August 31st, 2007
Bad Habits and Other Things That Need to Be Broken

I have a confession to make. I have a really bad habit. What is it? Indecisiveness. See, I’m one of those people who HATE to make a mistake. Read that sentence again and focus in on the word hate. Now magnify it a thousand times. Yeah, that kind of HATE. Now I could go into the psychological reasons behind this particular behavior, but really, it’s not important. The fact still remains that I tend to draw out making important decisions until the last minute because I’m terrified of making the ‘wrong’ choice.

This is not good for business or everyday life. So it got me thinking about other people’s habits and how they’ve overcome detrimental behavior. Did you have a bad habit that you conquered? If so, what was it and how?

18 comments to “Bad Habits and Other Things That Need to Be Broken”

  1. I have a habit of dwelling unrealistically on the negative of a situation…i.e….she hates me…I’ll NEVER get my book published. I learned to balance these thoughts by stopping when they become overwhelming and making a list. What is really true about the situation? What is just my mind overreacting? What can and can’t I control? Over time, my lists have helped me stop the automatic negative thinking. (This technique has really helped when I’ve had teenagers who were new drivers!)

  2. Laura, That’s great advice! Thanks! 😀

  3. I hate making mistakes, too, and I think it comes down to perfectionism. Which can be crippling if you let it get the upper hand. It comes down to changing the way you think, or recognizing when the way you’re thinking is having an unhealthy effect on how you feel or act and talking back to yourself. For me, the inner conversation tends to go, “Nobody has ever written a perfect book and I won’t, either. That doesn’t make me a failure, that makes me human.”

    Write For Your Life by Lawrence Block has great stuff on changing how you think. So does “Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy” by David Burns, which I stumbled across while majoring in psychology. *g* I knew that major would be useful to my writing career!

  4. I’ve never managed to truly overcome my worst bad habits and weaknesses, but I try hard to identify them and then manage them more effectively. Like avoiding whatever triggers the bad stuff. If I screw up anyway, I try not to be too hard on myself — tomorrow’s a new day and all that. My mom once told me that yes, there will always be someone who’s better at XYZ than I am, but that it doesn’t take away from what I’ve accomplished. On particularly dreary days, that seems to help. 🙂

  5. One of the few bad habits I’ve managed to overcome was the vile temper I had as a young girl. A true Aries at that time, I could become furious at the drop of a hat. I basically overcame it by distancing myself from the emotion as soon as possible, and forcing myself to think about what was really making me angry (turned out I was usually mad at myself for what I considered my shortcomings).

    One bad habit down, only about two thousand more to go, lol (and I hate making important decisions too, btw).

  6. It’s not indecisiveness, Jordan, it’s information gathering. 🙂 I prefer to think of it as the human tendency to live by the Hippocratic Oath: First do no harm. Sooner or later though, as an old Transmission guy told me in my youth, ‘Do something, even if it’s wrong’. 🙂

  7. I rarely finished writing things when I was younger; I would lose interest halfway through the WIP and start something else (this was when I didn’t plot or plan anything.) I would force myself to finish one or two stories a year, but I had ten times that many that I gave up on. I convinced myself that it was the story that wasn’t working, not me, but after a while I started having serious trouble finishing anything.

    That’s when I decided to make some changes, and started plotting more and getting more involved in the planning stages, so I didn’t end up wandering aimlessly through the story. It was not knowing what I was going to do that made me stall and give up in the middle, because I don’t like writing blind — I just didn’t know it.

  8. Charli, Glad those psych classes are paying off. 😉 I’ll have to pick up that L.B. book. Yes, perfectionism can be a real bitch.

  9. Michele, It is important to be able to identify your triggers. Helps you side step those landmines. Your mom’s advice is very good. I accepted a long time ago that there’s always going to be someone better, prettier, etc. It definitely took some of the ‘outside’ pressure off. I just have to figure out how to ease the inside pressure and I’ll be set. 😉

  10. Raine, LOL! I hear you on having thousands to go. *g* My sister used to have a temper like that. She was a mini-volcano as a kid. She’d get over it just as fast as she blew up. I’m not like that. Never have been. I’m a slow burn kind of person. It takes me a long, long time to get mad, but once I do, look out. I do not forget and it takes me YEARS to forgive.

  11. Bernard, You put such nice spins on things. 🙂 Your old Transmission guy is right. In the end, you just have to do something.

  12. Lynn, I did that a lot when I first started writing. I was a complete pantser. I always thought that I didn’t finish because I procrastinated too much. And in part, that was the reason. The other reason was because I had no idea where the story was going. I ended up writing several books by the seat of my pants, but after a while I couldn’t do that anymore. Now I’m a hybrid creature. I need a little info before I get started so that the writing flows smoothly.

    It’s funny what our minds will tell us, if we just listen. 😉

  13. “Now I’m a hybrid creature”

    There are a lot of writers who aren’t plotters or pantsers, but a little of each. We need a name for you all, Jordan.

  14. Plantsers? *ggg* Probably not. (wg)

  15. Jordan I have the same horrible habit. I hate being wrong; I want to make the riht decision so it takes me forever! When I was a kid they used to tease me about getting a menu first when we went out to eat because I could never decide what I wanted! I’ve gotten better because I’m the parent and the head of household so I have to make decisions but it’s exhausting. My other bad habit is my temper….it’s gotten much better and now I stop myself and ask, “Where are you in your cycle?” I usually am at that point where bad tempers are the norm *g*

  16. Plantsers. Makes me giggle. I’m a hybrid, too, but I think of it as following a map. I know where I’m going and what highway I need to take. I don’t know all the details of the landscape.

  17. Amie, Yeah, I don’t know many people who like being wrong. *ggg* 😉 I don’t have a problem with menus…most of the time. (wg) It’s just the bigger decisions that get me. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with a hot temper too. That would be a toughie.

  18. Charli, I wasn’t feeling too creative when I came up with that as you can see. 😉 Honestly, when it comes to writing, as long as I know how the book starts and ends I can write the novel. It just goes faster if I plot things out a little. 🙂