What to do when you’d rather do something else? Why study if you’re not going to use it? Quite soon after starting school, all children realize that many of the things they learn there, they are not going to use.
If you’re going to be a firefighter when you grow up, you don’t need to know how to draw. You don’t need to know college math or history. So, the simple question everyone asks themselves is “Why bother?” Why bother getting good grades, if the knowledge isn’t practical?
In this piece, I’d like to offer 2 answers to this question. This is addressed to all those having a hard time studying and to all those thinking you can slack off in school because you’ve got street smarts and that’s all you need to succeed.
You’re not Nostradamus
I make my living writing marketing pieces for various companies. I managed to do this by combining the English I learned from Cartoon Network (and school), the essays my teachers assigned me, the personal development advice I found online, and my obsession for details.
Take just one of these things out of the equation, and I wouldn’t be able to write for a living. I’d be doing something completely different right now. But if you’d ask me 10 years ago what I wanted to do when I grow up, I’d either shrug my shoulders or tell you I’d want to start a store or something.
Honestly, I had no idea. And even if I did, ideas change.
Regardless of what your plan for the future is, it will likely either change completely or partially by the time you actually get to it. There is no way to tell what you’ll be doing 10 years from now and no way to tell what skills you’ll need to do it.
So, while you’re in school with absolutely nothing better to do on your hands, why not use this time to acquire as many skills as you possibly can? Why not learn English and math and drawing? Why not do sports and learn Geography?
Maybe doing sports will make you healthier, so you’ll think better about what you want and how to get it. Maybe you’ll combine your drawing and math skills one day to become an architect. Maybe you’ll blog about interesting places world-wide using the stuff you’ve learned in English and Geography.
And by the way, do you have something better to do? Are the games you’re playing making you any smarter? You may not use Geography when you grow up, but I highly doubt you’ll be using games, television, music, or partying to make a living.
What are you Becoming?
Your formative years, up until 20-30 years old are less about what you do or have or obtain and more about what you are becoming.
Only a certain type of person can become wealthy; only a certain type of person has a happy family; it takes certain skills to be a great parent, a good member of society, etc. If you want to ‘become’ a firefighter, or a doctor, or anything else, you need to embody the traits of that job.
You need to be fearless to save people from a burning building. You need to not freak out at the sight of blood or at the thought of someone’s life being in your hands if you’re gonna have any chance of saving him/her.
So, the most important questions for children and adults alike, more important than even what I want, are ‘What am I becoming?’ and ‘What do I actually want to become?’
Let’s say you have to take a course, or you have to go to college or school, and you’re stuck in a classroom learning something you have no interest in. That’s all good. Maybe whatever you’re learning really is valueless to you specifically.
But what are you becoming while in that class? If you spend the entire day distracting yourself, you’ll become really good at getting distracted. If you’re spending all day thinking of video games, you’ll become real good at playing them.
And then you’ll grow up. You’ll need to earn money, not levels, and you’ll need to focus on your job, not get distracted on facebook. How are you going to do that when you’ve spent years doing something completely different?
It took me 9 years to solve the crap I’ve installed in my head as a kid, 9 years to give up games, junk food, YouTube, movies, anime, novels, and other distracting crap. And to be honest, I’m still not giving it my all. There’s always a little more I could do; there are times when I get lazy and slack off, sometimes for days or weeks.
Most of us spend 18 years or more on a chair thinking we’ll one day get up and start running. The thoughts and ideas you’re programming in your mind now will affect the rest of your life.
If you are now slacking off, even if it’s for good reasons, you’ll be a slacker even when you want to work. If you are now making an excuse, you may continue making that excuse for the rest of your life.
Unless of course, you stop doing it now. Not next week, now! Every week, there’ll be a next week. There’s no end to it. If you’re going to start acting properly, close this browser, open a Word document, and write a clear list of what you should actually be doing right now. State why you should be doing it and what action is most important. Then do it. It’s actually really simple, but you need to get out of your head to actually do it.
And unless you’re physically engaging in your most important activity right now, then you’re still making excuses. You’re still stuck in the loop. So cut the crap and get to it.