When thinking about the things that I really must motivate myself for, I was honestly a little embarrassed. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m a permanent resident of Struggle City. I have to motivate to do my homework and go to the gym. I have to convince myself in the morning to show up to work. I wouldn’t get out of bed most days without a personal pep talk.
I really wonder why this is; I’m not afraid of hard work, and I do well in general, whether at school or in the workplace. I have always been an over-acheiver, and really motivated once I get going. But the getting going always seems to be the issue. I wonder how I can simultaneously be a lazy procrastinator and accomplish as much as I do.
I found this article, which had an excerpt that I could really relate to:
If you wait until the last minute to complete a task, you are forced to focus on the project at hand. According to Quora poster Caroline Sin: “There’s nothing like not having enough time to complete a project to make you realize what’s critical, and what isn’t.”
When it comes to personally motivating, I have found that I do best when under the gun. Nothing makes me work efficiently and focus like having a looming deadline in the next 24 hours. I know I could cause myself a lot less anxiety and self-loathing if I did what was recommended, and spread the assignment over a few days. But a paper due in 8 days just doesn’t seem that urgent to me… I have all week! Why would I read the night before my philosophy class when I have an hour in the morning to skim it over breakfast? The work will become a priority when it’s urgent, and it will always get done.
The same goes for completing unenjoyable tasks. Just like everyone else in the world, I am much more likely to do something when I like it. For example, if I am having a bad week at work where it seems there is just nothing for me to do, I will whine about it for extended periods of time. This is frustrating to my family, all members of the working and middle class who raised me with the strict belief that hard work equals success. I personally don’t feel that I should be chained to my desk for 8 hours a day if I can do the work in 5. My grandfather responded to this with, “What do you think everyone in the workplace does all day? We bullshit, acting busy when we already finished our work”. This is a depressing revelation for me as I enter the official workforce in the next year. The idea of being in a cubicle five days a week makes me nauseous. The phrase “nine to five” causes emotional distress.
I’m forced to reflect on my time in France when writing this post. In our society, we are so focused on goals, and success, and money, and achievement. Anything less than joining the workforce with a steady job is somewhat considered lazy, that something is wrong with you for not having that drive and motivation for that type of success. The French spend a significantly smaller amount of time at work than we do as Americans. In that culture, I greatly enjoyed their appreciation of leisure, and really recognized how it affected me when I did have to motivate. I was happy to do my work, as I felt like I was already allowed so much leisure time in my regular life. Everything was slow, without much pressure, so even having to sit down and do my work didn’t feel like such a struggle. I was expected to be a little lazy, maybe sleep in on the weekend, take a long lunch, and wasn’t considered a failure for not being constantly driven.