Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

We all know fitness is important to our health. Working out keeps us in shape, improves our physique, enchances our immune system, makes us feel better and has countless more benefits, both large and small. Why, working out sounds like the best thing we can do! We should do it every day! Multiple times a day! Every few hours!

What time is it? Workout time!

And if you follow this line of reasoning, you pretty quickly find that too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. In this particular example, you spend all your time working out, which means you don’t have any time to do anything else, including rest and recovery. You push your body so much that it has no chance to repair, and soon instead of building yourself up you begin tearing your body apart.

This actually happens with just about everything, including most of my life right now.

Before we go on, a fun fact: water is good for you. Drinking water is unquestionably the best thing you can drink, in just about any situation. If you drank nothing but water for the rest of your life, you’d likely be the healthiest version of yourself possible. Water is great … and yet if you drink too much water, you can actually die.

It’s extremely rare, as you need to drink an incredibly large amount of water in a short time, usually without urinating or ingesting any other vital nutrients. I first learned of this in 2007, during the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest. The Nintendo Wii was incredibly popular at the time, and ‘Wii’ sounds like ‘wee,’ a slang term for urine. Contestants drank lots of water without urinating, and one of them died.

Remember when the Nintendo Wii was really popular? Was that really a decade ago? Holy cow.

At the time, this story impressed me with two facts. First, the whole thing seemed ridiculous in just about every respect, hence why I never forgot about it, and second, I never knew water could kill you. That is, beyond drowning. It really shows that anything in over-abundance, literally anything, can become a bad thing.

That’s basically my life right now. In 2015, I set myself three goals, and I largely achieved them. In fact, I did awesome. I accomplished everything I could reasonably expect to achieve. If setting three goals is great, then setting more must be even better! Why, twelve goals would be 400% better! I’ll just easily accomplish them all and end 2016 as a veritable super person!

… yeah, it turns out it doesn’t work that way.

I started off great, devoting a part of my day to all 12 goals. Unfortunately, you can immediately see what was wrong with that. Even if I only spent 10 minutes on every goal, that’s a minimum two hour commitment every day. That’s madness. Some days do not allow for such time investments, what with work and obligations, but also, ten minutes is nothing. You can’t learn something in ten minutes; that’s barely enough time to get warmed up. If you want to good results, you need to invest good time.

In other words, to get as good as I want to get in all my areas, I would need to invest more than two hours a day, a lot more. I discovered this during my first week. I was still on holiday break, and virtually my entire day was used up. When I went back to work, I simply didn’t have the time any more.

More than time, I had no energy. Every day I was stretching or working out; when I wasn’t doing that, I was studying chess; when I wasn’t doing that, I was writing something new or editing something old; when I wasn’t doing that I was sleeping because the day was over. Do you notice how serious all of this sounds? On its own, these things can be fun, in small, leisurely doses. When it becomes a daily compulsion, though, it quickly becomes less fun. I needed willpower to get through it all.

I had so many demands on my time, I did literally nothing for leisure. My entire day felt like work, and that became so draining. After four days, I simply had enough. I tried to modify my schedule, to change it up, to only work on a select few goals each day, but the damage had already been done. I was in shambles.

I simply had nothing left. If that happened in less than a week, then this is clearly not sustainable over the long term.

This explains this post mid-month, in which I lament my lack of motivation. I had nothing left, and it had only been ten days.

Looking back, it’s obvious what I did wrong. I tried to do too much, and too soon. I bit off more than I could chew. More importantly, I didn’t leave any time to do fun things, leisure things, non-work related things. For the last half of this month, I basically did nothing, just rested and relaxed and ignored all my goals. Except for writing. I kept writing.

Anyway, I have a plan. It involves two things, two general principles. First, I’m going to do a heck of a lot less. I’m going to start over, start from the beginning. I’m going to pick one simple thing and do it everyday. It doesn’t have to be big, but I’m going to build a habit. If I can do that for a week, then I can add a second thing, a second habit, and I keep building it up slowly that way.

Or maybe I can’t. Maybe I’m stuck only accomplishing three of my 12 original goals. Oh well. That’s still awesome. If I accomplish three important things every year for the rest of my life, I’ll still be amazing. I’ll still be on my quest to be the best person I can be. Maybe it takes a few extra years to get my ideal life. Oh darn it. I’ll somehow live.

That’s the first idea, building small, sustainable habits rather than jumping straight into multi-hour, multi-goal pandemonium. The second idea is to always have time for fun, for play. Most of the time, I enjoy my life and my goals. I mean, I picked virtually all of my goals because I like them, but too much of those good things became a bad thing.

Everyday, I have time where I don’t need to do anything. Everyday, no matter what, I have one hour to do whatever. Maybe I read a book or play videogames or just sit and surf the Internet. Whatever. I have a full 60 minutes, no obligations. If I feel super pumped, I can accomplish some work in this time, but I don’t have to. I can do anything.

I think the biggest problem with my original attempt was just this, the lack of relaxation time. Even on my days off, so to speak, I had to constantly move to get things done. This drained me, to the point I had to stop after just a few days. Hopefully this ‘schedule play time’ lets me stay motivated.

That’s the idea at least. I officially start this in February, so we’ll see how it goes soon enough.

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