Thursday, June 27, 2013

Habits Become Destiny


“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end.  It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it.”

Margaret Thatcher


“Plough deep while sluggards sleep.”

Benjamin Franklin


“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Unknown


Habits eventually become destiny.  That is not my original thought but it’s true.  I had created the habit of doing the least amount of work, putting in the least amount of effort, unless it suited me to do otherwise.  Now this might be the part where I blame my parents, God, my financial problems or an overactive schedule for my poor work performance, but the truth was, and is, that I made a choice to do less than my best in almost every single area of my life.
At a certain age I became responsible for my life.  I created my own messes and my own victories.  My messes included things like
·      Bad attitudes
·      Poor time management
·      Substandard work
·      Few raises
·      Poor grades
·      A poor reputation
·      A lack or respect for others
·      A (deserved) lack of respect from others
·      Unhappy supervisors
·      Being let go from jobs or school programs

Now I had some victories, too.  They included
·      Work well done
·      High self-esteem
·      Praise from teachers or supervisors

The problem was that those times were few and far between.  I could do excellent work when I felt like it.  The problem was that I rarely felt like it.  A huge secret to success is working when I don’t feel like it, and not just working, but doing my best.  This truth always eluded me somehow.  My feelings are very important to me and I am usually in tune with my emotions.  The problem was that I often let my emotions rule me.  So if I didn’t feel like working, I didn’t work.  Or I did as little as possible.
The beauty of my goal to have 150 blog posts within the next five days is that I have to constantly work when I don’t feel like it and I have to get past that feeling.  I have to create a new habit.  That means I have to create a new way of thinking.  The old way of thinking went something like this:
“I don’t feel like working.”
“Okay, then don’t.”
The new way of thinking goes something like this:
“I don’t feel like working.”
“I understand.  But I want you to work anyway.  Now go!”
The interesting thing is once I get past the feeling and start working, I always feel better.  I feel better about myself and about life.  I have never felt better when I was lazy.  Never.  Never.  Not even once.  I never felt better when I was physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally lazy.  In fact, it always put me in a bad mood.  When I didn’t face work or truth or study or my bad habits, I always felt worse.  This created a lazy, unaccomplished unhappy person.  In The People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck says that laziness is the root of all evil.  It was in my case.  It created so many problems for me.
Fear is a bear.  It’s large and frightening and it’s bigger than me.  But I can conquer it because I can see it.  Laziness is a different animal; it’s a rat.  I rarely see it.  It scurries quickly in and out of my life gnawing away at the work I have done.  Just like food eaten by rats becomes inedible to humans, laziness makes my few accomplishments indigestible.  Laziness is sneaky.  It’s small so it looks less intimidating than fear.  It can’t kill me directly or quickly, but it can cause me to starve to death slowly.  It can leave me with nothing.
In my last blog, I said I would share a story that changed my life.  It’s from Zig Ziglar, the motivational speaker.  It goes like this:
A group of men were working on a railroad line in the hot sun, laying down track when a train with a caboose pulled up slowly.   A well-dressed man stepped out of the caboose and surveyed the scene.  Suddenly he recognized one of the workingmen and called out to him, “Bill!”  Bill looked up and said, “Dennis!”  Bill went up to Dennis and the two men went into the lavishly furnished caboose and had a drink.  When they were done, Dennis and the caboose left.  As soon as it did, everyone rushed up to Bill and asked him who Dennis was and how they knew each other. 
            Bill said, “Dennis is the vice-president of the company.  He and I started on the same day 20 years ago.”
            The inevitable next question was, “Then why is he there and why are you still here?”
            Bill replied, “We both made a decision that day.  I decided to work for the money.  Dennis decided to work for the company.”


I will be honest.  Sometimes I still work for the money.   I still struggle with laziness and procrastination, but nowhere near the level I once did.  And now as I write these blogs, with no one but me to be accountable to, I know I am creating a new habit and a new destiny.  And all I had to do was Get Started and Keep Going.