August 27, 2013

It is embarrassing that my last post was 366 days ago… and I wrote about motivation. Pretty clear how that worked out for me. I won’t offer much in the way of excuses (although I do have a long list to draw from), but instead I will refocus on using this blog as a place to think through (and share) some psychological issues that I feel deserve some consideration.

For now, I will share a quick thought about my failure to maintain my writing. I started this blog with a rather simple goal – to share with my students (and friends) ideas. I also wanted an excuse to write more – I like to write, but often find that all the other obligations in my life seem to overwhelm me and writing (especially for fun) is one of the first tasks I set aside. Last year, I lost sight of these goals. So, I thought I should share a little bit about why I might have struggled with maintaining this goal.

I’ll share a couple of ideas from Dr. Timothy Pychyl – he is a professor of psychology at Carleton University and has his own blog over at Psychology Today (Don’t Delay) where he writes about various issues related to procrastination. There is a lot there (he has authored a couple of books and many academic papers on the topic), but I’ll cherry pick a few ideas I think are worth sharing:

  • How you define the goal matters. When I thought about adding to this blog, I unfortunately got into the mindset that it was something I had to do and my goal shifted to “I have to avoid looking bad when my students check in on my blog” (bummer – an avoidance goal). I plan this year to consider this blog as an opportunity to think and write and share – all things I want to accomplish (voila! – an approach goal).
  • Maintain a reasonable number of goals.  This one really got me this year – trying to maintain a full teaching load and introduce some new elements to my classes, crank out a couple of papers, start a new line of research, be an involved father and husband, run (and rehab), renovating an entire basement on my own – and I suffered. I still have a very busy life (the basement still isn’t completed a year later…), but I can recognize the multiple draws on my time and focus on a subset of goals instead of trying to do everything at once and feeling overwhelmed.
  • Meeting a goal means more than just an opportunity to cross it off your to-do list.  Taking the time to write a little something here every week is not a huge task – it is quite doable. Being able to achieve this goal each week will have some real benefits for my personal well-being – reaching our goals, even small ones like this, make us happy. And I like to be happy.

One comment

  1. I highly recommend “How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing” by Paul Silvia (http://www.amazon.com/How-Write-Lot-Productive-ebook/dp/B001Y35G60/ref=tmm_kin_title_0). The main message is to schedule a time (each day or each week) to write. I’ve been doing that with my blog, and it’s really helped me buckle down to write new content every weekday. I look forward to hearing more from you!

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