I love me a hot bath, to be honest, that’s something that will come up if I had to write a list of ten things I love. I cannot endure a cold shower. I remember when I was in boarding school, I was one of those who needed to psych herself up to take those cold baths. I would sing, count from 1 to 10, just do something to get me to receive the baptism of cold water. Infact, those 2 or so minutes were subtly included in my bath time estimate (I chuckle). My dad could never understand how after all that time in boarding school, I would still come home and refuse a cold shower. According to him, I should have acquired the habit; well, I never did. So, in the many years post boarding school, I have stayed away from cold showers, far far away. Anyway, this background is necessary so you understand how much I treasure my hot showers and detest cold and even tepid baths. LOL.
Typically, I tend to get home late in the evenings on work days and thanks to the poor power situation, the generator runs in the evening and goes off at midnight. Typically, I come in, stop at the kitchen to make my dinner and then I get to my room, flick on the heater as I take off my shoes or stow them away and drop my bag in that order. I had done same thing, in the same sequence for so long that it had become second nature. However, last week, I got home quite late one evening and was really tired, so tired that I could not be bothered about dinner, I just walked slowly to my room and took off my shoes, dropped off my bag, showered and retired for the night.
Next morning, thank God, I woke up to a bright new morning. Have I said that my morning routine is somewhat timed? My bath time gives me just enough time to shower and head out to work and the schedule presumes that hot water is always available. So I turned on the shower and a blast of cold water hit me. Oops, was I stunned? I checked to be sure that the faucet was turned to hot, yes it was, but the thermostat on the heater showed cold. Blast! I had forgotten to hit the heater switch previous night. I failed to spare a second or two to just turn on the heater switch whilst I took off my shoes and now I had to have a cold bath. Can I hear you ask me about old fashioned putting water to the boil? No way, remember that my morning regiment is timed? I would have been really late for work had I attempted to have water heated by any other means.
That day, as I drove to work after enduring that cold shower (and yes, if you are wondering, I still had to sing LOL), I started to think about how forgetting to do that ‘little thing’ had affected my entire morning. There and then, so many other little habits we take for granted came to the fore. We barely recognize the impact the little things we do have on our lives until we fail to do them and we see the consequences. Truth is that nobody wakes up one day and has it all figured out. Oftentimes, the things that give our lives order are the little things we have picked up along the way. Let me share a little instance.
As a third year undergraduate, I had a career and life mentor (God bless him for me) who taught me so many things, one of which I later discovered was the ability to respond intelligently on the spot. I did not realize what his objective was at the time but I’ll forever be grateful to him. He was a very busy senior bank executive but he made time to call. We had week day conversations and subject was any topic of his choice. My role was to discuss for two minutes without any interruptions or conversation fillers, no ‘ermm’, ‘uhmm’, ‘aaah’, ‘as in’, ‘it’s like’, ‘you know what I mean’, ‘you get it’, none of those. Initially it irked me out, because it felt like NTA’s ‘Speak Out’ all over. But those daily 2 or 3 minute conversations helped shape me. Now, when I sit at a meeting and have to present a long winded idea, I am able to do same comfortably and gladly without those fillers. Can you believe that my current job requires me to sit in several meetings and make intelligent conversations quite frequently. Thanks to those habit building conversations, now, even whilst I am still composing my thoughts, I am able to hold up the conversation without losing my composure.
The little things we do every day aggregate somewhat, they add up to the comfort and success of our lives. We often fail to pay attention to them but having the right habits is extremely important. Hitting the heater switch for instance appeared inconsequential until I had to endure the excruciating pain of a cold shower; your exercise regimen feels like its plain evil until you realize that that consistent regimen has kept your heart healthier than otherwise. I can think of many small habits that are fundamental but like me, we may have just failed to realize how important they are. What are the little consistent habits you have formed? Are they productive? Show me a man that spends half an hour daily just catching up with global events and news; I can assure you he will make more intelligent conversation than one who does not. To think that the habit maybe passive, for instance, just checking out news headlines and zeroing on those that matter consistently will reflect when you least imagine. I have been at an interview where the conversation quickly evolved and the subject was anything but the job in question. What helped me? The little habits I may have formed that required that I stayed abreast with news and sports.
Recently, I studied the book of Daniel with my amazing #LA187family, you can check them out here (http://Ike-amadi.com/la187 )and it jumped out at me again, the power of habit. Daniel prayed at the same time, every day in the morning and at night, it was so regular that everyone knew. The disciples in the book of Acts were recorded as having an hour of prayer. Yes, we must have spiritual habits that underlie our lives. Now, I am not talking about prayer as a ritual or religion, but to know God requires a relationship, and to build it, we must create time. If God is our priority, it must reflect in our habits. Try making your time with God a conscious sacred time, let’s try and make time out to seek God in solitude. Even in our relationships, we must make time out to communicate with our significant others.
Create time to build personal capacity, make a habit of it. Truth is that there never is enough time, but your travel time to and from work can be precious, your lunch break etc. Consciously seek to claw back time. Where are you headed? Build habits that ensure you are on the right trajectory every day. Load up on e-books and materials, or podcasts and audio books if you don’t like to read. Invest in your mind. Let’s bring it home, half an hour consistently applied over a year, even if it is on week days alone brings us to approximately 125 hours of learning a year. And that is passive learning…
“Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it”. Horace Mann
Habits are critical; nobody starts big. There is a lot of practice hidden behind those scenes we find constantly intriguing.
It is even more noteworthy that we may not consider the habits important until we have a cold shower moment like me. My painful cold shower reaffirmed for me the power of habit, and I hope reading about it did same for you too.
What are the habits you have formed? Are they productive? Do you need to review them?
Here’s to more productive ‘little habits’.