When I woke up today, I knew my day was going to suck. Like, really suck. And sure enough, I missed the bus and had to get a cab, and then worked a full shift on my feet. Even my regular double infusion of caffeine didn’t help: I was irritable and frustrated all morning, and I almost fell asleep on the subway coming home. I had started the day wanting to go for a run, but as I walked home in the freezing cold of the the early afternoon and sank into the couch I thought that nothing would get me out of it again. Which brings me to the point of this post: Finding Your Motivation! It’s as easy as jumping into a sunset joyfully! Hooray!

Not.

Not.

Just kidding. If it was that easy, we wouldn’t be here. Or at least, I wouldn’t be here.

Motivation is something that I’ve struggled with for a long time, whether it be for getting a head-start on school homework or cleaning my room, or exercising. Coming to terms with it and recognizing that “YES, I do have a problem with motivation!” has been one of my key breakthroughs in the past few months. Along with that realization also comes the knowledge that I’m not a slave to it. I alone have the power to motivate myself. Nobody apart from ME was able to convince me 100% to take responsibility for the things in my life, exercise included.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but beating yourself up about it or getting others to shame you into it gets you nowhere. It’s just a choice. Your choice. You can choose to be motivated, or you can choose not to be. Yesterday, in spite of all the crappiness, I chose to put my shoes on and walk out the door. And after a mile of running, I knew it was the right choice to make. About a mile and a half into my run, as I rounded a corner into Davis Square, I saw a man with a walker shamble out of a doorway towards a waiting vehicle. He wasn’t super old, but I got the impression that he hadn’t gone anywhere quickly in a very long time. When I saw him cross the sidewalk ahead of me I felt like all that effort I had put towards motivating myself to get out the door was worth it, because I was suddenly struck by a simple truth.

The precise thought I had was: “This run is a gift. Every run you go on is a gift you give yourself”, and it was a gift this guy couldn’t give to himself ever again. We are all lucky to be able to move like we do, be it running or swimming or yoga or yard work.

I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline or the circulation returning to my fingertips or just the fresh air, but I could feel the stress and trial of the day completely wash away. Just knowing that I was able to summon the will to get off the couch again and walk out the door was a victory for me, cemented by the realization that I didn’t have to go running today, but I got to go running today. Maybe it can be a victory for you as well.

–Andrew