I love the phrase, “Practice doesn’t make perfect—it just makes permanent.”
Any golfer will verify that hitting a driver a thousand times at a driving range won’t improve your score by one stroke if you’re holding the club wrong or not lining up properly. Indeed, if not done correctly, it will pretty much ensure lousy drives the next time you hit the links with your buddies.
We develop habits that might be positive, negative or neutral, by the sheer fact of repetition (the mother of memory).
That occurred to me recently on two different occasions, once on my home computer and the other with my car battery.
It was a warm Saturday afternoon and I jumped in my 2000 Hyundai to run an errand. To my surprise, the engine chugged for a few moments before starting. It acted like it was the middle of an Iowa winter with 20-below temperature. I shut it off and tried again with the same results.
Assuming that I probably needed a new battery I drove immediately to a mechanic who quickly discovered that the battery was fine but there was some corrosion on both cables. He cleaned it up and sprayed some type of oil on the cable to resist future problems. I was happy to spend $20 instead of $150 as I headed toward my planned errands.
Hitting the radio button to catch a baseball game, I was surprised for a moment that my station did not come up. Then I remembered that when the battery cables are unhooked, it requires that clocks and the radio station-selection buttons need to be reset. And that is when it occurred to me how much we are creatures of habit.
Rather than go back in a put in every AM and FM station that had been in there for years, I made a conscious choice to think about what I really like to hear and made some additions/deletions to my original choice. Frankly, I now have to think for a minute as to which button will get me which station–and I think that is a good thing.
A situation occurred with our computer at home in which when we moved from MSN to Outlook. For whatever reason, the old emails had been lost somewhere in Cyberspace. For awhile it caused me some consternation thinking there were certainly important emails archived that I needed to see.
Guess what? After two years and being assured that there IS a way to access them–I don’t care and don’t need to. The world didn’t end or spin off its axis. We have survived quite nicely without those old messages.
I am not suggesting that you go home and unhook your battery cables or crash your computer.
What I am suggesting is that you stop and think about all the things you do every day in your personal and professional life that could use serious updating. I’m suggesting that maybe it would be a good idea to make a change simply for the sake of change. Do something different. Take a new route home. Shut the TV off for a night or go to a different channel. Shop at a new store or go to a new restaurant. Go to lunch with a different person. Go for a walk on a different street. Shake your life up a little bit and from some new habits.
You might be surprised and pleased by the fresh perspective you have on what you do and why you do it. My incidents with the computer and car battery did just that for me.
Bill Sheridan—SHERIDAN WRITES, LLC
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