“To Call’s regret he had never been able to come awake easily. His joints felt like they were filled with glue, and it was an irritation to see Augustus sitting on the black kettle looking fresh as if he’d slept all night, when in fact he had probably been playing poker until one or two o’clock. Getting up early and feeling awake was the one skill he had never truly perfected — he got up, of course, but it never felt natural. -Lonesome Dove, p. 55
Feeling Tired, Slow, and Unmotivated
It’s like, I purposefully went to bed earlier so this wouldn’t happen.
I wanted to stay up and watch more reruns of Parks and Recreation. I wanted to read more mindless articles about the current state of the Boston Celtics. I wanted to have another glass of my scotch.
But I went to bed. Because I was like, “You know what, Anthony — you need a good night’s sleep, so when you wake up early to pray/write, you’ll be rested.
My 7am alarm rolls around (which I understand, could be much earlier). And my body feels like it’s running on 40% power, and there’s no way I can get out of bed. Like asking a drunk guy to bench press his body weight. He’s going to hurt himself, and it’s just not a good idea.
I ended up dragging myself out of bed 45 minutes later, trudging down the stairs, and grudgingly opening my journal to scratch out some words or whatever.
It’s gonna be a great day!
“If you’re lacking motivation, there’s a problem with your goals. Either you have the wrong goal, they aren’t specific enough, or the timeline isn’t definitive enough.” -Benjamin Hardy
My goals haven’t been specific enough. I don’t care about them anymore. Somewhere along the way, watching Netflix/television/video games became more important than reading another book, learning Korean, and working on creating my business to help people find meaningful work and careers.
I don’t have a timeline. I don’t have anyone keeping me accountable. I’m in more than 1 accountability/productivity mastermind group, and I keep telling them I’ll write down my goals and be productive and whoops, I forgot to again this week.
The thing is, I don’t forget. These goals are always on my mind — at least, they’re in the back of my mind while more important things like watching Shaquille O’neal argue about who the best basketball team in the Eastern Conference of the NBA is this year.
As a result, I feel tired, even when I get enough sleep. I feel sluggish — when I wake up, I don’t want to think about how I’m going to the gym later, how I need to eat healthy today, how I need to write, coach, create, journal, read, abstain, and everything else in my day that requires excessive effort.
Don’t Vow, Make Plans Instead
“Vowing, even intense vowing, is often useless. The next day comes and the next day goes. What works is making a vivid, concrete plan.” -Carol Dweck
My solution isn’t to simply slap myself in the face in front of the mirror, get pumped and be like “You got this. You got this. You’re a winner! I will be productive today! I will stop having beer until I lose this beer belly, no exceptions!”
And sundry other vows.
No, I’ve tried that. When I was growing up, I had a terrible addiction to looking at pornography. It got me through the days, it numbed me out when I felt stressed/scared/uncomfortable. I knew I shouldn’t have been looking at it. I remember I would make grandiose, dramatic vows at every milestone (birthdays, graduations, etc.) to change my behavior. But of course, it didn’t work.
What did work? Concrete, unbreakable goals. For me, that meant calling a friend when I was feeling sad/stressed/vulnerable. No internet after 9pm. Daily meditations and journaling. A plan.
Without that plan, I know any vow I would’ve made would erode and eventually disintegrate. Even worse, there was always the shame and guilt of saying, “Well, I made a solemn vow to myself, and I broke it. Again. I’m hopeless.”
So! I don’t vow to wake up precisely on time, with no snoozing tomorrow. The solution lies in my goals. They need to be more specific, based on a concrete timeline, written down, shared with my accountability group, and tweaked as necessary.
Call to Action
If you read this article and you were like, “Damn, Anthony! You get me. I can totally relate,” then you can read more about how to Find Meaningful Work at StuffGradsLike.com.