One of the things that always blows my mind about students is the lengths that some will go to NOT do the assignment. I’m settling in to that time of year where my days are filled with teaching, and my nights are filled with paper grading. And there’s always one student in every class who spends way too much time and energy looking for a work around rather than actually doing the assignment.
- This is the student who asks if they actually have to write in complete sentences. (It’s a college-level writing course. DO NOT ASK THAT.)
- This is the student who can’t be bothered to do all the regular assignments, but wants extra credit assignments for days. (As if I want to sit around creating new assignments to grade.)
- This is the student who goes through their 5-page paper, and makes all the periods font size 20, so it takes up more space. (I invented that one, bucko, but I got to use it before professors graded digitally, so I got away with it.)
I could go on, but I don’t want some student stumbling onto this post while they’re on a deadline, and thinking they’ve just found all the ways they can get away with not doing the work.
I bring all this up because students have a tendency to put way too much into workarounds. They put too much into not actually doing what they need to do. They give 70% effort all around, and nothing gets fully done. And if I’m being real, I do that too.Are you self-sabotaging with moderation? Click To Tweet
See, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to build habits. I want to stop biting my nails. I want to quit drinking diet soda. I want to work out regularly. I want to wake up at the same time every day. I want to attack my to do list with the sort of zeal exhibited by a pack of wild dogs on a 3-legged cat. I want to be the person who I know I am in my head, only my head won’t always let me be her.
The other day, I realized that I’ve put too much of my life toward moderation. I mean, how often do you hear “everything in moderation” only to practice that idiom and find that it gets you nowhere? And the definition of moderation is just avoiding extremes. Extremes are relative. The definition of too much or too little is up to your personal interpretation, and even then, let’s not even act like we don’t all operate on sliding scales when someone merely suggests we expand our definitions.
I read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin last year, and I’m finally starting to believe what she says about personalities. Basically, some people have the capacity for moderation. A lot of people don’t. And when I try to live with moderation as my guidepost, it sets me up for failure.
Keep It 100
When my students spend hours trying to find clever ways to not do their homework, it’s like me trying to live in moderation. It’s me giving my attention to too many things at once. It’s me trying to be everything to everyone. It’s me going out for beers after work even when I know I want to wake up at 5 AM the next day. It’s me going shopping when I want to see if I can go a whole month without spending money. It’s me doing cardio and then yoga all before 8 AM, only to eat 4 donuts by 2 PM.
That’s why I have to keep it 100. I have to pick a side and stick to it. I have to focus all my energy in the direction I want it to go. I can’t metaphorically change the sizes of the periods in the essay of my life and expect to get an A. (That was a terrible metaphor. And I want you to know that I keep it 100 by being nigh unreadable.)
So let me ask you this: Are you able to live in moderation? How do you keep it 100? Have you ever given something up completely so you could keep it 100?
Let me know in the comments. I live vicariously through your successes.
I think it was on a website like The Greatist or some such where I recently read a concept very much like this, and I groove it all. The message there was centered pretty hard on physical wellness, but it translates well, as you point out. There is apparently research that proves its easier to say, “no I don’t do that at all,” versus “ok, I can have a little.” The balance is such a struggle. Example: I do not drink alcohol. Not at all. I probably could have a margarita or beer without any ill effects but for a long list of personal reasons choose to keep it simple and have zero. Easy. Done.
It does make me wonder what other areas I’m over-thinking or over-balancing. Would an extreme serve me better?
Good luck with your grading mountain!
Thanks, lady! And I really respect your choice not to drink. If I’m being honest, I’m leaning more in that direction myself.
I’ve never thought about it before but maybe it’s moderation that is killing me. I know I want to drink more water, I know I will choose pop over water if it’s available, but I continue to buy pop… and this is just one example! This has given me a lot to think about!
Soda is definitely one of the hardest things to give up. I’ve slowly weaned myself off my daily soda, and I’ve replaced it with La Croix. It’s carbonated water, so I still get the fizz and a little flavor, but at least I’m not chugging Diet Coke like it’s going out of style anymore.