How Constant Distractions and Zero Motivation Nearly Cancelled My Graduation (and How I Bounced Back)


You would think that by your senior year, you’d at least have solid studying skills and a good work ethic… Well, mine had always worked well enough, but when crunch time came, my penchant for procrastination almost did me in.

I’m Sam, engineer extraordinaire, well, hopefully. I’m sending this far and wide because I know there are people out there like me, whether they’re students or staff, business owners or job seekers, who could find themselves in my situation. Believe me, it’ll be much better for your blood pressure, not to mention your overall sanity, if you address this problem now rather than when you’re on the cusp of complete failure.

Just Enough

Structural engineers tend to be a hands-on bunch, and that’s how I’ve always been. Throughout my schooling, I’d much rather be messing around with building or bridge designs than conducting a community development impact analysis. Wouldn’t you? Even though I’d rather be doing just about anything else, I always slogged through the more hands-off parts of my studies, even if I had to pull an all-nighter or three.

But when it comes to your final project, you’ve got to do it all on time or else.

My problem was, whenever I was messing around with boring stuff on my computer, it was way too easy to distract myself with YouTube, Netflix, Fortnite, you name it. In the past, I’d always been able to quit all that stuff and focus on my task, eventually, but sometimes it was harder than others to wrench myself away and get down to work.

Spring Fever

That’s what we called it when you had the overwhelming urge to goof off during the springtime of senior year. It was half in jest but half for real. But that didn’t apply to me, or at least it shouldn’t have. Your final project in structural engineering isn’t something you can just shrug off and go to a concert instead. I knew that, and I didn’t go to the concert, but I did continue to mess around while I should have been conducting these analyses.

Have you ever been there? It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the job or in school. You know you’ve got something huge to do; you know it’s gonna take all you’ve got to get it done; yet you still find yourself browsing YouTube or TikTok. Why? Why, when you know exactly what’s at stake do you actively sabotage your chances of success?

Well, that’s what I was doing last spring as the due date approached day by day. I just could not click into productivity mode, shrug off all the BS, and get the job done. And, people were counting on me. I was part of a group of five on this project, and if I screwed up, we were in serious trouble.

Well, spring break came and went, and I was still spinning my wheels. I had to report my pathetic lack of progress to the rest of my group, and that went over like a led balloon. Nonetheless, I swore I would have everything done in time.

Falling Apart

Meanwhile, I was barely keeping my head above water. Already, I felt like a failure. I was letting my team down; I was letting my parents down; I was letting everyone down. But that only drew me deeper into my depression. I hardly left my apartment; I was eating nothing but junk; and I would have died of embarrassment if anyone saw the place. In fact, I kept coming up with excuses to keep people away. 

Then, my group gave me notice that they were going to separate themselves from me unless I could prove progress on my upcoming report. Well, that was a kick in the face. They needed to get special permission from the professor to allow such a thing. That shook me to the core. Where was my sense of self-worth? How could I just sit there and allow this to happen? But what did I do? Did I snap out of it and get with the program? Nope, I turned to Fortnite to escape.


But even in Fortnite, the chatter was full of school-related stuff. When I brought up the fact that I was on the cusp of blowing it bigtime, I got the typical response of “wow, you’re a big procrastinator, huh?” On a whim, I opened up a browser window to search for ways to overcome procrastination. You can imagine the amount of junk that came up, but then I saw a site that actually asked questions about my thought process. It claimed it would create a customized plan from my answers which I could use to overcome my procrastination. Well, it was the middle of the night, but I answered the survey and initiated the plan. Even if it worked, this thing said it would take three months; I had maybe three weeks to show that I was doing something worth a damn.

But as days passed and I read these emails and completed the straightforward tasks, I was forced to actually confront my lack of motivation head on. It forced me to think about what I was doing in ways I hadn’t before. This, finally, served to snap me out of my self-destruct course and re-center myself as a student on the cusp of graduation after 16 years of schooling.

Finding the answers

As April went on, I noticed that I no longer automatically opened YouTube when I was working away on what was still an incredibly boring analysis. It was just one of those things that had to be done, so I might as well do it. I no longer had that uncontrollable urge to distract myself with something.

It was quite a swing for my project partners who were wondering what on Earth happened to me to wake me up. The thing is, it was hard for me to explain to them just what had changed.

I suppose that’s a testament to the Virtue Map paradigm. Your plan is custom-designed to rewire your routine from the bottom up so that procrastinating doesn’t even really occur to you, and that’s exactly what it did.

Every day as I take care of the minutiae before I get down to the work I love, I think of Virtue Map and how it finally put my lack of motivation in context and allowed me to overcome it so I could accomplish my goal.

So, if you find yourself barely keeping your head above water, trapped in a cycle of self-sabotage that you can’t seem to break free from, do yourself a favor and take the survey at the link below. It could finally allow you to swim.

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