A clean slate, that’s how we often look at the beginning of a New Year. A chance to refresh and make major changes in our lives. It can be exciting to think of making major changes, to identify the areas of our lives where we haven’t been making enough effort and changing that.
But let’s get real folks, do we actually think that we’re going to miraculously change behaviours with very little effort? Do we actually understand that each and every habit/behaviour we have must be replaced by another and re-learned before we can become successful in the long term?
Case in point: In July of 2011 I wrote this article where I shared a dirty little secret; I had a sock basket that was frustrating me and I vowed to get rid of it and never keep single socks again.
When I wrote this post I was intent upon ridding our home of the dreaded sock basket, to always toss out the single socks as they appeared.
Are you sitting there wondering why a sock basket would bother me so much? This is an example of how easily I can overlooks something in our home or in my life. This basket would be moved from room to room as someone was searching for a pair, my shins were constantly dinged off of it as I tried to ignore it and walk past.
That day I did indeed throw out all of the single socks but I failed to change my behaviours and today we have a different sock basket which is massive, the volume of single socks threatens to take over….they’re spilling onto the floor. The sock situation has gotten even worse than it was when it was driving me cray-crazy.
The Sock Basket Cannot Be Ignored
Roll with me for a moment on this sock basket analogy folks….today I’ll throw out the damned sock basket. It will be gone and I’ll feel all warm and fuzzy for a while.
Then the day will come, not so far in the future when I’ll be doing laundry and find a single sock. Without any thought I’ll put it aside to await it’s missing mate. This action will be without conscious thought but a reflex in response to my ingrained habit. I’ll wait the logical few loads and yet it won’t appear. That single sock shall sit there mocking me with each load.
This is the point of the quandary, will I fall into old habits and keep the sock or will I toss it?
For the love of all that’s reasonable I hope I’ll throw it out but chances are I’ll be inclined to set it aside again.
Habits Be Damned – I’m Making Changes
This is what a habit does. It’s a behaviour ingrained into our subconscious which allows thoughts to drive our actions faster than we often realize.
Another example is my food habit. Far too often I skip breakfast and by lunch I’m starving so I hurry into the kitchen like a raging bull, scrambling for sustenance. I bypass the healthy choices without even noticing them and grab a few slices of fatty-bum white bread, smear on butter and hunks of old cheddar sighing with relief with the first gluttonous bite.
I eat that sandwich, grab a diet coke and begin to feel a nagging sense of regret. My eyes travel over all of the lovely, fresh veggies available, the 12 grain breads, the turkey and the half gone brick of cheese and yet I stuff down those regrets and leave the room.
This is how I have ignored my behaviours in the past, just keep moving and then deal with it all once the socks are finally spilling out of the basket and the kids are going wacky trying to find a pair.
Today as I throw out the basket and plan a menu for the week, I’m vowing to slow down and one day at a time. I am slapping myself into being awake each day, to pay attention to my inclination to motor along ignoring things. With each single sock I’m tossing it, with each meal time I’m pre-planning and having some healthy choices on hand.
Chances are I’ll slip up but if I apply the tools I use with my recovery from alcoholism I’ll succeed in progress.
Today I seek progress, not perfection but dammit those single socks beware….your time is limited.