Since I’ve been focusing on habits over the weekend, I’ve also focused on how I seem to have acquired the habits I now want to change. The process really begins with asking a few questions, and then asking some more. Then get positive with your questions because we all seem to have a tendency to remind ourselves how lousy we are.This week we’ll focus on these questions.
It’s a good time to do that, since we’re moving into the second month of the year, and most of our resolutions are either chugging away nicely, or they’ve been consigned to yet another garbage heap of history. Remember: the calendar is a notion of man. Like a corporation, you should just begin your year whenever you feel like it. Besides. The Year of the Rabbit started this weekend, according to my Friend Diane, who lives near Philadelphia’s Chinatown. I was busy thinking about how the Packers were going to be awesome in the Super Bowl, so it sort of escaped me.
So start that resolution again! Let’s do it right this time. First, the questions:
What questions should I ask?
The focus of your question is important. After all, neither Heisenberg nor Einstein brought us important ideas about physics by asking “what’s on television?” and focusing on the answer. Ignore the anachronism in that example, and figure out what your important questions are.
Is this what I want to be doing?
Okay, I know that many of you are asking yourself that question a lot. Take that into consideration, and don’t ignore the investment of time and effort you’ve put into school and your early profession. But at least start to notice what brings you joy. If you find no joy in your present situation, start looking at things that ignite your passion. Then start carving out time (via your habit changes) to do that activity.
Your chosen activity will change as you do. That’s not a bad deal. You may be a lawyer for a while, and then teach or consult, or stop entirely and go back to school. I’ve practiced general law, consulted, taught, and played in a big law firm, and started a practice in a niche of a niche. I have a three page CV just of the jobs I’ve held and clients I’ve worked with. Just remember, you’re not stuck unless you think you are.
Worry creates fear. Fear paralyzes us and gives us belly fat. Forever expecting awful results from your efforts means you’ll soon lose the ability to recognize opportunities for change and build a happy life. In the converse, if you happily accept challenges and start your day with gratitude and end it with keeping track of your victories, you won’t worry.
One of my great worries is what people think of me as I’m going through my day, mainly that they think I’m an idiot or have no talent for what I do. I worry that they’ll see my imperfections as clearly as I do, and that sort of embarrasses me.
That worry scuttled my acting career, and has scuttled many efforts to move forward in my legal career. Most perfectionists (that means you) have this concern. Remember: nobody is paying attention. They’re much more worried about the things they’re doing wrong. The ones who do pay attention to the things you do wrong and perpetuate them without constructive feedback are bullies. You don’t need them, and you should ignore them.
Why do I like ______ more than _____?
You can fill in the appropriate blanks. It will help you focus on the habits you really want to have. They may not be the habits other people think you should have. Good habits are good things. Don’t replace a vice with a virtue you think is unimportant, unless it’s one that clearly affects your mental or physical well-being (like an addiction), or the mental and physical well being of people you care about. If you stop trying to like things you really don’t like, your bad habits may just disappear on their own.
A helpful read:
This month, as you build your new habits, I highly recommend Jim Loehr’s “The Power of Story.” It’s a terrific book, and reads quickly. Take 20 minutes a day and read a bit of motivational literature. It’s really pretty energizing.