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A Good Habit is Hard to Find

Do you have trouble starting projects (such as films and videos)? When you do start them, do you find it a challenge to follow through until they're finished? If you do, then you're just like me.

Do you write blog posts with advice about how to handle this problem? If you do, then -- well, then, you (ahem) are me.

I'll be honest with you: I'm a guy who needs a strict structure in order to accomplish basically anything. Meals, sleep, planning my next short film project - when everything is set up on my calendar and my to-do list, I'm home free. Otherwise I'm groping in the dark.

Which brings me to my main point: the need for constructive habits. I used to believe that habits were evil things that combated against spontaneity and stifled your personality. I avoided them like the plague. And I never got anything done that was worth doing.

This got me nowhere. I was just driving without a map. If I got to wherever I was going, it was more by chance than design.

Then I realized something. I was arriving at work on time every workday because I'd gotten into the habit of leaving at a certain time without thinking of it. After all, I'd been doing it so often. Maybe I could apply this thinking to other areas of my life ... such as my dream job of film-making.

Film-making, after all, is highly structured. You have pre-production, production and post-production. Within those three categories, you have schedules with deadlines and benchmarks that you have to hit before you can go on to the next stage. But just how do you self-monitor to be sure you're on the right path?

The answer: You don't. Just get into the habit.

So every evening, rain or shine, here I am punctually at 7:00 pm writing or editing my blog or planning my next big epic cinematic production -- breaking out the to-do list, checking the schedules and the benchmarks, and ticking off the completed items to see what progress I've made. Sometimes it's fast, sometimes it's slow. I'm still at the beginning.

But at least now I've got a direction to go in.

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