By Rev. Leo Almazán
We have established that we are going through an intense period of loss. We are grieving the loss of our individual and collective sense of purpose, of safety, of invincibility. We also know that…this will go on for a long while. What can we do to remain motivated? One phrase: work on yourself.
The temptation to stay in bed, to slack, to throw everything aside, especially prayer, is hard to resist at this time. However, this crisis is giving all of us an opportunity to stay true to our commitments and goals, without the external motivation that comes with having to show up for work or to go to class where bosses or teachers can “monitor” our progress.
This is the time to learn a valuable lesson, however. It has never been about others. It has always been about each one of us deciding what kind of life and future we want to build, what kind of person we would like to be. What kind of virtues and skills we will need to remain healthy, wholesome, and holy. So, this is no vacation. This is no time to slack off or to “do as I please.” Instead, this is the time to redouble our efforts and to remain committed.
Here are three ways to do so – and they are presented in the second person singular for a reason (hint… hint…):
“Keep your eyes on the prize.” Remember, you are studying or working to build something important. You have something of great value to contribute to the world. So, find motivation by choosing the type of person, professional you want to be, independently of external structures and pressures. Recommit to your chosen goals and life expectations and whenever things get harder, focus on the end-goal. Imagine [a day in the future]; think about the breakthrough in your research; picture all the good you can do. And whenever you get distracted, take a break, listen to music, exercise (keeping appropriate social distancing, of course) … and then go back to work.
“Keep the fire burning.” Remember, it is moments like the present one that will test your resolve, side-track you, demotivate you. This is the time to take stock of all you have accomplished and of all the good habits you have acquired until now. Further, it is time to engage in healthy eating habits that will increase your dopamine levels (i.e., increase your consumption of almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs, fish, beans and chicken). Furthermore, it is the time to make sure that you are getting enough sleep, praying/meditating, listening to music, and doing something creative so that you may stay sane, healthy, and motivated.
“Keep trying.” Remember, social distancing does not equate isolation. In order for you to keep motivated, to keep eating healthy, to keep studying hard, to keep up your daily routine, you will need to be accountable to someone other than yourself. Here is where you will need family and friends to help you. As you try to remain healthy, wholesome, and holy, remind yourself of the end-goal. Activate and fully engage your good habits, and check in with family and friends from time to time. Keep in mind that we are in this together and we will see each other through this.