The Motivation Train

Listen, you can’t waste a Sunday morning, but whether that means you should sleep in and then lounge on the couch with hot coffee and a lazy dog, or whether you should get after it, lacing up the shoes, hitting the dirt, I’m not the one to tell you. The first option is seductive. It’s my default position. Lazy. With coffee.

But then the texts come. They start off gentle. “Hey, what’s your plan?” At this stage my plan is in motion. It’s inertial. The dog is snoring softly, having consumed a bowl of meat pellets after a quick visit to the backyard. We’re locked in. We’re content.

And then, “I’m gonna run.”

Something begins to shift in my mind. Is this guilt? Is it FOMO? Or in these three simple words, have I just heard the message: You will be happier, in the long run, if you get out and do some work, if you push your never-ending outdoor project down the tracks a little further. Sitting still is for later.

The dog is unmoved, but already I’m making a mental list of things I have to do before I leave the house. Eat something. Anything. Check weather. Get dressed. Second guess my choices. Make a water bottle. Grab my watch. Or don’t.

Without committing to my motivated friend, I send a transitional text, “Where?”

She’s made her opening move, making clear to me that I am running by making clear to me that she is running. I can only peg her back with a logistical challenge. I know this is only a delaying tactic from my side. She’s already got a loose plan. She knows it. I know it. It only remains to be seen whether I will propose something different or better. The momentum has shifted.

Here’s what I think. I think, left to my own devices, I’m a moderately active person with good intentions. I genuinely enjoy all the outdoor shit I do. I love to run, ride, hike, explore. All of it. But I’m also an underachiever, mostly content to do less than the most. Put another way, I’m a twelve-time non-Olympian, and my not-winning formula is pretty well established.

That is why, when my phone buzzes, I understand what I need to do. The motivation train is pulling out of motivation station, and I need to get ready for departure.

After a brief logistical back and forth, I’m making toast (the OG performance food) and considering my shoe options. The thing is, I don’t have to bring all the motivation to my adventures. I need to bring some, but what seems more important is a willingness to take advantage of other people’s energy when available.

There is an unfortunate gap, in my experience, between ambition and motivation. I’m plenty ambitious. I want to do big things, or maybe I just want to have done them. The motivation to get there, for me, needs to be a collaboration with my friends who share all or some of those ambitions, and are maybe less susceptible to the hyper-gravitational pull of the couch and the dog and the hot cup of coffee.