When it comes to making lasting powerful change in your life, the make-it-or-break-it moments come down to the split second decisions you make.
I read something from an organizer who pointed out that so much of clutter we create comes down to making a decision right in the moment to either leave something out or put it away. Since I read that, I’ve found myself debating internally about my standard practice of “just getting it in the ballpark” when it comes to putting things away and I’ve started to change it.
Do we care? Are we caring about that?
(1000 sci fi points if you know where that line came from.)
Why do we care about this?
We care about this because this idea translates to EVERYTHING.
What happens when you’re about to say something snarky to your kid or your spouse because you’ve had a bad day? Do you stop yourself? Do you make a new choice in that split second? Did you know that you can?
What about if you’ve already said it? Did you know you can make a new choice and apologize?
Or what if you want to be more on time?
I noticed yesterday that the reason I didn’t get my son to school on time (there’s no official time, but the time I want to be there by) was that I made a series of small choices that led to that outcome. I puttered a little extra. I looked online. I did some work that could have waited until I got back from the gym. Why?
I wanted to be on time. I wanted to get to the gym. But the natural resistance to doing those things was coming up, and I was making split second choices to support the resistance rather than the action.
Today I chose differently.
Today I told myself, “That can wait until I get back.”
Today I choose to add things to my to do list on my phone, rather than taking action on them immediately and getting sucked into the work vortex.
Today we drove away from the house exactly on time.
And again I ask, are we caring about that?
We care about this because it applies to EVERYTHING. Even your creative work, like when you’re finding yourself about to “take a break” before you start writing or painting.
In that split second you can make a choice not to procrastinate, but to take action instead.
Strengthening Your Willpower Will Change Your Life
Brian Johnson says that willpower is “known by research scientists as the queen of all virtues — the greatest predictor of health, happiness, wealth and all other good things.”
What happens when you start making better split second choices?
You strengthen your willpower.
In turn that strengthens your self-confidence, self-control, and happiness.
And isn’t happiness what we’re ultimately all looking for?
Surprise! You Can Build Happiness in Small Steps
The beauty of this split second idea is that it doesn’t have to be complicated.
- What if I just put this in the drawer instead of setting it down on the counter?
- What if I leave on time today?
- What if I choose not to drink this time?
- What if I just got up right now and went to the gym?
- What if I just sat down and did 15 minutes of writing?
It probably sounds a little crazy, but making these little choices will lead to being happier and more fulfilled. It’s about the choice to be in integrity with yourself. And that always feels good.
Accumulate Your Small Choices
The way this gets really fun is when all those little small choices start adding up. I call it “making a critical mass of subtle adjustments.”
It’s funny how it comes down to the littlest details, like where your creative tools are kept, what time you get up, the small routines you have around your work (or not), etc. It all makes a difference.
That’s why in our Circle, we’re always so thrilled when our writers start paying close attention to those small choices they’re making and how they can change them to better support their writing habits.
An example? Sure!
Here are a couple of my tricks when it comes to writing:
- I use a Mac program called “Isolator” to cover up all the other programs on my screen so I’m not distracted by them (and I turn off all the beeps and pop-ups or hide them so I can’t see them).
- I always write with a timer, so I stay focused on my project. I use an online timer or my phone timer so I don’t have to hunt around for one.
- I keep a big jug of water in my office, so I can easily refill my water glass if I get thirsty.
- I keep lotion at my desk, so that I don’t have to get up if my hands get dry, which can distract me.
- When I’m writing upstairs in bed (which I often do first thing in the mornings), I put the laptop on the charger at my bedside so it’s ready to go in the morning. (And I have water and lotion there too!)
These little things make it easy for me to say “Yes” to the writing in those split-second moments that make the difference between doing the work, or not.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
You may also be interested in:
- Why we procrastinate, especially about the stuff that really matters
- Two conversations about taking a day off from writing
- Getting back on the writing wagon
- Does passion follow action?
- When to Write and When to Call It A Day