One of my pet peeves is when people delay obtaining happiness. I actually have this one friend of mine that is an excellent example of this and it always exasperates me to no end.
She’s always saying things like
“I can’t wait until I graduate and get into the real world—then I could finally start living my life!”
Of course, I am not without fault; I had been guilty of doing so until recently.
I realized that almost for my entire life, I have been putting off my quest for happiness; my goals and items on my bucket list have just been accumulating and not being addressed.
What was I putting these off for? I wondered one day. What’s stopping me? Almost immediately, I realized that the answer was nothing.
Nothing was stopping me from accomplishing these goals.
There’s a skill that I want to learn? Why wait until after school lets out or until after I’ve enjoyed my lazy days of summer? Why can’t I do both at the same time? (During this past school year, I became very antsy at my place in life).
So, to test out my theory, I tried out one of the items on my bucket list. Travel. Although I didn’t have as much money as I needed to travel overseas, I realized that I could travel parts of the U.S. that I’ve never been to before. However, at the same time, I wanted a safety blanket. Therefore, without pause, I booked tickets to Pittsburgh to visit one of my best high school friends during my spring break.
It worked out amazingly—way better than I thought it would. I reconnected with one of my best friends and was able to quench my insatiable traveling thirst at the same time.
It was then that I realized that I didn’t need to take any drastic measures; I just needed to progress in life.
Now that I’ve taken the first step of traveling alone somewhere, I can now take the next one of traveling somewhere without a safety blanket of a friend.
So, throughout the entire next semester, any time my feelings of entrapment and being antsy, I would book a small, mini-vacation somewhere. Sometimes I would go with friends. This way, I wasn’t spending a lot of money—I could still save if I wanted to—but I was getting my instant gratification.
I think that many people have the misconception that accomplishing a goal on their bucket list will take a lot of time, money, or effort. Either that or they have that “all-or-nothing” mindset that I had been guilty of.
However, those items on your bucket list like go skydiving, write a novel, or have an adventurous summer, then there are steps you can take immediately that will propel you towards achieving your goal. The skydiving one, you can easily plan a weekend around—even a part of a day around. It’s as easy as that! For the other ones; writing a novel, having adventures, etc., you can start today.
If you write a couple pages a day, by the end of the year, you’d find yourself with a finished novel. If you wanted an adventurous summer, take steps to make sure that you aren’t spending a majority of your days just sitting around, waiting for something to happen.
I’m sure not doing that.
In fact, every few days, when I feel like things are getting too routine, I plan out a busy, plan-filled day for the next day.
Tomorrow, I will be pigging out on Indian food, driving 2 hours to a berry orchard, going to hookah, and skinny dipping in a lake at night. Maybe even finish off the night with a horror movie. With all my favorite people. The day after, I will be leaving for Europe, which guarantees adventure.
There are a few instances where delaying gratification is not only acceptable, but necessary: to achieve a certain goal.
For example, weight loss. In order to achieve your goal weight, you will need to delay the instant gratification of food. To be honest, this is one of the things that I still struggle with today—especially since food is one of my biggest loves.
This feeling of progression also prevents the careening into one of many life crises (quarter-life, mid-life, etc), which I was in danger of a few times this past year.
I know from experience—especially working 40+ hours a week every summer—that putting in those hours doesn’t make much time for anything else. However, I was able to hang out with my friends every night after work. For the days I worked less than eight hours, I got up early and planned a schedule around it, making sure that I didn’t just sit around waiting for my shift to start. And on days off, instead of thinking I deserved a full day off to relax, I would push myself to do things even if I were bone-tired.
So do something about your life. Now! Do something you love. Do something you don’t love, but might, if only you try!
Like Nike said: Just Do It.