Friday, June 27, 2008

Kathleen On Changing Her Ways

I'm set in my ways. I change my ways periodically, but it takes concentrated effort, and then I get set again. I seem to be an all 'er nuthin' kind of gal, and it bugs me. Changing is so hard.

So I'm thinking about making changes lately and what I have to do to accomplish each one.

For one thing, my writing habits. Does anyone else have this problem? I have to be in my space. Once I establish the space, I have to have things a certain way. In the last couple of years, I've changed space because writing privacy in this house became difficult to achieve. (Reason: little kids.) So I'm like an animal getting to the nest, the dog turning circles before she settles--I have to have everything a certain way in the same space, and if I don't get there by a reasonable time and get settled, the day is lost. Once I'm there, leave me alone. It works pretty well as long as life doesn't mess with me. I'm closing in on finishing the WIP in record (for me) time. But as soon as I finish this one--my life's mantra is "as soon as I get this book done"--I need to make changes. I have to reorganize my time, chores, day. It sounds so easy. (Now that basketball season is over--Yea Celtics!--I should be able to give up TV. Except for Stewart and Colbert.) For one thing, I need to save the newspaper for the end of the day. But Coffee and newspaper first thing in the morning is such a habit with me. And it I give it up in the morning, I might lose touch with the world entirely, right? I stopped doing e-mail first thing, and now I seem to avoid it for days on end. I stopped getting on the phone, and now I don't call anyone unless it's an emergency. All 'er nuthin'.

Anyone else have this problem? I know I can make the ol' Kathleen machine function better if I just make a few changes in the habits. I know it's a matter of behavior modification, and that you have to repeat an action many times before it becomes a habit. But it's so hard! Staying ahead of the curve on laundry and cleaning is major with little kids around. Workin' on it. Accumulating stuff is one of my lifelong habits, and I'm trying to change that. All 'er nuthin'. I have to stay away from E-Bay and Tuesday Morning entirely or I'm buying just one more doll or do-dad. (I stopped buying dolls a while back, but now it's kids' clothes. My granddaughters have more clothes than they can wear. Okay, they're like live dolls.)

Heck, I successfully lost weight and so far so good on maintaining; pretty much stopped biting my fingernails; wrote the first book on a new contract on deadline (and I set ridiculous deadlines this time); didn't spend a ton of time and cash filling flower pots this spring (see writing deadline and all 'er nuthin'--I planted NO pots). Not too bad for an old dog.

Some things I'm working on now: time management, work habits, exercise, shopping habits. How can I do these things without going to extremes? What tricks do you have for establishing new habits? Are you working on any habits in particular?

16 comments:

Cindy Gerard said...

Yowser, Kathy ... you are speaking to me this morning. My life feels like it's out of control right now. I've been on one deadline or another for longer than I can remember and they seem to be getting tighter and tighter. seems the rest of my life has been on hold. And yet - I find more and more ways to distract myself FROM doing the work. Case in point. I NEED to be working on my WIP RIGHT NOW. So, no suggestions from me but I'm sure interested in what everyone else has to offer. I need to make some changes and I think they might need to be drastic :o(

MsHellion said...

I do try to work on my negative thoughts. I try to backtrack it and be more rational about it. It rarely works, but I do try. Esp since negative thoughts impact everything else I do...

limecello said...

Hm... I'm bad at changing my habits. My problem is always rushing and procrastinating. Sometimes I'll make a concentrated effort- but generally, it's the same old same old. One thing I've recently done is cut some online/internet time in the mornings- that makes things a bit easier. (But then I don't have time the rest of the day and miss all sorts of important things) - ack!

Kathleen Eagle said...

limecello, I hear you on the cutting online time. We have a wireless /router system, but I don't get much of a signal on the laptop when I'm on the other side of the house, which is good. I'll slip online while I'm writing and destroy the bubble.

I have to write in a bubble, and the bubble has to be formed and reformed every time I get to work. That's why I've been barricading myself in the bedroom with the laptop. And you should see the nest I create for myself. It's a silly ritual. It reminds me of my favorite basketball player's game rituals. I swear, the creative brain depends on the primal brain to go through certain physical behaviors. No rhyme or reason necessary.

Playground Monitor said...

I've been trying to get in the exercise habit. I joined Curves and my husband made me a deal. He'll pay for it provided I go at least 3 times a week. That's pretty good motivation and I've kept up my end of the deal except the weeks I've been sick, which included this week. But I went to the doc and he decided I've had a low-grade sinus infection that will wax and wane. So now I'm on antibiotics that should knock it out for good and get me perky and energetic again.

They say it takes 21 days to make a new habit. Now if I can just stick to something for 21 days...

Marilyn

Debra Dixon said...

Yep, I've heard the 21 days things. I think it works, but it takes much less time to fall OUT of a habit once you have one. I don't know the statistics but I'd say 5 days will probably screw you up.

The change I'm trying to make is in spending habits. I have so much stuff; things I want to do. I don't NEED anything else. I don't need a new hobby, another set of Spanish tapes/software. I don't need to bring anything into this house that does not come immediately out of a bag to be used. I'm not buying anything for "tomorrow" or "someday." I've got quite enough things to do already.

Liza said...

I go with the 21 day thing too. I do really well if I give something up for 21 days and don't bring it back into my life.

If I'm trying to set up a new routine over the 21 days, it is a little bit harder. My big problem is making myself go to the gym. I now set it so I change clothes and leave right from work and then hit it as soon as it opens on Saturday. Unless I'm sick, I do really well on that schedule.

Keri Ford said...

You quit bitting nails? Major congrats! I'm and on again/off again bitter. I was a steady bitter in me younger days, but I broke the habit for my wedding. Now, for some reason, I'll grow pretty long (and strong) nails, keep them for a week or so and then bite them off. No one in my family understands how I'm an occasional bitter and neither do I

catslady said...

I've been getting rid of "stuff" (clothes for starters) so far that I've accumulated for over 40 years - mine and my grown children's. I'm such a pack rat. I've already bagged 10 large ones and given it to charity.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Wow! I'm so with you guys! I just signed us up at the YMCA, and so far so good. We belonged for years back in ND. Since moving to MN we didn't think we "had the time." But nothing ever worked as well for us, so I made an exec decision back in May when I was looking at programs for the grands. I've done Curves--a year or so, and it was okay--and we've tried the at-home programs--machines, tapes, etc. Nothing ever worked as well as the Y. I thought hubby would balk when I came home with the news, but he's already more into it than I am.

I did the trainer consultation, and I like the program she designed for me. I've tried Mat Pilates and a class called "Body Flow" and like them both. Tried Yoga, but I'll have to work up to that. Swimming is good. Now I just have to get myself on a regular schedule and STICK TO IT.

Kathleen Eagle said...

On accumulating stuff: Clyde tried to put his foot down a while back--Don't bring anything else into the house unless you remove something. I said okay, but it had become such a habit that I wasn't thinking when I did it. We can only fit one vehicle in the 3-car garage.

I've really clamped down on the E-Baying. But it's like sugar. If you cut it out for a good two weeks, the craving stops. But sneak one E-Bay search in for something Clyde says he needs and I'm checking on my favorite searches again. Addiction is addiction is addiction, whether it's alcohol or ____ (fill in the blank.)

Kathleen Eagle said...

Fingernails: I was maybe 5 or 6 when my mother promised me a doll I'd been wishing for (dolls again!) if I'd stop biting my nails. The deal was that she had to be able to feel the nail when she put her finger on my fingertip. I never got that doll. (Hence the doll collection in my old age???)

For a while I was doing acrylics and biting those too! One of my problems is that my nails are weak and I have a low "quick" from years of biting so far down. I've discovered that I just can't let them get to long or they break. Know what the best length is? Just above the fingertip. Mama wins again.

Michele Hauf said...

Hmm, habits to break. I don't count chocolate as a habit; that's necessity. I would like to start exercising and stick to it. Over a month ago, the news reported walkers in our area were being attacked, so I stopped walking outside. The attackers have since been caught, but do you think I can get my butt back out there?

On the flip side, I'm very proud I've broken my plastic bag habit. I haven't taken a plastic bag from a store since last fall. I always bring my own now.

Liza said...

I've been a nail bitter since I started kindergarden. I've stopped a few times, but I always go back. I need to stop again, especially since I dont' want my youngest niece to pick it up from me(she is 4).

Estella said...

I am very bad at changing habits. No suggestions from me.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Michele, I agree that chocolate isn't a habit. Ice cream is a habit. I think I'll switch to chocolate ice cream and call it an habitual necessity.