Translating Good Intentions

After what has felt like the longest winter, it is finally feeling like spring.  It turned spring-like a few weeks ago, too, only to have another snowfall warning, which lived up to its name.  Now, I love winter, but this year those “it isn’t April it is really January 104th” felt all too real.  The winter was dragging on. As soon as it felt like the temperatures were turning there would be another cold-snap or snowfall.  This long winter had me eager for spring—more so than any other year.  I wanted to see the 6-foot tall snowbanks shrink, I wanted to see grass, I even wanted (yes wanted) to start tackling spring yard work, which, around here, means scooping up five or so months worth of dog poop that is buried under the snow.

About this time of year, I shake my head at myself and think “next year I will do better”.  In the summer I venture out and scoop regularly, but in the winter, with the cold and the snow that makes finding it that much harder, it is far too easy to let it slide—out of sight, out of mind.  That works until it is all really, really, in sight.  But this year I was eager to get working on this project; getting some fresh(ish) air, enjoying some sunshine that is actually carrying some warmth, and just enjoying the tackling of a job.  But it got me thinking. Every year I think the same thing in the spring, and every spring I think that next winter I will do better—dit will only take a few minutes out of my day and it will make spring that much nicer.  I can rake grass instead of poop.   Why is it, that every winter I quickly forget about these great intentions?

The old saying goes the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  The hardest part about taking something from intention to action is to make it into a habit.  Be it scooping dog poop throughout the winter, working out, keeping in contact with friends and family, it is about making it second nature.  The first few weeks are going to take concentration, it will mean kicking yourself out the door even when you really don’t want to.  It means consciously making an effort to see your intentions through.  After a while though, those intentions that you had to stubbornly push yourself to do will become second nature.  If I started bundling up and walking outside with the dogs every morning, before long it would feel weird not to.

Part of making something into a habit though is making it convenient.  If you want to start working out maybe that means getting some exercise equipment at home so you don’t have the inconvenience of having to go to the gym.  If it is in the case of keeping your winter yard poop free it means having a shovel and bag handy.  It means not having to dig through the snowbank to access the shed for the bucket/bag/shovel.  Because, if these things are too inconvenient, it is far to easy to push it aside, “I just woke up, I’ll have coffee then get everything out and go clean up” this too easily ends up never happening because now you’ve had coffee, now you have to get ready for work, and when you get home, well, it is too dark to find poop in the yard and the flashlight is lost or dead.

If you really want to turn your intentions into actions then you have to work toward making them habits and making the habit easy to attain.  Don’t let small excuses derail you.  Because, before you know it, spring will come and remind you that, once again, your good intentions were nothing but words to make yourself feel better as you shoveled poop into a five-gallon pail.