BEATING EFFORT SHOCK

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It’s the first day of October. Fall is upon us!

I’m not sure when or how it happened, but I know that I was, once, so disengaged from reality. I never took my studies seriously. I never cared about working. I was more attuned to my material fancies than to any opportunities for self-improvement. Getting into Zen, yoga, and mindfulness have really done a 180 on me: I no longer obsessively lust after new arrivals from my favourite stores. I crave fresh fruits and healthy snacks more than ever before. I have faith in a brighter future that I’m excited for. And most importantly, I have what seems like endless patience and compassion on most days – it’s taken even myself by surprise a few times, when I realize that something that should irritate me just can’t survive long enough in my mind to matter. Mindfulness is really amazing, and using it to overcome bad habits has changed my life.

There’s a term called effort shock I recently learned of. It refers to that disheartening loss of motivation when you realize just how much work your dreams require. I was most definitely, absolutely, regrettably a victim of effort shock. I couldn’t resist the temptation of immediate gratification – I just had to do this or have that, because it would give me momentary pleasure that I “needed” since I wouldn’t be experiencing the pleasure of success for another few years (predictably). It’s easy to fall into that mental trap. Dieters do it too: “since I don’t need to slim down until that party two weeks from now, I can still get away with a binge!”

I have high hopes for myself – I want to make it into an important, meaningful role in healthcare, and I’m always reminded of how difficult and laborious the path will be, the improbability of success haunting me like a raincloud over my head. I’m making a conscious decision, however, to ignore that feeling. To acknowledge it no more than to tell myself that I am more than able to meet those demands. With little steps each day, I’m steadily beating my procrastination addiction and training myself to enjoy the accomplished feeling of productivity and timeliness. It helps to change your view of the “effort” standing in between you and your dream: all that hard work and time isn’t an obstacle in your path, it is the path. There are no “obstacles” except for yourself.

I try to keep my eye on the prize. Don’t lose sight of where you’d like to end up. Imagine the road leading to it as one continuous, unhindered road. Your only job is to stay on the road and deal with all its inherent imperfections. When the road curves, you curve. The curve isn’t an obstacle – it’s just part of the road. Just like the demands of your dream aren’t obstacles – they’re all part of the road.

The trick is to be mindful of what you’re doing as you’re doing it or thinking of doing it. Is what you’re doing right now going to make you feel proud of yourself when you’re done? Or will you feel like you wasted your day? Is the time lost to this activity worth it, considering the precious limited time you have in your life? Will doing this help get you where you want to be in 1, 5, 10 years?

I won’t let my spirit be crushed by the presence of tests.

I won’t lose faith in what I’m capable of and what I can be.

I will fall down. And again. And again.

But I won’t stay down.

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