Sometimes, I feel like the hardest thing in life is deciding what you want and then working towards those goals. I’ve been told I have good commitment, but when another evening rolls in and all I’ve done is eat and watch YouTube, it sure doesn’t feel like it.
When uni ended for the summer, I had all these great plans regarding my novels and this blog–I was going to work hard on my drafts, start getting friends to give me feedback, start posting weekly again… However, by the end of July, I’d basically done nothing. I then decided I was fed up with half-heartedly chasing my goals and I was ready to make a plan and get out there with that butterfly net.
So far, it’s going well. I know that a one-size motivation-plan doesn’t fit all, but getting me moving sometimes feels like beating a rock with a stick. So I’d like to share with you 5 things I’ve been doing this summer that (as of yet) seem to be working:
1. Make lists!
After a morning of stress where I felt overwhelmed by what I needed to do, let alone what I wanted to do, I decided to just make a list of EVERYTHING. No matter how redundant or impossible a task seemed, I decided what needed to be done to accomplish it and wrote it down with a box to check it off. I’m a fan of pretty, so I tried to make my lists look organised and planned. If things had deadlines, I wrote those down too. I did this in my bullet journal and ended up with 6 categories of tasks: Dreams (writing, blogging), paperwork/applications (like applying for a provisional license! Nope, still can’t drive yet), emails to write, uni tasks for the summer, problems to sort out for my new house at uni, and things I need to buy before term starts again. The last one isn’t really helping to achieve my goals, but putting everything in my head on paper helped me feel less burdened with information.
2. Look at the lists each morning and decide what can be done today.
I make a ‘do today’ list every morning with what I hope to achieve that day. I’m trying to choose at least one task each morning that I really really really don’t want to do. Then I pick several things I’m looking forward to doing, like writing this blog post! I do the one I’m not looking forward to first and try to do it as fast as I can. So far these awful tasks have been paperwork or “important email” related, which don’t take that long but ugh–I certainly dread them.
3. Break tasks down into manageable parts!
If I could make a big task into several smaller tasks, I did that and put it into my lists. Even with my ‘do today’ list, I try to be as specific as possible. I’ve noticed that being specific really helps, even if it means breaking up one task into three: instead of just putting “write!”, I now put things like “edit chapter three of Two Kinds of Darkness”, “do 1 writing prompt”, “start a blog post”. It means I know exactly what I’m expecting of myself and I get to check off the tasks much quicker, which makes me feel good.
4. Wake up before noon…
I am not a morning person. I love mornings, but I’ve sure missed an awful lot of them this summer–1pm starts are just too easy for me to do. I did a lot of waking up at 1 or 2pm this last winter as well and considering that I was up in the north of England, this meant I was getting only a few hours of sunlight on those days. For sanity’s sake, I do not recommend. Getting up that late makes me feel tired, even if I’ve had eleven-plus hours of sleep, meaning it takes me until 3 or 4 in the afternoon to get started. And after dinner, I have no motivation. So I’ve grudgingly admitted that the painful 9am wake up (shhh–I know I’m pathetic) means I get a lot more done and is completely worth it.
5. Do it today–tomorrow it will suck just as much, if not more.
I’m trying very hard to stick to this mantra because I’d always rather put things off ’til tomorrow. Right now, I’m trying to work out the balance between working hard and giving myself a break when I need it. The problem is, how do I decide when I really do need a breather or when I’m just being lazy? I want to hold myself accountable and tick off as many items on my ‘do today’ list as I can, but some days I find it really hard and end up with a handful of undone tasks by nightfall. I’m still figuring this one out, but I’m trying to make sure the ‘breaks’ don’t last entire days or span several afternoons in a row. I’ve noticed my motivation is very linked to the weather: if it’s cold and drizzly, I just want to crawl back into bed, but if the sun is shining, I feel happier and ready to kick *ss.
I know that, ultimately, I will slack off and fall back into the pit of reality denial (everything we want will be delivered to us on the palms of fairies, right?). But I’d like to hope that every time I get up and dust myself off, it will become that little bit easier to get back to work.
Remember: you owe it to yourself to live your dreams.