Two More Months

From time to time we find ourselves in positions that we dislike, but have to endure. It could be school, or a job that you hate but need for the time being, or school, or a social obligation, or school, really any number of things. I certainly didn't love every minute of my graduate program, for example.

I'm sure that, in March of 2020, everyone can think of a situation we'd like to see end.

In times like these I've found a way to stay positive and optimistic: I set a rolling internal end date for the event. Instead of saying, “this will all be over by May 1st,” I tell myself “this will be over in two more months,” And no matter how many days or months pass, I keep telling myself “two more months”.

For me this provides two seemingly opposite but related benefits.

The first is that I feel more stable right now in doing what I'm doing. I set a deadline far enough out that I don't need to take any immediate “get out and shut down” actions. Two months is long enough that I can treat the situation as if it were going to last forever, which means I can dedicate time and effort to making right now better. You don't spend time improving a situation that will only exist for a week.

The second is that there is a timeline, however fictional. And because there is a timeline there is hope. There will come a day where this situation will change. I don't have to keep re-hashing the question of when that will be, it'll be in “two months”. This frees up brain resources to stop thinking about when this will end and allows me to spend more time thinking about how I can make that timeline happen faster.