forward motion.

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When JT first asked me to write a blog post or two for this site of ours, I put him off because I wanted to get his voice established. After all, he’s the driving force here, not me. I just clean up the commas. (… Okay, I do more than clean up the commas.)

Then I put him off because I didn’t think I had anything to say.

Then he went haring off to Greece with his wife and sent me an e-mail saying Hey, can you write up a post for Monday? I had an idea, but make it your own… so here we are! JT and M are enjoying the Mediterranean, and you’re probably starting to wonder what JT’s idea was and how I made it my own.

Or maybe you’ve looked at that picture and realized this is not the blog post JT suggested, but one of my own invention and, wait a second—why did she start this post with physics?

These days, my favorite science is physics.

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This has not always been the case. In fact, when I started high school I absolutely abhorred physics. The following years of chemistry and biology—even the advanced physics class I took senior year—were much more my cup of tea. So much so, in fact, that I decided med school was the path for me and went charging into organic chemistry and biology labs.

I will be the first to admit I actually really enjoyed organic chemistry. (Yes, really.) I will also be the first to admit that my pre-med and first job post-grad experiences left me soured against almost every single science class I took.

Except physics. There’s always been something soothing about introductory physics.

The force of friction is equal to the coefficient of friction multiplied by the normal force. The coefficient of static friction is almost always more than the coefficient of kinetic friction.

 

Usually there’s a significant difference between the sizes of μs and μk—static being the larger of the two. In other words, it takes a lot more effort to get moving than it takes to keep moving. 

I have found this to be true in just about every area of my life. Deciding what to make for dinner, cleaning, reorganizing bookshelves, work projects, filing, making a budget, making small talk, required reading, even writing—be that blog posts, short stories, or cover letters.

It’s especially true, it seems to me, about cover letters. And updating resumes. And filling out applications. And—ugh—networking.

Know your struggle.

When JT asked if I’d jump on board, I was hesitant. Me? I asked. I don’t know the first thing about finance outside of making my loan payments on time. 

You, he insisted. I need you for this.

He dealt with a million protests. I don’t know anything about financeI have a ton of student loans. I spend my free time looking up job boards and writing cover letters, not on side hustles. I’ve been looking for a new job for over a year and I’ve barely managed to pay the few bills I have! How am I qualified for this?!

You, he insisted. I need you for this.

Shortly after our first team meeting, JT and I swapped Strengthsfinder results. (We’ve mentioned this test a few times.) Of our top five strengths, the only one we have in common is restorative. That means we’re both problem solvers. JT goes about that with all of his competitive strategies and an eye to the future. Being a completely different person, I (naturally) handle problems completely differently. I don’t have the same drive or ambition to change everything. I don’t have the same thirst for competition and success. Those are areas where I struggle, not where I excel.

And while I think strategically, I’m not a strategist.

My ability to solve problems hinges on my empathy and my curiosity. I depend on my ability to recognize the strengths and experiences of those around me, figure out how they work well together, and draw connections between things that once seemed totally unrelated… which brings me back to my point.

Finance and Physics

I suppose you could say this is the post for those of us who don’t go galloping doggedly into the fray. You aren’t alone. I mean, heck. I’m good at math and I’m still crap at finance, and I don’t even have to deal with trying to teach it to kids.

Before you can figure out how to teach finance to your kids (or yourself), before you can change your lifestyle to get out of debt or change your budget to up your savings,  before you can pull a Katie Ledecky on whatever the 1500m freestyle race of your life is, you have to get past that coefficient of static friction. It’s holding you back. 

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We can’t all be JT (I swear his μs is smaller than his μk), so here’s where the rest of us get started.

Kinetic Friction

What gets you moving forward? Deadlines are a favorite motivator of mine. I wrote a draft of my first (… and so far only, and still unfinished) novel because I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. Last year, I re-wrote it. This year…. we’ll see, but having a deadline and a goal is an excellent motivator for me.

Really, though, motivation is not about the deadline. It’s about accountability. I’m a responsible sort of person who likes to be deemed responsible. That means that when people expect things of me, I need to get them done. Sometimes this looks like signing up for National Novel Writing Month, and sometimes it looks like setting up online bill-pay.

If you need to be held accountable for things, find someone to do that. I guarantee you that there is someone in your life who is willing to check in with you once a week to make sure you’re keeping to your budget and not spending all your money on tacos or new gadgets.

Newton’s First Law of Motion

I can be a bit impulsive at times, especially around a bookstore. For ages this caused me budgeting difficulties because, the second I was inside a second-hand bookshop, the second I forgot about my carefully calculated budget. I tried what I called a “book buying ban” in order to get my budget back in order (not to mention my bookshelves). Here’s the problem: an object in motion stays in motion

In other words: old habits die hard.

The book buying ban was not a good solution. Instead of making it easier to stick to budget, it made it more difficult. I didn’t need to just stop buying books. I needed to re-shape how I thought about them and how I thought about spending money.

Enter Goodreads and the good ol’ Free Library of Philadelphia (as well as a few other friends). Instead of visiting bookstores just because, I walk in with a purpose, looking to find a particular book for a particular reason. If I do go in just because, I write down the titles of books I’m interested in and add them to my goodreads shelves or put them on hold with the library.

Find the tools that help you stay on track.

Are you a to-do list person? Digital or handwritten? Both are excellent tools. For digital try Any.do, or Habitica if you want something more fun to play with. One of my college roommates swore by her Google Calendar, but I prefer a paper planner. Digital to-do lists never quite work for me. I get too distracted trying to keep up with them. A handwritten list I can cross out or move around works better for me, so I stick to those. You might’ve already guessed that I’m a post-it note sort of person, but I also swear by my bullet journal.

Does a regular to-do list drive you insane, but digital ones don’t quite cut it either? Try making progress bars instead.

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This is another point where physics comes in handy. If you can give up cable for a month to help your budget, you can spend a month figuring out how to keep moving towards your goals. Try digital to-do lists one week, handwritten the next, and getting someone to ask you about your progress on the third. There are a hundred different ways to keep yourself moving forward. You just have to find the one that works for you.

Like, you know, having your blog partner take a trip to the Mediterranean and leave you in charge of Monday’s post.

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Maybe Ms. Frizzle had it right. The best way to figure out a new approach is to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.


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4 Comments

  • Nicole October 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Hi, Connor! I enjoyed your article. Love the progress bars on your to-do lists. That’s such a cool idea.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts, JT and Connor!

    Reply
    • connor grace October 26, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you! And I wish I could take credit–a friend of mine who works as a lighting designer started me on it. Excellent way to keep track of multiple tasks at once!

      Reply
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