What is the point in getting up today?
June 2017 · 4 minute read
Turns out I’m driven by goals. I guess in the back of my mind I knew this all along but now that I’m exploring this realization, it’s time to confront the drive which at times, causes me what I would maybe call a mild state of depression.
Obviously, I don’t have depression or any other mental illness but I do know people who do genuinely suffer from one. I’m not trying to compare to people with real problems by any standards, I just don’t have another descriptor in my vocabulary to explain that sensation I sometimes feel.
When I look back at things I’ve accomplished, I’ve idolized each and every target as a goal that I’m on a specific mission to complete.
Whether it’s been getting clean, getting fit, running a marathon, a particular fight, recovering from an injury, getting employed as a developer, building a website, getting AWS certified - I’ve put a sole focus outside of work on accomplishing that goal by putting all my time and effort into completing the steps required to make it happen.
Some goals took longer than others but the key thing about all of them was that there was a specific point of completion, for example, ‘Getting fit’ for me, was complete at the point when I could run for 1 hour up Mt Victoria (including the uphill) continuously every day for 7 days.
Unlike goals such as ‘A particular fight’ which had a date of completion, there was no date specified, only a compliance check. Those goals, without specified dates, can be the hardest - especially if takes a while to see your progress - those are the easiest ones to fall away from.
At the completion of each goal, I’ve felt ecstatic. I’ve put in so much work and effort in, gone out there and absolutely nailed it! Who wouldn’t be over the moon?
Soon after though, that feeling turns into a sudden strong sense of emptiness and that I’m lost as if I don’t know where I am, what I’m doing here or what I should be doing next. Almost like ‘What is the point in getting up today? ‘But you just go through the motions cause it’s become a habit. And then as days go by, you gradually become lazier, snoozing for longer in the mornings, getting sloppy with meal prep and eating takeaways, skipping sessions at the gym, leaving dishes on the bench.
Jesus! It’s like you’ve just lost your life partner. Fucking pull yourself together!!
There have been occasions where I haven’t had time to fall into this downward spiral because either a new goal as immediately presented itself like when I finish a fight and then get another one confirmed a couple of days later, or because I have already planned ahead to the next goal like when I wanted to get fit so that I could join Jai and learn Muay Thai.
Each of these possibilities has a clear problem. First, a goal presenting itself immediately after the completion of another is pure chance and relying on that means the chance of falling into a post-goal depression is 50⁄50 - and I’m not much of a gambler.
Secondly, I can become easily overwhelmed by thinking up too many goals all at the same time and wind up trying to work on them all at once. Then crashing, accomplishing nothing and ultimately feeling sorrier for myself than I did in the first place.
I have diaries, pages, notes on my Mac, my phone, my iPad, on paper, all over the place of plans and possible goals that at various times I’ve intended to try and focus on. In some cases, I’ve even written down dates and planned out an entire year. I guess it’s good to have ideas but the timing of goals is also important.
In addition, all of my goals need to be things that I genuinely want to do. If I’m not all in, then, like these endless notes it’s just not going to happen. If you can relate to this in any way then trust me when I say the occasional purge can be one of the most satisfying feelings you’ve ever experienced.
Knowing what I know now about my psyche and that the euphoria of accomplishment has a limited life, the next question is ‘How can I smash out consecutive goals and feel a greater ongoing sense of fulfillment?’
Well, I hope I can work that out before my current targets are complete 😉