It all started with a conversation with my boss a few weeks ago and him adjusting my work schedule by 30 minutes. The new schedule (8:30-5:30) is a minor change but has made a massive difference in my attitude and lifestyle.
It’s not because I can sleep 30 more minutes; I actually get up early more consistently than before. The change has allowed three important tweaks to my day.
I hate traffic. I hate driving while there are other people on the road. Shifting 30 minutes out of rush hour has drastically changed the traffic that I drive in every day. It’s glorious and means I get to work in a better mood.
Second, this has allowed me to complete my daily disciplines before work. Every day I read, write, spend time with God, listen to a motivational audio, and communicate with my mentor. (I used to call them daily goals but I now call them disciplines; they are disciplines I commit to, not goals that I strive to accomplish.)
By going in to work 30 minutes later, I am able to complete all of these (except the end-of-day message to my mentor) before I go to work. This starts my day on the right beat and has led to more good days.
But the reason I changed my work schedule is not about traffic or disciplines; those were unexpected (awesome) side effects. The reason for the change is simply that I wanted to be able to work out with Donovan every day. Donovan has three 6am classes and three 7am classes.
Having to be at work by 8, there was no way to attend Wednesday and Friday morning classes. Now, with the move to 8:30, I am able to pack a bag, change at the gym, and then go straight to work after his 7am class.
But going straight to work means turning left. And I never turn left.
I have been working out with Donovan since June of last year and I have never missed a workout I was scheduled to attend (except one day when I had food poisoning). These workouts, with very rare exception, have been followed by the drive back to my house, turning right out of the parking lot.
I started this new schedule on the 25th and have attended 7 of Donovan’s 7am classes. Only one of those 7 classes have I turned left.
I’ve walked out to my car saying, “turn left” and still made a perfect right turn.
Turning right can still get me to work… it just adds a few minutes. It’s not enough of a difference to turn around when I go the wrong way. But it turning right isn’t the efficient choice and I am all about efficiency!
So what’s wrong with me?
I am not afraid of turning left nor do I lack the knowledge of HOW. Turning left is simple and I do it every day … the first turn after my right turn out of the parking lot is a left.
I don’t lack understanding of WHY turning left is the better choice. I have checked on Google Maps a few times to confirm that it is 2 minutes faster going left than right.
The problem is simply my brain is wired to turn right.
If I averaged 3 workouts a week for the 60 weeks between when I started with Donovan and when I started the new schedule, then that means I left that parking lot 180 times, almost always turning right. In order to turn left, I need to rewire that decision.
To make matters worse, I am not consistently turning left… 2-3 workouts a week are still 6am (Monday is a tossup) and turning right to go home before work. Rewiring the decision so that I turn left after 7am classes is a battle.
While this is comical, there are other ruts in my mind that are much more dangerous.
There’s a rut in my mind that says “one more won’t hurt” coupled with “you’ve already messed up anyway.” This rut is the cause of last night’s failure as I watched one YouTube video and then another and then another until 3:30am, ruining a streak of several weeks without YouTube.
There is a rut in my mind that says “you deserve this” that causes me to take personal responsibility for everything that goes wrong in my life, even when it’s not my fault. This rut has crippled my ability to fail forward because I interpret the failure as an indictment against me as a person.
There is a rut in my mind that says “you will be abandoned” that has me constantly trying to prove I am worth keeping around. This rut makes me smothering and difficult to be with; becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy as it drives people away from me.
There is a rut in my mind that says “God is displeased” that comes from a father who loved me but always wanted a little bit more. This rut causes me to project that expectation on my heavenly Father and constantly seek to prove I’m good enough.
There is a rut in my mind that says “emotions are bad” that causes me to stifle anger and tears until it erupts in ways that hurt myself and others. This rut has been the project this week as I have been having to re-learn it’s ok to cry about my parent’s death.
I could literally do this all day. These ruts are formed over time and they become what my counselor calls “autothoughts.” I can give you all the logical reasons these thoughts are errant and what the truth should be… but the gut beliefs that drive my responses are still there.
Autothoughts are based on beliefs developed by experiences that may be true or false; often it’s a bit of both. A cat that sits on a hot stove will never do so again … neither will it sit on a cold stove.
Some autothoughts are helpful. I honestly didn’t have to think about forgiving Jack; it was automatic.
Some autothoughts are benign. I can get to work from the gym even if I always turn right.
But some autothoughts cause me to act in ways that are illogical and often damaging. They are literally driving my life in the opposite direction of my goals and dreams.
But how do I change my autothoughts? How do I learn to turn left?
The answer is Disruption… but this blog is already too long so I will save that for my next post. (Sorry for the cliffhanger, I got complaints about the length of my last blog.)
Until then, take some time to think about the autothoughts in your own life. Are they serving you?