I have a lot of dreams and goals that I hope to someday accomplish. I’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish some amazing things in my life already. I am self-taught in computer science, involved in the motorcycling community, have traveled overseas, and even spent an entire month travelling the country on motorcycle, camping along the way. A lot of these goals would not have been accomplished if I still had my teenage mentality.
When I was a teenager, everything was “tomorrow work”. I would procrastinate, ignore my responsibilities for the day, and end up missing out on major opportunities or have to freak out and fulfill my responsibilities last minute, causing unwanted stress and problems. I notice a lot of people still adopt this mentality, and I think I’ve found a way to combat this behavior.
Everyone does it. Everyone puts things off until last minute, or keeps talking about a dream or goal in their life, but never accomplishes it. It’s always “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “someday I’ll accomplish this”. This is toxic thinking, especially when we distract ourselves with television, the internet, or putting off other tasks until last minute so the buildup of our responsibilities hinder what we can do in our actual free time.
My personal solution is to expose yourself to your lack of accomplishments daily, in the most obnoxious way possible. I’m going to share three examples of this process to show that exposure to these shortcomings can be a great way to actually accomplish your goals.
Example 1: Learning Web Design
In college, I was convinced I could self-teach myself web design and have a successful website by the end of my college experience. I wanted to make money from making and maintaining websites for companies. It felt like a cool job to have, and a great way to find a career in one of my passions; computer science. I could have just sat there and kept thinking of it as a dream, or I could research and complete the first step, which was buying a .com. Then I researched and found hosting. Once I had my “site” up, being a single page with “Hello World” on it, courtesy of a 10 minute online tutorial, I set the website as my homepage on my computer so I would see it every single day. If I was going to slack off and not self-teach myself, I was going to have to face a horrible homepage on my laptop every single day of my life.
This was in college, so that Saturday night when I came back to the dorm after a night out with a few friends, I went on my laptop to jump on Facebook. When I saw the homepage, I got angry that I’d been sitting on my website dream for 2 weeks now and only 2 words appeared on my site. This was supposed to be the result of self-taught web design. 2 words was all I was able to accomplish in 14 days. I cracked open a few red bulls and went through HTML tutorials until the sun rose and I passed out with the laptop sitting on my stomach. When I woke up later, I had a partial site coded as a result of my dedicated work. I was so pleased with my progress, I spent that Sunday, time after classes Monday, and all of Tuesday coding the rest of the site in basic HTML(non efficient, nonstandard practice at the time; it was just to learn) to my content. It was a fun site for myself, and had some cool stuff on it. I basically built a site that would embed awesome Youtube videos, viral images, and anything else I found entertaining. I now had a successful result and was more motivated to keep learning.
That was 2007. Today, I make and maintain websites for local businesses, and I’m enjoying myself very much in my teaching career. I believe that my skills that I developed in college also had a huge impact on my career, which is teaching computer science in a high school setting. I am fortunate enough to encourage students to learn computer science daily, and they love every aspect of it.
Example 2: Getting on 2 Wheels
Another one of my life goals was to get a motorcycle. I wanted a motorcycle for a while, and thought it would be a good idea to first get the learner’s permit, then take the safety course, buy gear, and finally buy a motorcycle.
I knew if I got the permit first, I would always wait to purchase the motorcycle because either “I would find better deals”, or “A better bike will come along”. Given the success of my web design exposure, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a motorcycle first. I hopped on Craigslist and found a deal that was too good to be true. I purchased the bike, and kept it in the basement.
The successful aspect of this story was that every time I went to work, went out to run some errands, or even wanted to go outside, I had to see this motorcycle every time. I was being exposed to a motorcycle sitting in my basement, daily. Each time I saw it sitting there, I became more and more frustrated. Carrying this frustration for a week forced me to purchase gear, get my learner’s permit, take the safety course, and learn to ride the bike. I’ve been riding for over 3 years now, and it has become a huge part of my life. Without the motorcycle, I wouldn’t have accomplished my final goal, example number 3.
Note: At this point, I am running out of time for finishing this blog post in one sitting. I will not let this sit for weeks at time before I finish the post. My homepage is being set to this blog post so when I go on my laptop tomorrow, I will be exposed directly to this post. I’m also publishing it as an incomplete post so my responsibilities are right there in my face.
Example 3: Cross Country Tour
In the summer of 2014, I took my motorcycle from New York to California in back over a 30 day period, camping and hotel-crashing along the way. It was actually inspired by casual conversation, but when I realized it was a possibility, I decided I was going to do it. My initial day for departure was July 12th, but I kept putting it off. I would find excuses to not leave, whether it be by weather, need for an oil change on the motorcycle, or making up excuses for not going on the trip.
I decided enough was enough. On July 14th, I decided I wouldn’t make the trip if I didn’t commit. I made camping reservations in Pennsylvania, packed up the motorcycle with full gear, and parked it in the driveway. If I was going to keep putting it off, I was going to have to slowly keep going back into the packed bags to get things I use daily. I made it so that I needed to acknowledge my failure to depart as often as possible.
On July 15th, I hit the road. I was not okay with seeing my failure right in my face every day. I completed the trip in 30 days. You can read the blog here.
If you want to accomplish goals, set a time frame, place reminders in front of you every day, and get frustrated every time you fail to meet those goals. Eventually, enough will be enough, and you will accomplish the goals.