It’s that time of year again. Everyone making New Years resolutions hoping to make a change. The majority of the time, we lose interest or lack the discipline to stick to the plan.

The most significant changes in my life, that endured, occurred on some idle Thursday when I least expected.

About 20 years ago, I arrived at the YMCA pool on Tuesday at 6am, getting ready to do laps. As I waited for the lifeguard to come on duty, a man in a Speedo walks out of the locker room to the pool area. He had a svelte athletic “swimmers” body. I noticed he looked a lot like a customer of mine. Sure enough, it was Fran Nichols, CFO/Managing Partner, at Eric Mower and Associates. He looked completely different. I’d never seen Fran without his glasses. This was a Clark Kent moment if you will.

We were surprised to see each other! “Fran, how often do you swim?” I said. “I do one mile every morning before I go to work. Takes me about 35 minutes” Fran replied. “How about you Steve?” Fran asked. “I do a half mile in 45 minutes” I said in a less than confident tone. We shared the same lane and Fran must have lapped me twenty times or more. He moved through the water like Flipper, whereas I resembled a wounded Orca. I wasn’t very happy, considering Fran was about ten years my senior!

After the workout I went to the office and plopped down in my cubicle. I reached for a cigarette to have with my morning coffee. I’d been smoking for all of my adult life. I was so upset at my performance at the Y, I crushed the 14 or so cigs I had left in the pack of Marlboro Lights and threw them in the garbage. I quit cold turkey and never looked back. This big change happened in a split second!

That day, I didn’t have a plan to give up smoking. The incentive to quit was my competitive spirit. Out of the blue, Fran gave me a gift. I channeled all the energy from a lack of nicotine to exercise. Today, on any given day, I can swim a mile in 38 minutes.

Be ready for those unexpected opportunities to change in 2012 regardless of the time of year. Then, take action and see what happens.

p.s. Fran, thanks for the gift that keeps on giving.

Photo by Jeff Hitchcock, aka Arbron.


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