Law: Small Victories or Big Excuses?

May 5, 2008

I’ve always been a “small victories” person.  I don’t mean that I celebrate small things or make silly excuses to feel good, I mean that I try to break things up and work towards one thing at a time.  Ever since I started getting some control over what goes on in my life (around middle or high school) I’ve always been a “baby steps” kinda guy. 

When I was young, this didn’t matter much because I didn’t really take any steps.  In high school I was…. hope do you say……. lazy.  I don’t mean like Kurzman and I talk about being lazy now because we only study a few hours a day, I mean lazy lazy, like, Union employee lazy.  We’re talkin’ the Denver Nuggets on Defense or Barry Bonds running out a pop up to short lazy.  Even then, I still had “baby steps.” 

In high school, I would set small goals like “during commercial start working and work until you finish three homework problems.”  Needless to say, this approach wasted more time than it saved, but wasting time wasn’t really the fear.  You see, in my teenaged mind, every point above a 90% was a titanic waste.  If I was going to get a B, every point above an 80 was effort that was better spent doing something else (like making fun of somebody, I know, mature).  

Oh, wow, Clegal, you’re sooooo cool, you were a slacker in high school.  Suburban kid doesn’t take school seriously, get the news stations out here.  Aren’t you so cool.

Now, I didn’t do that long lead in for the sake of showing how little I cared in high school (but seriously, when the kid that failed out of NIU is sitting next to you getting the same grade and trying not particularly hard, what is the motivation to put in any effort) but rather to demonstrate why I screw myself every finals season.

Today I started to do really hard nosed work.  I sat down just me and my outline and I started to work.  I was cranking through cases using a template I borrowed from a friend and moving along just fine for about 10 minutes when I started to get this “itch.”  Clegal, what do you want to accomplish today? I began to wonder.  “You aren’t really going to try and go through this whole course, are you?” I found myself daydreaming.  Of course not.  So I stopped and set a goal, something logical (I wanted to get through all of the legislation stuff in my Legislation and Regulation course). 

Great, I had a goal.  Back to work I went and I started cranking through things until eventually I was at my goal.  The problem is, I hit my goal sooner than anticipated, but my goal for the day was reached so I packed up and went home to waste the rest of my night.  Now, this isn’t a huge problem per se, after all, sometimes you overestimate and sometimes you underestimate, so who cares.  Well, the problem is, I always underestimate.  In my desire to always be done and put things off, I always shoot too low, so when I hit my target, I’m still not as far as I could have been if I set my sights higher. 

With this in mind, I’m decreeing now, I want to get through half of the Leg Reg course tomorrow.  Not half of what I have left, Half.  I want to get through all of the administrative law stuff and into the stuff that combines the two (deference to agency interpretation and whatnot).  So there it is.  I set a big, fat, hairy, difficult to achieve goal.  Lets see if I can achieve it.


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