15 August 2007

I Have the Will Power of a Slug

I've been blogging an awful lot about my kids lately, because, frankly, they're more fun and interesting than me. But now it's my turn because I need your help.

This past May I finally finished my BA and made a New Plan: I will spend this year getting myself into a really good English Lit/Creative Writing PhD program for next fall and then move my whole family to wherever it is. I spend the next five years working to become a professor while Steve supports us.

Sounds pretty sweet, right? It's got Steve's stamp of approval and everything, and yes, I know how incredibly lucky I am to have him.

Now, I almost always have a Plan, and the Plan is subject to change at any time. But here's my problem, I don't want to change this plan. This is a good plan, I know it, you know it and the American people know it. So why is it so hard for me to buckle down and do what needs to be done?

Back in May, when I was still all gung-ho about the plan, I started reading Milton's Paradise Lost, but after a while I just lost interest. I put it down. I got distracted by Zadie Smith's novel On Beauty (which is really good). I read another page of Paradise Lost. I put it down again. I read the new Harry Potter in about a day and half (children? what children?).

I know what I need to do.
  1. I need to read all of the books that I will need to know in order to get a decent score on the GRE English Literature Subject Test.
  2. I need to keep writing, and not just on my blog. If I'm serious, this should also include submitting things for publication. I like to think I am serious.
  3. I need to learn Italian, which is the only thing I have been actively doing and even in this case I've heard that practicing kind of helps.
Why can't I do these things? There are only three of them, that's it (at least until application time rolls around). So why is it so hard for me to stay focused and motivated?

The only excuse I can manage to come up with for myself is the old I-have-two-small-children-and-work-from-home excuse, and despite it's obvious validity, it still feels like an excuse, especially when all I am able to do once the little ones are in bed is push the buttons on the remote control.

I want someone to tell me what to do, except, I already know what I need to do, and watching TV is not it.


Cathy said...

First, I love the grad photos.

Second, I am seriously loving the hair! Why didn't I get hair like that? Why?

OK, you've got a great plan. But you also have some mighty forces working against you -- small children who tend to make messes or wound themselves with the toenail clippers, for example. Or the pristine recently published books that beckon from the glossy shelves. So much more tempting than those we've read before. So shiny. So new!

As for the television -- I have a toddler who is quite adept at losing the remote control. Forever. I could send him your way to ensure any TV temptation is removed. But if you notice anything rectangular floating in your toilet, for god's sake dont' flush it!

Stepherz said...

Gosh, motivation is just not my forte. I know that it comes when it needs to though. Obviously you know that. Look how far you've come. If you didn't know how and when to kick it into gear, you wouldn't be where you are! I'm in awe of all you have done. :-)

andi said...

Oh, the planning! And the foiling of said plans by the children. I feel your pain - they are a totally valid excuse, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

On another note - On Beauty was one of the best things I read in a long time.

thordora said...

It's hard. I want to go back to school in the next 3 years and I'm terrified to! I'm so not in an official learning head anymore-not a write essay head.

Paradise Lost isn't anything I've ever bothered trying to get through. Good luck!

Brillig said...

Sigh. Strangely... this post made me feel like going back to bed.

So, yeah... good luck with all that!

Jenn said...

Anything by Milton is extremely difficult to get through. Don't be too hard on yourself about that. It is not a "pleasure read" like Harry Potter, it's a "deep thought" read.

As for buckling down and putting your plan into motion, make your three must-do items a daily job. For an hour every day (after kids are in bed, or before they get up, whenever), close the computer room door, put your shoes on and WORK. Yes, put your shoes on. You don't go to the office barefoot, do you? Studies have shown that people feel more leisurely when they are barefoot, and more ready to get into the grind with shoes on.

Carve out that hour for the same time every day and remember, a habit takes almost two months to develop.