Friday, March 12, 2010


Tod of Optimal Living puts things in perspective with his post titled Month Clock, in which he suggests keeping track of time in units of months in order to keep in front of consciousness one's goal orientation.

This is particularly insightful: "Projects go unfinished for months because we spend too much time using a shorter-term focus. We’re usually thinking in terms of what to get done today or what we’ll be doing next week. Being suddenly reminded that several months have passed since I did this or thought about that can be shocking, because a month is a fairly noticeable chunk of your life."

I have found myself especially prone to this. When it comes to crossing things off my to-do list I often opt for activities that would allow for me to get the greatest quantity, rather than most important, of things done. Back when I started a routine of self-initiated study nearly two years ago I had the bad habit of doing the activities I liked the most on my list first. Illogically, I had set the goal for myself to complete everything on my list everyday, which was based on exaggerated time estimates, and so started with what activities I favored the most and accidentally spent the day doing only one thing. The next day I would put the item back on my list, again hoping to complete the entirety of the list before the end of the day, and make the same mistake doing only one thing all day. I was spending too much time reading in comparison to writing, taking notes, doing book assignments, and so on. To remedy the problem I made a promise to keep finished activities crossed off my to-do list until I completed the other activities, and would not replenish the list until all had been completed. It worked wonderfully, but I have lapsed since then, so in writing this I remind myself.

More broadly, however, I've been neglected that which is the most important to my life or which has the most immediate importance. What Tod has said is true for me: I too often focus on short-term activities in neglect of the long-term, even life-long goals.

While doing my shopping I realized I need to get my priorities straight. I'm hardly slacking when it comes to being productive, but the problem is that I've been seriously neglecting the issue of hierarchy as it applies to my life. Case in point, employment. For several months now I have been concerned about how much longer I'll be able to live off my money (while dependent on somebody else for shelter, I in large part, if not entirely, buy my own groceries so I can adhere to my own nutritional standards) since I'm unemployed and in college. One of my semester goals is to find employment, but I've hardly been focusing on it; instead I've been focusing on reading, writing, and homework, subjects that seldom consume all my time.

Furthermore, being unemployed leaves me feeling immensely frustrated with my materialistic* values. I have desires for certain products, food items (pastured meat!), and the future capability of being able to live on my own, but right now I'm stagnating in that area. I'm not making any progress towards achieving those values.

*(As much as being "materialistic" is popularly viewed as a negative trait, the simple fact of the matter is that material is all that physically exists. To be "non-materialistic" is to literally be concerned with things that do not exist. I proudly consider myself concerned only with matters of this world.)

In the past several months I have done well to vastly improve my resume, and in the past few weeks I have adopted the practice of constructing cover letters (a neglected tactic) and maintaining a list of especially favored applications (so that I may keep in front of conscious constant checking up and refreshing applications when they expire), but still I haven't taken the initiative to be more active in my job hunt. I certainly shouldn't be contenting myself with only one or two jobs applied to per week. A particularly motivated person on my friends' list on Facebook has just gotten a job after searching for five months, and the public record of the quantity of his applications probably amounts to over a dozen each week.

As such, I need to downgrade some activities in favor of focusing on this one. I haven't given it an extreme amount of consideration yet, but I might, for instance, put off my personal reading in favor of dedicating my time to constructing cover letters and whatnot. More thinking needs to be done, but I must know to do it in this realm.

I don't think at this point I'll be able to achieve my goal of becoming employed by the end of the semester, but I'll surely try. As I mentioned in my post about my central purpose, since cooking is a developing value I'm focusing on the food industry, and in all honesty I can't see any fault to that strategy since I cannot imagine actually exhausting all the establishments I have around me. A while after writing the above post and I'm still getting surprised at seeing stretches of never-seen establishments in a part of a city I've never been to.

I'll keep track of my progress.

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