I’m in the middle of a project requiring consistent action on my part. I broke down the project into smaller parts, made a check-list of each of the different tasks involved, and started taking tiny steps forward, sometimes doing only one thing that required a few minutes in a day.
I’m at the point now where I have a daily goal to accomplish in order to complete the entire project on time. Each day I mark down where I need to be at the end of the day to stay on task and I try to do a little more than is required in order to stay ahead of the deadline. So far, I’m more than meeting my daily goals and expect to finish in plenty of time.
While I’m totally excited about the project, it has nothing to do with writing. (I’d tell you what it is, but it’s a surprise. I’ll tell you later.)
While conceiving, planning, and executing this project, I’ve also been reading the book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg, and it’s allowed me to figure out why I’m sticking to this new “habit” and also to apply what I’ve learned to my writing life.
At the end of the book, Mr. Duhigg states that any habit can be changed:
“However, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it.”
One of the habits I’d like to change is my habit of allowing myself to get distracted from my writing by other things, from my son calling me, to my email, to a TV show my husband is watching (and I can’t ignore.)
For me, it always comes down to a thought I am thinking. I sit down in the living room with my computer even though the TV is on because I’m thinking something like, “I deserve to relax a little at the end of the day.”
And, yes, I do deserve to relax at the end of the day. But I deserve to get my writing done (and I want to get it done) more.
So now, I’m making plans. First of all, I look at my calendar early in the morning (or even the night before) and I look for opportunities to get my writing done before 8 PM (I’m not a night owl.) Then I ask myself some questions—and answer them.
- What am I going to do at 8 PM when the TV is on and I still have some writing I want to get done? I will ask Tom to shut the TV off or I will go in my office to write.
- What am I going to do when I get to my son’s karate class? I’m going to open my iPad and write. I will not check my email or do a puzzle.
- What am I going to do when I’m cleaning out my email inbox and I see a Facebook post I’d like to check out? Delete it and remind myself I can check Facebook after I finish my writing goal for the day.
My special project and my writing are getting done, and I’m creating new habits that support me and keep me moving in the direction of my dreams.
Do you have any habits you’d like to change?