Saturday, June 30, 2012

Less Than Twenty Four Hours Left! Some Last Minute Hopes & Fears

Create / Consume begins for me tomorrow. I'm definitely feeling a combination of excitement and anxiety. Why is that? Well it comes from knowing that I'm about to embark on an incredibly difficult challenge that I'm sure to struggle with. But I also know that once it's over, I'll come out the other side with a strong sense of accomplishment and hopefully some hard-won new routines like the ones I got when I quit playing video games for a year.

I'd like to share with you the jumbled mess of hopes and fears running through my head right now:

FEAR: I fail to maintain a proper Create / Consume balance, leaning far too heavily on consumption and causing an insurmountable imbalance.

This is obviously the worst-case scenario. I try my best to create whenever I can, but I slip and give in to temptation more often than I should. If my consumption remains consistently higher than my creations, even by just a little, I will fail the challenge. Should this happen, well, it will certainly still be a learning experience. And maybe I'd try again and redouble my efforts come August.

HOPE: I come out of the month with some work I'm genuinely proud of.

I've started a lot of projects. I've got dozens of first drafts of things. But lack of persistence has kept me from returning to a lot of my work and really polishing it. If things go well, I'll be able to develop a laser focus to improve upon a good portion of my material that I'll be proud to show the world some day.

FEAR: I'll be miserable the entire time, leading to some crappy creations and anxious, guilt-ridden consumption.

This is another big one. Forcing myself to write or otherwise create when I'm not in the mood is obviously a recipe for uninspired work. And if I have to sit with an ever-judging clock ticking higher and higher in the background every time I allow myself to consume things, I'm obviously going to enjoy myself far less that I was before. The best solution I've come up with so far is embrace a lot of the neutral activities I have set up during the month - social time, exercise, and things I've put off for many months, like going through old boxes and cleaning up my apartment. Additionally, I have other "creations," such as the books I purchased on memoir-writing and game design (two fields I'm focused on), that will allow me to generate some creation time without taxing my brain as much.

HOPE: Once the month is over, I'll naturally live a mostly balanced Create/ Consume life on my own.

How's that for a dream? They say you break a bad habit in as little as 21 days. I've committed myself to 31. If I can train myself to naturally wake up and start writing regularly (as opposed to opening my gmail or turning on my iPhone), and generally spend less of my downtime being unproductive, then even if i end the month one the wrong side of creation and consumption, I'll still consider the project a success. Of course, this is currently just wishful-thinking. When I finished "Paused" and allowed myself playing video games again, I kept writing but after losing my job and wound up clocking in a record-breaking number of hours playing video games again. It's very easy to slide back to old habits, so I'll need to continue being diligent, and not allow myself a "victory month" of massive consumption, as tempting as that will be.

FEAR: I'll cheat or find ways to work around the rules of the challenge.

I'm pretty disciplined when it comes to this kind of stuff (I accidentally clinked on a link during my year off from games and freaked out and quickly closed my browser when I found out I was suddenly playing a flash game) but I've never set the bar this high before. There's a reason people hire trainers when they trying to be serious about working out at the gym. It's just way too easy to blow it off. I can totally see myself saying: "I'm just gonna tweet a blog post real quick," and find myself checking my twitter feed or facebook without clocking it. I haven't gone a day without looking at my google reader while I'm at work - how will I function with my fix? How will I fight so many temptations on a daily basis? And what if I decide to spend the month not consuming but just hanging out with friends constantly, avoiding any real creations while working within my own rules? I honestly have no answer to this other than A) lying to myself and those who are following me seems much worse than simply failing, so I'll always keep that in mind and B) I can only assume my friends will eventually get sick of me, and hopefully a nagging guilt will always get me back on track.

HOPE: This will be something I do every year, and I'm able to encourage many others to do it with me.

For better or for worse, these kinds of life experiments / gimmicks work wonders for me, mostly because I find discipline much easier when there are actual stakes at play. In other words, when I can make kind of a game out it. My friends make fun of me about this the time, but I've found a way to lean in to this particular quirk. If the month goes well for me and I don't hate every single second of it, I can see it becoming something I do every year, or perhaps even more. I also genuinely hope to get others interested in the project, and for word to spread through stories from myself and from others doing the experiment. It would honestly be a dream come true if just one person told me Create / Consume changed their life in a positive way.


That's everything on my mind at the moment, though I'm sure other things will come up that I haven't even thought of. As I finish this post, the project starts for me in a little over six hours. I'm as mentally prepared as I'm ever going to be. So on that note, I'm going to go now and enjoy my last remaining hours of guilt-free consumption time, which will actually mostly be spent on a neutral activity, spending time hanging out with friends. I wish any of you joining me tomorrow the best of luck, and remember to keep me posted on your progress as I will here on this blog. I won't be doing daily updates, but I'll probably be posting a lot in general this coming week.


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