To Actually Get Better (Or Maybe, The Problem with Boredom)

11 Jul

Have you ever heard a good bit of advice or had an idea that you knew could change things for the better and you said, “No problem! I can do that!” But when it actually came time to work on yourself, you hesitated or put it off for later? I’m betting you have and plenty of times because I can remember those moments pretty clearly for myself. I have to be the world’s worst for taking my own advice and often I have to wonder why.

I was just about to take my quiet time today when I noticed how hard it was for me to just shut off the TV. (I’ve been indulging in an X-men cartoon marathon all weekend and was in the middle of a season finale.) I wasn’t convinced that quiet time would be very beneficial today and honestly, I come up against that hesitation every single day. Even for things that are very important to me, like writing, it’s very hard for me to create a habit. Since I’m already a deeply habitual person, changing my ways is pretty hard for me. I can talk a good talk but the walk is always significantly more difficult.

So I guess today is a good time to confess my weaknesses. I haven’t been consistently following the advice and attaining the goals I’ve set for myself on this blog. Well…let’s just cut to the list that I started with, shall we?

“1. Learn to knit and crochet
2. Find gym and get on a schedule for exercise (Well…halfway there?)
3. Get a hot body by June for my husband’s tacking-on (Yes, I do like to be arm candy. What of it?) (He never had one so…yeah.)
4. Walk the dogs more often
5. Find the right hairstyle
6. Find a fulfilling job
7. Work my way into grad school (Starting next month!)
8. Honeymoon! (This probably won’t happen for a very long time so I’m just taking it off.)
9. Start a book club for twenty-somethings. (I’m still working on this.)
10. Go to church more often.
11. Make true friends.
12. Make my rental into a home. (We’re getting there.)
13. Get published! (I’m a writer, after all.)
14. Write 3 new short stories or essays. (Uhm, does one pretty long rough-draft account for anything?)
15. Make more time for gaming. (Did I mention I’m a nerd?)
16. Keep in touch with long-distance friends.
17. Get one World of Warcraft character to level 85. (Outstanding, right?) (I stopped playing this because it was…sad.)
18. Make more time for reading.
19. Start a blog. (Riiiight?)

So that’s eight things that I worked on and actually accomplished so far and a couple that just fell by the wayside for (mostly) good reasons.

Still, the things left on the list are some of the biggies and sometimes I’m great about them and sometimes I’m not. Worst of these things are three:

1. I haven’t been going to gym anywhere near as often as I should.

I talked about this before, but hypoglycemia has been a bit of a struggle when getting myself to the gym and through a workout. It’s really discouraging for me to have health issues because I’m a young and typically vivacious woman and I love to challenge and push myself. My body just says no sometimes and that’s made me lose a little hope for my fitness goals.
However, it’s super important to me and starting today, I’m really putting up a fight for my health and fitness. I’m going to make serious attempts to make it to the gym three times a week and to get on a better diet to help balance my sugar lows.

2. I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like.

And this is where it gets a little complicated. It’s not always my will that fails, but deciding how long I should spend in quiet time per day has been a weird discovery period. I have three things to read: my Bible, some devotional-type books, and reading to help inspire me to write. If I did all three of these every day, I would be spending two-three hours in silence doing some mental work. Frankly, that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but in setting a reasonable goal for myself, I decided I wanted that personal time to look more like an hour and a half. That would give me plenty of time every day to write, volunteer, clean, and hang out with the dogs. So I’ve been picking books with short stories/essays and switching every other day between reading my Bible and reading devotional books.
I’m getting better about this, but it’s still hard and I have to really convince myself every day to do it.

3. The very worst of the worst: I haven’t been writing as often or as much as I need to.

And this is the trickiest. I’m a believer in writing on a routine basis, whether you feel like it or not, but writing without inspiration is a difficult, long, and sometimes discouraging process. I finished a rough draft not too long ago of an essay I’d been working on for awhile but the critique and review stage set me back a little further than I was expecting…in a good way, ultimately. Right now, I’m working on realigning the story and I have to go back and forth between the original copy and a couple different versions of how things could work and I usually have to come up with something entirely different than what I already have. Essentially, I’m analyzing three stories for every step I take and it’s kinda grueling. It takes a lot of motivation that I just don’t have very often but…
I’m promising myself today that if I absolutely can’t stand to look at that essay, that I’ll work on something else. Even if it’s something small. Even if it’s an exercise in describing an experience that I will never use in a larger work, I need to keep writing so I stay in the habit.

But saying it isn’t enough, is it? We’ve all set goals, sucked at them, tried again, and still sucked at them. How do we really get better?

I think we first have to ask if we really want to get better. Isn’t it funny that when you were a kid and you got sick and everyone took care of you that you were a little disappointed when you started to feel better? Could it be that we suffer that syndrome in every day life and that it impedes our moving on? Do we enjoy the routine, the comfortable knowing, the attention we get, when we live in a second-rate life? I definitely think so. It’s the greatest temptation to stay exactly where we are because we all fear what we don’t know and haven’t experienced yet. How do we know that being in better health or having a better spiritual or intellectual life will actually make us happier? We don’t and in fact, for some reason our brains tell us the opposite–that if we’re getting by, even if there’s a possibility to be more fulfilled elsewhere, we should let things remain the same. We should accept where we are.

For me, my problem is that I have so much time to do nothing that it’s tempting to actually do nothing with it. I could easily watch TV all day without consequence but it wouldn’t actually make me a better person. For some of you, your day may go by so quickly that it’s easy to wish even more of your time away and miss out on the opportunities to stop and enjoy what’s happening around you. Or maybe the job you hate has been so good at paying your bills that you just don’t have the certainty that happiness is better than complacency.

So do we want to get better? Really? Well, for me, the honest answer is not yet. Not yet am I driven to do whatever I need to reach my goals but I have some naive faith that in earnestly trying, I’ll discover new and better feelings or maybe I’ll just find out that those things weren’t so important all along. Either way, I will have explored and found out what I always wanted to know. I will have no regrets that I didn’t try hard enough or risk what I could. Ask yourself if you’re willing to do whatever it takes and then push as hard as you can for the things that matter most.


One Response to “To Actually Get Better (Or Maybe, The Problem with Boredom)”

  1. Anonymous July 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    good job this help me do my now to thank you

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