I have a lot of difficulty with (good) habit formation. I also have difficulty maintaining motivation, sticking to long-term goals and making consequential decisions. With so many good options, how do you decide which one is best? Or at least good enough? I spend too much time and energy in the decision making process. Do I go to exercise class today, or not? Should I finish my Master’s program even if I’m not passionate about the subject matter? Do I wake up early to write or would I be better off if I caught up on sleep? And most importantly, what do I actually want out of my life?
I think this Sylvia Plath quote sums up my feelings best:
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
Sometimes I think that if I had solid habits, I wouldn’t have to spend so much time deciding. What if I were just the type of person who goes to exercise classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays? What if I were just the kind of person who finishes what they start? The kind of person who wakes up early after getting eight hours of sleep (rather than wasting several hours every night on my phone)? Most importantly: How do I become the kind of person who can form and maintain good habits? And how do I decide what I most want in my life?