The Secret of Change

Happy Monday! I hope you’re already reaping the benefits of this fresh new week!

Socrates: The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

When I jotted this quote in my notebook awhile back, I wasn’t thinking of it in terms of productivity, but in how I felt in my early days of this Tippy Toe Diet. For the first time ever, I wasn’t thinking of change in the context of what I used to do but in the light of what I do now. ALL of my energy was on creating a sustainable way of managing my weight. I didn’t feel like I was fighting battles against myself; I was learning to live with myself in a new and healthier way. Life was/IS about the new, not the old.

Speaking of new, I’m following years of tradition and starting something new on this particular Monday. I’m experimenting with a new-to-me way of working, The Pomodoro Technique(pdf), a productivity method that focuses on 25-minute increments of activity with a 3-5 minute break following. After four work-breaklet cycles, you take a 15-30 minute break. Or as I like to call it, lunch!

I’ve had some success with working in 15-minute bursts, but what often happens is that I just turn off the iphone alarm and keep going, telling myself that I’ll just finish this one task and then I’ll get up and stretch or, depending on the task, sit down and cool off. Or get some sleep. And two hours later I’m either feeling like a pretzel or an egg that’s been cracked and fried on the sidewalk.

Or sometimes what happens is I get distracted in the middle of the “shift” and end up surfing chatting with neighbors going to Smoothie Cafe working on something less imperative.

I’m eager to see if this Pomodoro thing works better. I’ve already learned one valuable lesson. The technique gets its name from those cute tomato timers you see around. I thought I’d just use my iphone, but, well, I got distracted in the middle of my very first task! I’d kind of forgotten to focus for a minute there and got off track. So I dragged out my kitchen timer which is a much better taskmaster. Tick-tick-tick A constant reminder to finish the task at hand when my mind (and clicky finger) wanders.

During my first breaklet this morning, I was thinking about writing this post (I don’t think the rules say you can’t think about the tasks ahead), and it occurred to me that in successfully managing our weight, we find some sort of tick-tick-tick that keeps us on task, on building the new. It might not be audible, or even tangible, but there’s something that keeps us from losing focus.

For me, listing the reasons why I wanted to lose weight and referring to the list at least once a day was the tick-tick-tick I needed. As I stuck with it day after day, forward momentum kicked in and the rest, as they say, is history. As Richard Murphy (Confessions of a Contractor wrote: “The moment you fall in love with the sound of progress is the moment you stop hearing everything else.”

Tick-tick-tick What keeps you focused on moving forward, on building the new?

Or do you feel like you’re stuck in fight mode? I’ll do what I can to help, and if I don’t have an answer, maybe another reader will.

As for this tomato productivity thing, it’s too early to tell, but I think there’s something to it. I’m not fighting the urge to check email or facebook or go play with the dog down the street. I can do that on my (non-lunch) break later. Tick-tick-tick I think I feel a rhythm building. :)

21 thoughts on “The Secret of Change

  1. You’ll have to let me know how it works for you! I think the tick-tick-tick would put more stress on me to rush things. Just how I’m wired. I’ve tried timers on mail and such and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I think I need to get a schedule organized for myself to hopefully get things moving in the right direction.

    • So far, the ticking hasn’t bothered me. The only time I notice it is if I’m not focusing on the task of the moment. Which is kind of the point, I think. That’s one of the reasons the iphone timer didn’t work for me. No reminder to focus. The biggest problem I had today was forgetting to turn the timer on when I started up again. I’m sure it will get more habitual as time goes on.

  2. Right now, the vivid memory of how it felt to BE there. I’m not that far away, yet I allowed myself to get a few pounds above that “scream” weight. Enough to feel the difference and I don’t like it. That memory of feeling light and full of energy spurs me on.

    • I hear you. For me, it’s the knowledge that I’m “in charge” and everything’s in order. An emotional lightness, if you will. :)

  3. Well, Cammy that sounds interesting. Now, I’m wishing I had a tomato at home. Not the timer a real tomato.

  4. I love the Socrates quote. That sounds a lot like where I’m at right now. I also need some type of time management system. I can go for hours without a break, but I always pay for it in the end. Great post!

    Also, Cammy, I sometimes set my blog to “private,” If you would like to be able to access it when I have it on that setting, email me at, (with the email attached to your blog) and I will put you on my list. I enjoy your blog and your comments on my blog very much.

  5. I really struggle with taking breaks while working because I work on production. As soon as my hands lift off the keyboard, I stop making money. That is not incentive to take breaks LOL! I try to drink enough liquid so I am getting up once an hour to get up to take a potty break 😀

    • I did the website rating gig for a few months, and while the work was easy and the pay was decent, I couldn’t sit still for long enough to suit them. They didn’t like how many times I signed on and off the application. :)

  6. I scrolled through part of the info on the Pomodoro technique – looks like a neat idea – it would probably help me this summer when I’m trying to balance my workouts, blogging and spending lots of time with my boys.

  7. OMG, that quote was just what I needed to see tonight. I am still fighting the old, but working hard to build the new. It’s tough sometimes!!
    I love the Pomodoro Technique – I need to do something like that at work so my neck doesn’t fall off. :/

  8. That’s an important shift: from what you USED to do, to what you are doing NOW. I think I’ve finally made the shift, too. I very rarely look at a menu and scan items that I used to order…I only focus on the things that I know would be good choices for me now. Every day, I actively work on how I can be successful in my food choices, and try to plan so I’ll have healthy choices on hand. I think the name Pomodoro is hilarious!

  9. Love that quote! To often when we make changes we focus on what we can no longer do – we don’t focus enough on all the great things we now get to enjoy!

  10. I have not heard of this so going to click the link & see what this is all about! Eager also to hear what you think..

    BTW, what is this website rating gig says this one looking to find a way to work from home! 😉

    • Here’s the link to the company I worked for: . It’s a reputable company, and it pays fairly well for what you’re doing, but you spend a whole lot of unpaid time studying new programs. When I was evaluating, it seemed as though there were new programs being issued every week. I don’t mind investing some of my own time in that, but when I’m spending more time working for free than I am being paid it’s time to move on. And so I did. :)

      You might enjoy this site, Jody: . Good articles on the different companies offering WAH programs, and they have a job listing every few days as well. Good stuff!

  11. How weird that we both wrote about change on the same day! And even weirder that I linked back to you, but in a different post. Weirdest of all that I am just now seeing this post.

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  14. hola cammy, i came across ur blog today and spent hours reading it…what a marvellous style of writing u have :) i actually wanted to comment on ur 1000th post but comments r closed :( so hearty congrats n keep writing. its a pleasure to read u!

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