22 April 2006

Ambition, Planning, and Willpower

So, it's finals week. In other words, my spring break, since BYU doesn't have one and I don't believe in "studying." I've been using this time mostly to catch up on some of the cool stuff out there on the net (read: surfing around wasting time). I did find a few nifty things, like librarything.com, on which I've already cataloged most of the books I own (should finish up on Monday). Thus the cool book thing on my sidebar. :D

Which leads me to the real point of this post. Not really, but anyway. . . . I've come to realize over the years that I am very good at planning things, but extremely poor at actually carrying them out. I spent about 2 hours last Sunday planning out a study schedule, which I had absolutely no intention of keeping. I mean, why should I? I took my Stats exam cold yesterday and got a 95%. Was the other 5% that I possibly could have gotten worth studying for a couple hours that I could have spent taking over Russia on Civ IV? Not really.

So that's not really a problem since I'm not losing anything by it, but in other cases my lack of willpower holds me back. For instance, for the last few years, I have been sketching out plans for a website/zine/wiki about the history of the Harry Potter fandom. Yes, I'm a nerd, I know, but the development of online communities really facinates me. I even went so far as to take a web design class last summer (not that it taught me anything I couldn't have figured out in a couple of hours--what a waste of $50). I brought up my idea on a Harry Potter discussion group and was actually approached by Melissa from TLC, who's only like the most powerful HP fan ever, about developing it as a subsite of the Floo Network. Unfortunately, I just sort of let the project slip. I could have been part of something really cool, that I'm actually interested in, but I just didn't do anything about it.

This is my problem: good ideas that I have no intention of following through with. Books I want to write (I've got three really interesting ideas floating around, one fiction and two non-fiction, but have done no research and written nothing), projects I want to accomplish (organizing my filing cabinet, actually figuring out some more web design stuff, like CCS and maybe PHP), things I want to get involved in (essay contests, volunteer efforts, volunteer in a chem lab, a social life, you know). And the problem is that I seem to be okay with having these things continue to float in my brain, and on paper even, but never materialize. Lots of ambition and planning, but no willpower to actually accomplish anything.

And I'm not really sure how to go about gaining willpower. I mean, the times when I actually feel like accomplishing something coincide with the times when I am too busy to do anything. When I have time, I just want to sit around and play computer games, watch movies and surf the net. Even catching up on my reading list feels like too much effort to put forth. Any ideas? I just want to feel like accomplishing something again.

Now off to conquer Russia.

1 comment:

Ben Crowder said...

That reminds me, I need to finish cataloging the rest of my books on LibraryThing ... I've only done about a fifth of my collection.

Anyway, lack of willpower is a hard one. It's all too easy to do other things (believe me, I know :)), and I haven't figured out how to overcome this consistently. Do check out David Allen's Getting Things Done book, because I think it's a very likely solution. I'm still reading it and haven't started implementing his philosophy yet, but it feels like it's the right way to go about it.

As far as advice, I'd say try starting with small things. Once you make a decision to accomplish something and follow through with it, the momentum will start building up and soon you'll be where you want. At least in theory. :)