It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the urgent and necessary things in life competing with those things that you want to do to achieve ones goals. We all have 24 hours in a day as an entitled company CEO has pointed out recently but those 24 hours are not the same for everyone. Time marches on too, and for someone older then the time one has is more precious. A lot of self-help gurus don’t seem to take this fully on board, if at all. Yes, spend 20 hours a week on your passion project but don’t expect to get anywhere if you don’t put in the hours.
Build habits we are told. Build them one at a time and give thirty to sixty days for them to become part of your life. Choose the one thing that is important to you and concentrate on that. Don’t get sidetracked and don’t multitask.
For me, all this is making me a bit frustrated. I am 62 and my body is not the same as it was five, ten, fifteen years ago. I look at where my parents were a that age and remember the decline in abilities. I don’t have time to just concentrate on one thing and then proceed to the next if I want to achieve my goals before old age catches up with me. I am also not prepared to sit back and go into decline: I want to be like my grandad who was found by my aunt, dead at the breakfast table, with his meal eaten and the paper that he’d bought from the papershop partly read.
Several months into lockdown I realised that I was doing too much. I was learning Japanese, Russian, Italian and Spanish, whilst revisiting French and German. I was trying to advance my graphical skills by learning to draw, film edit and animate, whilst improving my photography editing skills on Gimp. I learnt how to make a website and I was consuming a large number of self-help ebooks, fiction from the library and books from around the house. Then at the start of 2021 I got a teaching contract: and started teaching online, a skill I had learnt about the previous year.
Eventually, I decided that, whilst only going for one goal at a time was not going to get me anywhere useful, I was trying to do too much. I scaled things back. Now I am learning Russian, sorting out my websites, deliberately reading some fiction and some non-fiction each day, getting some fitness in and doing something art related, usually photography. With my current contracts, I have to learn some graphical skills to be able to effectively teach them to my students from next month.
Most of that went out of the window for several weeks at the end of last year and the beginning of this one after I contracted shingles. I am steadily building myself back up now. I had built the learning Russian into a steady habit, along with the reading and was able to carry those on. Sadly, going to the gym, working on my websites and doing something art related were too tiring as the shingles had drained my energy. I did manage to go into work and look after myself. Some days I managed to walk 10000 steps, most days not.
Once I get to a certain level with my current goals and they become part of my usually daily or weekly habits, I shall add others. I have written my other goals down and they are now put away until I have more time and energy for them.