Tomorrow I'm going to go check out some granite slabs so that I can replace my particle-board RV counters with granite. In preparation for the new counters I've ordered a new sink and faucet, and will be taking a look at a stove on Friday.
The faucet came in today. I got home at midnight, well after my usual computer off time (11pm), I set down my backpack, and started opening up the faucet box. You know, I thought, I may as well install it now just to see what it looks like.
Fifteen minutes later I was reading assembly instructions and poking around under my sink with a flashlight to see what sort of connections I had down there. I thought about how ridiculous it was to be installing a faucet that I would just have to remove and reinstall a week later. I thought about how crazy it was that somehow this totally useless faucet installation was taking priority over writing a post.
I realized that if my father, my usual home-on-wheels-improvement-guru, was here, he'd point out how ridiculous this whole process was. "Ty, don't do that now. Wait until you get the new counter."
And I'd heed his obviously logical advice and stop trying to monkey with the faucet. But in his absence, I found myself in a state of willful ignorance, trying to shove the faucet tubing through the base of the unit.
I stopped for a second and thought about it, and then packed the faucet back up, turned on my computer, and started writing.
We all have this perverse allegiance to authority figures. Some have our best interests at heart, some don't, and some just aren't considering our interests one way or another. But we're predisposed to obey. We're so predisposed, in fact, that a number of great pranks (and crimes) have been perpetrated thanks to this principle. When people think of hacking, they imagine fingertips dancing across a keyboard at three in the morning, but in many cases it's just someone calling up the right secretary and demanding that she give them the password. It works.
On the other hand, we have ourselves. It's not a matter of whether or not we're selfish, it's just a question of the degree. Putting aside the debate on whether or not that's a good thing, it's clear that if anyone has our best interests at heart, it's ourselves. And it's true that sometimes friends can point out parts of our personalities that we don't see, but no one truly knows us better than ourselves.
Yet we don't listen to ourselves.
New Years resolutions are coming up soon, and everyone knows that their success rate is abysmally low. Few people expect to keep their own resolutions, and no one expects anyone else to. When someone tells me that they're going to eat healthy in the new year, I may as well order a giant cake to their house on January 7th. They'll be back on it by then.
The bottom line is that we don't take ourselves seriously. We know that while the consequences for defying an outsider could be big, and could be embarrassing, the consequences of disobeying ourselves are different. They're small, cumulative, and easy to push aside temporarily.
Learning to listen to ourselves can be a slow process, but it's an important one. It's fundamental to any sort of self improvement, if only because habits are so important. How can you implement a habit if you can't trust yourself to stick to it?
So how do you start trusting yourself? The first step is to realize how urgent it is. If you have the habit of not following through with things you tell yourself to do, then you have a bad habit that is getting strengthened every day, just like any other habit.
You need to break that chain immediately. Pick something that you know you can do no matter what, like drinking eight glasses of water today or getting into bed by midnight or not watching TV. Then follow through no matter what.
No matter what. That's the name of the game. I'm exhausted right now and would love to finish this post tomorrow, but I told myself that I'd write a thousand words every day no matter what. My subconscious pops up with ideas like, "Hey, you did a lot of design work on your blog today, so that can count as writing".
Nope, it doesn't count, because I said I'd write no matter what. Every day, decide that you're going to do things and do them. Build up to difficult decisions, even things that you're not sure can be done. When you have the habit of following through no matter what, you get really resourceful.
You may never rid yourself of that urge to let yourself off the hook, but you can constantly make yourself stronger and stronger at resisting that urge. And once you get to the point where you know that your word to yourself means something, you've done something important: you've learned to listen to yourself.
This was written before putting the counters in the RV... I don't have amnesia!
Heading to Japan tomorrow with my Japanese teacher and friends. Really excited!
Picture is Todd with a backwards listening device on. Seems appropriate.
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