Since I was young, I wanted to make something of myself. I had it engraved in my mind that by following a simple rule each and every day, something positive would eventually find its way to me one way or another. And, you know, that was something I stuck with for a decade or so, right up until my 18th birthday. That's sort of when it lopsided and derailed a bit. But I can only blame alcohol and persuasive friends for that, to be honest. They're probably the reason I lost the ambition to better myself through hard work, and instead replaced a quill with a shot of Sambuca in order to fill my productivity gauge. That, as well as a series of bad choices and a very rocky sense of naivety.
Through said bad choices, I reached a point in my life where I gave up trying to make anything of myself. I had a concoction of Tequila slammers and migraines forever swilling in my brain, and through that vile mixture, a pessimistic little devil found its way out onto my shoulder at my lowest possible point.
Every Friday or Saturday night, I'd stand over my dusty keyboard and brush the idea of actually using it off like it was a cancer. And, if anything, I just let it decay at the back of my room with dozens of half-complete projects urging to be noticed. But, at 18, I lost the confidence I once had. I was transfixed on becoming 'just like every other 18 year old in the world'. I wanted to drink. I wanted to party. And, overall, I just wanted to belong.
I think we all go through a similar turning point in our lives; usually when we reach adulthood's embrace at 18 or 19. That's usually when the cluster of many doors tend to open up for us and invite us in to a whole new universe of antics. And, whilst I don't condemn spending a solid Friday night out on the lash, I do oppose to spending every waking moment thinking about the next party. That's where I, personally, draw the line.
I found out the hard way after a year or so of endless parties and twisted hangovers. In fact, I don't think I ever cured from the persistent hangover that followed me for those two gruelling years. And for the spiralling room that never seemed to balance out, I just sort of learnt to cope with always feeling nauseous for every time I opened my eyes each afternoon.
But, there's a certain rope hidden in the dark that's trying to reach you and drag you out. It's mostly obscured by the blinding strobe lights and armies of fake friends trying to drag you down a little further. It's reeling out, faster and faster, and you find yourself left with the ultimatum; do you stay, or do you leave? Do you grab another shot and set your new goal as how many pints can you inhale before passing out, or do you fight for something worthwhile; something that'll make your kids proud someday?
Sure, drunken memories are great. In fact, I've had one too many to count. But like Absinthe, there's a pungent, burning note that lingers on the tongue and eventually it becomes a little too sickly to tolerate. It's that sickly splutter that eventually gets slightly overused and mundane. And, although I could tell my kids someday that I could drink anyone under the table once upon a time, I still know they'd probably shrug and say, "Everyone says that, though, Dad."
But, do you know what not everyone can say to their kids as they look up to you and ask what you did at their age?
"At your age, I finished my first book"
Wow. Now that's something they'll remember. And, it doesn't stop there so long as you're willing to put more effort into it, either. Because, who's to say you can't write a second, or a third, or branch out to a million other things, too? Nobody. It's your call whether you want to better yourself and nobody else's. And if, like me, you managed to find that rope waiting for you in the dead of night, you'll know exactly how incredible it feels to ascend into the light.
If, however, you've yet to discover it, I can only wish you all the best in finding it soon, because there's a whole world in lights which you haven't quite noticed yet. And it's there, alright. It's waiting for you to see it.
After I was able to emerge from the shadowy corridor of bleak mornings and cheap headache tablets, I set myself a simple goal. I set a straight-forward target of producing something each and every day. Whether it being a simple poem, a chapter in a novel, a short teaser trailer, a family holiday montage, or anything else that I could someday reveal to the ones I care the most for.
I eventually grew so sick of the same drinks and the screaming in my brain that I finally decided to take the leap of faith and barricaded myself away from the outdoors. And for when someone called my phone, I simply declined it and tucked it away in a drawer somewhere. That's where I began the transformation from cliche teenager to established author. That's where I began to discover the endless possibilities, right there in my fingertips.
I stuck to that rule of thumb for five years; right up until this current moment as I write this article. And, yes, this is today's little piece of productivity, and when I manage to finish it I know I'll be able to sleep peacefully without assessing my own self-worth. I won't wake up with a blistering white noise in my ears, nor will I have to wretch my guts up before eating breakfast. I'll feel complete, and I'll be ready to begin a new day where so much more is ready to be grasped for the taking.
Post-ascension from my own version of Hell five years ago, I've been able to keep that determination growing strong, and I plan to let it control me for all future endeavours, for sure. It's that determination that drives me each morning as I scratch my chin and jot down new ideas for projects. It's that Angel on my shoulder finally telling me that I'm capable of so much more than slaving away at a local bar whilst questioning not only my health, but my moralities, too.
Today, I see plenty of people my age; some of which are trying to find a way out, and some of whom prefer to sit at the bar every Friday night and happily promote their abilities to be hungover every weekend without fail. That's something I'll never understand. But, I'm no priest. I won't preach and act like everyone should be on the same page. Everyone is different, and everyone enjoys their own free time doing the things they enjoy. Some find happiness from being productive, and some find it from the bottom of a bottle at three in the morning whilst binging Netflix Originals.
It may come across at pretentious, but it's true. We should all try and aim to better ourselves in whatever it is we're trying to achieve. So, if you've ever had it in your mind that you wanted to learn something someday, why not make it today? Why not pick up that extra qualification you always dreamt of getting? Why not wake up at dawn and go for that sprint you always convinced yourself not to do for petty reasons? Why not pick up your socks and thrive to make a better version of yourself? Why not just do it today?
It's a proven fact that by reaching our goals, we are able to feel a certain sense of well-being and peace of mind. It's a legacy that we'll leave behind someday when all that's left outside of our birth names are stories from those who once knew us. It's that legacy that should be built through the power of productivity every single day. So earn it. Build your legacy today, not tomorrow.
Pick up a pen. Pick up a course. Pick up a skill. And, overall, pick yourself up and shake yourself off in the mirror. Then took a good long look and envision yourself as someone who has achieved everything and more. That right there, that's the person you want to be.
One small bit of productivity a day. That's really all it takes. Even if your goal is longterm, just making a dent in the project as a whole is enough to get the ball rolling. And, when you feel yourself settling in to this newfound agenda, you'll begin to see the light outside the depths of your own Hell. You'll feel better. You'll act better. And you'll definitely want to DO BETTER as a whole.
So, a whole year of productivity, eh? Is that something you think you can tackle?
Are you ready to build a legacy?