When I go out to eat, I always make it a point to do two things; remember my server’s name, and gather the dirty dishes from the table and put them into a neat stack for the server to take. Sometimes, the server will catch me in the act and say “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that!” To which I respond “I’m happy to do it.” Anytime they insist on cleaning it themselves I always respond, “Momma didn’t raise a slob.”
I’m not hell-bent on cleaning tables. But I am hell-bent on being the kind of person who takes responsibility for his own messes. I’m basically pulling a “George Costanza” on them. “It’s not you, it’s me.” I tie part of my identity of being a responsible person to cleaning up after myself. I even throw a little bit of “what would my mother think if she saw me…” into it.
If I miss the trash bin with a negligible amount of trash, I pick it up. If someone else did, hell, I’ll get that too. I usually make sure they see me do it so I can guilt them into doing better the next time. ::Jeff gives a Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson eye to the offender::
It’s not that picking up trash will immediately save the world, but it lets kids know that grown-ups still care about it, and maybe that will.
Cleaning up the table won’t get me a free dessert, but it feels good to practice and hopefully spread the values instilled in me when I was younger.
Working out on vacation or skipping beer on a week-day when my friends enjoy a cold one won’t give me abs tomorrow, but it will make me more mentally-resiliant and primed to keep making good choices long term.
We don’t workout 5 days each week and track food to get lean and fit tomorrow. We do it to build the identity of someone who does that stuff, because that’s who’s lean and fit.
Don’t just “do what it takes” to get something. “BE someone who does what it takes” and the goal is now only a matter of time, and not behavior.