Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm a terrible decision maker.... (A true tale)

So, I had to be up at 7:30 this morning. I knew this. I've known this. So, what would a reasonable person do to make up for this horror? Go to bed early? Say, around midnight? That was the plan.

A bed at midnight. Not pictured: me.

So, what went wrong? Well, I have this friend - let's call him Stephen - who "shares" soda with me. So I ran out much much faster than I should have. We were both disappointed by this, so he and I took a trip to the 24 hour gas station a couple blocks away. After passing a cop pulling over a driver (I'm pretty sure this escalated to an armed standoff while we were in the convenience store - I heard shots ring out), we barely made it there alive through the bitter cold. This was around 1:00 AM. After deciding they didn't have any soda that we wanted, we somehow made the choice to go to Sheetz. They had a greater variety, plus their soda is cheaper, so even if we ended up with something like Coke, it's still worth it. That was the theory.

The Target of convenience stores.
Getgo is the Wal-Mart of convenience stores - more white-trashy.

The problem being, Sheetz is about 3 miles away from campus - and about a 20 minute walk one-way from the store we were currently at. It was about 30 degrees. Soda is sold in flimsy cardboard boxes. And did I mention it was about 1:15 am once we finally left?

We arrive a Sheetz in fairly good time, it only took about 10 minutes to get there, as we both walked quickly and there was no traffic. After looking around for a few minutes, we end up with 3 cases of Coke and a case of Cherry Coke - 2 for each of us to carry back - and we both got an energy drink (the one intelligent thing I did - I knew it would prevent me from dragon-kicking puppies in the morning).

Of course, on the way back the flimsy cardboard on one of the boxes I'm carrying breaks, and I drop it. So now I have a broken box and one of the cans is leaking and I have to take them all out to find it. I sort of let it drain, wiped my fingerprints off of it and left it there. Whatever. So, then, I pack the 11 remaining cans that aren't leaking back into the broken box - which I then I have carefully carry along with my other (still intact) box all the way back to campus. Because it was so cold and they were uncomfortable to carry, we end up stopping several times. This turns a 20 minute walk into about a 45 minute walk. For the record, Stephen also dropped a box, but nothing broke in his. Also on the way back, we passed another pulled over car, this time with two cop cars behind it. Yes, apparently the officer needed reinforcements. Needless to say, I feared for our lives.

Eventually, we get back to campus. I arrive at the door to my building only to find Stephen abandoned his two cases in favor of running inside to "take care of business." So I carry all four back to my dorm, accidentally wake up my roommate, go pee, and go to bed - all around 3:00 AM. About 15 minutes later, Stephen enters my room, and my last words of the night are "Make no mistake, I will kill you" He promptly leaves, I enter dreamland.

This, pretty much.
Yes, that's really me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

5 Important Steps to Setting Realistic Goals (and the importance of having them)

As a college student, I'm realizing two things. First of all, banks have a conspiracy to take over the world by controlling the lives of every intelligent human being by way of student loans. Secondly, having clearly defined goals are important.

This is mine.

For example, my goals for this week are:
1) Finish (start) Chemistry lab report
2) Remember to show up for your two tests on Thursday (studying optional)
3) Rehearse (write) your speech due on Friday
4) Do the assigned reading due on Friday.

With my ultimate goal being, of course, a degree. So let's take a look at my goals. What do they have in common? What can the goal-less masses learn from them? How do you set "good" goals?

Step 1 - Determine what needs to be done

So, my laptop has an application that lets me put digital post-it notes on my desktop. I have 5 of them, one for every day of the week, and on each one I write what is due that day. That way, when I put everything off until the last minute, I'm at least organized. Of course, it's equally important to have personal goals. Some of mine are spending time with Beka and updating the blog. Within each goal, I have subgoals, such as not using crude humor to get a laugh here, but rather using intelligent humor. Also, I'm avoiding putting any of my personal beliefs in any posts critiquing philosophy - if I can't undermine them with pure logic, I shouldn't be undermining them at all.

Step 2 - Ensure the realism of you goals

Notice, I have parentheses in a few of my items. That's because I know I am absolutely not going to space my workload over the entire week - I'm going to wait until the absolute last possible moment. So, by saying Finish the lab report that is due Thursday., I actually just mean Do the lab report, make sure it's done by Thursday at 2:30pm. Also, I don't study. I don't need to, I've never needed to, and unless something drastic happens to my brain, I'm not ever going to need to. So studying optional really means make sure you were paying attention in lecture. If not, you might want to read the book so you aren't completely clueless because you were daydreaming about dragons and wizards.

Step 3 - Set up a reward system

I need motivation to do work. I do. When I was working in Hell Dairy Queen, I got paid. That was my reward. I did my job well so they put me on the schedule more often and I got more money. School, however, is more abstract. So, I set up a reward system. For example, I finished my reading I had to do for Civilizations this afternoon and started writing this, so just after the word abstract, I went to see if there were any new posts on (there weren't). Reward yourself upon completion of a project.

Step 4 - ????????????

No, but really. Once you have all that done, you have to force yourself to actually do something. Having goals is great, but guess what. Nobody enforces your reward system. If you said you got ice cream after you finished your homework, and you went to get ice cream now instead, guess what? Nobody would stop you. You need to motivate yourself, nobody else can.

Step 5 - Profit

First, physical profit. Your brain rewards you for completing something. It has funky chemicals that make you feel good. Second, now, you don't ever have to do it again! Third, if it was for your morning class, you get to sleep in tomorrow. And that's really what all college students want: to sleep in.

The Importance of Setting Goals

I can imagine the overachievers reading my blog: But Kevin! I'm not like that! I put my work first! My response is - it doesn't matter. What you are currently doing, you are motivated to do by something. Mankind does not do things completely arbitrarily2. Even if their only motivation is pleasure, they are still motivated.

So, then, the natural question you have to ask yourself is why am I doing this? Am I in college because I want the degree, or because I enjoy being in debt? Once you determine your motivation, then, and only then, are you able to determine the easiest way to get there. For example, if you want a degree, then yes, College is your best bet. However, if you enjoy being in debt, get a credit card and start buying things, then only make the minimum payments. That way, you can be in debt forever and have cool things.

Like wrist-mounted flamethrowers

My point being,  everyone has goals. Identifying yours will help you make better decisions in life - potentially decision where you can own an island3.

1. I'm not claiming to be an expert in any sort of field involving motivation, goal-setting, ambition, or generally good work-centric behaviors. Far from it.
2. They can be arbitrary insomuch as logic and reason aren't governing their actions. But everyone has motivation.
3. But probably not.