NaBloPoMo #30: The Thing Itself

Prompt: What do you like to do to celebrate an accomplishment?

Supposedly, one of the most effective means of setting and achieving a goal is to decide on some sort of award, whether it’s a new pair of shoes because you’ve lost 10 pounds or a fancy dinner because you’ve been accepted to the school of your choice or even just an afternoon of vegging out in front of the TV because your finals are over. Focusing not just on the goal itself but a reward helps motivate you and gives your actions greater consequence – supposedly.

It never works for me. Part of the problem is that I never have the time or the money to give myself an award. This sort of reward-based system means that, once you finish your goal, you have time afterwards, that the bulk of your time was spent trying to achieve this one thing. What do you do when it’s only one of three or four things you’re doing? How do you justify a celebration that hurts you in another area of your life?

Another problem is that, as an adult, I am fully capable of treating myself whenever I want. Money, though too tight to justify just buying new shoes or having an expensive dinner, is not so tight that I can’t buy myself a new Zebra pen or an Italian cookie when I want to. So, since I have the means, why would I wait to treat myself, especially if the goal is two or three (or more) months in the making?

Generally, I simply settle for a warm glow of self-satisfaction and the emotional and psychological crash that comes after a fever pitch of activity. The latter usually necessitates some sort of rest anyway, which is why I schedule as little as possible for those days. Nonetheless, I’m still trying to accomplish something, whether it’s going to the gym, writing, or sending out long-overdue emails. There’s always something to do.

Perhaps that is ultimately why I have trouble celebrating accomplishments: an accomplishment is not a finite activity. It’s generally part of a larger grouping, the completion of which precipitates another, perhaps more difficult activity. It’s a concept that I (and many others, I think) have trouble understanding: when you strive for a goal, there really is no end in sight. Even now that NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo are ending, there’s still much to do. I’ll spend the next month editing my fanfiction and the next week processing this past month. I’ll look at my NaBloPoMo entries and try to see if I learned anything, if there’s a pattern in my writing, or if I can expand a piece into a full-length article. So, yes, I may have completed the two, but my work is never really done.

If anything, the completion of the accomplishment is its own celebration. It’s another notch in my belt, another Facebook brag, another feeling of warmth and joy. And, if the thing I’m doing is actually worthwhile, isn’t that enough?

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