Forming new habits
To-dos, routines & goals your industry cohorts aim to put into practice

Are there optimal times to develop new habits? During the past year-plus, I’ve heard that many friends and colleagues used the pandemic to polish some areas of their lives.

As the heating season puts many of us into overdrive, what do our colleagues say about habits they want to adopt? In this column, we offer our responders a chance to answer the question posed in the title. These are their replies reported verbatim.



Measure twice — cut once! This is an age-old saying in the trade field used for making good decisions and avoiding mistakes. I would like to repurpose this for myself. I would say a new habit I would like to start is “consider twice — speak once.”

In this time in history, with the attacks on our industry and political challenges we face, sometimes I have a tendency to speak before I think. (Right, Eric Kuster? LOL!) However, I am Italian, so I’m not sure keeping my opinions to myself is really in my wheelhouse.

Judy Taranovich
Proctor Gas
Proctor, Vermont

New habits I want to develop:

  • Meditation daily
  • Gratitude journal daily
  • A walk outside daily
  • Reading 30 minutes a day the myriad of business books I have, with the [eventual] goal of reading them all

Laurie Irish-Jones
Irish Propane
Buffalo, New York

Some habits I would like to implement or improve on are casual conversation with every team, having intentional one-on-one time with each of my kids, scheduled thinking time and drinking the recommended amount of water every day.

Lauren Clark
Toleda, Ohio

I’d like to develop the habit of being present in the “now,” not distracted by thoughts of reliving the past or anticipating the future. Unless, of course, the time is right for doing that.

Bruce Swiecicki
National Propane Gas Association
Tinley Park, Illinois

I would say active listening and being 100% engaged in a conversation. I have a tendency to multi-task through conversations, which leads to assumptions and misunderstandings. On a personal level, it hinders a meaningful relationship, and in a business setting, it erodes both team cohesion and trust.

The good news is active listening can be acquired and developed with practice. If I can master this important skillset, the results will be tremendous and the rewards bountiful!

Hayley Karicofe
Churchville, Virginia

I’ve spent so many years working long hours that I’d like to get a better balance in my life. I would like to get back to doing yoga. I’m trying to get in a habit of getting more sleep. I just learned how to play pickleball, so I hope to play that more and work less as I near retirement.

Susan Peterson 
Rural Computer Consultants
Bird Island Minnesota


I really need to improve my exercise habits. When I go to the gym regularly, I feel better physically, and I am able to be more productive.

Jason Soulon
Westmor Industries
Shawnee, Kansas

One of the habits I need to develop is to remind myself to take time to enjoy the little opportunities life offers. For instance, I received a nice note from a friend the other day just to let me know she was thinking of me. It was so kind of her, but made me think that I need to send more notes like that!

It is easy to forget that, while those little things don’t have to take that much extra time, they brighten someone’s day. And the rewards received in return are countless.

Rosie Buschur
McMahan's Bottle Gas 
Dayton, Ohio

In my efforts to continually improve my business life, I would like to improve on my management of people and clear communications to my staff and customers. In my personal life, I am always trying to be the best person I can be. One habit to improve is a more positive outlook on life.

Also, I want to make more time for my family. I have six grandchildren, and I try to visit with them one-on-one as often as I can. We share stories and talk about anything they want. I try to help them become great people.

Ed Varney
RegO Products
McKinney, Texas

When I think of the word “habit” and its meaning to me, my immediate thought process indicates that it is something “bad.” The inference is lack of discipline. A few examples would be procrastination, eating too much fast food on the run or not enough visits to Planet Fitness to work out.

There are numerous definitions of habit that make sense to me; a recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through repetition, such as parking in empty spots so your car doesn’t get dinged; something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it, such as looking both ways before you cross a street; or a customary practice, such as getting up early.

I am trying to develop new habits that will contribute to self-improvement and harmony: Do a better job of connecting and fostering relationships with relatives, friends and business associates Focus on eating healthier foods and exercise Explore ways to find time to ‘chillax’ — relax and spend more quality time with my immediate family

Jerry Schimmel
P3 Propane Safety
Cumberland, Rhode Island

I would like to be more intentional about spending quiet time in reflection. When I reflect at the end of the day, I remember the person’s facial expressions during a conversation that I had missed at the time. I notice if I was too abrupt or confusing when it comes to my communication style. Reflection teaches me things I missed in the moment like a smile or a smell.

After reading a book or hearing a presentation, reflection teaches me how I can apply the new knowledge to problems and/or circumstances in my life. Our world is so fast-paced; we all need to slow down, get quiet and reflect.

Julie Johnson
Ted Johnson Propane
Baldwin Park, California

Mind, Body & Spirit

Many of the habits we might take on affect our mind, body and spirit. I tapped into a few blogs on habits. Behavioral experts say new habits have the best chance for success if we begin small and make it so simple that we have no excuse not to do the new habit. Another blog suggested tying in a new habit to an existing one. This involves looking for patterns in our days and thinking about how we can create new, positive ones.

Many of us have strong morning routines, so experts suggest that is a great place to “stack on a new habit.” They say the key to developing habits is to make tiny commitments and focus on small wins. Dedicated commitment is what has proven to lead to change.

Nancy Coop is an industry advocate. She serves as marketing director at Cetane Associates. Contact her at 

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