Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shedding of Innocent Stuff: A Life With No Habits?

It's taken me awhile to come to grips with this, but over the past several weeks, I've been reading a lot of Winget (don't worry, this is not a Larry Winget exercise per se, but it fits today's topic somewhat), and he's really big on changing habits and replacing bad habits with better ones. As I was looking at my various habits (and I have a few of them to say the least) I was struck by the fact that, actually, what I really suffer from is a overall lack of habits.

Over my life, I've known many people that are honest and serious creatures of habit. My wife Christina is one of them. This is by no means a put down, but for much of her life, she would have the same meals for breakfast for months or even years on end, she has a very solid routine of things that she does every single day, and this is part of the structure of her life. By contrast, my life is markedly without ingrained habits; most of what I do is what I refer to as "opportunity activities"; I do what I have to do when I have to do them, but there's generally no rhyme or reason to why or how. Take food, for example. When Christina and I go out to eat at a restaurant, it's generally a given that Christina will, depending on the restaurant, order something familiar that she likes (nothing wrong with that at all, it beats ordering something she hates). By contrast, I actually make it a point any time I go to a restaurant to almost never order the same thing twice, I always choose something I have never tried, if indeed there is an option I haven't tried. In some ways, I think this sense of "must be different" is about the only truly consistent habit I have.

In many ways, this feeds into my online life where, OK, I do have habits, and some of them not really all that good. I read sites that I enjoy probably way more often than I should (not because they are bad, but because they can be major time sucks when I need to be doing other things). Seems logical that I should say "OK, I will limit my time to viewing site [fillInTheBlank] between (time A) and (time B)". I have every intention to follow through with it, but I almost never do. The reason why? It would require me to submit to a scheduled habit, and I'm discovering that's a really difficult thing for me to do, silly as that may sound.

The point I'm trying to make is that we talk about the clutter in our lives and shedding of it so that things will be more orderly and tidy in our lives, but rarely do we consider that not having habits about certain things can be seen as "life clutter"; it's like a messy room with no organization (or very little, in any event).

To this end, I'm trying an experiment for the next 21 days. Why 21 days? Because that's the amount of time many psychologists believe it takes for a fledgling habit to actually become one. Thus, for the next 21 days, I have decided to put together a list of things that I know that I need to do on a regular basis, and I commit here and now to set aside time to deliberately do them, and make every attempt to do them on a schedule. You may think this would be obvious to many people, but I assure you, to me it isn't. This way, I'm hoping to make it so that many of the things in my life I keep saying I mean to do I will actually do in a more timely manner, and I will also hope to corral those things that threaten to suck away my time into specific areas and spaces where they can be prioritized and allowed to run free for their respective times, but once the time is up, that's it until the next day.

This is going to be a real challenge for me, so don't be surprised if this topic comes up often in the next few weeks (LOL!).

1 comment:

Larsen's said...

Good luck honey! Ooops, gotta is 10:44 - time to brush my teeth! ;)