Some of our lessons come from life and others come from other places, like school. Our parents are our first teachers where we learn not to bite other kids when we are toddlers and to wait patiently for the toy we want. When we get into school, we learn other lessons like where to put our lunches and how many minutes we will spend on each subject. Being a rule follower by nature and not liking any kind of attention (but especially not the bad kind), I mostly did whatever I was instructed to do. However, there were times, like every kid, when I tested the rules. It was frustrating to me when I would see other kids breaking the rules and not get caught, why couldn’t I? Well…because I ALWAYS got caught. Really? Yep. Back in the day (not yester-day),when one of my classmates or myself got caught breaking one of the teacher’s rules, we usually had to miss recess to write a sentence 100 times before we could go out.
How many of you remember this?
“I will not take my classmates things without permission.”
“I will not cut in line at the drinking fountain.”
“I will not throw my lunch at the school staff.”
The one I had to write in 6th grade…”I will not chew gum in class.”
And we had the big practice”your cursive writing” kind of paper — you know the ones with the inch per line with the dotted lines in between each section? So imagine how long it took me to do 100 sentences. I was just glad my sentence wasn’t that long.
But why have me to write a sentence 100 times? Couldn’t the teacher just remind me again and then I would put again in my memory bank, not to chew gum in class? Nope. I needed to remember for a long time. I needed to make sure I wouldn’t forget. So, I had to do something repeatedly.
That’s how we remember to do anything…we create a habit out of something we do over and over. We drive to work the same way and it becomes almost auto-pilot. We unload the dishwasher the same way, starting on the bottom first. (That way no water from the items on the top shelf get the other stuff on the bottom wet.) Repetition is the key to every habit. It instills a way about doing things that makes it almost impossible to change. The route I take on my morning walk is the same, every day, such as. We sign our name the same way (generally speaking), and we even like our coffee a certain way.
Why is this important?
Think about ONE thing you want to change about your life…ONE. We all know how difficult it is to make and keep ONE resolution at the beginning of January. How many of us could say that we kept a resolution for one year? It is difficult…for all of us. But this is where it begins to change…with changing ONE thing. It means creating something new by repeating something over and over. It means ingraining something into your daily routine that you don’t even think about it when you do it. It becomes how you live. Doing ONE thing different is just the beginning…it is not the end. You must keep going. Yes, it is going to be tough and you are going to wonder if it matters. But it will. I know people who are recovering alcoholics and attend AA meetings…30 years+ after their last drink. They have to work at it every day and these meetings are a way for them to stay sober and keep up their routine. Once you have identified that ONE thing, take that ONE step further and find ONE thing to change it. What can you change? Have you asked enough questions? (Usually asking questions will get you some answers, but also lead you to more questions.)
We cannot be so stubborn to think that the change will happen for us. We have to make it happen. Sometimes, it takes courage and gumption. It might mean failure before you taste success. Keep your sight focused on your goal…taking the necessary steps to get you where you want to go. Surround yourself with people who will help you get there (and call you out if you need it), and don’t be afraid to admit where you are instead of where you would like to be. Listen to the kinds of words that inspire you to learn and believe in the reasons why you do what you do. There is truth in the phrase, “We are what we repeatedly do“ and we must understand the reason for each lesson…whether it is received in school or otherwise. Pay attention.
Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©