A Little Each Day
I’m in a slump. I am. It may have something to do with the incessant SAT prep which doesn’t afford me much time to do anything else, but in truth, that’s just an excuse.
There isn’t anything harder than reaching a goal you really want to achieve. As humans, even the best of us have to fall back a bit and be a little slovenly at times. Procrastination is a weakness that I see in everyone, although some people have a better handle on it than others.
I believe the problem is that we live too much in the a present that is constantly moving ahead, without giving thought to what we want to achieve at the end of the day/month/year. Reflect on your day and ask, did I accomplish at least three things that develop me as a person? More often than not, the answer is no. You probably checked Facebook about fifty times, and this number is sans exaggeration. But why do we do it? Why would we rather spend our time doing inconsequential things than making concrete advances in activity X?
I suppose the answer has to do with the sheer insurmountability of many of the goals we set. Plus we’re just lazy. If I write down my goal as get abs by the end of the month, it seems impossible, mainly because I would rather be an oaf on the couch and eat pound cake, as well as taking into consideration the fact that getting abs is difficult. It requires a lot of personal investment and effort. How long is that going to take? Sounds like forever. I’d rather get personal gratification out of my pound cake than invest in something that at this point is comparatively intangible.
So we go on like this, not really achieving anything. Not being a person who gets better at something they love, or tries anything new. Just a person who stagnates. I don’t think you can be truly happy like this; of course, far be it from me to define anyone’s happiness, but I think a lot of happiness comes from growth. Rest, too, but growth is an undeniable part of a satisfying life. I am sure that when you ask yourself, “what kind of person do I want to be?” the answer is not “the person who lies around and tumblrs all day”.
As an individual who is commonly regarded as ‘disciplined’, the answer doesn’t lie in some mystical form of willpower. To be sure, I have a lot of that. Just not about certain things, like staying away from the internet or putting away pound cake. Which can be pretty detrimental in themselves. So I prefer to be smart about my goals. Everyone likes to feel accomplished, right? Well, taking a little action every day assuages that need to check an item off the list, while putting you on the path towards goal-fulfillment.
First, you need to have definite goals to measure your progress against. The overarching goal can be abstract, like ‘become a better writer’. That’s what I have in mind. But as abstract as some goals may seem, you should always try and quantify them the best you can. To achieve A, I need to do B. In order to become more proficient at writing, I need to, say, write 20 pieces of poetry a month, and 5 prose pieces. Naturally, I’m oversimplifying a whole lot. Quantity is not better than quality. However, the main obstacle you’re trying to overcome is a lack of flow. If the action grows into a habit, you’re putting yourself in a better position to be in a state of easy mental/physiological/psychological flow whenever you perform that action. The thing is, if you wait for inspiration or the ‘right moment’, it’ll never come.
Put up a reminder somewhere of 3 things you would like to do today, and everyday. For me, it includes exercise, write, and play the guitar. I don’t have to write something earth-shattering or learn a complicated song every day. Every 3-4 days, I also aim to write a blog post. I just have to do it enough that it becomes a habit, and break myself out of the mindset that these are time-consuming, or require large amounts of effort. Because they don’t. Yes, faltering happens. No, I’m not saying that you should make your daily goals so inconsequential that you never achieve anything at all.
Simply put, if you break your goal down into manageable chunks, before you know it, you’re exactly where you need to be. More significantly, you’re exactly where you want to be. You’ve become the person you always aspired to be. That gives you the ability to be the best possible version of yourself, which is what I believe every individual wants to embrace.