Pick Up Your Stuff!

by Cherry Pedrick, RN
Reprinted from Suite101.com, July 31, 2001, Revised

Pick up your stuff! Clean your room! I had told my son that all his life. But he’s a mess. I read somewhere that creative children and creative people are often messy. My son was about 12 at the time, and I didn’t want to inhibit his creativity, so I stopped yelling at him to clean his room. At 19, he was still a mess, but he was a very creative, intelligent, and productive college sophomore.

But now I have another reason for telling him to pick up his stuff, and I think it is a pretty good reason. “Remember the time you left the cordless phone in the middle of the floor and your mother tripped over it and fell and broke her foot?” Yes, that’s what happened. He left the phone in the middle of the floor, and I came in to turn on my computer, then tripped and fell, hitting my foot on the legs of my chair, the very chair I am sitting in now. He is not accepting blame for this. Being a business major, he is afraid to apologize because then it might look like he was accepting responsibility. But he says he is sorry I broke my foot and he gives me his regards and sympathy. I think he has been following politics a bit too closely.

So, the moral of the story is this: Pick up your stuff. Actually, I guess there are several morals to this story. Watch where you’re going. That’s what my son says, my husband too. I should have been watching where I was going. Well, yes, but he should pick up his stuff. But a really important lesson is this: Examine your habits and notice how they affect the lives of others. We all do things that affect other people. You could even say that not looking where one is going could affect other people. Now my husband has to drive me around to doctors getting my foot fixed. And my husband and son both have to wait on me so I can keep pressure off my foot. And I have another lesson: Don’t put off ‘till tomorrow what you can do today. You might break your foot and not be able to do it tomorrow.

I asked you to list the advantages and disadvantages of keeping your habit and the advantages and disadvantages of changing. Now, consider the effects on those around you, and add more advantages and disadvantages. Like I said a few weeks ago, habits can be good or bad. They can make life easier for us or complicate our lives. And they can affect other people’s lives.

Now, keep a record of your habit. Write down every time you engage in it. What are you doing when your habit shows up? What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Keep sort of a habit diary. This information will become invaluable because it will be important to know what triggers your habit. Then you can put up the most resistance when you are the most vulnerable.

Be sure to check out The Habit Change Workbook:
How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones