Habits and Success – Bad Driving… An Experiment (part 1)

It’s been a while since I posted. Not that I’ve run out of ideas… More that I’ve been distracted…

No, not by the earthquakes that have been rattling Reno lately (and another one just this moment in fact), but by two things… My many projects outside of this “internet thing”, and my HABITS. More than anything, it’s the habits that are probably slowing me down the most. We all have them. They exist whether we recognize them or not, and they all play a major part in our success or failure (aka “results”).

The hardest part is recognizing the habits that are affecting our current situation.

As an exercise, I’ve decided to do whatever I can to recognize the habits that affect my own life, no matter how small or large, good or bad. For those I see as “bad” habits, I will make an effort to change them… Noting my reactions, resistance, and success.

There will be many! If you follow along, you’ll soon understand.

Here’s a really easy one I’ve recently focussed on. I say “easy” in that it was easy to identify and observe, but not necessarily easy to do something about…

Ready… Here it is… “bad drivers”

Ask my wife. I don’t really like to be around those who don’t fit my idea of “good drivers”. I’ll cuss, moan, whine about how they should never have been allowed a license to drive. How they are causing problems for everyone else. That the cell phone stuck to their ear while the merge onto a freeway at 35MPH is going to cause a wreck (it will and does).

So, my habit is that I get all worked up over what someone else is doing.

I don’t know which is more boneheaded, the person driving with a cellphone in one hand, and doing makeup with the other… or me, wasting time and energy carrying on about them. But still, it’s something I’ve let become a habit. I see a “bad” driver, and I can barely control myself. Instinct takes over and I let ’em have it (not that they care) — <insert explicative here>.

The experiment begins. I’ve started to try different things to change my habit. Not that it’s such an important issue to change, but rather that it’s something I can clearly see, and observe. It’s also something that is frequent enough every time I get into my car, that feedback is almost immediate.

What I’ve found it that I still cuss and moan about the other drivers. But I do it slightly less frequently, and each time I do, I’m reminded of this experiment. Success. I’ve observed the habit!

Once observed, I run through a list of things in my head about what this behavior means to me, and why I’m doing it. Truthfully,the reason is probably more about me being “right” than anything else. I’d love to say it’s because the roads would be safer, or we’d all make it to where we want to go quicker, but that would be a lie. I simply despise their ineptitude as much as I despise my own. I want everyone to be competent 24-7.

When I go through the list of reasons “why” I act the way I do, they come up short.

  • I probably won’t make it to where I’m going more than a few seconds earlier.
  • The rest of us observant drivers will likely deal with the speed and erratic driving of the others.
  • No amount of me cussing, horn blowing, or otherwise getting working up over them will ever change the way they drive. Sad, but true. They will NEVER change because of my actions. Never, ever.
  • To feel righteous, or better than them. I may feel this way, but my stress level raises 1000 fold in the process. Not exactly productive!

Cutting to the chase… The ONLY ONE I have power over is MYSELF. It really doesn’t matter what they do. It only matter what I feel and do. Nothing can change this, so why would I make any choice but to do something supportive and constructive?

Because of Habit! And not a good habit.

Today, I made a solid observation of every time I got upset about something another driver did. I then went through my list of reasons, and observed. I did not change. But the fact that I observed what I was doing, and realized the real reasons for it is a huge step in the right direction. In the coming days, and weeks I will keep reminding myself of what I’m doing, and why the only thing that matter is my own results.

I know that in time I will become more focused on my own reactions, progress and success, than I am with others perceived problems and “stupidity”.

The challenge is to find the import habits that are holding us back and then doing something about them if they are holding us back in some way. Some common biggies are:

  • Perfectionism — probably my biggest hang up (though there are runners up)
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of failure
  • Shyness/fear of putting ourselves out there
  • Too much tv
  • Too much web surfing (“research”)
  • …insert your own discoveries here…

If you really want to succeed, you’ll need to observe your habits and make as many changes as are necessary to achieve your goal. It may not be easy, so I suggest you follow my lead, and “discover” something that is easy to observe at first. The tools you learn from truly thinking about these obvious habits can be applied just as readily to the more important ones. You just (usually) have to know why you’re doing what you’re doing first. Then you can progress.

That’s how it works for me anyway.

So… Can you identify a self-defeating habits. Preferably one that can be observed frequently. An easy one, or hard one. If you can identify and observe it frequently, choose that one. Then each time it comes up, think about what your response to it means to you. Think about why your choose to do that. Make a note of what you could change about your action, and how that could effect your feelings, results or behavior.

Remember that can only change yourself, not others. They must choose to change themselves, and you must choose to change yourself. You’re a FOOL if you are trying to change other people. Conversely, you are among the most brilliant if you choose to change yourself instead.

Which side would you rather be on?!

Please let everyone know if anything strikes a chord while reading this post. I hope it encourages some ideas big and small.


PS. My wife is probably wondering how I’m going to pull this one off. Part 2 will reveal part of the secret. Stay tuned (and please bug me if my habits don’t produce fast enough 😉

About Tim Gary

I live in Reno, NV with my wife Careen, and the ever so talented kitty named Milo. Programmer by trade, web surfer and learner for fun, I have a ton of interests, and you'll hear about each of them in time!

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6 Responses to Habits and Success – Bad Driving… An Experiment (part 1)

  1. Oliver@Free Wii December 21, 2008 at 6:28 am #

    Thanks a lot for this article! Admittedly I’m not that good as making myself do things when I’m telling myself to do them, I’ll try and incorporate some of your ideas 🙂

  2. Denny@Car Hire Seville October 8, 2008 at 3:39 pm #

    Nice advice. I do a lot of driving and i must admit im not the most patient guy, Im gonna give this a go

  3. Justin@Rap Beats August 18, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    Working online has been a serious challenge for me because of the lack of structure and discipline in this business. I’m finding it very hard to force myself to do work on a 9-5 schedule.

  4. Stefanie July 11, 2008 at 7:26 am #

    In a similar vein, I really like the “5 Whys” game. When something bothers or troubles you, ask why – but don’t stop there. When you get your answer, ask why about it, too. Continue until you’ve asked why 5 times, which should get you to the root of the problem.

  5. Hi Tim

    Thanks for this insightful article – I really could feel with you, as bad drivers is really something that annoys me, too. I dunno wether this will be the first bad habit that I’ll work on, but I shure will try to identify one and change it!
    Btw I saw that you allow republishing of your article, perhaps the service at http://www.shareapost.com is something for you?

  6. Teamwork May 12, 2008 at 12:57 pm #

    Unfortunately I have a lot of bad habits that are not difficult to observe. I am going to strive to break a few of these things. I believe this will help be be a better employee, boyfriend, and student.