Some time during my first year of marriage, my husband told me that in his family the children had been taught to wipe themselves down with the damp washcloth after a bath or shower. The idea was to remove excess water from the skin before drying off with the towel. After a while I adopted the same procedure, never giving the practice much thought - until recently.
One day last year, while standing in the shower wiping my dripping body with the washcloth, I began to wonder why on earth I was going through these motions. The more I thought about it, the more it made no sense. I began to examine the possible source of this habit to see if there was any validity in continuing. I followed the trail back through the family habit-history and figured it out.
My husband was born in England after the war where towels were few, heating scarce, the climate damp, hot water infrequently available and children plentiful. Under those circumstances it made perfect sense to keep the few towels the family owned as dry as possible as the kids filed through the bathtub on Saturday night. After all, mom couldn’t just toss the wet towels into the dryer to emerge fluffy and ready for the next wet child.
While Canadian-raised if not born, my husband still had parents who remained, in their habits at least, resolutely English until their dying days. They managed to pass on a great many of their English habits to their off-spring. Washcloth pre-drying was one of those.
So, some thirty-five years later when I stopped to ask myself why I did this I had to admit that the reasons behind the habit did not exist in my life. I have more towels than I can use at any one time. I have a clothes dryer, a warm dry house with forced air heating, and no one is going to use my towels after me. Furthermore, by dropping this habit, I shave about five minutes off my time spent in the bathroom at shower time.
I did a quick calculation and discovered (if I got the figures right) that I’ve spend a total of twenty-two days of my life just wiping the drips off my skin before wrapping up in my towel!
By now, I’m sure you’ve figured out that this is not about the washcloth. It’s about habitually doing things that have no basis in need but that we keep doing anyway because we never stop to examine why we do them. These little habit can get in the way of doing other things of more value. It’s also about questioning why we do the things we do and whether they hold any value anymore.
Last year I began developing my programs to help would-be authors to get their books written and published. I was responding to a need I kept hearing about. Many people wanted to write a book but their reasons for not doing it varied. Here are a few:
“I don’t know where to begin.”
“I want to tell my story but I’m not a writer.”
“Someday I’m going to do it.”
“My grammar isn’t very good.”
There are more but many of these potential authors have been in the habit of using their reasons or excuses to avoid doing what they say they want to do.
If you hear yourself say, “I can’t…” enough times, you’re going to believe it. “I can’t” becomes the habit you fall back on to explain your failure to follow through on your dreams. (I realize that not everyone wants to write a book but these thoughts apply to lots of areas of life.)
The truth is, when you examine why you are not doing what you say you want to do, you will always find a way to break the “I can’t” habit. For example:
In the meantime, these habits are costing you time that could be put toward writing your book. With my new programs you could be ready to publish in as little as one week, six weeks or twelve weeks. And no, I’m not kidding.