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Beating your inner snooze button

Winter is coming… I’m excited to see other students wearing hats and mittens, as I can finally wear mine too! Looking back at my last blog, it feels almost like a different person wrote it. I don’t think I’ll ever realize how fast time is flying and how much can change in a few weeks. I’m happy to say that writing reminders on my phone has helped me remember deadlines and tasks.

I’ve been feeling stressed lately due to a constant stream of assignments and midterms; they just keep coming! Because of my stress, I feel like I’ve been putting some of that stressed energy into my blogs. In my last piece, I shared my feelings about missing an assignment and being upset and stressed, as I think it’s essential to convey to my fellow peers at Queen’s that everyone is struggling with their problems.

This week, I want to channel confidence and ambition because as much as learning from our mistakes and struggling together is soothing, purpose drives us to make goals and reach them. It’s purpose that helps us overcome procrastination and inertia.

I recently watched a TED Talk by Mel Robbins called “How to stop screwing yourself over.” I wanted to share some of the things I learned with you so that you can get what you really want out of your studies.

Robbins explains that we all have an “inner snooze button.” Did you get out of bed today after the first alarm without hitting snooze? I certainly did not. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed at all. The inner snooze alarm is similar – in any area of our life that we want to change, all our small and big ideas, there is one fact we need to know: “We’re never going to feel like it.” Chemists might call this activation energy: the minimum energy required to cause something to occur. It could be anything – closing the Netflix tab to start studying, looking for internships, or doing that thing you’ve wanted to do for months. You’re never going to feel like doing it. And that’s hard. Once we hit 18 and arrive at university, nobody really tells us that it’s our job to parent ourselves, including doing what we don’t want to do.

It’s simple to get what we want, but it’s not easy. We have to realize that we’re never going to feel like getting out of bed during our alarm’s first ring or preparing for that lab report a week in advance. We have to force ourselves to do it. Anything that requires a change in our routine requires activation energy to force ourselves to do it. If we listen to what we feel when it comes to what we want, we’re never going to get it; because we’re never going to feel like it.

Robbins also has another theory – and I’m not sure if it’s scientific or not, but it rings true with me. She believes we only have 5 seconds to do what we want until our brain doesn’t want to do it anymore. The 5 seconds between an idea and an action is essential – the problem isn’t not having any ideas; it’s not acting on them. If you have a question while doing homework, you have 5 seconds to decide to email the TA for help before your brain kills the idea. We’re never going to feel like it, so why can’t we do it now? It’s not easy, but we can do it. We have access to many online resources, Google, SASS, and any bookstore, so we have the resources to do anything we want to do. We just have to decide to act urgently when our brain has ideas: whether by completing a task immediately or by just getting going on that task. The best time is now!

Mel ends her TED Talk by arguing that we shouldn’t settle for being “fine.” Saying we’re “fine” allows us to not do anything about our issues. We convince ourselves that we’re fine not completing a goal: “I’m fine, I haven’t started my homework, but no one else has started either”; “I’m fine, my roommates are never going to change, so I can’t tell them to clean”; “I’m fine, I can’t find an internship, but whatever, it’s hard to find a job.” Sometimes we can’t have everything we want: those roommates can be tricky, and jobs don’t grow on trees. But at least we can try. We all have ideas that can change our life, the world, or anything. We just can’t hit the inner snooze button.

Reflecting on the idea of “I’m never going to feel like it” has helped me do a lot more things in the last few weeks because I realize it’s better to do something now than waiting indefinitely to “feel like it.” I can always remind myself to get going, to accept my starting point, and to remember that conditions are never perfect to start or complete a task.

So do your thing! Start your essay, start looking for internships, start doing the things that make you uncomfortable because that is how we progress at an upwards slope in life. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.

Good luck, Gaels!  – Liyi