Photo Credit Dan Wallace -- Improvement -- Good Intentions

The Curse of Good Intentions

Covid brought a great many changes, challenges and outcomes to our lives.  Most ugly and irritating, too many horrific and sorrowful.  Because of our makeup as a society, the flipside of the coin has thankfully been on display, too — our grit, fearlessness and compassion.

This hot mess also gave us more time to ourselves.  For me, that should have translated to more opportunities to move forward on at least a few of the many good intentions that seemingly have lived the entirety of their existence on the to-do shelf of my life.  Didn’t happen, despite mentally ascribing high levels of importance to the goals.  Again.  For the umpteenth time.

The question hangs like the dark rain cloud over Joe Btfsplk or the dirt and clouds over Pig Pen — “Why not?”

I’m certainly not alone.  The world is awash with good intentions unfulfilled.  I suspect that because the lot of us are stitched together with oodles of flaws, there is but an infinitesimal percentage of individuals who do not possess a reasonably extensive list of “fixin’ to” intentions that have not, for a zillion reasons and excuses, had action applied to them.

Tomorrow.  As in free beer.  Tomorrow.

Good Intentions Unfulfilled

Why don’t some tasks get us off the couch?  Inertia surely can’t be attributed to a lack of importance.  A great many worthwhile pursuits quickly come to mind.  Start:  losing weight, getting in shape, being more positive, tempering that temper.  Stop:  smoking, biting your nails, wasting time online, consuming too much salt, ice cream at 10pm.  Each of these endeavors would be beneficial to us and at least theoretically bring immense satisfaction if accomplished. Generally speaking, I believe that our brains create an aversion to bad habits — and a liking for good ones.  How then do those wires get crossed, even though we all know with absolute certainty that good intentions do not, without action, translate to good consequences, and that folks will ultimately judge you by your actions, not your intentions?

I wish I had answers.  I’m as guilty — likely more, even — as anyone who is a lifetime member of Club Procrastination.

Club Procrastination

My personal failure-to-act laurels are often good-naturedly referenced by my weisenheiming family via reference to two objects — Banjos and Weights.  Without question, there have been oodles of other personal undertakings that have had perpetually moving deadlines in my life.  But the Big 2 have, to my peeps, painted a true composite — albeit a tortuous one for me — look-in-the-mirror image of starting and stopping and starting again and stopping again.
And on and on and so forth and ad nauseam.

Banjos

I’ve always been a fan of the banjo and bluegrass.  Instrument and music are uniquely Americana, and the talents of Earl Scruggs, Mike Cross, Doc Watson, Roy Clark, and Steve Martin mesmerized me.  With not a single musical-instrument lesson in my background and no evidence whatsoever that I could master anything associated with musicality, I insisted to my rightfully skeptical wife (who has her own wife-centric list of my gonna-get-to-that tasks) that I would put in the time and learn to play the banjo.

$350 later, I proudly strutted from the local music shop with my new banjo.  On learning of my commitment, another relative, recognizing that we split time between NC and FL, picked up another banjo for me at an auction.  Then lessons.  For four months.  And then it all got too hard and I got too distracted.  As usual, totally on me.  For the umpteenth time, I learned that the love of something doesn’t always translate into being able to do that thing.  Another expensive lesson learned was that the appeal of playing any costly instrument very often wilts in the face
of lessons and cheerless practice.

Weights

Getting in shape is likely the world’s #1 good intention most gone awry.  Personally, it’s not for lack of want-to.  Shedding these several dozens of pounds would be beneficial for me and I’d feel and look better.  Further, I know the formula for success — simply consume fewer calories than you burn.  Period.  Eat less and right.  Exercise.  It’s really not more complicated than that, despite the “solutions” offered by the multi-billion dollar industries that have evolved tied to diet and exercise.

Even vividly imagining the future reward hasn’t translated to consistent action on my part.  What generally transpires is a short duration of time on task followed by temptations and distractions, followed by a much longer stretch of time doing just the opposite of what the good-intention game plan spelled out.  That particular schedule hasn’t done much to expose my six-pack, which is currently well protected and hidden.  Exercise?  I thought you said extra fries.

Inevitably, streaks of focus often included trips to the gym because I believe my great personality could use a banging body.  According to the googles, the average gym membership costs $58 per month, and 67% of members never set foot inside.  Others, like myself, ascribe to the two-months-on, eight-months-off theory of preparing for the runway, the beach, and whatever are skinny jeans.

Early last year, motivation again struck.  “This time” it was going to be different.  I carved out a dedicated location in the garage, committed on paper to a daily regime, and purchased a set of weights and a bench.  (“You did what?”)  Nothing too Arnold or The Rock, but more ducats flew out of my wallet than pounds I’d ever been able to bench back in the day. I was set.

I pushed myself hard.  For two weeks.  Just long enough to come close to again being able to wash my hair and brush my teeth.  The stacks of steel weights gathering dust are unfortunately positioned such that my (significantly) better-half regularly starts conversations in that room, “Yo, Thor, when you get a chance … ”  Beast mode, indeed.  Truly, the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

It’s all very perplexing.  I know what a win looks like and how to achieve it.  That being stated, despite a lifetime of checking boxes, constantly challenging myself, and being professionally and personally single-focused, I am clearly a master at putting the “pro” in procrastinate by devaluing select present-day goals — even those that I would classify as important to my own self-concept — basically because they are difficult and unattractive because of the simple fact that the associated work takes focus and effort.

I’m not alone, I suppose, but not proud of that observation, either.

The Solution?

I reckon that that the solution is an equation with equal parts finding balance, better time management, getting peeved enough to get off the couch, setting modest goals, and having a very healthy dose of sticktuativeness.  And then, hopefully, when, inevitably, one again reaches the precipice “Nah, tomorrow,” there will appear the faintest signs of progress toward achievement of a goal.  Something that tips the mind’s eye from “the curse’s” potential anguish to
I Got This and then finally, one day perhaps down the line a piece, to actually enjoying the choices made because they do, in fact, increase your personal joy and sense of well-being.

It all still comes back to the fact that, without action, the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that:  intentions.  Perhaps Pig Pen’s and Joe Btfsplk’s dirt and clouds respectfully represent their authors’ notion that inside each of us exists a propensity to put off tasks that we know darned good and well are the right things to do.  The Curse of Good Intentions perpetually hovers over all of us to a degree.

I’d surely love to move those Banjos and Weights clouds out from overhead.


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