Anderson: The pursuit of a magical, mythical beast

The traps, snares and nets are set. You’ve baited them with desirable rewards, a night out, liquor or romantic solo Netflix time.

“Any minute now,” you assure yourself.

Your breathing is slow and deliberate, your palms are sweaty. You’ve been waiting days, weeks to capture this elusive and desirable beast. It’s a trophy that’s sought after by all, escaped by most and caught by a select few. You’ve been hunting it for so long, it’s starting to seem like an unattainable mythical creature. It’s a unicorn.

Suddenly, there it is! Out of the corner of your eye you spot it, nibbling at the bait. Then, disaster strikes. It eats the bait and gallops into the distance, sparkly tail swishing and disappearing into the horizon.

Before you know it, you’ve just gotten home from the bar, you’re drunk, eating a grilled cheese and watching an entire season of Archer on Netflix. Alas, it has evaded your grasp yet again. It snuck in, stole the bait from your carefully constructed trap, fooled you, and pranced off into the woods, awaiting the next hunter to begin pursuit.

This mythical unicorn is of course, motivation.

Like all things in life worthy of chase, motivation is not obtained without a fight. To help put things into perspective, this column was supposed to be printed last week. Whoops. Evidently, I wasn’t diligent enough when setting my trap. That terrible monster tricked me. I neglected my deadline as he fed me Jameson’s and good times. What a jerk.

The most troublesome part about hunting motivation is that you are the only one who can catch it. There are no teams. There are no hunting buddies on motivation safaris. You can’t rely on someone to share his or her motivation unicorn. Who would?

Often we make a pact with ourselves. We promise to have a reward upon completion of a task. It’s a grand idea, but all too often it is just that, an idea. We are foolish.
 Promises to oneself are the easiest to break. We swear that we’ll leave our phone alone, turn off the TV and stay in, all in order to nab that tricky little beast. Then we get lazy and take the reward before the hunt is over.

As university students, we all can relate to that intoxicating moment when we catch the highly sought after prize. There’s a fire in your head, an intangible force dictating your every move and an inextricable beam of focus, pointed at the task at hand. Your actions are deliberate and your attention is razor sharp.

The question is, how do we snag motivation when we see and feel it? Clearly I’m still working through that myself, even after four years of post-secondary.

What we need to come to terms with is the fact that motivation hunting is a catch-and-release system. No one can possess the animal at all times, that will only lead to burnout. After staking out our prey and capturing it, we must cut a lock of its mane, use it and release the magical beast back into the wild. Then, a celebration is in order.

If we don’t protect our motivation as the endangered species that it is, the population will die out and we’ll never see it again. So take this master of procrastination’s word for it. Chase your motivation with a catch-and-release mindset. Keep a lock of its majestic mane, but let it return to the wild.

It will come back eventually, it always does.