Last Sunday, while I was sitting in a money class, preparing to be coached on being a coach, I watched as one instructor mentioned to another that it would be helpful to give the coaches a list of preferred counselors to handle issues that we would not be qualified to handle. Lawyers, marriage counselors, psychologists, etc., would probably be needed at some point to handle deeper issues that certain people may have regarding their finances.
Upon requesting this information, the other instructor promptly wrote it down, and my first thought was, “He’s doing that because he needs to remember to respond to a call to action. Hmm…that’s quite mature of him. Why do I feel like I avoid doing this?”
What I thought next was how quickly in life we are to “forget” things that we would rather have others think we’re to incompetent to handle simply because we don’t want to make the committment to handle the problem because it will be too much work, or will stretch us further than we intended to be stretched. So, we don’t write it down.
I have lived like this for a long time. I will forget things intentionally without even knowing it because I’ve gotten so good at it. But, the time has come to acknowledge this as a weakness and take proactive steps to correct the behavior, as now I am not the only one who depends on me. Other people depend on me, and stepping up my level of commitment to something is, I believe, critical to continuing to develop in a positive direction. Whether it be responding to a call to help others, or something as big as getting married, making a commitment is something that I have been very selfish about.
I have trained my brain to forget selectively. My argument may be that ‘I forget things’ but the truth of the matter is, if I put my mind to it, I can remember anything I want. Instead, I typically will choose to remember things that I find more interesting, but may not be that beneficial to me.
No matter what I do in my mind, if I don’t write something down when I think about it, I will forget it. When I come up with a great tune on the piano, if I don’t record it now, right there in the moment, it will be lost. If I think of a great lyric, or think of an award winning million dollar idea, and I don’t write it down, it will never come to fruition. Overcoming the fear of success can only be done by forging ahead through the hard committments and actually doing the hard work that it takes to become a success. Imagine how many products or hit songs have passed through my mind that have not paid off because I’ve been too lazy to make them permanent in some way.
For someone like myself who has all of the classic symptoms of what they call Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD), I have had to come up with creative ways to keep myself aware that I have something to remember. For instance, when I bring my laptop into someone else’s house so that it is not sitting in my car, I must set my car keys next to it, otherwise I risk leaving without it. I would have normally left the laptop in the car, but I’m tired of taking that risk. I would rather have my laptop left behind than have it stolen from my car. Harvey Mackay, in a column titled Put Your Memory to Work for You, writes the following:
I use what I call the original “Palm Pilot”—when I have urgent things to remember, I write key words on my hands! I also move my watch from my left arm to my right arm, signaling me that I have something important to do. If I’m going to a party or special event, I might request a guest list in advance and study who is going to be there to trigger my memory.
Tampering With the Habit
Since I am as much of a creature of habit as you are, I find myself operating day to day doing the same things over and over again. To be specific, there are habits that I have developed when I get into and out of my car. The order of operations to stopping, putting the car in park, grabbing the keys, the phone, and anything else usually never changes. But when it does…when there’s something that occurs that tampers with the habit, it seems to short circuit key elements. Every time I have had to lift something out of the passenger seat with two hands, I have locked my keys in my car. I have corrected this consciously over time, but a few years ago, this was a real problem for me. If any of the typical habits that I have in my life are interrupted in any way, something unexpected happens, and unexpected things can be extremely annoying because they disrupt the day.
Remembering something for me has been a matter of interest and repetition. Today I was sitting at the Coffee Plantation with Susan Gruenling of SonoranHouse.com and we were attempting to solve an e-mail problem with her iPhone. Through the process, we were given specific settings from the server administrator that we had to repeat over and over again until we got the setup right. After the first 3 times entering the number, I was surprised to see that Susan had committed the numbers to memory. I had too…repetition and association works, but it takes work to make it work.