The Risks of A Break in the Juggle of Life

Well, here we are starting the second week of January. Yeeeeesh. I’m sure there are a lot of people getting ramped back up again for work, or university, or the countless other things that require our energy and attention. I wish you all luck, but for me, the end of the tunnel is in sight. Well, this immediate tunnel, at least. After my psychology exam next week I’m due for a blissful month off from lectures and assessments, during which I will theoretically achieve monumental goals—like splitting the atom or starting (and finishing) my next manuscript, or becoming a world-famous blogger—and in all likelihood won’t achieve much at all… Other than perhaps a lot of reading.

When I was younger, my Dad always used to tell me that, “it gets harder, the closer you get to the end.” It was inevitably true throughout my schooling, throughout my military training… Through most things, really. And so, of course, as I near the conclusion of this trimester, I’m less inclined to study for my exam. Getting a head start on next trimester? Ahhhh, yes, not really feeling inclined to do that.

Interestingly enough, there’s actually a reason for this (which I guess isn’t that surprising since there are logical/semi-logical reasons for most things). There’s are numerous fascinating psychological ideas about what drives human beings to act in certain ways. One of them that particularly appeals to me is the juncture between an ‘approach drive’ and an ‘avoidance drive’. They’re pretty simple ideas. An approach drive is something that drives us to approach something, like hunger making us get up off the couch to forage in the pantry. Conversely, an avoidance drive is something that motivates us to avoid doing something (bet you didn’t see that one coming), like laziness making us not want to get off the couch to find a snack. The gradient for avoidance drives is much steeper than that of approach drives, which basically just means that as we get towards the end of something, we’re more likely to try and avoid it. [Disclaimer: at least, I think that’s what it means. Hopefully I’ve got that right, or next week’s exam could be a bit of a rude shock.] Regardless, that’s the spot I find myself in.

In fact, I find the more relaxed my personal schedule is, the harder it is to make myself do anything… Which is bloody criminal when I consider how many differing things I always promise myself I’m going to do as soon as I get more free time. So then the challenge becomes how best to carefully balance the need to give myself a bit of a break after next week, so that I’m not completely burnt out when heading into the next period of study, versus how to not just fall over in a heap and become a vegetable. I have a sneaky feeling that other people out there may have experienced similar phenomenon before, so I’m all ears for the best way to approach it.

My plan at the moment is to make a list and aim to complete three things on that list every day.

I have a total of twenty-three books to read for Trimester 1, 2017, which—factoring in the reduced study time I’ll have because of our upcoming road trip—means that once those arrive, I really have to get a wriggle on my reading. Undoubtedly that will be my main effort, but luckily I love reading!  I’m also hoping to continue getting some blogging stuff organised, as well as writing every day and maybe starting a new manuscript. I have an idea for a science-fiction novella: I’ve never written sci-fi before, so it’s another challenge that will take a bit of gumption to get through.

I may also do some (or a lot) of napping, and I’d love to do some painting, drawing, photography practice, and maybe revisit some poetry. I still have to figure out my plan for submitting work for this year… My confidence has been a little damaged by an unbroken literary magazine rejection streak, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Exam study is calling.



  1. What happens if the approach and avoidance drives collide? A friend of mine was saying yesterday that it’s easy to give up smoking because it’s just about not doing something. If he wants a cigarette, he has to actually do something. I would have liked there to be some kind of explosion…

    • Great question! So typically you just get locked into a stalemate until one wins over the other. Weird, the way brains work. Certainly, if that works for him, that’s awesome: but looking at the large number of people who struggle giving up smoking, I’d say he’s really in the minority! :p

      • Stalemate, yes that makes so much sense. Feels like I can recognise the symptoms easier than being consciously aware of what’s going on.
        He’s a chilled kinda guy, which probably works with his strategy. Logic can be a subjective co-pilot.

        • Oh, I definitely agree. The couch analogy is perfect: I want to eat a snack, but I can’t be bothered to move to get the snack and it takes me forever to pick which will win. I think a lot of the time the avoidance wins out simply because it’s often a lack of doing something rather than actively performing a task.
          Yeah, that makes sense: I mean, as long as it works for him, kudos :p

  2. Good luck with the final push Ana! I’m slowly getting back into a normal routine – back to work yesterday, my parents fly home to the UK (been with us for six weeks) today and kids back to school tomorrow. Looking forward to having the odd minute here and there for writing!!

    Oh, and I’m quite sure the rejection streak is just a temporary blip 🙂

    • Nik! Good to see you (‘see you’) around the traps 🙂 Wow, sounds like you’ve been incredibly busy: routine and some space again is always good, especially if there’s time for writing 🙂 Looking forward to hearing about the products of some of that stolen time! Haha thanks: I’ve just accepted it for now… Can’t last forever :p

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