Excuses are something that I loved to make. It was so easy to slip away from anything, by making that gaping mistake, simple shortcoming, or missed ambition seem justified. “I would’ve gotten an A, it’s just that I couldn’t be bothered for this assignment.”: I knew full well that if I wasn’t bothered I would not have spent 6 straight hours on it at the brink of the deadline.
“I won’t burn it next time, it just so happened that I wasn’t watching the stove because I was doing something important.”: I no longer consider trying to balance an egg on an egg important. Everything from my mindfulness to goals that I tried to achieve were unreachable and my performance in everything from academics to Basketball was broken.
I’d always considered myself intelligent at past schools amongst classmates whose interests differed from academics, scoring the highest for a period of years before coming to an institution seemingly brimming with all rounders who left me struggling to stay well lit by the “smart kid” lamp.
As mentioned, my passion for basketball led me to join a club late last year. The thin ice that reflected what I saw as a good player shattered immediately, as I was thrust into a field of competition that again, I was not used to. It was clear that I needed to improve, but every time I’d strive for change, to wake up in the morning and workout, or study for blocks of 3 hours at a time, I was stopped: I made excuses, hundreds of them, but the problem was me. My laziness, procrastination, and “I’ll do it tomorrow attitude” kept me anchored to the bottom.
Of course, I searched for answers: Surely it wasn’t just me facing this dilemma, this sheer lack of improvement. There had to be others who faced something similar, but more importantly, had a method to overcome this. I want to note that this isn’t a despondent plug of writing elaborating on how everything suddenly “got harder for me”, but rather a pledge for self-improvement and essentially, getting better.
So there I was on a quest for the cure to this virtual illness which had grasped me. A lot of things were helpful, but none of them stuck to me, none of them could truly uproot that bulbous tendril, the amalgamation of all of those qualities I mentioned before (laziness e.t.c) that constricted me, holding me back. My dad listens to a lot of audiobooks. He recommended I listen to a book called “Atomic Habits” about self-improvement, one that changed his perception. At the time, I didn’t think much of it.
Quite a few of you may expect my following words to narrate a tale of sudden change, explosive improvement, sort of an “Ah-ha!” moment that propelled me into a state of unfaltering drive resulting in a stellar individual. Not really. Though it is true that from the moment I started listening, I was enthralled by James Clear’s (the author’s) journey into becoming the best possible version of himself, the techniques and ideas around the actual process of changing oneself entirely did not change me much initially: As crazy as it sounds, this is what truly inspired me.
Atomic habits is the idea that you pick one simple, miniscule aspect of yourself, something tiny, to work on, not worrying about the rate of improvement, but worrying about sticking to the task in order to make it a habit. I myself picked PROPERLY making my bed every morning (yes, properly is not the same as hiding everything under a blanket), and strived hard to ensure its completion. My initial success rate was not great. My motivation would waver, and some days, the “old me” crept back, leaving my bed in multi-dimensional folds, and sometimes I’d half-cook it. It was after a WHILE of picking it out, not looking at it as a burden, remembering that I wasn’t putting a man on mars, and investing one minute of my day, that finally, I woke up one morning with not a task in mind, but a habit. This might seem trivial to you, but to me this was a breakthrough. In my case, it was “trusting the process”.
- Vasish Vasireddy, 15 (Australia)