Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All in good time...

So, I sort of had an epiphany today about the timing of things happening. I had a partial-epiphany about this about a year ago, but I realized a little bit more of it today. (Maybe it' s more of a progressive epiphany...) Basically, it's about the timing of things and (somewhat) what motivates us to do things when.

The back-story goes like this: In the last six years of my life (for those of you keeping score at home, that would be the duration of my graduate career), I've had problems at times getting motivated. Granted, I had difficulty getting motivated before 2002, but it seemed like I always had deadlines or parents or teachers or some other external force to motivate me before graduate school. In graduate school, you have several really big things that you have to do, and, at least in my experience, you kind of have to do a lot of the motivating for yourself.

This is a problem for me.

While I'm quite conscientious and many people would say I'm self-motivated, I have trouble working really hard on something that has a deadline looming way out there in the distance. In graduate school, the major example here would be my dissertation. Now, when I entered my program, I knew that a dissertation would be required in order for me to graduate. (I mean, it is a doctoral program, after all.) However, it always seemed like something that was far away, way off there in the distance, that I wouldn't have to worry about for a long time. Well, time passed. Years went by. I had some major ups and downs in my life (that I won't go into here), but the dissertation still didn't get done. Until one day I looked around, took stock of where I was in my life, and realized that I needed to get my butt in gear if I was gonna get out of UGA alive (and with my degree). This epiphany came at a time of major change for me, but it was just what I needed to knock out my prospectus and dissertation in a pretty short time.

The next time I had such an epiphany was in the fall of 2006 when I was, again, having some difficult times in my life. Again, I looked around, took stock of where I was in life, and decided to make a change, this time literally getting my butt in gear. I got in shape. I ran. I swam. I lifted weights. I even tried riding Jessica's road bike. (Perhaps some time in the future I'll ride a bike of my own.) But the coolest part: I achieved some major goals! In March 2008, Jessica and I ran the ING Half-Marathon in Atlanta. This is something I never thought I could do. Like the dissertation, this goal seemed so big and far-fetched that I didn't know where to begin. When the time was right, though, I had the physical, mental, and emotional strength to reach this goal. And I'm not stopping there! We have plans to run another half-marathon (the St. Jude one here in Memphis) in December.

So that leads me to today's epiphany. I've been putting off making the final revisions to my dissertation and submitting it to the graduate school since last summer. I haven't been doing this on purpose or for any specific reason. I just haven't felt it. (Or, to put it another way, I haven't been motivated to do it.) However, on Saturday I made the final changes, and I submitted it for the format check today. The format checkers got back to me super quickly, and I've been working on the changes this afternoon so that I can get it out of the way and off my plate. I'm big-time motivated to get this done now.

Thus, the epiphany...things happen in their own time. You can't force it. When everything is in place to allow you to accomplish your goals, you'll be able to accomplish them much more easily. If you try to force things before you are ready (or perhaps before the universe is ready for you to accomplish them), you'll run into problems. I've had some experiences in my day when I've tried to force something to happen that I thought I really really really really wanted to happen. However, I see now that those things weren't the plan for my life, and they failed. Today's epiphany reminds me that I need to "wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" (Psalms 27: 14) I know some people might not take this to the Bible in this way, but I feel this verse particularly appropriate for my current state of mind.

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