Old Habits Really Do Die Hard
As the saying goes, “old habits die hard.” In my opinion, old habits don’t just die hard. They are like ticks. You can’t just throw them out or flush them away to get rid of them. You have to light each little blood-sucking tick on fire or drown it in alcohol before tossing in the garbage pail.
For much of my life, I’ve had a few bad habits—ones I made excuses for, and ones I even succumbed to. And, the worst part was, I believed they were a part of me. As if I couldn’t change them. I was approaching adulthood, and my procrastination became a badge of honor. My weight became my cross to bear.
I have attempted to “fix” both, jumping on the wagon for a week or two of extreme change, only to fall off again at the next deadline or trip to the grocery store.
It’s fair to say that these habits did become a part of me. They will always be a part of my past, but I recently found out that I control whether they are a part of my present and my future.
I can’t say I’m usually one for mantras, but there was one thing I repeated to myself over and over again that has changed my entire perspective on procrastination: “Never put off till tomorrow what can be done today,” Thomas Jefferson.
I watched those around me who wore the same procrastinator’s badge of honor, and I realized that there were about 10 million better things I could be doing with my time than procrastinating. I also realized that, if I wrote a list of the 10 most successful people I know, none of them would waste as much time as I did in order to procrastinate. All of a sudden, it sounded silly. It sounded like a loss of potential, a lazy quality, and it felt embarrassing.
A year ago I would have chosen TV or a trip to Home Goods over writing this blog at every chance. I would have left the book I finished yesterday half-read on the shelf, or I might have had to sleep in after an all-nighter to make my deadline. Instead, I used my own guilt—my own obsession with procrastination—to motivate me to get things done. Instead of wasting the day away while thinking of what I should be getting done, I’d essentially guilt myself into an earlier morning, a more productive afternoon, and, as a result, much, much more enjoyable evenings and weekends.
I think tackling one bad habit at a time is the right way to go. As my dad always says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It took years for my bad habits to take hold, and it’s not going to take two weeks for them to release their grip.
I’m so happy to say that I went from being a procrastinator, a quitter, a barely-hit-send-before-the-deadline to being accountable, productive, and, thankfully, about 90 percent less stressed than I was before.
Now, when I get lost on Travelzoo’s “This Week’s Top 20” for a half hour, I don’t lose all productivity for the rest of the afternoon by looking at out-of-reach vacations and exotic far-away destinations. I enjoy my break, and I reel it right back in to finish my work.
While I continue to work on my procrastination, I’m beginning to formulate a plan to deal with my next vice. I now know that I can change—I’m not some static creature who can’t change her stripes—and I have the power, motivation, and ability to make it happen.