April 20, 2023

SENZON | Developing a Relationship of Trust with Yourself

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Warmth: The feeling all Cornellians long anticipate after the dreadfully cold and dull winters of Ithaca. Arguably, the sensation of warmth is the most rewarding of all. A haze of happiness and stress-freeness consumes me the moment the weather becomes warm once again — it’s like all of my problems from the winter melt away. 

It can become unbelievably hard to get any work done in the warmth when it feels like life is finally being unpaused. The warm weather, I can assure you, does not help with my reliance on coffee, either. The intense urge to find the nearest eatery on campus and buy an iced coffee on a warm day in Ithaca is the strongest temptation to resist, a close second being the impulse to grab a picnic blanket and sunbathe with friends on the slope. In times like these when it can be twice as hard to find productivity and get shit done, we have to hold ourselves accountable. 

This accountability dynamic is rooted in developing a relationship of trust with yourself; this is especially true when doing anything but your work seems like the best option. Nonetheless, I find myself creating the narrative that I’m lazy and unmotivated after I continuously choose to put relaxation first and work second. I find myself thinking, “Can you blame me — who else is doing any work right now?” 

Yet, in all honesty, that is a cheap excuse to avoid the things that matter. It can become easy to forget your why factor when things feel so hard to address at the moment. Most recently, I’ve resorted to telling myself that, even though I may not see the purpose in staying consistent and putting work first right now, I will thank myself later when I find the success I’ve longed for  –– even while other people procrastinate to throw frisbees on the Arts Quad. 

The idea here is that if you keep a routine of doing the hard things that nobody else wants to do, you’ll get better with time and the hard things will begin to feel easy. When you take control away from the temptations that seem to make decisions for you and start to make choices that control them instead, you will find that you’re beginning to build the future you desire. This is arguably one of the most satisfying feelings, the prospect that you have taken control and no hardship will demand nearly as much stress from you as it used to. You now know that consistency and addressing your problems instead of avoiding them will produce results. 

Another aspect of the complicated equation of avoiding work and giving in to temptation is your emotions. You want to learn how to first control your emotions and use them as a tool to help you achieve your goals. Most people let their emotions become a roadblock — they let their emotions dictate when and how they are going to get things done. This is one of the most detrimental behavioral habits to fall into, as your emotions are easily subject to change and circumstances will start to determine outcomes in your life. Instead, I propose acknowledging your emotions as they are and learning to rely on other forms of motivation like revisiting risk and reward based goal-setting. If you’re feeling positive about something one day then that’s fantastic, but even excessively positive emotions can result in low-quality work as your mind is distracted from the task at hand. 

Take for instance when I came back from spring break after just having traveled across the east coast from New York City to Newport to Southampton to back home in New Jersey. I felt untouchable — the luxury of eating home-cooked meals and the moderately warm spring weather in New Jersey was a privilege, to say the least. 

Even so, arriving back to Ithaca was not as painful as usual — eighty degrees for one week straight was unexpected. The weather was unreal. How could I possibly be sad? Ultimately, this warm weather did more damage than good as I had a slew of exams to prepare for and essays to write. I neglected all of my work this week and chose to go on spontaneous ice cream runs and treat myself to dinner out in the Commons. Needless to say, this was not my best idea.

I was screwed. I ended up exhausting myself by cramming for these exams and essays and the results were not promising. I ended up turning in exams and submitting assignments I was not proud of, the quality of work not reflecting my usual effort.

So once again, practice separating emotions from the things that must get done and you will find improved and more consistent results. This is the biggest piece of advice I wish I’d heard after being at Cornell for almost one academic year. I promise you, while you may not see it now, the struggle of maintaining momentum and removing emotions from work ethic is worth it — and your successful outcomes will prove it. Stay focused and, most importantly, learn to build trust with yourself and only good things will find you.

Adam Senzon ‘26 is a freshman at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at [email protected]. My Two Sen-ts runs every other Thursday this semester.