We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act. but a habit. – Aristotle
First of all, I just wanna say how grateful I am to have the privilege of taking a break before jumping right into a workplace after college. I understand that life is cruel at times and some people just have to start working right away for obvious reasons. My empathy goes to those who believe that they are stuck at the moment and that it’s not up to them at all to get out of their rut. Anyway, I’ve been jobless for almost two months now and truth be told, taking charge of my own free time (which is practically my everyday life) isn’t something I’m very adept at.
But as time passed, I’ve seen some incremental improvement. I started to value my time more and adopted a better approach towards planning for my day.
Ever since I started college, I’ve always been a planner. I plan things ahead. It’s just my thing. Even when I can’t put my plan on a paper, I’ll have my phone, and when that option is also closed, I’ll plan in my head. So planning my day is what I do every day. If I were to be diagnosed, I believe insanity would be on the list given that I kept doing the same thing – planning a schedule – and hoping for different results (that one day I might actually stick to it). To be frank, I have only succeeded once or twice, and by once or twice, I mean a day or two. In hindsight, I think my secret of success was the fact that I know I could only last it for a day. And oh boy, that revelation gave me a chill down my backbone. That’s it. Wait, I stand corrected. It is a combination of revelations.
Firstly, my conviction matters. Perhaps due to the multiple failures in a row, I have gradually, without being aware of it, believed that I am doomed to failure each time I plan a schedule. That belief brought forth a series of self-destructive acts which rendered me procrastinate, purposely forget about my purpose, occupy myself with other seemingly more urgent tasks and whatnot. So, the first step of sticking to my planned schedule is, of course, to believe in myself again.
Next, I work best when things aren’t overwhelming. I succeeded because I knew immediately that plan was only meant for a day. The word only makes it sound easier already. It makes me feel like I can get it done and get it over with. As the cliche goes, Rome ain’t built in one day. But heck, Rome shouldn’t be my focus in the first place, instead, the journey of building Rome is. Yeah well, the journey does sound arduous, extensive, laborious, fatiguing, and even difficult. But it doesn’t have to be.
Let me sidetrack a little and discuss what many loafers are suffering. Loafers avoid work because they feel overwhelmed by the BIG projects and they are impatient beings who won’t stick around long enough to see how a broken-down project can be so effortlessly done. More importantly, loafers put priority in pleasure. When something isn’t so pleasant, they escape. What loafers aren’t afraid of is boredom as in not doing anything. Yet, ironically, that’s what kills them in return.
Back to the journey talk, if you’re like me who’s occasionally guilty of being a loafer, then perhaps we should look at “boredom” as in tediousness with a new perspective. I know how practicing can actually become dull and mundane so loafers like us avoid it. But for apparent reasons, we should keep practicing. We can in fact attack boredom. What we can do is to apply Skinner’s Operant Conditioning. To put it in a simpler way: reward or punishment. Choose to reward yourself after finishing a task so that you celebrate a small victory in a frequent manner or punish yourself when you fail so to make yourself accountable for what you have not done.
Last but not least, we have only 24 hours in a day. And if you cut down the time for sleep, eat, social, and if you have the 9-5 work clock, you are left with less than 10 hours a day to accomplish the things you want to accomplish. Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a myth. Today’s all you got. In fact, 10 hours are all you got. What do you want to do with 10 hours a day? What do I want to do with 10 hours a day? Learn to enjoy your 10 hours. It doesn’t have to be like your last day or your first day on earth, or else you’ll be doing things on the extreme end, like eating that 5th piece of fried chicken and drinking 2 bottles of iced coke, smoking that pack of cigarette in a day, declaring your love to someone you know you have no future with, or spending all your money to travel the world only to sabotage your life later. 10 hours. Enjoy the process. Embrace the tedious work. The work that will bring you closer to your goal. After all, tediousness is only a matter of time.
Someone said the ultimate key to success is grit which is a beautiful deal package of passion, self-control, and perseverance. But grit isn’t a process, it is a manifestation, a fruit of a combined effort. And it seems so unattainable at times. So don’t write building grit as a goal, write what you actually have to do to make grit your characteristic.