Let’s get personal. I wouldn’t say I am a disciplined person. And due to the lack of discipline, for as long as I remember it, I can’t say I’ve ever tried my best. Just today I sat in front of the computer for about 10 hours, and I am writing this at around 11:30 P.M.
I don’t even know how the time passed so quickly, or how I seem to have no concept of its true value.
Sure, I’ve tried my best to finish school projects and meet deadlines for work the day before. I’ve also tried my best at singing songs for competitions. There have also been lessons (I’m a teacher) in which I’ve tried my best to prepare.
But the more I think about it, the more I can’t think of a week in which I can say to myself: “I tried my best this week.” If I gave myself a score from 1 to 10 on my discipline, I’d be at a 2.5 because I know I can do so much more.
I can confidently say that I am not living my best life.
I hate to admit it, but I might beam addicted
Don’t get me wrong. I get things done. And a teacher’s job can get pretty busy. What I’m talking about is the amount of downtime I give myself whenever I get the chance. Maybe you are the same.
Whenever you can get away with a quick treat for yourself you give in to the temptation. For you, maybe it is food. Maybe it is shopping. Anything you know has no positive effect but you do anyway because it feels good for the moment.
For me, it is wasting time online. It can be anything. I’ve done it with anime, YouTube, and video games. None of those things are bad, but that story changes when I do those things while consciously knowing I have something better to do.
This includes educational videos and books. Sometimes I feel the illusion of progress from learning something new. However, progress is made with action, not learning.
My result of wasting time is a temporary escape, a break from what is honestly a relatively stress-free life. No doubt, the games, and the videos make me feel good. Not because of the inherent value they provide, but because of the endorphins my brain releases from the entertainment.
Frequently, there’s a lingering sense of regret afterward because what I did was not aligned with what I wanted to do. So you could say that entertainment is my drug.
You might be thinking:
Leon, you are being too serious. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing after hard work at your job.
To which I say:
Yes, if relaxing makes you happy. By all means! What I am talking about is when you do something you don’t really want to do yet you do it anyways. That’s called a lack of self-control. And if you grow up this way, it’s called addiction.
What have I tried and what works?
Prayer and meditation. Lots of it (when I have the discipline). I think having faith helps. Meditation is scientifically proven to increase focus. I think anchoring my mind on a better future that I trust, whether it happens through prayer, meditation, or visualization helps.
I’ve also acknowledged the problem’s root cause.
Over the years, we’ve changed from creatively coming up with ways to pass time to be able to pass time with a press of a button on the phone.
We’ve changed from creators to consumers.
But I can’t blame the culture for this, can I? After all, some people are still creating despite the culture. I mean where do all the games and videos come from?
So at the end of the day, the root cause of the problem is not culture, or society. It’s me.
Realizing my own powerlessness hurt, but it was also the first step towards meaningful change. In part, this website is for me to document my own life and struggles, and hopefully help me overcome one thing at a time.
I’ve also watched a lot of personal development and motivation videos. Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn have great points, but I have always had a hard time turning head knowledge to heart knowledge.
In the end, I think the only thing that causes meaningful change is a deep self-awareness. The reasons that are strong enough for me to change all have to do with the kind of life I want to have, and how much I want it. Creating a vision for your life begins with building self-awareness.
Here are a few things building self-awareness has helped me realize:
- Doing something that might make a difference, like writing this article, might not release endorphins in my mind but it definitely leaves me feeling more satisfied. Progress feels great.
- The regretful feeling that comes from consciously making poor decisions is awful.
- Regret causes me to feel sorry for myself for something I could have avoided. It gives me a victim mentality.
- Regret also causes a negative feedback loop by igniting the desire to escape, which leads to more regret later on.
- Building new routines and habits help remove old routines and habits. I’m far from perfect, but I find that having healthy routines to replace my unhealthy ones really make a difference.
What can you do?
If you share my struggles in any shape or form and want to change, I think there are a few steps we all need to go through.
- Acknowledgment that life could be a lot better.
- Being open to change
- Believing that change is possible
- Adopting the right beliefs and taking action to make a change
- Repeat step 1
Regarding #3, I always believed that change was possible, but I didn’t actually internalize it until I saw someone with similar struggles change. For #4, you will have to discover what the beliefs and actions are for yourself. Go explore, ask people, do what it takes to find out.
And remember: Progress, not perfection.
Final thoughts on Living my Best:
While regret is at the end of every bad decision, I don’t regret failure because that is what makes me human. And as a human, I can walk alongside those who share similar struggles and support them. At the same time, I am sure that if I focus on progress, I will improve day by day.
Hopefully, you can be here to see that day when it comes. Until then, stay zealous.
Take Action: Identify one positive thing you want to do more of, why you want to do more of it, and spend no longer than 5 minutes on it tomorrow. Time yourself, no longer than 5 minutes. Try to do this every day.
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