One of the hurdles of getting a PhD comes in the form of self-motivation. I must learn to self-motivate and achieve things despite the lack of course-work and grades. Last week was spring break. And I had a practice run for what my life would look like when I finished taking courses and was left to my own devices to get research done. I didn’t fare well.
In preparation, I made a big list of things I could work on for my courses and my research at the beginning of the week. I was really excited to have time to do it. I thought the list would motivate me. If I was bored, then I could look at the list and do something productive. I look at my list now and I have completed 20/31 items. [I will complete 21/31 when I finish writing this post! ] I’m sure some of you are thinking that my list was just too long. I don’t think this is the case. I didn’t expect to finish all of it, but I was hopeful to complete 80 or 90%. As of now, I have completed 64% of my list. That’s an D. Does that mean I essentially failed my “to do” list?
I don’t know if it does or not, but something hilarious happened to me while I was writing this post. I actually stopped writing and worked on my list items. When I started writing the post I had completed 14/31. But when I types that ratio into the last paragraph- I couldn’t bring myself to post it. Some of the items were far enough along or short enough to allow me to cross 6 of them off my list in the last 3 hours. When I finish this post, I’ll have earned a C instead of an F. It’s not an A, but it’s a passing score!
I guess I learned a lesson here. I learned that motivation doesn’t always come in the form of a list. I learned that my fear of outward accountability is a greater motivator than internal drive to finish a “to do” list. That and I’m terrified of getting a bad grade… Although I may have been less successful than I would like on my “to do” list, I had a lovely, relaxing break. And, five years ago, you could never have convinced me that was worth something- I think that the relaxation will help me more in the long run than a 100% complete to do list.
I guess I still need to learn to be self-motivating, but for now I’m 70% of the way to a productive week. By the time I have to be totally self-motivated for real I should be all set. Happy Spring everyone.