Escaping the Schedule

Zavia Pittman

Staff Writer

The new year has begun and with it the season of reinvention. For us college students, the new year also brings a fresh semester filled with classes and (hopefully) new opportunities. Most likely, many of us have New Year’s resolutions in addition to goals for the semester (one of them probably to survive it). And whether your goal is to be more active, to start a spiritual journey, or to do better academically it’s likely that you have already begun planning for your revival. Yet, as we create the blueprint for our ambitions for the year, we also carry the well-known fact that most New Year’s resolutions are never achieved. Worse yet, countless New Year’s resolutions are never even started.

Why is it that we can plan so far ahead for something and never take the first step in actually doing it? Why do we get stuck in the planning phase, and how can we escape it?

As a college student, planning is probably one of the first things you are taught. Actually, planning was most likely instilled in you in high school in preparation for college. Procrastination is the bane of many students’ existence, and we are taught that if we take time to organize our schedules beforehand, we can save ourselves from its wrath. Personally, I took this message very seriously, so seriously that I started trying to plan every part of my life. In some ways it helped: I was doing well in all of my classes. But, in many ways, it hurt me. Mentally I became a bit obsessive, and if I was off my schedule by even a minute, it would ruin my entire mood.

In addition to my obsessive tendencies, my plans would often become too grandiose. Instead of just going to the gym, I would spend countless hours trying to figure out the most optimal way to exercise and lay out what exactly I was going to do in the gym by the minute. This quickly became unsustainable and despite being someone who enjoys going to the gym, I began to feel extremely anxious as soon as I walked through the door.

Now, most people won’t take things to the extreme like me. Regardless, many may find themselves on a slippery slope. One that starts as something helpful and productive, but soon becomes something unhealthy, even by a small margin. So, how do we escape this path? Don’t worry: you don’t have to throw out your shiny new planner for the year.

One way to avoid getting stuck is to simply make a smaller plan. For example, instead of designing a full-blown workout routine before you step foot in a gym, just try to get into the building and see what is in there. Maybe try some of the machines and experiment with what you are comfortable with. If you want to start even smaller, you could simply make it a point to get a few more steps in daily. The key is to think of something practical but a little challenging, because we have to challenge ourselves in order to grow. The same can be said for academic pursuits. If you’ve never spent large amounts of time studying, why would you then plan 4-hour blocks for it? Take it slow. You’re more likely to stick to it and get better over time if you start out with smaller, more attainable goals. 

However, there is a riskier way that can reap the same benefits. And that way is just starting. Hear me out, at times, part of the planning process is the excitement of fulfilling the plan, and because this part can be so fun, we may find ourselves living in the excitement rather than putting anything into action. Sometimes we need to jump head-first into something. Goals are often pushed into the future, but in reality, they are things that can start at the moment of their inception. At the root of any goal is self-improvement, and there is beauty in freefalling into your better self. Have the goal, the achievement, and the desire in mind and begin. 

Whichever way you choose, remember that you are on the right track. Anyone who wants to better themselves is going in the right direction

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