Maintaining course.

The last post was about the endless pursuit- this one could be called maintaining pursuit.

As life progresses I realize how delicate the balance is between living with awareness, meaning, and purpose compared to wasting hours away. It’s amazing how quickly you can be thrown off course.

The past two weeks were a prime example of that. I started a course on Monday on Java programming (more on that in a later post) and I’m feeling slightly desolate because of the progress I made in preparation for the class. Of the past two weeks, the first one felt very scattered and rushed, while the second left me feeling more in control. I was pretty frustrated with my use of time the first week.

Here’s what I’m going to work on to stay more productive and happy:

Planning a schedule and sticking to it.

I find that I function so much better when I have that majority of my activity planned out for the week and attach it to a regular routine. That includes my fitness schedule, budgets, meal plans, study time, and my activity in the workplace. Having a schedule with set activity gives me a checklist for the day to attack. I need to be conscious of fulfilling the goals at hand and not giving into spontaneous decisions.

Rewarding myself.

Motivating yourself to stick to a schedule when it isn’t very fun or enjoyable is a challenge. I need to build in rewards to celebrate accomplishment. It works for a teacher and his students, it should work for others as well. Be it a meal out, an adventure with a friend, taking a “day off” from goal activities, or do something else I love. I feel I will work more effectively when I can enjoy my progress.

Maintaining ties.

I came across a TED talk a few days ago that I’ll soon write about. One thing I took away from the talk was the desire among humans for connection to one another. I’ve found that the lower points of my life were also times that I was more isolated from others. The more interactions I have with family, friends, and coworkers translate into more opportunities to feel accountable for myself, to others, to feel loved, to have fun, and to check in with the world outside my head. By scheduling time with connections, I am fulfilling the first two ideas of this post- to plan and reward.

The first week of preparation for this class was nearly absent of these three ideas. I did not plan effectively. I had few goals. I did not reward accomplishments; if I did something pleasureful, it was merely for the sake of pleasure and not really a reward for anything. I didn’t stay very connected with people outside of my necessary interactions. The second week was the complete opposite. I need to strive for more weeks like that. Finishing this blog is one step towards that. Finding the balance between structure and freedom is tricky, but hopefully sticking to these ideas will maintain that balance.

Leo at Zen Habits has some good, cheap ideas for rewards. Check them out.

Until next time.