The root of all capability is desire. We all desire to do more; achieve more; see more. We all desire to write the great novel, read more books, contribute to discussions, or just relax.
I wanted to write more. This will be the twenty second article I post, slotted into a long work-week and full-time relationship.
I wanted to exercise more; to improve my cardiovascular health. A sedentary life takes a life-long toll on a person, and it’s best to correct that early.
My first attempts at exercise or writing always ended in failure. I have no time, I’d say. I’d make excuses. Writing was too hard; exercise took precious time in my day, leaving me filled with resentment.
Writing was never as important as being with my friends, as reading, as relaxation. Exercise filled me with resentment, that my body needed so much maintenance when I could be doing so many other things.
When first starting to design your life around things you wish, it’s all too easy to prevent yourself from doing things which make you happy, or bring you balance today; the urge to throw yourself to the newness overwhelming.
All to easy to hate that which you desire, and fall into an unhealthy spiral.
Prioritisiation is Important
Figuring out priorities is an important step. Why do you do what you say you want to do? Does doing it in a one-off capacity make you happy?
Are you filled with joy?
Most people only have 15-18 usable hours in a given day, and you can’t achieve every desire. If the desire doesn’t improve your day, why are you doing it?
As always, check your shoulds1, and make sure these slices are for you.
Wake naturally. Stop setting your alarm before work; go to bed early enough to wake naturally.
The constant exhaustion of unnaturally waking left me barely able to perform my work, let alone explore my own projects.
By evening I was exhausted, wrung out from the chemical assistance required to get through the day, resentful of the hours work was stealing from me.
The initial switch was difficult, though; it was all too easy to feel resentful to work, to having to go to bed early. Once I switched however, my energy levels grew much higher and I feel better overall.
Bring out your Dead
Finding my deadzones was key to achieving my desires. The average knowledge-worker day is filled with dead time, spaces where other activities could be inserted.
For instance, I work a half-hour bus ride from where I live. Or, if I cycle, I spend a half-hour riding around beautiful Wellington harbour. I’m spending the same time there and back, but achieving much more exercise as a result.
Better still, I don’t resent the ride to work, or the ride home. It’s dead time regardless; exercising does not consume other space in my day.
Writing is the same - bringing a sandwich for lunch, finding a quiet table with my iPad and keyboard, and I can easily spend a half-hour writing in a familiar, focussed environment.
Again, no detraction from other aspects of my day; no resentment towards a craft I enjoy. I eat healthier and follow a passion.
Even riding the bus, I have time to engage in conversations on App.net; I can catch up on my reading, or Instapaper. Using the time productively is the key.
Figuring this out is difficult; your life isn’t mine, and your gaps aren’t mine. Maybe you commute from the suburbs, and can’t cycle. Maybe you don’t have the opportunity to write on your lunch break.
But your life has gaps in it, places where your dreams can fit. It’s all about looking for them, architecting them, making your life your own.
Not the narrative of others.