I remember very clearly standing in the dining hall at Virginia Tech University.
As I stood there – awkward because I was older than all the students who were staring at me weirdly – an overwhelming sense of panic came over my body. What the hell am I supposed to eat? I literally turned in circles, eyes darting back and forth from the Asian station to the BBQ pit to pizza and self-serve dry cereal. Ten minutes later, my tray was still empty until the ridiculousness of my paralysis forced me to just grab whatever prepackaged bunk was closest and eat an unsatisfying meal amidst a sea of tasty food.
Lately it feels like my life is a giant Hokie dining hall. Rather than staring at countless food options, however, I find myself surrounded by outlets for creativity and growth in what I want to do and it’s a little paralyzing. There are so many projects that sound good but require a lot of time and dedication that sometimes I just spin in circles thinking about what I want to do most.
Getting over the pull of procrastination is one thing; not knowing what to do with motivation once you have it is, quite possibly, a worse dilemma.
I think about where I want to be 10 years from now and am overwhelmed by the steps it takes to get there. So I try to break it down into smaller chunks and plan my life accordingly. I’ve begun taking an inventory of the things that are important to me — comedy, writing, friends/family, sleep, wrestling, TV, baseball, porn, job, etc. — and quickly need to scratch my head to find time to fit them all in my life meaningfully. I honestly need a secretary just to help me keep my shit together.
While I haven’t mastered any of these, I have found a few things help me survive myself. For one, when I write down my goals as daily to do lists I am much more likely to get them done. Also, if I envision how I want the day to go when I wake up in the morning, I find that I tend to stick a little more closely to the plan. So much of getting things done is about having the proper game plan. It’s also about not stretching oneself too thinly though as well. There are some things that I just have to sacrifice so that I can find time to do a good job with the things I have time for.
Go ahead, make your own list of priorities. When you’ve arranged them in the order of what is truly most important to you, make a second list ordered by what you spend the most time doing. (I just did and it hurt a little bit). Now take those lists, internalize the juju that seeing them gives you and make a plan to reorder those lists in a way that will bring you closer to your goals. If you’re already on the right track, wonderful! Work even harder. If you, like me, have some work to do then it’s time to buckle down and get to it. Stop spinning in circles.
You have so many ways to spend your time. Make sure whatever you’re doing leaves you full, without any regrets for what you didn’t try. If I ever go back to Virginia Tech, I’m going to systematically sample everything in that dining hall. (Then I’ll race to the bathroom and spin in circles as I try to decide what stall I want to occupy).