Because I've Always Done It That Way

I'm having a hard time this holiday season because I can't do things the way I've always done them.

The hubby and I moved from Oklahoma to northern Indiana in August, so this is our first Christmas in a new place. After spending the last 11 Christmases in the same house, I'm finding it hard to adjust to a new way of "doing Christmas." Though it's not JUST because we're in a different house.

The difficulty is compounded by the fact that we're in an apartment with a lot less space and stricter rules.

  1. I've always had a real Christmas tree. This year I can't.
  2. We always put the tree in a different room than the rabbits. This year I can't.
  3. The nutcrackers always went on the living room shelves. There are no shelves to put them on at all this year.

I think you get what I'm saying. I have tried to find positives in what we ARE able to do, but

I can't decorate the way I've always done it, and it's making me a little Scrooge-y.

Of course I'm not the first person to experience this problem, and it's not limited to the holidays.

In addition to this here organizing business I've set up, I also have a "day job." Before that job, I worked in the same place for 15 years. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me in those jobs that something is done "because I've always done it that way," I could retire now and live quite comfortably.

So, what might be some reasons that things keep getting done the way they've always been done?

1. The do-er doesn't know any different

I'd say maybe the most common reason that things continue happening in the same ol' way is because the person doing the thing doesn't know there is a different or better way. You're handed a set of instructions and told "this is how it's done" by someone who has been doing it. It's easy to assume that that person has the knowledge of how it SHOULD be done because they've been doing it that way, but maybe that person received those same instructions from the person before them. And so it continues on and on because nobody knows there is a better way.

2. It's easier than exploring other options

In our jobs and in our daily lives, it's so easy to stick to the status quo because we're busy. It's easier to just keep on keeping on than to explore other options. Maybe you even know that there's a better method, but you can either get the job done or spend time finding a different way. Most of us just want to get the job done, so we keep doing it the same old way. That's where an organizer or productivity consultant can come in handy even if you're already a pretty organized person. Sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need to find a better system.

3. Habits are hard to break

We've all probably heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Whether or not that number is actually true, we can surely agree that it takes awhile. Breaking habits are the same way. It only seems reasonable, then, to suppose that it can take a long time to switch gears from doing a task the way I've always done it to doing it in a new way, even if the new way is an improvement.

4. Making new traditions takes time, too

In my current situation personally, one thing I have to remind myself of is that new traditions, like habits, also take time to develop. We spent a number of years building up certain ways of doing things at Christmas. It's pretty easy to think back and feel like we've always had those traditions. It bears reminding that we're still able to do a fair number of our traditions as well. The thing is, it can also be fun to develop new traditions. Maybe there's something they do around here that will turn into a new tradition, but only time will tell. Just because a tradition might have to come to an end, that doesn't mean you won't find something just a nice or better than the way you always did it before.

What if I WANT to keep doing things the way I've always done them?

Hey... If you're happy and the system is working for you, that's okay too! All I'm really trying to say here, is that sometimes maybe you shouldn't get caught up in something having to be done a certain way JUST because that's the way it's always been. There can sometimes be a thin line between habits and being stuck in a rut. Next time you start to argue that you're doing something because it's always been done that way, just take a second to consider if that's a good enough reason or if it might feel good to try something new!

Are there things you've always done a certain way that could benefit from a fresh perspective? Share in the comments!

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