Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Entertainment Trap

Here's how a typical conversation will go between me and Rich:

"So, did you see last night's Stargate Atlantis?"

"Naww, I'm two episodes behind. I was getting caught up on my comics. Are you caught up on Final Crisis yet?"

"No, I still have four issues backed up. I've been too busy trying to get caught up on the Legacy of the Force books and yet not fall behind on the latest Star Trek books."

Can you see the problem here?

I've seen this in many of my friends blogs too. (I'm looking at you, Jonathan. ;) ) When did our entertainment become something we had to keep up with?

Which isn't to say that it isn't fun. If I wasn't enjoying Atlantis, Final Crisis, Legacy of the Force, Trek books, and so many many more, I wouldn't bother with them. TV shows have learned to use what I loved about anime and comic books for decades-- ongoing story arcs and character growth. Gone are the days of interchangeable episodes-- nowadays, if you want to try out a show, you need to get the box set and start at episode 1.

But somewhere along the line I think we got too much of a good thing. I now have so much that I'm into already that I'm very, very selective about giving any new shows or comics a chance. Because time is so valuable.

And there's the key of it-- time. We also need time for our friends, our families, our jobs, our responsibilities...

Because, really, those are what's most important. Is my life really going to be worse off if I don't get around to watching Sarah Connor Chronicles? No, of course not. Oh sure, someone might spoiler something for me, which will make me angry for a little while, but it's not like it's going to change my life. [And on a short tangent here-- part of the reason that we have that need to be caught up is to keep from being out of the loop in our fandom communities. But that's a blog for another time.]

I've realized that by having to set goals for all my entertainment just "to stay caught up," I've actually started putting pressure on myself. ("Let's see, I need to read 45 pages a day to get this book done by the time the next book comes out...")

So the first thing to go was all my entertainment goals.

After that, I started realizing my hobby goals were doing the same thing to me. (Have to get at least one volume of the home movies copied to DVD per week, etc etc etc...)

What was left was my personal growth goals -- exercising, meditation, and getting enough sleep -- and my household goals.

And while the household goals are definitely important, I found myself actually getting more done when I didn't distract myself by meeting goals with them. Just doing what needed to be done that moment, and not trying to multitask. Not feeling like "If I don't get two loads of laundry done a day, the house will fall apart!" It won't. I can still say "Oh, lookitdat, only one pair of underwear left, and it's the one with all the holes in it. I think I'll make today a laundry day."

Goals are a good thing, but I've decided it's better to prioritize them and leave them tied to responsibilities. By letting my entertainment and hobbies be something I had to be "caught up with," it was becoming another pressure. So I'm letting that pressure go-- my goal is now to let go of my goals. :)

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