I work the graveyard shift. 9pm to 5am. That’ll change to 8pm to 4am once the US “springs forward” but honestly that’s not much better. Why do I work the graveyard shift? Mainly because many, many years ago I decided to go into sales rather than going to college. Then about a decade and half ago I agreed to take a job in eastern Europe, which in a roundabout way led me to a career in BPO. For those of you who don’t know, “BPO” stands for “Business Process Outsourcing” which in practice means I manage call centers.
You know how nowadays when you call a company’s customer service line you get someone who claims to be in Iowa but sounds like English aint their first language? That. I work in The Philipppines. And because the company I work for gets the highest volume of calls during standard US working hours, and I’m their best manager/trainer I get the unique honor of being awake when everyone else is asleep and vicey versey.
So I basically live on the same schedule as the east coast despite living 12 hours offset. Which can be damned inconvenient. Its also highly unnatural. It sure as shooting plays hell with ones creativity. Which is bad news bears if said one’s dreams are of making a living as a writer. Then again, as someone a whole heck of lot wiser than me once pointed out, folks can get used to any-damn-thing if it persists long enough.
So how do I maintain my sanity, my creativity, and my output despite living in a foreign country, working a graveyard shit, and doing a job I have come to loath more than Hillary and Bill loath each other? Routine mostly. Drinking helps some too, but its mostly routine. Since I decided I was gonna post to this here blog “every damn day” I have failed. Twice. In less than two weeks. Once on a Sunday, and once on MLK day. But on the days I go to work? Not one failure. Why not? Routine. I come home, sit down at my laptop, and figure out what I’m gonna put up here.
Before I watch TV. Before I eat. Before I do any of the things I do when I get home I sit down and write a post. I’ve learned that once something becomes habit, you don’t have to think about it, you just do it. Sometimes this is bad, as in when I made smoking a habit when I was twelve. Sometimes this is good, as when I made a conscious effort to make posting to this blog a habit. It takes work at first, but only for a while. Some folks say thirty days, some folks say a week, and I reckon its got to depend on the person. But if you can just keep on keeping on for a little while, you won’t have to think about it anymore. It’ll just be something you do. It’ll just be a habit.
If you think about it, that’s pretty awesome. Think of a change you want to make in your life, any change, it doesn’t matter what. If you can just summon up the willpower to do it for a little while, it stops taking willpower. You wanna get in shape? Workout everyday for thirty days straight, and you’ll probably keep working out till the day you day. You want to be a writer? Just summon enough will to write everyday for thirty days and you’ll probably keep writing till they put you into one of them special jackets that make you hug yourself. A little effort, up front, and it just becomes something you do. It becomes a habit.
The best part is, you can fail occasionally and it wont really hinder you. I’ve failed at my goal of posting “every damned day” twice. But instead of beating myself up, or using that as an excuse to give up, I simply let it go, and do it right the following day. And even on days like today when I had to sit at my laptop for 20 minutes before I could figure out what to write, the developing habit served me well. If’n I can do it, then so can you. So start your new life improving habit today. Add to it tomorrow. Strengthen it the day after, and if you fail occasionally, just try again the day after. At some point you wont have to try anymore, you wont have to think about it anymore. It’ll just be something you do. It’ll be a habit.