Me vs. Me

Turns out that going to London for a week, then turning around and going to Washington, DC, for my (final!) fellowship meetings for four days results in a sizeable backlog of work on the homefront.  I have to pay the piper, apparently.  Man, I resent that piper sometimes. I'd much rather hide my head in the sand. Or in a giraffe costume, should that be conveniently on hand.

Towering at the top of my list is a major paper I promised to my advisor this week. It's sooooo close and yet so far from being done. I am experiencing major writing dread and I seem to be repelled from my computer. Well, maybe not my computer (here I am enjoying it immensely, see?) but definitely anything associated with academic writing.

On the other hand, I really want to do it. I do! I love the ideas I'm writing about and want to keep moving forward. I chose this set of challenges. So there's the battleground: me vs. me. I'm so good at sabotaging myself, too: my ultimate opponent.

When I was driving home this weekend, I heard a compelling Radio Lab story about this very issue. A woman named Zelda Gamson was trying to stop smoking: wanted to stop, knew she should, but somehow the "other" her kept getting in the way. I was fascinated to find out how she finally triumphed over herself. Would it be setting up a fabulous reward? Finally deciding to improve her health so she could be there for her grandchildren and (please bless) even their children?

You know what it was? She made a pact with a friend that if she had another cigarette she would send $5000 to the Ku Klux Klan. That's right, she would fund lynchings and prejudice and evil. And you know what? After decades of trying and failing to rid herself of smoking, this time she never took another puff. The key for her was finding something so revolting that it outsmarted all of her little excuses and compromises. Fascinating!

Well, back to work...surely you've figured out that even this post is a distraction from what I really should be doing. Time to locate some self discipline or get out my checkbook, I guess.

What would be the worst negative consequence you could give yourself to motivate a change or behavior you're after? Or do you work better with rewards?

p.s. I will do a mega-London post once I have made some headway toward my deadline. (Besides, if you're like me you probably overdosed on London and royal wedding coverage over the weekend, right? Take a breather and I'll inundate you soon. xo)