Bear with me here while I haphazardly throw this article together just to get it out of the way.
Clearly there’s no other way for me to perceive this assignment: It is yet another thing I need to get out of my way in order to engage in activities that yield more immediate pleasure. Writing an article is an ill-defined task for some, so how could I possibly be enjoying the process?
Sarcasm aside, the “just to get it out of the way” mindset is awfully common among students and is, to some extent, our default setting. By default, we tend to sift through life, actively participating in relatively rare joyful events and mindlessly sitting through the rest as our bodies autonomously perform the tasks at hand. Just think of the last time you had to drive for over an hour.
Since we cannot fast-forward life and skip the pesky commercial breaks (responsibilities) that interrupt our favorite show (life), we tend to intentionally disengage from reality and cease all conscious effort.
Just think of the last time you planned out your homework assignments. It is likely you performed the easy tasks first and left the difficult tasks — those that require considerable conscious effort — for last.
If you continue to live with this mindset and continue to passively exist through the difficult parts of life on constant standby for the next pleasurable moment, you will let life slip away unnoticed.
Do you ever feel like the semester has gone by too fast? That’s because lack of memorable moments thwarts our perception of the past, making it seem less eventful and hence more fleeting. And it is hard to accumulate memorable moments when we’re not paying attention most of the time.
Also, pleasure isn’t something you should be waiting for or getting things out of the way for, but rather something that you should strive to create in every part of your life regardless of how difficult it may seem at first. Difficulty, after all, is only a matter of perspective as things tend to get easier with extensive practice.
Instead of trying to get your next assignments out of the way, make a conscious effort to change your mindset.
If something is hard, think of it as a personal challenge, an opportunity to grow, or a chance to become better. Ignored difficulties of today may spawn more difficulties tomorrow.
For instance, in about three months from now, I am scheduled to take the MCAT — the exam that undergraduate students have to take before applying to medical schools. If I stop studying for it, I will likely do poorly on it, which will lower my chances of getting into a medical school and inevitably stunt my career growth.
If something is boring, think of it as a test of your creative mind, and be the first to put a positive spin on it. Personification is something I employ frequently when memorizing biochemical pathways.
For example, I remember the sophisticated process of glycolysis as a story of how young glucose fulfills her dream of becoming pyruvate with the help of her friends (electron carriers) and extended family (enzymes). In my mind, the process of glycolysis is registered as a story similar to “The Princess and the Frog,” not another useless string of facts from a college class.
If something is mandatory, make an effort to understand why others require it from you. Things are rarely done without reason, and more often than not, mandatory assignments are for your own good. High school is a great example. Though we tend to agree that it opens more doors and creates more opportunities, most of us tend to dislike it.
Participate in life actively, and understand that everything you do deserves your full attention and has the potential to better your life and you as a person. Pay attention and take advantage of every moment, every assignment and every difficulty presented to you because you only live once.
Alternatively, keep living life by getting things out of the way until the only thing left to get out of the way is life itself.