Today is one of those days where I woke and dreaded the one hour drive that I’d be making to work later that morning. I sluggishly hit snooze on my alarm a handful of times, deviating from my normal ‘take a gulp of water and hop right out of bed’ morning routine. No motivation. Between all of the stressors from my personal life and from work that have creeped their way towards me and have so intimately entangled me in the past two weeks, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed. Reluctantly making phone calls to different home-care agencies and filling out confusing trust paperwork for my mother upon her Medicaid acceptance has proven itself to be emotionally draining, to say the least. Concurrently, I face constant obstacles in my early research as I desperately try to purify a recent synthesis reaction that I’m not sure is even working, while a rotation student’s synthesis and purification leaves me dumbfounded with no clear direction forward. It’s hard to prevent negative thoughts and emotions from seeping out at times like these. So where do I find motivation?

I recently started a book club with some girlfriends of mine and this new hobby has proven itself to be quite a peaceful catalyst for me. Reading (we’re talking about anything but scientific literature, here) helps stimulate my mind, calm down, and get in tune with my own feelings and emotions. The latter is something so important for a person who moves nearly 1,000 miles per hour with barely any time to relax. I get that god awful trait from my father. During the week its always, “Well this reaction isn’t working… why not? What have we done wrong? What can we do differently? Let’s check to see if anyone else has done this.” Utilizing hours on end to push past constant failures in the lab. If weekends aren’t spent in lab, they are spent catching up on weekly errands that I wasn’t able to get around to- dropping off mail at the post office, doing laundry, going food shopping, visiting mom in what she calls “prison”. I consider reading a time to myself where I am not rushed nor completely conscious about the stressors in my life. I completely submerge myself in the fantasy world of whatever book I have chosen, for the time being.

And then there is my love for the outdoors. Man, just thinking about my next adventure destination really gets me going. Hiking, camping, and backpacking act as this type of zen for me. The mountains, especially, have a way of resetting my emotional state, like the way you feel after getting a great night’s sleep- refreshed and ready to take on a new day. The ability to experience natural landscapes so surreal thrusts humble feelings over my head and brings me to such a relaxing place where I can think through and find solutions to even the toughest situations I am experiencing at the time, without distraction. My last trip was a solo one to Montana last July, so I’d say I am overdue for an adventure.

Simply writing this post has lifted the semi-depressive mood that I’ve been in since awakening this morning. Do I have a little more motivation? A little bit, actually (sweet!). Although this post sure doesn’t help the fact that I feel I have no idea what I’m doing, it has allowed me to deliver my thoughts through a different medium. Now I can move forward with taking the necessary steps required to figure out exactly what I do need to do to succeed- one day at a time. How do you find motivation?

With that, here’s a photo that brings me back to a peaceful place. Looking back at pictures like this always helps me take a deep breathe and move forward. This is from a rainy afternoon at Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park. Amazing, right??

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sultan says:

    Hey Danielle. Your post on Motivation was pretty relatable. People on the outside may only hear about the good times of research but there’s definitely a lot more that goes into it. Even with myself, there’s my work life and my home life, which have their own ups and downs that require separate attention. I like the premise of your posts in that they provide perspective on the gritty details of grad school. I’m looking forward to relating to your next one. 🙂 But for now, and this goes to both of us, hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sultan! It’s hard to keep a work-life balance while in grad school (as you know). I want to give people a full picture in hopes that they can relate.


  2. Doctor Wicked Witch says:

    Don’t fall in the motivation trap of waiting to feel motivated before taking action. Because sometimes you never feel it. I can’t remember where I read it but I like the mantra “motivation does not precede action, action precedes motivation.” It’s true and it builds off each other. For example, I love running and it makes me feel good. But honestly, the urge to go out and run doesn’t strike me very often (maybe 2-3 times a year). But I still go out and run anyway and it makes me feel better. Also the more I suck it up and go run the easier it gets to go out and run.


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