I’m here to muse on a matter that is broader than my main line of work, which is writing Help content for Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server. In fact, even broader than the software, computers, or even business in general. I hope and expect to have lots of fascinating things to say about these subjects in future posts that will dazzle and amaze you. (You can see how I like to set expectations low so that I can blow past them.)
One of the most important and yet hardest things to do in life is to break old bad habits and to start new good ones. Something about human nature compels us to repeat patterns, even when sub-optimal outcomes result from those patterns over and over again. Often I think we seem to find security or comfort in the familiar, to the point of making us somewhat blind to the consequences. But I digress; another bad habit I’m trying to shake…
One good habit I’m trying to start is to blog more often. The consequence of not blogging more often is obvious if you look at the date stamp of this post and the date stamp of the previous and only other post in this blog. No wait; on second thought, don’t look at them. Wait, look over there, a freight train! (Did that work? No? Well, it always works with my son.)
OK, back to the point at hand; specifically, my left wrist, around which now my watch is wrapped. All my life I’ve worn my watch on my right wrist because I’m left-handed and I guess it felt more comfortable to not have my watch on that hand. The funny thing is, I write maybe one or two hundred characters a day at most with a pen or pencil nowadays. In fact, even early in my life my handwriting was really bad and I found doing it to be painful. So I was an early adopter of writing via computer technology, and I mouse with my right hand. Even so, I continued wearing my watch on my right hand out of habit.
So this morning I look down at my mouse pad and see how it has been shredded by my watch band, and I just decide right then and there to switch my watch to my left hand. And somehow, this move them prompts me to act on a notion to re-activate my blog. Something about doing something totally different. Something very personal and physical. Something uncomfortable. This act seems to have fired up some neurons that led to a chain reaction which led to this post.
Actually, I had the notion to get more into blogging while on parental leave. This is my first week back in the office, and I’m finding with pleasure that I have a fresh and re-energized perspective. I think most people plug in and check email to some extent during their vacations; I know I have often done this. But during the past 4 weeks, I nearly completely tuned work out of my mind. Sure, my thoughts did drift to ideas or sticky problems I’ve been trying to solve. But I tried to use a meditation-type strategy of gently letting those thoughts pass whenever they came up. If it has been more than a few years since you took a long break to unplug, I encourage you to find a way do it. You won’t be disappointed, and employer also benefits from the fresh mind you bring with you when you return to work.
And so for me in fact the long break from work seems to have inexplicably led to me trying to wear my watch on my left wrist after decades on the other wrist. And this led me to write this post. I fear some readers will see this as navel gazing. But I think these folks would be missing the point, which is this: One way to break out of old patterns so you can grow as a person is to try doing something totally different. Something that is *less* comfortable. What could you spontaneously do right now that would both be really weird for you?
Wait, I have an idea! Let’s be partners in self-improvement. Respond to this post with whatever you recently tried or might try along these lines. This may help you, but more importantly it helps me. Applies pressure on me to keep up my habit of blogging.
On a slightly more serious note; if you are a Visual Studio customer, feel free to share your burning questions about Team Foundation version control and Team Foundation Build (the areas I cover). I can’t promise to answer your questions directly or immediately, but you can rest assured that you are feeding them to someone who is in a position to get the information published.