It took a while to break them in. But I finally did. And by now they were the most comfortable shoes I’d ever owned. So I wore them longer than any shoes I’d had before. I knew them, they knew me. We were buds.
Or so I thought.
One day my shoes and I went walking in the California foothills. After an hour of scrub oak-dodging and coyote-spotting, we headed downhill. Very downhill. Before I knew it, I was running way too fast—any attempt at stopping would send me flailing face-first into an arroyo.
Near the bottom, I finally regained control. But then my shoes betrayed me. My foot twisted and I collapsed, ankle ligament ripped clean in half.
“You have reverse pronation,” the podiatrist said. “That means your feet slope outward.” No wonder I walk like Charlie Chaplin, I thought. And then he pointed at the soles of my shoes. Sure enough, the inner edges were barely worn, while the outer edges were cellophane-thin.
“But I…I broke them in,” I deflected.
“Yes. And then they broke you in.” He prescribed treatment and advised me to: “Choose the right soles (wider) and replace them when they wear unevenly—before they start to wear you!”
Habits do that. Even good ones. Routines, schedules, memorized patterns. We take the trouble to form them, most of which (not all) are useful. At first. But then they take over, unseen, and begin to form us.
Eating quickly seemed like a good idea when, at your first job, you had a sandwich and a Twix bar and 20-minutes for lunch. Not so good now that you’re middle-aged, overweight, and on a date at a classy (expensive) restaurant.
“You never let me finish talking!” your significo or soon-to-be-ex-best-friend complains. “You think only your opinion matters!”
But it made so much sense when you were a teenager and it was the only way to get a word in edgewise among your circle of hyperactive, un-snubbable buddies. So you formed a habit. And then it formed you.
Revisit it. Rethink it. Reshape your behavior patterns, lifestyle, character. Choose the right soul and replace it when it wears unevenly*. Maintain it ruthlessly. Monitor it vigilantly. And when it starts to wear you…