I have a pair of slippers that is so decrepit that they sometimes trip me as I walk. Sure, I can afford new slippers and, yet, here I am, stumbling down the hall – spilling my coffee, no less – because the right sole has peeled away from the cloth, folded itself under, and caught on something invisible. It’s no joke; slippers can kill.
“Dang it,” I say, dabbing at the coffee now dotting my bathrobe, “I need to get new slippers!” But I don’t.
Like with my worn-out slippers, I tend to put up with some things far longer than I need to. Sometimes it’s just easier to live with the problem than to fix it. Other times, though, I don’t know how to make the change, or where to begin. Sometimes it’s resistance, pure and simple, making me struggle against a solution that is obvious.
For example, I used to get up at 4:00 on weekdays so I could start my work day at 7:00 and be off work by 3:30. In early, off early, I always said. But, as some of you know, I am also a committed to-do list maker and avid accountability challenge practitioner, so I also like to chip away at personal goals every day. I write, exercise, stretch, read, meditate, walk the pup, etc. In order to accommodate this, I planned and re-planned my days, rearranging and splitting the tasks up into those I’d do before work and those I’d do after. This always bombed. I couldn’t develop consistency with the after-work activities. With Mike’s television blaring and dogs and people clamoring for food and attention, there was a buzz about the house that did not partner well with my quieter personal development plans.
I struggled with this for seven years. I couldn’t give up my early shift at work no matter how poorly it suited me. Finally, I took the leap. I pushed my workday back. I let go of my “in early/off early” attachment and freed myself to enjoy the luxury of time in the morning and the euphoria of having all my stuff done before I even left the house. I still get up at 4:00 (to the utter shock and horror of some of my friends) but now there’s no rushing through the activities that bring me joy.
The difference has been immense. My stress level feels lower and I’m more productive at home and at work. I no longer have Part 2 of my to-do list hanging over my head like after-school chores that have to be done before I can go play with my friends. Now I can go straight outside with Luna and play until dinnertime.
I question why I didn’t do this sooner. Why did I struggle for seven years?
The lesson for me is that I should always try to ditch habits or situations that aren’t working. No more putting off change simply because I’m lazy, I’ve never done it or, worse, I’ve always done it this way. If I make things worse, I can change it back, or try something else. This applies not only to schedules, but to everything, including my relationships, food, and career. And even, of course, to getting new slippers.