Column: Are you a creature of habit?

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Our columnist John Griff talks this week about being ruled by habit...

A few days ago I heard about research being done into the paths that our days take depending on how the first 20 minutes of our consciousness goes.

The research indicated that quite literally, the very start of a day has significant effect on the way the rest of it goes and therefore not only what we do or don’t achieve, but our sense of well-being within it. This I find fascinating and quite true.

On Monday I awoke wanting to see the ‘blood red wolf moon’ lunar eclipse. As it was, mother nature and the laws of physics had conspired together; there was no eclipse to be seen, masked as it was by a thin blanket of cloud.

For all that ,though, I could see a pinkish tinge to the sky from the unseen moon, Not the most disastrous start to my day.

I’d awoken with a sense of purpose and direction rather than merely being roused by the alarm and I certainly didn’t hang about.

Generally my day is an ordered one and I have an agenda which has to be followed precisely if I am to be able to carry out my work. Provided I am on the road by 6.05am, all is usually well and I can get from home to the office in order to start on time. Leave it any longer though, and the story is a very different one.

With my departure by a specific time being important to me therefore, following the elements that get me to the front door are equally important.

I am the sort of person who likes to multitask. I like the efficiency of being able to do two or three jobs at the same time because inherently, I consider myself to be a lazy person. If I can achieve more by using less time it gives me more time to relax perhaps.

Others have seen this as the trait of a workaholic. I can see their point, but do so with a wry grin. I’m not particularly ambitious, but I am reasonably competitive, if only with myself.

It is quite common for me to dictate this column while doing something else at the same time.

On my journey to work I listen to the news ,but only because it then informs my own comments on the air later in the day. And while I am doing that, I will be driving the car with an eye on the economy readout, challenging myself to achieve a certain mpg by the time my journey ends. Driven by being tight fisted with time AND fuel? Maybe.

Each of these miniature competitions with myself I find both enabling and encouraging. If I can beat my own expectations it encourages me to be more competitive still with myself or more effective with my time.

Every small win also improves my sense of well-being and encourages me to try harder and achieve more.

The flipside is equally true. If I am late out of bed or fail to achieve the targets I set myself then my day does not proceed smoothly or with quite as much pleasure. You can see why I agree with research that I mentioned above.

They say you make your own luck in life – I disagree. But I DO think you can create the environment where success and achievement can be to some extent self-perpetuating. If that comes of being a creature of habit, I’m happy to be one.