I’m working off and on at getting another post together about my students’ final portfolios but that’s going slowwwwwwly. Time for a break to write something else.
Friends mentioned enjoying hearing about my ε (epsilon) > 0 exercise plan, and that it helped them to keep going. I’ve mentioned it, but I’ve never described it.
The name is a bad math joke. Almost every calculus proof starts with “pick any ε (epsilon) greater than 0”. We let ε get infinitesimally small, but it is not zero.
In other words, “something is better than nothing,” which surely applies to exercise.
This past year I hit burnout. I didn’t want to exercise. I didn’t even want to go out for a walk. Just leave me in my recliner all day with my computer and a book to read, okay?
The rational part of my brain recognizes the necessity of exercise. I resorted to mental tricks to get me out of the house, somehow, to get something done.
I know I’m not alone in this. Everyone has unmotivated days. It’s just that in my case they can become weeks and months. When this happens, generally, one of two things is going on:
- I am having a motivational crisis. If I’d actually pull yourself together and get out there, I will have a fine time and be glad I did it.
- I am really not physically up to it today. I need an easier workout or no workout and some rest.
The problem is that it is really hard to tell these two states apart. Just unmotivated will always feel like not up to it today.
Solution? Do ε. That is to say, something. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. I don’t care, I just have to talk myself into getting dressed in the appropriate workout clothing, going out and getting started. And here’s the deal; if I do 5-10 minutes and the problem is purely lack of motivation? I’ll generally buck up and complete a workout (maybe a small one, but better than nothing). If the problem is that I am not physically up to it today, I will not buck up, and then I go in after 5-10 minutes. Which is still better than nothing! Plus, I know it wasn’t just laziness, so I can stop beating myself up for that.
The bottom line? ε (epsilon) > 0. Something is better than nothing.
Some additional advice:
- Find something to do that is fun for you. Dance class? Team sport? Solo time? Friend time? Reading on the treadmill? Whatever it is, that is what you should do. For me, it is doing something with a group.
- Don’t give up. ε adds up over time. Congratulate yourself, keep it up, keep trying. If you are in a funk, this will help it move on more quickly.
- Nothings working? Then try something new. What have you thought might be cool that you haven’t tried yet? See if you can do something like that.
- Don’t give up. Just keep trying.
I’m still struggling some with motivation, but I am trying a new activity. And of my old activities, this past weekend I did something that I know is more than ε. I hope the funk passes soon, but if not? I will persist with ε!