ability to think clearly, rationally and quickly (…sorry, can you repeat that)
  • diminished intake of healthy food (…ice cream, ice cream, get me some ice cream)
  • substance abuse (…I gotta relax)
  • increased purchasing behavior (…I love these shoes)
  • poor financial decisions (…I’ll use next Thursday’s paycheck to cover this)

girl with a semi-smile understanding the need to seek assistance of a telephone counselor
Since the effects of willpower depletion may be mitigated by positive moods, beliefs and attitudes, we typically attempt to get in a positive mood by quickly applying 1 of the above external, short-term, satisfiers.  And the more we apply those short-term, external satisfiers, the further we slip away from achieving our goal.  But wait – I made it through school, I maintain a job, a career, a family – all these have required significant will-power over the years and I’ve managed them ok.  Well, maybe, but let’s not discount that when you were in school you paid money to be there, you had a professor overseeing your progress, forcing you take tests and continue the learning for the sake of good marks.  There were other students working alongside you attempting to achieve the same goal.  In your career and your family life its similar – there are co-workers, bosses, threats of unemployment, bonuses, keeping up with the Jones’ that have all assisted you to maintain focus, prioritize, and ignore the external, short-term gratifier influence.  If you had to go it alone, your will-power would most likely have failed you miserably.  The bottom line is that all of us need help to get better and accomplish things.   No one does it alone, and those that have had the most success and are the most well-rounded and put together among us have typically had the most help getting there.

So, What Now?
male counselor writes in notebook during session with female patient
What we have established so far is that it takes 40 days to make a sustainable life change, and that it’s very difficult to do it alone.  In fact, the entire structure of our education system is built on the premise that people need help in order to learn.  So, what now?  The first step in every program is to get past your denial, acknowledge this is not a failure and take action.  Often, taking action in the form of contacting someone else, is the most difficult step of the entire journey.  Almost every top executive at every large company has a mentor, a coach, a counselor or facilitator appointed to work with him/her to be better.  To be better at leading, at managing, at growing, at influencing, at decision making, at visioning, at managing burn-out, at overcoming stress etc. etc.  For corporate America we say that makes sense, but often when we seek personal counsel we feel like we have become “that guy” that couldn’t do it on his own, that friends and family will stigmatize or that has failed to keep it together.  ENOUGH of that thinking – it makes No Sense At ALL!  Millions of people get help every single day.  From people that are struggling to cope and survive all the way up to our top leaders and executives.  Our societal status has nothing to do with needing help.  The fact is we all could benefit from taking action and working with someone to accomplish our goals and help manage our struggles.  Life-long happiness would be so much more attainable for the masses if only we could swallow our pride for a second and get there.
after telephone counseling man gets in racing sailboat and catches wind and overcomes stagnating life

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.” Mark Twain

Follow Through
child demonstrates follows through on baseball swing similar to need to follow-through to achieve happiness explained during telephone counseling
My hockey and baseball coaches growing up all talked about following through with your swing to enable more power and accuracy.  In a nutshell, follow through occurs after you have thrown the ball or struck the puck – it ensures that your swing continues and ultimately points the shuttle towards the intended target.  When it comes to life, follow-through is more important than it is in sports because a goal without a plan is just a wish.  A Charles Kettering quote states: “It is the follow-through that makes the great difference between success and failure, because it is so easy to stop.”
Follow-through in sports occurs after the intended strike and guides the ball toward the target.  In life, after the goal is set and a plan is established, it’s the follow-through that guides you to the intended target.  Like the Kettering quote says, when we count on our own willpower it is very easy to stop, but it is the follow-through that counts for the most.  A tremendous number of folks today are what I call “Start/Stop” people.  They have great intentions, lofty aspirations, and the confidence to take-on almost any task.  If only they could follow-through.  They start new tasks, but either stop before completion or rush to completion, greatly sacrificing quality.  The amount that they could have accomplished, the pride that they could have generated, the learning, understanding and confidence boost that they could have received are all lost.  Often it only takes a few start/stop failures to totally wipe out the persons confidence completely.  They then succumb to the doldrums of life and accomplish little.  How can a person who was once so vibrant, excited to learn, grow and contribute have turned into this?  They muddle through their day, frustrated by the mundane tasks of life, and put on a mask of happiness for those around them.  They have taken down their sails and have accepted their fate to drift on the wave’s of life. Unfortunately, these people are everywhere and there’s a good chance you’re one of them.

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women guides man down path with many doorways to potential happiness
How did you make it to this place? – its simple.  You tried to do it alone.  Your willpower and follow-through got you here and now, when the simplest of things goes awry you get angry and frustrated.  The good news is there is hope.  You can get back to that place of vibrancy, and reignite that desire to learn no matter how old you are.  Do Not accept or be satisfied with where you are.  You have an entire life ahead of you, waiting to be lived.  You just need help to get the sail back up and catch some wind.  At TeleCounsel Group, our counselors can help with both.

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