And we're back with another round of condescending advice for the people who need it most: the people desperate enough to read my advice column.
This time, we have a serial planner, a disillusioned friend, and a chronic procrastinator. Let's get to it.
1. Dear Crabby,
Every time I make a plan--whether it's to write a song or to start eating healthier, I never seem to follow through with it. I get really hyped up on what I'm going to do, and then I do nothing. It's so fucking annoying. What can I do to be better about this?
Frustrated and Self Loathing
I assume you want some kind of answer besides, "Well follow through with it then, dumbass," so I'll try to oblige.
There's a lot that can go wrong between the declaration of a plan and the execution. In fact, if we're not literally forced to execute our plan (like, if avoiding it won't lead to either us getting fired or our dog dying), we very rarely do execute it, because well, it's easy. And easy is fun. Easy motivates us more than anything. We are easy's bitch.
There's one thing to watch out for here that many people miss: making a plan makes you feel good. I know it does for me. Declaring that you're going to do something awesome feels awesome. It feels like you're already doing it. You get excited, and envision your future, and because that gives you so many good feelings, sometimes, that feels like enough. It's enough to lay out a plan and to go, "I finally did something!"
But uh, hey there pal. You didn't do anything. You didn't work on your music, or start your own business, or start swimming laps. You just scribbled down, "I will start my business in a month!" on the back of a discarded envelope. What do you want? A trophy?
You're just as much of a loser as you were five minutes ago before you made the declaration, and figured out four of the 8,000 logistics that need to be figured out. Don't let yourself off the hook with this satisfaction that you stated an intention to do something.
"I will end world hunger. Wow that feels great!"
Oh look, another child just keeled over from malnutrition. Guess that didn't do anything, did it?
Accomplishing things makes you feel great, as it should. But if you feel great without accomplishing anything, that all but guarantees that you will do nothing.
So do not allow yourself to feel even a modicum of joy for making the plan. Don't allow yourself to get excited, and sure as hell avoid even a little bit of pride. Maybe even look at some recent pictures of starving children to remind yourself, "Oh yeah, there's still actual work to do."
Now, there are other possible problems here. You might leave your plan in a drawer, or in a hard to see file on your desktop, and it could make it easy to forget about. It's important to make your plan visible, and in your face at all times. Don't let yourself ignore the plan.
That could be the problem, or you could also just really like porn and Cheetos more than doing anything productive, and that could be ruling your decision-making.
With all of these, it's simply a matter of making a choice to do something, and then fucking doing it. So if those are the real problems you have, then sorry, this one really does boil down to "Well then follow through with it, dumbass."
2. Dear Mr. Wisdom,
Ever since the election, I can't seem to look at some of my close friends and family the same way. I know that they're still the same people, and I know that they had their reasons for doing what they did, but man, I don't know. I feel like I just discovered like, "Oh my mom would have gone along with the Nazis." Is there a way to...I don't know, humanize them again? Maybe that's not the right word.
Look, you're not alone. This was a...unique election, and a lot of people feel the same way you do.
Here's an important first part of that answer: a lot of your perceptions of people are already drastically wrong. This is true with friends, family, significant others, everyone. We're lucky to understand even half of who a person really is. There's a lot of complexities and a lot of layers to even the biggest shit-for-brains, and you're going to feel disillusioned a lot in life if you continue to expect people to always be predictable.
People do change constantly, even if they seem like they don't. They are always changing in ways that you, and they, don't realize.
So with all of this in mind, it's okay to not look at people the same way that you looked at them before--especially your parents. When you think about it, this has already happened.
Remember when you thought your parents had all the answers about life? HA! Hilarious!
It took a couple decades at least for you to slowly realize that, "Oh these are just two people that fucked, created me, and then feigned any semblance of certainty throughout my life so that I wouldn't see the world for the unknowable shitstorm that it is and freak out."
The election was likely more jarring than this because the change in perception feels like it happened overnight. It's like if the next time you saw your mom, she had a beard and now went by "Frank," and decided to join the circus. You're like, "Okay I'm supportive, but this might take some getting used to."
But you know what won't make you feel better about all of this? Sitting, stewing, and judging. Stewing in general has never accomplished anything (unless, I guess, you're making a stew), and if you continue, neither will you.
So at some point, it may help to speak with them. Don't yell at them, don't name call, no matter how much of a "fascist-loving dipshit" you think they are. That won't help. But talk to them.
You don't have to agree with where they're coming from, or think it's at all justified.
In order for your relationship to continue on, you just have to see how a decent person could come to the conclusions they did. That's it. If the people in your life were decent before, they likely are now as well, and you will be able to see that, even if you also think they're going to be a horrendously wrong side of history.
3. Dear God Please Help,
I always procrastinate in the mornings, and it kills my productivity for the rest of the day. Sometimes I'll get on track later, but by then, I'm too far behind to make a dent in anything I want to do. Help!
I'll Get to It After Lunch
Man, I'm really tempted again to keep it simple with a nice, "FUCKING STOP DOING THAT GOD" approach, but I'll try to get more in depth.
Momentum is so incredibly important--as you've found out. When you start slow, it's nearly impossible to not finish slow too. Getting going is a painful slog every day, and the more you sit still, the more you'd rather be moved by a random tsunami than by your own muscles.
So what do we do about that? How do we avoid the problem of manufacturing momentum? How do we...enjoy moving more?
We don't. Sorry. Sucks, I know. But there is a way to make your day in general less terrible, and to get over the momentum problem more quickly.
It starts as soon as you wake up.
I know, I know. "What? So now I'm even waking up incorrectly?"
Yes, you are. You really can't do anything right, can you?
Think of a scenario for me.
Think of times when you've had a 7:00 a.m. flight the next day, and you didn't get to sleep until 1:30 the night before because you didn't start packing until midnight (you know, because you're a procrastinating asshole.)
And then you have to get up at 5:00 the next morning to get to the airport, and you're freaking out about how little sleep you'll get.
But then, amazingly enough, waking up is...actually not that bad, right? That's what often happens here. You wake up surprisingly easy, you get up, and you go.
You do this, because you know you have to. Your body is like, "Alright, we got to fucking get to airport in 20, because who knows how long TSA will be examining my butthole this time."
We feel like waking up is hard sometimes, but it's only because we allow it to be hard. We allow it impact us as much as it does. And when we get up slowly, that starts our day off with very slow momentum. This puts us in a frame of mind that allows us to do other "slow" activities, and that leads to us procrastinating.
Instead, we have to get up and go every day. I don't care if you were awoken from an alarm and you were in the middle of a dream where you were fucking your middle school algebra teacher in the vagina which was weird because he was a guy, and you were in an airplane over what you imagined to be Madagascar and your neighbor was there, but she looked more like Margaret Thatcher.
I don't care how groggy, and out of sorts you feel. Lie to yourself. Act as if you're wide awake, and your stupid, gullible body will start to believe you.
Give yourself a jolt of energy, open your eyes wide, and immediately start doing productive things. They can be dumb things at first like brushing your teeth, or checking work e-mails. But get started with productivity immediately. Get yourself on a roll as soon as you possibly can.
You can't avoid the 0-60 slog of going from nothing to excelling. You can only do it sooner, and get a little better at it.
To get your very own advice, send me an e-mail at Will@BeBetterStupid.com. It comes with the BBS guarantee: Your life will get better, and you'll feel terrible about yourself.