As a serial procrastinator, I rely heavily on hard deadlines to get any kind of work done. But long-term goals like working off the freshman (or quarantine) 15, eating healthier, getting organized, killing my ugly habit of ripping my fingernails off in stressful situations, and getting back into the writing groove, can’t be reached by cramming the work into one exhausting all-nighter. For someone who hates getting started on any kind of work right when it’s assigned, long-term goals can always wait. That’s part of why they’re so hard to accomplish.Kaitlin Aquino, Student at UCI
So when I made space for self-improvement, I not only had to conquer my sedentary lifestyle, my sweet tooth, my disorderly room, my nail-tearing tendencies, and my writer’s block, but also my habit of putting off what should be done today for tomorrow. Although long-term goals can wait, that doesn’t mean they should wait.
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Shedding six pounds and growing luxuriously longer nails, nails fit for a coat of my favorite glittery polish, were not entirely motivated by the guilt and disgust I felt whenever I set foot in front of a mirror. My self-improvement journey was also about restoring my energy, curbing my cravings for cheesy fries and ice cream, cleaning up after myself, and honing my craft. All of it served my ultimate goal of becoming a healthier, more productive, balanced person.
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I look at myself in the mirror now and I am unrecognizable. I fit into this silky, tight red dress I couldn’t even zip myself into three years ago. I leave scratch marks when I reach for an itch without even trying. The shelves in my room are neatly filled and individually labeled. Whether they’re poignant phrases or pointless paragraphs, I still manage to write every day. But as proud as I am of myself for working consistently to combat the quarantine 15, keep clean, crush my nail-tearing habit, and chronicle my most convoluted thoughts, I’m far from perfect. I still procrastinate. Sometimes I put off my daily workouts or journal entries until 2 AM, even though I need to wake up for work in six hours.
So I have just one piece of advice, if you’re looking to make space for their own journey of self-improvement, even as we wait for the world to return to a pre-COVID-esque state. Don’t be seduced by extremes. Going “all in” or “cold turkey” will more likely cause burn-out and backfire. Set realistic expectations and adjust as you go. Just push a little harder every time. But never push it off until tomorrow.
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