Accidental Motivation

Nearly all of my motivation comes at me sideways rather than head on. I’m not a bull-by-the-horns girl. I’m a let’s-see-if-we-can-create-the-conditions-necessary-for-inspiration girl. I don’t even believe in inspiration per se. I do believe diving into the work is the only path toward payoff, no matter what the work might be. It just takes me some time to get there. I have things on my mind. I have other things to do. I have a raging case of procrastination. Whatever. I have to trick myself into tackling responsibilities. You’d think you couldn’t be a person who works as hard as I do and still have motivation issues, but I am here to tell you it is more than possible. It’s in fact why I get so much done. I’m always doing something in order to avoid doing something else. If you are not a master-procrastinator, try it sometime. You’ll be amazed by how much you accomplish while in avoidance mode.

Today I did thirty minutes on the treadmill. I’d hoped for an hour, but this is my first time back on the treadmill for several weeks, so let’s not push it. I consider stepping on the thing at all a major accomplishment.

I didn’t actually intend to do any treadmill time today, though. I meant to spend all day grading. I did purchase a new pedometer one day last week with the idea in mind that I would get back to the 10,000 steps a day plan “one day soon.” It was on my mind. It just wasn’t my priority.

I got up this morning, however, and fiddled around online, drank some hot tea (because I’m giving up coffee again), watched a documentary on eastern religions, put some beans on to soak, did some laundry, and in general did the kinds of things everyone does to talk themselves into sitting down to grade all day. I did all of that, and I sat down at the computer and actually logged into Blackboard. I couldn’t have been more than ten minutes away from grading a paper. And what happened? The Internet went out, of course. It always does if I have a lot to do and I’m having a particularly difficult time getting started.

That’s when I got on the treadmill. I just didn’t know what else to do. I can’t do any work if I’m not online. All of my student work is online. I couldn’t just watch movies and hope it got better soon. Netflix doesn’t work if I’m not online. I couldn’t find people to annoy on Facebook. You get the picture. Life comes to a halt when the Internet goes out. I couldn’t come to a halt, though. I’d been gearing up to doing something with my day for hours.

Hence, the treadmill.

The Internet is back now. I’m trying to work up the nerve trust it again. Another thirty minutes or so of fiddling around, and maybe I’ll be able to grade. With luck, I’ll finish grading whole assignments before it goes out again. With luck, it will go out again, and I’ll manage that other thirty minutes on the treadmill.

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