Right now, we are in the best and the worst time of the year: We just finished Thanksgiving break and are looking forward to Christmas break. It’s the best because we get to spend time with friends and family, because of all the cookies and cups of hot chocolate, because Christmas music, etc. It’s the worst because the amount of papers, projects, and tests are at an all-time high, while motivation—after coming back from a break where the majority of us suppressed the memory of all homework—is at an all-time low.
So, I decided to ask a few people I met around campus how they stay motivated during these few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas break. Here is some advice I heard:
“Drink lots of tea.”
“Take lots of breaks.”
“Get lots of sleep.”
“Listen to Christmas music.”
“Decorate your dorm with Christmas decorations.”
“Watch Tim Hawkins videos.”
The vast majority of people, however, gave this profound and all-too-real answer:
Some of these little nuggets of wisdom definitely made me laugh. And yet even as people told me how they do or do not stay motivated until Christmas break, I noticed that the majority of them (with the exception of the ones watching Tim Hawkins) were working on homework. And this past week, I’ve had the same conversation with many people about how much work we have to do, and yet “somehow it always gets done.”
So the fact is, whether or not we feel motivated, most of us still manage to get our work done. And I find that interesting—and I have to wonder, if we don’t actually have so much homework that we are going to die, why all the complaining? And why all the stress alternating with complete apathy? It seems a little ironic considering we just celebrated a holiday that is all about giving thanks.
I’m not going to pretend to know all the reasons, but from my own experience, I think complaining and stress and apathy become a part of our everyday routine. When we don’t know what else to talk about, we complain to each other. When someone asks how we are doing, we feel guilty if we reply anything but “stressed.” And when we look ahead at all the work that is due over the course of a few weeks, we become so overwhelmed that apathy is our only answer. What is the result? We slide through the end of the year, fulfilling the requirements at a bare minimum. And let me tell ya, seniors are more guilty than anyone.
So what do we do about it? First,in my little survey, I did actually get a couple answers that I think are wise.
“Take it one day at a time.” Once you know what you need to get done and set your priorities, focusing on each day keeps you focused and keeps you from hyperventilating about what you have due next week.
“Get your stuff done early.” Trust me, you’re not going to be more motivated later. When you have time, crank out that assignment.
Second, I have a little less practical, but perhaps more important, advice. While it is easy to recognize (although perhaps less easy to remember) that complaining is a sin, it is a harder to realize that stress and apathy are also sins. Apathy: telling God that the work he has given us to do is not worth our caring for. Stress: telling God that he is not in control. So, my last piece of advice:
“Trust that God will provide you with the time and ability to do what you need to do.” (FYI, I just quoted myself, but I wanted to keep up with the whole quote theme.)
We are given the promise that God will enable what he commands! And the Psalms tell us that God gives his loved ones sleep! So in these next few weeks, and whenever we feel overwhelmed, let’s remember to rest in what God has promised us, to draw from his unending strength, and to find joy in fulfilling the work he has put before us.