The most efficient way to measure my motivation at the beginning of any day is to see how easy it is to convince myself to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

I only work three flights up and I am usually coming from the gym. I should be ready to bound to those marble steps with a satisfied grin. But too often and too close together are the days where I decide I’ve earned the tiny reward of being pulled up or lowered down a hole in the building while in a metal box – just so I can save 60-90 seconds of exercise.

This is an especially good gauge of laziness because I am reasonably sure that this elevator could kill me.

There is substantial personal experience that dictates that this particular system might not be reliable.

First – the shaking. Between floors 1 and 2 last week, the entire box shuddered from the floor to the ceiling and then seemed to abruptly stop. There was a pause that felt like the Gettysburg Address before the doors squeaked open to reveal that we had made it to safety – yet we weren’t on the floor we had requested.

That is the second thing – there is no guarantee you will be delivered to the floor for which you ask. Just today I walked out of my office doors to find a woman roaming around the atrium. I asked if I could help and she explained she had no idea which floor of the building she was on. She had asked for the ground floor but the doors had opened here and she was very, very confused.

Third – not only does the elevator not always do what you ask, sometimes it doesn’t show up for work at all. I sat waiting for it with a group of colleagues recently and watched our button-pushing never register. It was as if the elevator was a small child in the backyard ignoring pleas from his mother to come in and wash up for supper.

But with all of this evidence that this endeavor is bad for my health, I sometimes choose to forsake doing something that is actually GOOD for my health and take a chance on being stuck or harmed. The few dozen steps I would need to take seem too unpleasant and the risk involved with the automatic option suddenly seems tenable.

Shake your head at my poor judgement, but I am guessing you do it, too. It may not be an elevator, but it might be the speed you drive, the emails you send or a sandwich you ate.

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We are prone to self-destruction. It’s the easy way. If the right choices were simple and painless, we’d all make them.

Getting better takes real work and the first step is getting out of your own way. The second step? Continuing to walk up them instead of opting for the elevator.

Wish me luck.

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