Al Batt: Stating goals can help them come to fruition

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

Spring had sprung.

I knew because spring had pooped on my car, the income taxes had been paid (a fiscal nightmare for many), the clocks had been turned ahead to May and I was no longer tracking snow into the house.

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I found myself with a list.

That meant I was in a grocery store.

Peanut butter was on my list. I like the smooth stuff with honey in it.

A fellow shopper was perusing the shelves of peanut butter.

He was muttering to himself. In the process, he was wilting like week-old lettuce.

“’Get peanut butter,’ she said. She didn’t tell me what kind. I should have brought my phone with me. I hate shopping,” he mumbled, just loud enough for me to hear.

I’ll admit that shopping isn’t my favorite activity, but my mother discouraged the use of the word “hate” at our house. Because of that, I don’t hate shopping.

I excused myself and grabbed a jar of my favorite brand of peanut butter off a shelf.

“Thanks,” he said before grabbing a jar of the same product.

I respect a man who makes executive decisions and makes them quickly. I suspected that he was a member of that group of folks whose motto is, “That’s good enough.”

I talk to myself and not just when my cellphone has a poor signal. I talk to myself when I think I need a good talking to, when I need cheering up or when there is no one else to talk to. It helps me become gruntled. Gruntled is a word. One definition of gruntle is to put in a good humor.

  Many believe that talking to oneself is the first sign of madness, but it might be a sign of wisdom. It’s a smart way to adjust one’s sails.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Pennsylvania found that talking to myself helps me find things quicker. When people uttered the word describing what they were looking for while searching for it, their ability to locate that item increased. There’s a reason I walk around the house saying, “Keys, where are you, keys?” It works. It’s a powerful retrieval cue. It’s like a laser pointer.

A study at Bangor University found that talking out loud improved control over a task. University of Michigan research determined that talking to oneself could make one feel better about himself or herself and instill confidence that helps us get through distressing times.

Stating your goals aloud can help them come to fruition. It helps the mind sort through the day’s confusion so you can prioritize. You can have debates with yourself or give yourself a compliment. The sound of your own voice acts as a reaffirmation. Mark Twain said, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” Give yourself a good compliment, but don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.

Talking to yourself is good way to practice listening. There is a big difference between hearing and listening. The basic rule for the art of listening is to concentrate completely on the talker. A good listener is empathetic.

No one will pay any particular attention to you talking to yourself. They will think that you’re yapping on a cellphone.

Be honest. You can tell yourself everything. There is no fooling you.

It reminds me of the story about the farmer who was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding. The trooper gave the farmer a lengthy lecture about his speed. Finally, the trooper began to write out the ticket, and while doing that, he swatted at some flies that were buzzing around his head.   

The farmer said, “Are you having problems with the circle flies?”   

The trooper stopped writing the ticket and said, “Well, I am if that’s what they are. I’ve never heard of circle flies.”

The farmer said, “Well, circle flies are common here on farms. They’re called circle flies because they’re almost always circling around the back end of a horse.”

The trooper responded, “OK,” and went back to writing the ticket. Then he stopped and asked, “Wait a minute, are you trying to call me a horse’s rear end?”

The farmer replied, “Oh, I’d never do that. I have too much respect for law enforcement officers.”

The trooper said, “That’s good,” and returned to writing the ticket.

After a pause, the farmer added, “But it’s hard to fool those circle flies.”

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.