I’m writing this on the 20th. I didn’t even know or remember that the first week ended on the 18th.
Week 1 was effectively a sine curve: time on the x-axis, general ‘degree-to-which-I-have-my-shit-together-‘on the y-axis. I started, peaked at 10 hours of studying a day with exercise with guitar practice, then plunged into binging on the internet and the Frozen Throne (seriously, best RTS campaign ever made) for hours on end. The latter period sucked me in so much that I’d entirely forgotten about my 1029 days.
And now I’m back, a bit more lucid.
My conscience never allows me to completely fuck up for an extended period of time; it uses all kinds of mind games, or just plain outright psychological torture to whip me back into shape. Sometimes it’s a gentle reminder that naw, I shouldn’t go out tonight, I shouldn’t spend another three hours playing Warcraft because I’m already behind on what I should be doing. Sometimes it compels me with morbid curiosity to look up my ex on the internet, defibrillating me out of my indolence with a veritable panic attack. Sometimes it gnaws, sometimes it tears, but it never does nothing.
I don’t know why it’s there. I don’t know why there’s this creature hiding in some dark recess of my mind, ever vigilant, readily lighting a fire under my ass when I sink too low.
What I’d like to think is that I have been chosen by Fate and Nature to excel, to achieve, to conquer, to be the selected wheat separated from the evolutionary chaff; the powers that be have seen fit to imbue me with a psyche that will not rest until I’m marching tirelessly towards the summit once more.
What is probably more realistic, is that at the back of my mind I know that if I don’t prove to myself and others that I’m worth something, I’ll be cast aside and forgotten. My ex will forever remember me as the deadbeat ex-boyfriend who was only interested in playing video games and attempting to get her to try anal. The halls of great academic institutions will remain eternally bereft of my presence, my attendance having been rebuffed with one rejection letter after another. I will never see my six-pack. I will never play one good song on the guitar just right. I will never learn more than two languages. I will never climb Everest. I will die alone and bitter with disappointment and regret, knowing that I accomplished little of what I set out to do.
Anyway, on to operational concerns.
Two or three things I picked up on, in order of importance: balance, rhythm, and goal formats.
Balance: Social interaction is essential if I’m not going to go insane. If I spend two or three days in a row literally doing nothing else except studying, exercising and practicing guitar my mind begins to fray at the edges. I become increasingly disillusioned, and then I immediately bounce right back to the other end of the spectrum and binge on YouTube or blogs or video games or whatever. Seriously, if I don’t make a point to hang out with people, the most conversation I’ll have is with the cashier at the cafeteria or with my flatmate when we discuss how long we think the geyser is going to hold out.
Rhythm: Do the same things at the same times every day. This removes thinking from the equation. Whenever I’m given a choice between working or just ‘doing whatever’ then I have this protracted internal battle where I will myself to do the right thing. This saps more energy from an already stressed supply. If I’m just sticking to a routine, there’s no wavering or hesitation involved, I just get to it. This has the added benefit of making sure I get the appropriate amount of sleep (not too much, not too litte), but limits my nights out to two hours max before I have to turn in, lest I turn into a caffeinated zombie the next day. I’d say it’s a reasonable sacrifice for the time being.
Additionally, I should write another one of those visions* (or adapt the ones I have already) that I read each day to remind me where I’m going. After the third day of fucking around, I kind of lose sight of where I’m headed and the reasons why I’m doing it, which makes it much easier to just drift around in an existential vacuum placating my boredom with random shit on the internet.
Goal Formats: Sections completed and not time spent. If I tell myself that I’ll study for 10 hours that day, I zone out half of the time staring a at a page or flashcard, my mind being somewhere else, and at the end of the day I’ll have done little to speak of. However, if I say, ‘this chapter is getting done today no matter what’ then it adds a sense of urgency to things. I’m hoping this will bring about more focus.
Excuse me while I go warm my nuts in the meatgrinder.
* Though I normally steer clear of the self-help ‘secret to success’ type articles that read like overzealous informercials, this one has a point.