As a society, we are constantly bombarded with so much information about how the world functions, and what we need to be doing in order to keep up with it. Even high school students are constantly engaged in what seems to be an endless cycle of compulsively checking social media and notifications for mindless entertainment. But perhaps the most important question is: How can we get rid of these meaningless distractions and focus on the bigger picture? More importantly, how can we learn to delay our immediate gratification reward system that is set up by the dopamine neurostorm in our brains, to actually achieve something far more substantial to us?
I was watching a recent TED talk the other day about procrastination and the speaker, Tim Urban brought up a really good point. He talked about how deadlines make us prone to willingly finish a certain task in a timely manner, even if it isn’t completely timely (writing a ten page essay the night before it’s due)! Although this phenomena seems pretty obvious in theory, not many people realize it as this occurs to them. Think about it: When you’re given a deadline for an assignment at school, you’re going to have to get started on it eventually if you are at all concerned about your grades. However, there are so many aspects of life that don’t have deadlines such as exercising, meditating, reading leisurely, or playing with kids that go unnoticed when missed. No wonder it’s harder for people to establish these routines than it is for them to complete a given task! Anyhow, Tim Urban talks about the “panic monster” as it comes in whenever there’s an imminent deadline, and plagues the person with fear if they don’t complete the work. The main point of his TED talk is not to encourage people to avoid procrastinating, because that’s not exactly possible unless you’re superhuman. The message is, in fact, to think about those things that you are procrastinating on and whether they are worth spending the effort and energy on for a long-term gain!
The thing is, there’s always going to be that monkey in our heads that tells us that it understands how important a task is, but how binge-watching videos on YouTube or scrolling through Twitter is somehow more conducive to our needs. The trick is, to understand what we want the MOST in our lives, and how we can plan our day-to-day lives fulfilling that desire. It goes back to the ancient wisdom of giving up what you want now, to achieve something far greater and substantial in the future. Although this is easier said than done, I’ve noticed that the more time and effort you spend visualizing that long-term desire, the nearer it seems and it’s no time before you actually get there and achieve it!
I hope this article wasn’t too cliche! Just wanted to throw some wisdom I acquired out there! Thanks for reading. (: