We all seek answers to life’s riddles. And in that search we fall prey, occasionally, to clever, smoothly-told pitches for products that claim to solve those riddles. How might we lose weight, gain sexual stamina, or learn a foreign language in three short weeks. They mean well, these people creating products and services to help us solve problems.
Sometimes the promises are so convincing that we think the having the product means the problem is gone. But very few problems are solved that way. We are buying into the gimmick. The gimmicks offer hope. And we all need hope to persevere.
That is not to say that gimmicks are bad. We are complicated creatures in a complicated world, and there really are no simple answers. If you have a home, a job, and a family, you will be challenged daily to solve problems you didn’t create. You will need help. A gimmick may help. In fact, gimmicks help someone, or you would never hear of them at all.
Gimmick diets and exercise programs work for the inventor, and some number of other people. The limiting factor that keeps a gimmick out of the universally accepted habit category is that people are just different from one another that the gimmicks only work for a subset of the population. I have a brother who was always the skinny kid in the family and I was always the chubby kid. We ate the same breakfast, same lunch, same snacks, and sat next to each other at the dinner table, but our body types were radically different. We grew up having different interests in sports, hobbies, and careers. Same mom, same dad, different kids. The gimmicks that work for me don’t work for him.
You have to find the gimmicks that work for you.
Following a diet out of a book or a magazine solves your meal planning, and may allow you enough mental capacity to help your daughter with her homework. Buying marital aids from Johnson and Johnson in the family planning aisle of Target may get you through enough sex to think your marriage is okay. And buying an expensive software program to study French may provide you with hope that one day you’ll travel the world, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Carefully selecting your gimmicks, and using them to defeat distractions, can help you achieve your goals. Or to learn what goals you want to pursue.
Here are a couple of examples I know.
When Tom Matt (founder of Boomers Rock) decided to dedicate more time to physical fitness, he heard about bodybuilding, and used the available training regimens to keep him on track. It provided guidelines for nutrition, cardio, and weight training. The gimmick may have gotten out of hand when he shaved his body and painted himself oompa-loompa orange, but by then he had achieved his fitness goals.
When I decided to improve my health, my gimmick was a visualization of my inner dog. I imagined my body as a dog I had to take care of, like a pet. When pets get out of shape, it’s usually because the owner feeds them too much, or the wrong things, or doesn’t ensure the pet gets exercise. I realized that I had to take care of my inner dog like it was a dog I had adopted and promised to care for. The gimmick helped me summon the time and effort required to plan meals, serve myself sensible portions, and get my needed exercise.
How Many Gimmicks to Improve the Quality of My Life
There are somewhere between 17 and 42 things you need to do right to really maximize the quality of your life. But you don’t have to do them all at once. You just need to choose one area and focus on that to begin your journey. So your first gimmick might be to embrace the idea that you are on a journey toward a better life. You may need help with your finances, health, family, or personal skills for your career.
Choose one of those areas to get started, and focus on it to make things better. Pick a gimmick to help. If you choose wrong, don’t fret. There are enough gimmicks in the world that you don’t have to spend a lot of time worrying that you may not find one suitable. Try another until you find one that works for you.
And don’t be shy about needing gimmicks. Early man was known as the “tool maker”. Modern man will one day be known as the “gimmick keeper.” It’s a very human thing to do.