2017-09-10 The Command Line Podcast

This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

I ponder motivation and energy.

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Keep on Walking

8286401024_e0441285ef_oI woke up late this morning, at least late for a weekend. Despite sleeping in, my mind and limbs felt heavy. I skipped my usual habit of making myself breakfast from scratch, instead throwing something frozen in the microwave. Out the window, the neighborhood was gray, wet from overnight rain. I felt unmotivated to keep at another, more recent habit, of taking brisk walks on as many days as I can. I will be traveling this coming week, I knew I should get out of the house to walk when I have the time and space so I feel less bad if I have to skip a day later on.

(Photo by Derek Adkins. Used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.)

The sun broke out for a moment a little later in the morning, painting the houses across the street in warm, liquid gold. That sight was all the invitation I needed. Once I started moving, it was easier to keep moving. I have mapped out a few different routes, of various lengths. I can choose based on the time and my motivation on any given day. Better yet, the routes overlap. I can make a decision in the moment, to head home sooner or to push myself, to get my heart rate up a bit more, for a bit longer.

Today I chose to take my longest walk yet. I am proud of myself. A parade of chill and drab lawns and homes didn’t dissuade me. Having the choice of a quicker loop counter intuitively invited me to choose the longer loop. In the home stretch I contemplated that decision for a bit, how just putting myself in a situation to make smaller, more active choices lead me to a better outcome.

Just like I shared in another recent post, I broke my problem into smaller pieces. More than that, mulling over those pieces while in the midst of them helped me make a connection. I realized at least one reason this idea works, for my anyway. I made a connection between a powerful idea and putting it into actual practice. I had an experience I will try to keep in mind as I contemplate larger projects, whether they are writing or coding. I will try to find parallel experiences that bolster this perspective of a series of simple choices.

As a budding musician, I have been thinking about a phenomenon that I realize is similar. I am best able to play a song without sheet music correctly when I don’t think about the whole song. Rather, the playing flows best when I am just anticipating the next change. I had very similar thoughts the last time I was actively studying Tai Chi. Dozens of poses are daunting all together but when in the midst of doing them, just remembering the movement to the next pose is all it takes to get through to the end.

I have been returning to reading technical books, as part of my renewed focus on coding. I have worked through more than a few short exercises and tutorials. I can bring a greater awareness and intention to these efforts. I can choose both short, attainable chunks for each time I sit down to chip away at refreshing an old skill or tackling a new one. Better yet, I can give myself some possible next steps, an invite I will just as likely accept to continue working for a little while longer, with more energy and focus.

Ironically, I had a topic on my writing list for I don’t remember how long, on the loss of motivation. Today by holding to the thoughts that occurred to me while out walking, I was able to present myself with another easier step. I have some more ideas in my notes for this topic. I took the first step by putting my butt in the chair to share some fresh experiences and thoughts. I will no doubt feel less inertia to overcome when I return to this topic, to talk more about what causes loss of motivation and other ideas for restoring it.