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My New Secret To Motivation
Not even James Clear has thought of this one...
This week, I discovered a new motivation tactic that James Clear failed to mention in his esteemed book Atomic Habits:
I will do almost anything to impress a potential romantic partner.
On Wednesday morning, Runner Boy and I woke up in my bed around 8 a.m. Yes, this is the guy I ran almost a half-marathon with last week. I won’t bore you with how we got into my bed, but it involved my book launch party, drunk kissing in a club that past weekend, and a sushi dinner the night before.
As he left my house that morning for work, he said, quite casually,
“You know, the park’s open right now. I’m sure you could make it over there before you get your day started.”
Fuck, I thought to myself. I looked at my watch. It was 8:15 a.m. Not only could I make it to the park for a run, but if I got my butt out the door in time, I could make it to the Castillo de Chapultepec, a beautiful Spanish colonial castle nestled on top of a giant hill in the park. The paved path up to the castle is open for runners until 9 a.m. (very early by my standards). With the insane altitude of Mexico City, it would be a short and tortuous workout. But it’s an impressive one, nonetheless!
Suddenly, the pillars of my identity (NEVER running on the weekdays, NEVER doing anything before 9:30 a.m.) went out the window. My stubbornness and general morning lethargy evaporated. The casualness of this man’s words and my own pathetic but overwhelming desire for him to think that I was cool and athletic supercharged me with all the energy in the world.
After he left, I quickly chucked on my running gear, clicked on my latest heavy metal playlist on Spotify, and whacked on my Strava to record. (He follows me on Strava, a nerdy running app, so, of course, I’d have to post something extra thirsty for him afterward).
It was a magical morning. The light was perfect. But they were repaving the entrance to the park. I had to use the side entrance further around the block. Would I make it to the castle on time? That had been my main plan. I ran faster, harder. Phew. I got to the bottom of the hill right around 8:55 a.m. Then, you bet your ass, I ran up that whole hill to the castle. And I photographed and filmed all the awesomest parts of my run to post on Strava later: castle pictures, a video of a cat I met on the way, a screenshot of me talking to my grandma, the CDMX sign, and all. Suddenly, I had racked up a 5.5-mile run, all before 10 a.m. I mean, WTF? 🌄
It turns out that the desire to impress another person, romantically or otherwise, can be one of the greatest motivators in the world. Don’t underestimate its power. Channeled correctly, you can suddenly find the energy to break out of your old, lazy self, even if you thought you were incapable of changing, and take on a new identity: rock-climber, New Yorker reader, volunteer at a shelter for abandoned animals. Maybe it’s not a good idea if your potential partner struggles with alcoholism or substance abuse. But exercise? Community service? We lowly, reluctant, disengaged people can suddenly get behind that.
Some of you might also remember Zoom Crush. My desire to impress him got me to do all manner of boring, positive things for the world that I never would have done otherwise. I joined some committees of our fellowship for internet addicts because I knew he would be in those meetings. And boy, did I show up on time? Did I write a bunch of articles for that Content Committee, all for more facetime with him through the Zoom screen? Yes, I did indeed.
If you can’t convince yourself to do service work and help others out of your own goodwill, I highly recommend chartering a debilitating crush who you want to impress who does that thing, and voila! You’ll suddenly be the community’s most engaged and active member. Just like in the episode of Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character starts going to church, reading from the Bible, and sitting for Quaker meetings, all to garner the priest’s love and affection. This stuff works!
Whatever happens with Runner Boy (he’s cute, please do pray for me), at least I’ll be fit as fuck. Oh, and he did give me “kudos” for my post on Strava, by the way. And he said that he really liked it. You can see the photos below. My work here is done 😌.
So, what’s the most unlike-you thing you’ve ever done to impress someone you were interested in? Did you take up pottery? Join a cult? Hike outdoors even though you hate hiking? Did that new identity stick?
Wishing you a cozy, safe, peaceful weekend,
P.S. Paperback copies of my book, These Perfectly Careless Things, are finally available for pre-order on Amazon! I will contact paid subscribers with discount codes or something of the sort so you can get your free copy! I love you all, and I’m eternally grateful for your support.