“Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.”
– Hafiz, Cast All Your Votes for Dancing
Habits are great things when working for you, and your worst enemy when they’re conspiring against you. In normal times I’d be chipping away at the usual mix of exercise, writing, reading, learning a language and having my day stacked up ahead of me in my bullet journal. The upside down nature of this pandemic and the home renovations have challenged my habits, but I’m still chipping away at each of them. Perhaps nothing has suffered more than my bullet journal, usually filled with meetings and travel. I’ve decided I need to keep entering bullets to cross off, even if they’re smaller in scale than they were – what? Two weeks ago? Habits die when they aren’t fed. And when good habits die bad habits fill the void.
I deleted Facebook from my life in January, and honestly I don’t feel pangs of withdrawal. It’s a massive distraction, designed to get you spun up in the random thoughts of family and friends. Sharing pictures and life moments is great and all, but it was getting harder and harder to find any quality content without sifting through the swamp of political, religious and social commentary. Freeing up the mindspace was refreshing. But I’m finding Twitter conspiring to take over that space. And Instagram, that perfect platform for sharing family photos, nature shots and travel pictures, and once a refuge from people’s opinions, is starting to get populated with people’s thoughts on the world (If I wanted your unsolicited thoughts on the world I’d get back on Facebook). No, social media is a trap, designed to capture your attention and keep you from getting things done in this world. I have things to do.
We all are focused on the pandemic and the economic hit we’re all taking because of it. Working from home changes you in ways that you don’t realize initially. Over time you learn to be disciplined, both in doing the work that needs to be done and eventually turning the off switch and moving on to the other things in your life. Where once I had to contend with a couple of cats interrupting a conference call, now I have two other people on their own webinars and calls in relatively close proximity to me. It’s a new world and it requires more intense focus on positive habits, avoiding the temptation of checking Twitter or the latest headlines, and keeping a disciplined, focused calendar.
This too shall pass. It will change us in ways we don’t fully understand yet. But ultimately events like this should be unifying and enabling. Progress starts in the mirror, and feeding the habits that will carry us today and tomorrow and onward towards a better future. Bad habits lead to loss of control: frivolous spending leads to debt and maybe working at a job or two to makes end meet; frivolous spending of time leads to loss of productivity, and worse, wasting the one thing we can’t ever get back. Beware the validity of the coins you spend: Brief moments of pleasure can drag you for days, or a lifetime.