Dedication is something that I have struggled a lot with for about a decade now. It’s not because I don’t have the will, it is just because of two terrible friends that have been stuck to me for a very long time: depression and anxiety. From what I have gathered from others, people generally believe that I have it all together and that I am very good at being dedicated to doing different things. Well ladies and gentlemen, remember those friends? They are high-functioning. I am very good at pretending, but because I could never seem to be dedicated or find the motivation to do the things I love to do, want to do and need to do, it made me feel even worse. Like a failure.
I would watch TED Talks to find motivation, to find new approaches of finding motivation or being dedicated, and to explain why I felt the way that I was feeling. After each video I was always pumped and excited and full of optimism. But that optimism was always covered in anxiety which led me to list writing and scheduling hour upon hour. I would become overwhelmed and I wouldn’t last more than a day or two.
Once I got to Korea, I for some reason decided that I was going to study French every day like I said I was going to do SEVEN YEARS AGO. I always made excuses that it was too hard and that I couldn’t get the accent down. But I wasn’t going to let my own negative thoughts get to me. So, I hopped back on Duolingo for about the millionth time, I set my daily goal to be 50xp and went to studying. Before I knew it, I had gone seven days in a row, twenty days in a row, forty days in a row, to eighty days in a row. I had a couple of days that I had missed spread out, but for the past four months, I have been pretty consistent. I even found another website two months after I started to help me along with my studying.
Even crazier, a few weeks after I arrived in Korea, I signed myself up for a two-week intensive course in Paris without even thinking twice about it, signed myself up to live with a host family (which is completely out of my comfort zone), signed up for an intermediate supplement class even though I am nowhere near the intermediate level, and I paid my deposit. After I did it, I started having a panic attack about what I had just did. I even signed up for cancellation protection. But, I will not cancel and back out. It was a huge step for me and a very necessary bold move.
Seeing that I could be dedicated to something again sparked something in me. I was so excited that I started pushing myself to do other things at the same time. But I forgot to take baby steps like I did with French. I realized that I needed to ease myself into something either one thing at a time gradually or in very small chunks. I also needed reasons as to why I want to do it in the first place.
These are the questions I now ask myself before starting my dedication process:
1.) Why do you want to do this?
2.) Is this going to be short-term or long-term?
3.) In the beginning, how much time do you want to dedicate in a month? In a week?
4.) Name one goal that you want to achieve by doing this?
5.) When do you want to reach that goal?
6.) Ultimately, how much time do you want to dedicate every week?
7.) What is one way you will work towards your goal?
8.) What is one long term goal that you want to achieve?
9.) Will doing this now be overwhelming?
10.) If the answer to number 9 is yes, then reevaluate. If the answer is no, proceed.
I’m not saying that I won’t encounter more pitfalls and dark days, but I have made it a point of not giving up. For someone like me who is not used to having a set routine outside of work, forming habits are very difficult. Creating one habit at a time makes it a lot easier and having reasons as to why instead of being impulsive helps it stick.
The University College London, based on their research, said that it takes 66 days for something to become a habit and not the traditionally believed 21. I’ve passed my 66 day mark and also my 100 day mark. I am now in the baby stages of starting another much needed and extremely delayed habit: doing yoga and Pilates. Right now I am starting yoga and will gradually add in Pilates. But for now, twenty minutes of yoga before bed is all I am doing.
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