Motivate me!

As I come up on my one year in country mark and watch as the G12s prepare to leave, I’m realizing that my time here is much shorter than it originally sounded. Twenty-seven months total. And at the end of this month, I will have completed 12 of those. By all accounts, a PCVs second year is the most productive by far. And I can already see how that happens. You get more integrated in your community and opportunities for projects organically arise, particularly if you are in a city, like I am. This spring has been busy for me. And I anticipate this pace will continue for the remainder of my time here. 

However, despite being a part of some great projects, I haven’t really taken ownership of my experience here. I have helped a number of fellow volunteers with projects they initiated. I’ve jumped in to give presentations on topics that mean a lot to me (gender based violence and women’s rights), And my involvement with GLOW and the creation of a GLOW nonprofit will be a highlight of my time here. But the fact is, I had an idea for a very ambitious project almost from my first day at my permanent site. I got my director’s enthusiastic blessing to work on this project in the early fall. I drafted a concept paper in November. And then…nothing. It is now April and I haven’t done a thing with this project in five months. I’ve thought a lot about why that is. And I’ve come to a few conclusions. First, I fear failure. What if I put my effort into this project and it doesn’t work out. What would that mean for the remainder of my service? Would it put me in a negative frame of mind? Would the defeat undermine my sense of happiness here? Would I question why I’m here in the first place? Chances are none of these things would happen. More than likely, I would put forth effort and accomplish a few things before running into an insurmountable roadblock. At that point, I would either find a way around the problem by reassessing and re-scaling my plans or slowly come to the realization that maybe the idea’s time has not yet come. Either way, it probably wouldn’t be the jarring defeat I fear. Things rarely are. On the other hand, if I succeed, this would be a serious feather in my cap and could open up new interesting possibilities in my future. 

But instead, I procrastinate. Procrastination is an old, old friend of mine. I procrastinate for numerous reasons. Sometimes because I genuinely have no interest in doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I have a grant I’m procrastinating on for that very reason right now. Sometimes I procrastinate because I don’t know where to begin and I’m overwhelmed by the scope of the thing. Almost every paper I’ve ever written started with days of procrastination for this reason. Simple lesson: Begin at the beginning. Take one step at a time. Simple, but one I have to remind myself of every single time after wasting so much time. And sometimes, I procrastinate because I don’t want to put forth the effort only to fail. I have this ridiculous idea that it is better to have not even tried, because, ya know, I’m lazy, than to try and fail. The roots of my procrastination on this particular project are a combination of the latter two. Honestly, I know the next step to take, but from there, I am at a bit of a loss. But I think that is okay. I think the path will become clearer as I take each step. 

So, here’s my thinking. I’m notoriously bad at finishing projects without someone to hold me accountable, preferably with a deadline. You know when a job description says they are looking for a “self-starter”? Yeah, I don’t apply for those jobs. I thrive in a deadline driven environment, ideally while juggling several projects at once. So, I need someone to keep me accountable on this project. I’d like that person to be you. My goal, which I am putting in writing right now, is to create a full project proposal and present it to my director by the end of May. Can you call me out if I don’t do that? Essentially, I’m using my fear of failing in the eyes of everyone who reads this blog as my motivation. Will you help me? If this is successful, maybe I’ll do the same thing to get back to work on my Georgian skills. 🙂

Thanks in advance for your help!


7 thoughts on “Motivate me!

  1. I admire what you have already done and are still doing. And “failure”, well it’s not the boogie man we think it is. If a project doesn’t work out, it’s a lesson learned and you will be all the wiser in your next adventure. Many famous (and rich) people have reported many failures before finally hitting on the formula that worked for them. The only people who are real failures in life are those that don’t try. That’s NOT you. One thing that works for me when I want to get a project done is to promise myself that I will do at least one little thing towards my goal every day. It could be as little as buying a paint brush or moving the paint from the garage to the house. It doesn’t matter what it is. As long as I have done one little thing, I have kept my promise and chances are that I will do several things towards my goal. I’ve been able to get a lot done with that simple plan. So, maybe you could start by writing up a list of very small steps towards your goal and cross them off as they get done.
    Good Luck in all you do,

  2. Get going! You can do it. Set aside an hour in the morning (for business hour tasks) and an hour after dinner (for navel-contemplating related tasks) and get it done. I can’t wait to hear the details and challenges as the project unfolds.

  3. You’ve already accomplished your biggest fear and that was leaving your home and taking the first step on your adventure. You know you can do anything you make up your mind to do. So stop over thinking and making excuses and do it! Be proud of all your accomplishments thus far, you’ve come a long way! You set yourself a goal now go for it! We will be watching…..:)
    We are proud of you 😉

  4. You know all the sayings, I’m sure – such as “One small bite of the elephant.” “The longest journey starts with a single step.” etc. etc. etc.

    One that I’ve always liked was on a plaque in my home. It said “It’s not the mountain ahead that wears you down, it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” So, I encourage you to shake out your shoes and take that first step because you’ll feel better for trying even if it doesn’t come out the way you think or hope. I’m behind you 100%.


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