Do as I Say, Not as I Do

I have been busy reorganizing and refreshing our home. When I do that I like to have some background noise and will usually throw on a movie. Nothing too good, as it will suck me in and I will end up watching the movie instead of getting the task at hand done. So yesterday it was Confessions of a Shopaholic, being a shopaholic is something I cannot relate to, but the main character was also a writer so I figured it would be mildly entertaining background noise.

The main character, “Becky” ends up writing for a financial magazine and yet is wildly deep in debt and being stalked by a debt collector. While she is able to give sound financial advice, she is unable to take her own words and apply them to her life. This made me think that maybe it is a trait of writers, able to give sound advice, but often unable to heed it; maybe this goes beyond writers, but, as writers, we have the evidence in black and white.

I am guilty of this myself. I have written articles about enjoying the journey and not getting too caught up in the final product; I wrote an article about staying organized and utilising that planner I order every year from Athabasca’s student union. When I wrote these I had every intention of following through with my own advice, it was written after deciding that these were the things which were going to make my progress through my degree easier, and more enjoyable.

Of course, these were short lived. My planner soon went back into disuse and I started looking forward again to the end goal, focusing on being finished at a certain time rather than making sure I was absorbing the information from the courses. Each course I started I would be excited about, until the next one was on order. Then I couldn’t wait to start that one. And so the trend went. I recently dusted off my planner to help me get through a particularly tough assignment, not tough because it was exceptionally hard, but because I was getting to be pretty talented at avoiding it.

I wondered at why it is that I, and “Becky”, and I am sure others, are able to see what should be done, but are unable to follow our own words. Perhaps it is because we have taken the other path and can see what it is that path leads to and want to warn others from it. “Becky” could give great financial advice because she knew everything on the other end of the spectrum, she knew what not to do. Just like when I wrote those articles I knew what not using a planner was doing to my stress level and I knew what giving myself a possibly unrealistic deadline was doing to me. I knew neither of these things were beneficial to my progress and, if anything, hindered me from achieving my goal. I could see what not to do, because I was living it. It can be incredibly hard to break a habit, and a learning style, or shopping style, is a habit. While it can be difficult to change our ways, we are able to see the wrong in what we are doing, able to see that there is a better path: even if we are unable to stay on that path.

Knowing what should be done and doing it are different and challenging tasks. Often the easier of the two is knowing what should be done. Sticking to a plan, yet maintaining flexibility in that plan; forcing yourself not to have a rigid plan is not the easiest task. Even though, in the end, it makes life simple and more enjoyable; it can be hard to turn that voice off inside your head telling you to stay on the path you are on, to not be tempted by the other path?which may look smoother and more enjoyable.

Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature