It’s a Monday morning, I’ve just hit a new PR in the Squat and I’m running out of childhood mystery dilemmas to reference. Suggestions on this front welcome, but please message me privately so it isn’t obvious that I stole it.
As some of you may have noticed, and a couple (literally 2, but not an actual couple) have pointed out, it has been a little while since I last wrote something. In part this is because I had a three thousand word essay on land law due this week. Not the most exciting piece of work I’ve ever completed. The main reason though, is that I’ve not really been sure what to write about.
I don’t think it really qualifies as writer’s block for a couple of reasons. Primarily because I don’t think of myself as a writer. But on a practical level I just haven’t meaningfully attempted to write anything. It is difficult to write any number of words if you do not put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard as the case may be. I’ve had a few ideas, there are just none that have struck me as being particularly good.
In whatever I’m doing, I always like to think that I’m doing my best at it. It’s a personal pride thing. When applied properly, this can be an incredibly powerful tool. If I’m in the right mindset generally, I can really push myself to work hard at something that I don’t necessarily care about. In the past, as long as I’ve had a specific project or objective to be complete, this has served me fairly well in place of any sort of long term goal.
The downside of this is that when I lack any sort of external focus point, I very easily find myself becoming listless and de-motivated. I find myself not starting things because I know deep down that the end result won’t be my best. The lack of blog posts over the last week being a great example.
A common theme that occurs when people describe me is that of being stubbborn. I’m not going to deny for a second that I can be. In my head, I used to equate this with perserverance. But I’m coming to realise that they are not the same thing. They’ve got a lot in common but they’re more like cousins than siblings.
I very rarely achieve anything resembling a long term goal. Admittedly a big part of the reason for this is that I very rarely think about things long term. The longest commitment I’ve ever made was four years at University which was essentially a four years dedicated to avoiding any sort of long term commitments. If I do articulate any sort of long term goal it tends to be nebulously formed e.g. “I want to be paid more”. Even with a vaguely lomg term plan it gets treated as an impatient short term objective without any real regard for how practical it is to achieve in the short term.
Rather than viewing progresss towards the long term goal as successes, I’ve been inclined to be disappointed that I haven’t met the long term goal yet. A payrise gets measured against where I want to be, not where I’ve been. I don’t see how far I’ve come, only how far I’ve still got to go. As I’m writing this, I’m still not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.
On the one hand, it can often be a source of discontent. I would obviously rather be happy than unhappy, but I want to engage with life rather than just passively receiving it. There are many maxims and pithy quotes along the lines of happiness is being content with what you have. I don’t tend to agree with them. I think it’s a thought process to incorporate, but not to be the single source of truth. There is a balance to be struck with it. If I was completely content with what I have, what would be the reason to try and improve?
As I see it, the trick of it seems to come down to how you judge success. I’m simultaneously my own biggest backer and fiercest critic. Just not always at the same time. Some of the goals I set myself should be viewed over the long term, achieving them isn’t going to happen overnight. At other times I’m too lenient on myself with stuff that it is completely within my power to achieve, “I’ll do that later”. The ability to set realistic timescales on this sort of thing is not something I know how to do, but better a late start than never.
I need to learn to take a step back from longer term goals and to judge whatever progress I have made more objectively. I’m not going to stop pushing forward, just try and make sure that I don’t lose progress by being demotivated when I think I haven’t progressed enough.
As always any thoughts appreciated in the comments.