From Inaction To Action

Read about Evan’s solution to his inaction:

By and large, my life is pretty well regimented.  Most days I wake up at 4:40, get to the gym around 5 and am in the office by 7:45.  From there, most of what I do is desk work on the computer (and doing my best not to be distracted by Reddit) until I head home at 4 or 4:30.  From there I normally either head to yoga or play basketball (poorly) or head to a brewery.  Then it’s dinner and messing around on my laptop / watching Netflix before bed.  This is my routine.  I find a lot of comfort in my routine.  I do not like my routine.

Let me explain.  When I decided this past September to serve another term with Energy Corps and move here to Montana, I did so in part because of the seemingly endless possibilities that Montana represented in my mind.  To me, Montana promised an entirely new set of experiences that had heretofore been unavailable.  I thought that in moving here I would finally be able to fulfill my desire to truly seize life and take advantage of every opportunity to try new things whenever I could.  So when I came to the realization not too long ago that I had become thoroughly enshrined within my routine and, more importantly, highly resistant to anything that didn’t fit itself neatly into my schedule, I was more than a little disappointed in myself.  After all, here I am in one of the most amazing places I’ve ever lived and I was failing to take complete advantage of the situation.

Without getting too navel-gazey, it should suffice to say that I have struggled with trying to break out of my routine for a while with relatively little success.  I would find myself wanting to do something different, and oftentimes even setting up events or making plans to do something only for the time to act to arrive and being paralyzed by uncertainty.  Needless to say, it didn’t take long for this cycle of indecision and inaction to become absolutely infuriating and it had me searching everywhere and anywhere for a solution.

Imagine my surprise then when one seems to have presented itself during the Serve Montana Symposium held here in Helena this past week.  Taking place over three days, more than 250 AmeriCorps members serving here in Montana gathered together to not only participate the Doorsteps to Backpacks community-wide food drive, but also to attend a variety of different panels and trainings related to our service work.  On a bit of a lark in one of the sessions, I chose to attend a talk held by Shannon Stober of Verve Exchange dealing with perceptions of our service.  Admittedly, when I walked into the session I was not terribly interested in it (in my defense, it had been a long day).  But it wasn’t too long before she had my full attention.  She had started speaking about almost exactly the things that I had been struggling with: action and inaction and not being able to figure out why I couldn’t get motivated to do certain things.

One of the main points during her talk was that in trying to motivate ourselves to take action, it’s essential that we have a clear and true understanding of our personal values as those are the driving forces behind why we choose to do what we do.  After all, it should be easy to get up and work towards the things that we truly want to accomplish.  It was during the course of this talk that I realized that I haven’t ever really taken stock of my own values.  I know what I wish I could be and how I would like to behave, but after sitting through Shannon’s session I realized that often times the things that I do are in direct opposition to getting what I want.

So what does this all mean then?  Frankly I’m not entirely sure and have only just begun to wrestle with where I am headed from here.  What’s important to me about this though is the fact that I finally feel as though I am making some progress towards a solution to my inaction.  That even after giving it just a little bit of thought, I already have a deeper understanding of why I behave how I do and, more importantly, the ways in which I can channel my actions alongside my values to become the person that I would like to someday be.

Evan H.Evan Harper graduated from Austin College in Sherman, TX with a BA in Economics and a Minor in Mathematics in 2014, after which he spent a year at the London School of Economics. Prior to joining Energy Corps, Evan researched how power dynamics affect pollution rates. Evan completed his first Energy Corps term in August on 2015 with the Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation in Little Rock, Arkansas in a program promoting improved energy efficiency through home energy retrofits and investments. This program year, Evan is serving with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality analyzing energy data and educating stakeholders on energy codes.

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