I had the flu last week. I was ready for Monday, healthy meals were prepared, to-do lists written, and clothes laundered. My body just woke up with a fever, aches, and lots of mucus. Suddenly, my plans flew out the window and were replaced with couch time. Lots and lots of couch time.
Now, I’m physically feeling better, but I’m being reminded of Newton’s first law of motion. You know, a body at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. It’s a truth that applies as surely to a rock as it does my inner motivation. I had a long hard talk with myself last night telling myself, no excuses tomorrow, Becca. You must write a blog post. You must get back in the gym. You must pay that bill, make that appointment, call-in that prescription.
Getting the motion going again takes conscious effort. It’s why making a change is so hard. Objects resist change to their motion. People do too.
If you tackle a new endeavor without an awareness that it’s going to take some energy, an unbalanced force, you won’t get anywhere. No one expects to push a boulder without exerting force, but we’ll try to think up motivation. Motivation comes from doing. I’ve been known to tell new gym members that they have to stick with it until they start being able to do exercises they can’t right now. I’m not sure if that’s encouraging, to be honest, because it’s putting faith in something that’s a good month or two away. But it’s truth. That’s when the motivation comes after the doing and the doing and the doing some more for no other reason than at some point in the future there is a payout.
Sitting around waiting to have the motivation to get healthy or start a new career or clean the house is still sitting. It’s still doing the same thing. Effort must be exerted to change your current situation.
When I was recovering from bulimia, my psychologist had me keep a food diary. At first, this just helped me obsess over my intake and output. It gave me a new tool with which to measure, but eventually it became a diagram of my disordered patterns. One of the weird patterns that emerged was this compulsion with multiples of three. I don’t why, but I did things in multiples of three. So, when I started attacking the whole system I’d created, I made myself violate the threes. Eat 5 carrot sticks instead of 6! Purge twice instead of three times today! Silly, right? But it was motion! It was action. It was an unbalanced force to throw off the trajectory that I was on. It was a start.
Starting to adult again after a week of the flu doesn’t require the same amount of force as recovering from a mental illness or making a career or lifestyle change. My GSD (get shit done) muscles haven’t atrophied that much in a week. But it’s helpful to recognize the law of inertia whether you’re having an off day, week, or year. Size up the task at hand and get moving.