Source: Survival Blog
As habits develop, processes become routine. For example, I have a process for stacking wood. There are several different ways, but I found the one I like best for my wood storage area, taking into consideration access to our house, snow drifts, and levelness of the ground. I have had cords fall over, which is not only a time loss but dangerous as well. In my area of the world, I like to set old pallets down to keep the cordwood off of the ground; otherwise, the bottom row freezes into place and is available only after a thaw or some work with a sledge hammer.
While some of these habits you can learn from a book or YouTube videos, some of them just need to be experienced. Educational materials can get you close, but they will not get you a bullseye, and this has to be clearly understood. That does not mean educational material has no value, as it is key when trying to establish new habits to ensure you do not create a bad precedent, but in combination with experience it becomes much more so. Let’s go back to the commute example we used earlier. If you are looking at a map, it can provide very clear directions. If I need to plot my way to work, the map will give me the right directions, but there is no guarantee it will give me the best directions. Even mapping programs and applications will almost always give you the most direct route. It is after the experiences that I better understand the map; instead of reading of an intersection of “Wall” and “Stowe”, I can visualize that corner and have a rough understanding of the traffic pattern there, if used regularly. It is the knowledge of the road where it moves quickly or slow.
It applies to every habit that you create for yourself. It is human nature to look for shortcuts or the easier way. If I am at somebody’s house and they have split wood or used a different log splitter or chainsaw, I’m asking them about how it works. Sometimes it’s a cursory discussion, but other times it can be educational. Looking at how others do things and their success or failure is the basic principle of education. But these events are more worthwhile when your knowledge base is stronger. It is even better when you have routine and habit to build upon, because during the discussion you can visualize the event you are discussing, which should make it more applicable to you and, if it is routine, it is more likely that you will remember the conversation when performing the routine, allowing an opening for experiment or change.
Now there are more than several books on good habits, breaking habits, et cetera. Many of these are for the business world or to lose weight or have specific objectives. Some will be applicable or at least have some positive impact. We all have what works for us, and you will have to customize what works for you, but I will share how I look at it.
- Understand your end goal.If you do not know why you are doing something, it makes it more difficult to do it well. Back to firewood, having the realization that this is being cut for firewood allows me to cut it to the right length from the beginning and save time. However, I also do not have to be overly neat as, again, it is firewood, so the primary concern is fitting into my stove to burn.
- Know the process chain.Knowing all the steps helps as well. While my goal is to ultimately cut the wood to fit into the stove, having the knowledge that I will split the wood allows me to not worry about girth when cutting for stove size (although I still have to know how much I can lift onto the splitter or will have to do by hand). When cutting and splitting, having knowledge about how you will stack your wood saves time later.
- Understand the dangers.Developing successful habits can also involve processes that are dangerous. While cutting firewood sounds fairly innocuous, it is fraught with peril. Here are some of the dangers with firewood that you should be aware of: tree toppling the wrong way or not as expected, chainsaw blade getting wedged, cords falling over, critters setting up home inside your woodpile, tripping over cut wood, splitting axe deflected, chimney fires, et cetera. This doesn’t mention muscle soreness from over exertion or blisters, splinters, bruises, and aches. Knowing the dangers helps minimize the risk, and there are many stories of those who have lost equipment, body parts, or worse while cutting firewood, so take any dangers seriously.
- Get going!This is probably the most important point. Getting started is often the hardest, but once you get going the rest starts falling into place. Revel in the fact that you have taken that first step.