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The Sweetest Comeback Ever: What We Can Learn From A CupCake

The Sweetest Comeback Ever: What We Can Learn From A CupCake
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Americans went into mourning last November when Hostess closed its doors and Twinkies, Ding Dongs and CupCakes disappeared from shelves nationwide. Those of us who grew up on the tasty treats were elated this year when C. Dean Metropoulous & Co., of Pabst Blue Ribbon comeback fame, and Apollo Global Management brought the iconic snacks back to life. Today’s Twinkies are a bit smaller in size, but production and sales have never been sweeter. Talk about tenacity!

Despite the stir this comeback has created (for good and bad), we have to ask ourselves if there is anything we can learn from this wise, old sweet treat about perseverance? So, pull up a chair, get a cup of coffee and a Twinkie, and let’s explore what tenacity and Twinkies have in common.

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The first thing is loss. Hostess saw the collapse of a company, thus the death of the Twinkie. Most of us have experienced times in our lives when we’ve felt that everything around us was collapsing. We feel totally out of control. We feel like we’ve lost our way. But are there some things we can do when the unexpected twists and turns in life throw us off balance? Absolutely! It’s what separates success from failure: it’s called perseverance. Here’s what we need to think about:

Identify your goal

Resurrection of the Twinkie was the goal. So the companies who brought Twinkies back had to come up with a new marketing strategy to make this work. They already had tons of publicity and a strong outcry from people all over the country who didn’t want to see Hostess go under, so the timing was perfect. Identifying your main goal is the first step in making something happen, then break that down into bite-sized pieces of sub-goals to clarify your vision. The main goal is broad. Sub-categories under that are more specific and provide direction.

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Brainstorm possibilities

Brainstorming possibilities requires that we identify the problem and develop solutions. What needed to happen to make the Twinkie’s comeback the sweetest ever? Perseverance requires we use those possibilities to craft a plan and keep working it until you see results.

Be willing to recognize blind spots

Sometimes we get stuck in ruts. This happens when we aren’t flexible and open to new ideas. To recognize our blind spots we have to be teachable. We also need an accountability partner to tell us what we may not want to hear about our blind spots or weaknesses.

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Use failure as a springboard

Never give up. If you have a dream, keep fighting, keep pressing on, and keep persevering. Success takes time. There are so many famous people who failed miserably before they ever reached the top. The key is to keep trying!

Watch self-talk

People who persevere think and say positive things. It doesn’t mean they don’t feel negative emotions — they have just conditioned themselves to not dwell on the problems, and to focus on solutions. A steady diet of negative self-talk will kill your ability to persevere. Don’t let it happen!

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Prepare

Take action. Do the necessary work on the front end of things so you’ll be prepared to set yourself up for success. That could mean learning all you can about a product, a service, a skill set, the market, demand, and anything else you have to do to take the necessary first steps to action.

Take the necessary first steps

Perseverance means you may need to take necessary first steps more than once. The old adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” may mean that you have to re-think, re-define and re-establish first steps. The key is not to give up. Keep learning — keep pushing forward. Most people give up right before a big breakthrough is about to happen.

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Americans love a good comeback story, so whether you like Twinkies and Ding Dongs doesn’t really matter, what matters is you learn something from their story. We like to see the underdog win; it may even motivate us to buy a box. The next time you’re tempted to give up, or feel depressed that things aren’t working out the way you planned, go to the store and buy a box of Twinkies. Even if you don’t eat them, let them motivate you!

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Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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