Thoughts on Habits (Part Two)

This Psychology Today article by Chris Guillebeau brings to mind things of habit and energy and decision-making that I’ve been reading and writing about this semester. It’s entitled “Reducing Decisions to Focus Better” and starts off with part of a letter to artists from Robert Genn:

Choreographer Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit, describes her morning routine of rising early and going through the same morning rituals; same coffee, same bun. She puts on the same leotards, goes down the same elevator to the same street corner, puts her arm up in the air and gets into the first cab that comes along.

By the time she gets to the studio she has made no significant decisions. Stepping out onto the dance floor, her dancers await. It’s eight in the morning and her first decision is yet to come. It will be a creative one.

We painters also need to save our decision-making for things of importance. “Don’t,” as they say, “sweat the small stuff.” I figure an average 11″ x 14″ uses up several hundred thousand decisions. Compound that over a day of painting and it’s in the millions. Even the small decisions in a painting, some of them so micro and seemingly insignificant, are the building blocks of what we are to become.

(emphasis mine)

Two responses: This makes so much sense. / Why I am I so bad at it?

Sometimes (oftentimes) letting myself get stuck in the small decisions is a matter of comfort. Comfort, or fear. It is more comfortable to thoroughly think through whatever “small”/familiar decision I am comfortable making than to struggle through the process of making the “large”/new one.

It’s more comfortable to continuously do the small things consciously – because this drowns out the “what-if’s”, the risks, and the possibilities for failure that come with doing the “big things” in life. That is, the things of creating, loving, and living life “soli deo gloria” – things well worth doing.

Building (good) habits is not a matter of removing individuality, whimsy, or an eye for detail. It’s about leaving room to prioritize which details and decisions are worth spending time and energy on.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Habits (Part Two)

  1. Ah! This is so great. It makes me think of my mom’s dad who worked for decades as a statistician in a government lab, where he worked so excellently that they were still bringing him in for a few hours a month even in his eighties. While he worked there, he ate the same thing for lunch every single day, and is still tease about it! That wasn’t even creative work, but it makes so much sense from the perspective of “why use mental energy on the things that don’t matter, instead of on the important things or things I love?” So inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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