Praise Repetition: Successful Compulsions
I’m returning to a regular writing schedule, publishing every Saturday.
Part of the process of writing requires figuring out what to write about. That’s hard for me. There’s also the mechanical discipline of it: just writing a lot, staying on a schedule. Making a habit of it. Practice.
Adding new habits comes easily to me, due to a mildly traumatic childhood.
At about 6, my family went on a road trip. My father locked the keys in the car. We got home safe eventually, but had to wait for a locksmith, a grueling amount of time for a little kid with nothing to do.
After that day, every time we were getting out of the car, I’d ask him, “Do you have the keys?” A couple times, he started to get annoyed, until once he did not in fact have the keys. After that, he grumblingly tolerated me asking.
Later they promoted me to latchkey kid, and I knew how important those keys were. To this day, every time I step out the front door, my left hand instinctively goes to my pants pocket. To make sure I have them, because once in a while, I don’t!
At some point, the behavior spread, from the specific ‘don’t get locked out’ to the general ‘small steps help avoid disasters’.
Small steps have spread into all areas of my life. I keep my car tires at proper inflation all the time, so when I head to a rock ‘n roll gig, I know the chances of getting a flat are much less. Maybe I still get a flat, once in a million. But the car handles better and gets its maximum fuel efficiency when at the recommended pressure. Win-win.
There’s that book called ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’, maybe ‘habits’ could be replaced by ‘obsessive compulsions’. What’s the difference between the two?
Whether you like the result. How your peers, friends, family like it. Whether it makes you more effective.
Habits are just obsessive compulsions with beneficial results. Fine tune your OCD into OCB.