For the longest period of time, I had been unable to execute certain actions to reform habits in my life. For example, I used to speed all of the time knowing that I would get caught eventually and have to pay another fine, take another driver’s retraining course, and raise my insurance premium some more. Without fail, it always ended up happening. I would be driving through a school zone, going 30, scanning the area, thinking, “How fast am-” and, there’s blues behind me.
Most of the time, these were situations where I wasn’t even intentionally speeding, just on auto-pilot, felt like a 40, was actually a 30, and by the time I looked down I was screwed. Three years ago, I was going down a road in the neighboring town heading to work and was pulled over. 40 in a 30. $100 ticket. Then, two years ago, I was going down the same road and pulled over. 40 in a 30. The cop, puzzled, handed back my identification and apologetically asked, “Nick, you got pulled over about 10 feet down the road doing the same speed exactly a year ago. What’s the reason for speeding?” I explained there wasn’t really any reason and that I always think it’s a 40 even though it’s a 30. He laughed and said because it was such a coincidence that it was the exact day and so close in distance, that he’d let me off this time. I was insanely grateful, as I had never got off any previous tickets (except maybe when I first started driving at 18).
I ended up meeting this cop another two times. The same cop. In very close proximity to the initial ticket. I started feeling like I was living in some odd alternate reality with the consistency of location and cop. On the third time, (because I had a previous driver’s retraining course) I would be required to take another driver’s retraining course and potentially lose my license. The cop suggested that I fight the ticket to avoid that happening because for some reason he had a lot of sympathy for me. I took his advice.
I didn’t know what I’d do to convince them that I couldn’t afford the ticket and so I figured I’d tell the truth: I’m an anxious air-head when driving. I always used to worry about the people behind me so I’d speed up as to not hinder their movement. I’d leave for appointments and work exactly on time or sometimes late and would try to beat the time by speeding. With all of these thoughts in mind, I decided I’d start trying to reform my behavior so by the time the court date came around I’d have some evidence that I cared.
So, first, I began allotting more time to traveling between anything. Next, I’d search for the speed limit sign of any road and begin repeatedly saying it in my head, “30 mph, 30 mph, 30 mph.” I’d say it three times, at least, because that’s the amount it usually takes for any human to remember something. Finally, I started specifically chanting, “30 mph” in my head the moment I left my house to go to work and when I left work to go home. I truly felt reformed by the time court came around. I began to plead my case and the District Attorney interrupted, looked at me, tilted her head, and said, “Well, it doesn’t look like you’ve done much to reform your behavior, based on your driving record…”
Even though it hurt, she was right. I drove like a complete idiot for most of my life. So, I owned up to it. I explained what I had done to reform my driving, such as chanting in my head “30 mph,” and allotting more time to travel between anything. She obliged and put me on probation. I felt so relieved. All I had to do was not get a speeding ticket until July (it was a 6 month probation). I ended up making it past probation, effectively not paying the ticket, and have continued good driving behavior since.
I decided I’d start applying the power of threes to every other aspect of my life, rather than just driving. The latest thing I’ve been chanting is “accelerate, accelerate, accelerate.”