You are solving a word-problem and you need to add three 3-digit numbers to arrive at the solution. How do you do it? Do you do it orally or do you quickly pick up your pencil and do the math? Well, I tend to do the latter and I have been trying to get rid of this tendency for a long time. I see people calculate in their heads and come up with an answer even faster. I think it’s very cool but annoying too because… why on earth am I not able to do that!!!
Habit. And I, dear friend, never challenged this habit of dealing with numbers using pencil. When I calculate by visualizing the numbers, I panic. I forget to add the 3 that was carried on the hundredth place and get the answer wrong! So, I pick up my same-old-pencil and solve it again on paper. Now I get it right but I am late! What I conclude from this experiment is “no use calculating by visualizing numbers, better stick to the habit!” In science, typically the entire experiment is done in triplicate to get a precise measurement. Also you might have read somewhere–one can build a new habit in 21-days. Well, all these are figures yelling- “Rome was not built in a day!” So I did not try enough before making the conclusion! I know what you are thinking–why am I thinking of changing the habit in the first place? Well, one reason is definitely to save myself from the embarrassment of making a simple subtraction mistake while buying groceries from the market! On a serious note, doing oral work in math can enhance mental alertness and quick thinking. And like you, I too want to grow faster by learning better. What stopped me?
Do you remember saying this to that outspoken friend of yours who invited you for a class-party?– “Thanks for inviting me but I am fine here. You guys go and have fun!” OR if you are like me, you shall recall saying to your sports-fanatic friend, “Hey! Thanks for telling me about the cricket-game but sorry, can’t come!” Well, the point is that we all have certain tendencies and habits that we don’t like to change. Sometimes they are a part of our personalities and at times it’s just something we like to do without a specific reason. I think by now you know my reasons for not trying hard enough to change the habit. Let me specify clearly. Fear. Fear of making mistakes during oral calculation. Fear of losing confidence in what I know already. Fear of feeling like a failure. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of changing into a person who is different from what I know her to be. Is fear good? In this case, it is definitely NOT! Umm..what could be the other reason? INDOLENCE. “Avoiding exercise because… well.. just not in the mood today.” Come on buddy, let’s face it. We tend to become lazy when we know that it is going to take a lotttt of effort to do it, to change it or to re-do it. Now, is indolence good? Definitely NOT, again!
So you see, it is not really about me trying to learn oral math, it is more about me trying to get rid of old habits that may not serve me well and me trying to learn to let go of the negative traits like fear and indolence in some teeny-tiny but significant way. Now whether it is actually cool to do oral math or not is your perspective, but the underlying motivation to do it sounds cooler, doesn’t it?
Lastly, whether you want to become a sports enthusiast, a cool-geek or simply someone who is fearless and relentless, the path to harnessing your best potential is by getting rid of fear, indolence and similar traits that drag you down. The key is pushing yourself a little more so that you exit your comfort zone and look at things differently, try things differently, because sometimes, different itself is cool. And if you think this “different” is something good and will help you become stronger in whatever you want to become or achieve, repeat it enough to make it “almost-automatic” and escape the old-habit-trap! Who knows if escaping this trap will fast-track your path to success? Today I am promising myself to try enough to escape my habit-trap. Join me?
Good luck, friend. Hasta-la-vista!