Run Clinic: Running out of motivation due to exam stress
Q I had tried running before reading your book, with the “couch-to-5k” plan, but I quickly got bored with the recordings and hated running with my iPod in so I tried it by myself. With no motivation or plan, I started drifting. Then I found your book online.
I couldn’t put it down, I pored over the plan and eagerly started it right away. I won’t lie, I skipped a few stages and had a break of a month while I was on a nursing placement in Nepal, but I have kept at it. (And have so far lost 2½ stone – 1½ stone of it while following your plan.)
But in the past few weeks my motivation has gone down the pan, my runs are dwindling rapidly: last week it was two and this week I have yet to go out. I know what is behind it though and I need your advice.
I am just finishing the second year of my nursing degree, and I failed my last exam (a practical one). I failed an exam once before, in my first year of A-levels, and my mom told me she had lost faith in me. That broke my heart as she, being a strong, independent single mom and my closest friend, had meant everything to me.
What made it worse was that she died before I finished my A-levels and got into uni, so I never found out if she regained that faith. So when I found out I’d failed an exam again, all those memories came back to me and I have felt so demotivated and worthless for the past three weeks.
I am doing a re-sit in a week’s time and have started revising, but I am struggling to stay motivated with anything, be it revision, keeping up with household chores or running. I am flitting from one thing to the other and not finishing anything. I feel like I’m barely living at the minute. Anon
A Your self-awareness of what is at the root of the problem is at least two-thirds of the cure. You realise what is happening here and you are keen to take responsibility and stop doing it. Bingo.
The bottom line is that you are afraid of failing this re-sit and, in classic self-sabotage mode, are using what happened with your mum as an excuse for faffing and procrastinating. Fear is at its root. Fear of failure. And it is entirely normal. You failed your nursing exam and you failed an A-level before that. You lost your mother at a tender age. All these things are very challenging.
But the greatest challenges are never the events themselves. It is not what happened that defines us, it is what we make it mean and how we then act that matters.