You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

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“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”  . . . “old habits die hard”  . . . “you’ve made your bed, now you have to lie in it” and, my favorite (NOT) “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too”.

Why would I even want cake if I couldn’t eat it?  What good is laying on a ‘made’ bed  . . . there is no warmth or comfort – it is nothing more than a cold slab reminiscent of a mortuary.  Which brings me to the misconceptions of “old dog” and “old habits”.  Who says we can’t learn new tricks?  And habits can be replaced before they die.

David G. Allen, the editorial director of CNN features, suggests month long “micro-resolutions’.  His idea is to commit to new behavior for four weeks at a time.  If you like the result, you can keep doing it!  He discusses deciding on 12 habits you want to add to your life (i.e. walk three miles three times a week) and 12 habits you want to cut back or give up (i.e. sweets, alcohol, television) – and try it for 4 weeks.  For Mr. Allen his choices weren’t always sustainable BUT he became very aware of what he could do!  It seems to me this model is an easy way to try a new habit or change an old habit.

Seniors are often accused of not wanting change but I beg to differ.  NO ONE wants change – most of us are scared of anything that upsets our comfort level especially if, in the moment, the perception is that ‘all is well’.  Forced change (a move to an Assisted Living Facility, the death of a loved one) upsets our applecart.  This past year has been a constant year of change and both me and my seniors came through with flying colors!

My sweet 85-year-old who had lost most of her money through other’s mismanagement, is now in a wonderful Assisted Living Center and her house is sold to pay for her stay.  My sweet wonderful self-made millionaire who was deemed incapacitated has a Guardian making sure none of his leeches take advantage of him.  My brilliant technology guru has his wife in a home close by and he can visit her.  His stress level is slowly becoming manageable.  Each and every one of these clients resisted change and, yes, it took awhile to convince them that there was a path out of their “comfort zone” but they now have new tricks and new habits.

This upcoming decade is a great time to remember that change brings opportunity!  Senior Boomers will most certainly lead the way.  And while I’m not one to make a new year’s resolution, I have gained an entire new perspective by taking on new habits and leaving old ones behind.  I like David Allen’s idea of trying “something” for four weeks  . . . it’s not a real commitment but it could be!  Now, come join me as I cut my cake and eat it while leaving the bed unmade!