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Gratitude #21 - willingness to change

I think I'm a pretty habitual person, which is especially obvious when I know there is an easy way to do something but I keep doing it the hard way because I forget.

But my habits don't always serve me. I've been working on integrating some new habits with decent success. I think that changing my reason from "because I should" to something that resonates more with me is helpful. For instance, in trying to develop an exercise habit, rather than doing it to be thin, which seems like a discouraging and far away goal that I will possibly never attain, I decided to focus on the way exercise affects my creativity and my mood. And those are effects you can see in about a week, and so the exercise habit actually stuck because seeing results overcame my inertia.

Certainly, my work habits were something I've always been proud of. I was raised to think being called "lazy" was the ultimate insult, and that I needed to scrape and struggle and be working every waking hour of every day in order to consider myself a worthwhile human being. And I was also starting to suspect that living like that was making me weird.

I had it on my goal list to look at the balance in my life in 2012 and figure out how to incorporate down-time...but weirdly enough, I came across a book that inspired me to change my work habits, and when it explained WHY (brain fatigue) I adopted a new work method of timed bursts immediately, at the end of November. And suddenly I can clock out at 6pm with about twice as much work completed as I ever did before. Why? Because while I was able to force myself to pay attention to something for a four- or six-hour stretch, my brain was not able to make use of that attention, because it gets fatigued in 45 minutes.

I can to more writing in three 45-minute bursts than I could do all day before. And in between I can do admin or bookkeeping or art or whatever. Or exercise. Or read. Or journal. Or just sit and think.

I'm grateful I was willing to change. I'm also grateful I allowed myself to take a look at that now rather than waiting for 2012 and the New Year holiday to begin.

(The transformative book is Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields which I think I've mentioned before. I heard him on a podcast and thought he sounded interesting. I buy a lot of books that way.)



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 19th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
Those different reasons sound like something I should look at more closely. Taking five to ten minutes an hour away from the computer is something I try to do at work, but it doesn't seem to come home with me. I haven't found a lasting exercise habit motivator, although the dog is working quite well again, now that the physiotherapist told me that I shouldn't have stopped walking like my doctor told me...
Dec. 20th, 2011 09:25 am (UTC)
I quit smoking years ago with a motivating WHY but sometimes habits you add are different from habits you quit. Doing something is different from not doing something. (I repeated that because I'm wondering how and why that is, but it seems to be the case for me.)

Would a new timer on your home computer help? I use a timer that I programmed to pop up a dialog box that says "hooray" after 45 minutes.
Amanda Corlies
Dec. 20th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC)
Sometimes I think we might be twins separated at birth. We have so much in common its altogether creepy, Jordan. LOL! I am going to have to try the 45 minute bursts. I know several writers who swear by this method, and I've been meaning to try it. So, you've convinced me to give it a go. I am grateful for you. Just thought I'd mention that while we're talking about it, in case I forgot to say so earlier. ;D
Dec. 20th, 2011 09:29 am (UTC)
OMG that's so sweet, Amanda! Thank you.

Let me know how your bursts go. I also tried 1 hour bursts and 30 minute bursts, and 45 seems to be the most productive for me. 30 is good when I really don't want to work, because I can tell myself "it's only half an hour."

Although, again, seeing the evidence that when I set my timer, it's likely a fat bunch of work will get done, I find myself very motivated now and less likely to diddle around on the internet or organize my spice cabinet when I should be working.

Edited at 2011-12-20 01:29 pm (UTC)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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