Notes on the Habit of Following Through

VioletBasket Very little in life just happens. That’s why it’s baffling to me that, despite understanding this maxim very well, I fail to follow through on so much. I’m not even talking about things I have to do: I regularly put off things I want to do. Why? What does this say about me?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent my whole life intending to make certain dreams come true, and then watching the Big Bang Theory in my underwear instead. I hate this about myself. So I did some research, trying to figure out why I possess a fatal lack of follow-through.

Well, according to a Harvard study entitled Making the Best Laid Plans Better: How PlanMaking Increases FollowThrough, some plans just suck. In fact, some plans aren’t even plans.

If you really want to follow through on something, you should:

* Want to do it

* Make a concrete plan of action

* State it publicly

* Think about how to overcome the obstacles

Your plan will also work best if you have not already made a competing plan, if you are naturally forgetful, if you have time limitations and if there are specific moments during which your plan will be most effective.

Of course, these strategies don’t comprise a cure-all, but I had the opportunity to test them today, with good results. I’d been wanting to take some pictures of my daughter for a while, and snow presented the perfect opportunity. But when I work up late this morning feeling blah, I almost didn’t do it. Luckily, I’d already made the plans. Basket: check. Coat: check. Camera: check. Plans: CHECK. Plus I’m super forgetful, the snow wasn’t going to last, and all I had to do was actually take the darn pictures.

Guess what? I actually did. Now I have a bunch of bright, colorful, snowy pictures in my photo library that weren’t there this morning! Note to self: make more plans.


Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good

ChiveBlossomI’ve wanted to break my camera out for forever. Wanted and been afraid.

For a while I was convinced there was something wrong with me, and I simply couldn’t use it. For a while after that, I was convinced there was something wrong with it. It just wouldn’t take photos. Like, it had a lens and a shutter and a button to push for the actual picture-taking process, but for some reason I’d never manage to make it work. Then I thought it was actually, actually broken. So I let it sit on a shelf.

Guess what? Just took it to get repaired. There’s a hair on the lens I can pay $60 to have removed, but that’s it.


The real problem, it seems, is that I’m afraid of taking pictures. Because I’m not Ansel Adams. Silly, right? Only Ansel Adams was Ansel Adams … and by the way, he was really good friends with my great-grandfather. True story. More on my claims to fame later.

The point here is this: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It’s one of my favorite sayings by Gretchen Rubin over at The Happiness Project. And she is so right. So I broke out the camera today. Took some winter shots. And I’m not sorry.