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Skoolie Progress! Reflections on Motivation and Perseverance

we will make progress towards anything we make consistent effort towards.

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We’re closing in on the gutting phase of the project, so here’s a little recap of everything we’ve done so far

What We've Done

  • Seats out

  • Floors and walls out

  • Wheel chair tracks out

  • Wheel chair lift out

  • Insulation cleaned out

  • Stop sign off

  • Front bar off

  • 3 out of 4 sets of flashers out and patched

  • Wires untangled and re-tangled

  • Rust grinding begin (¼ floor boards done)

  • Cleaned electrical terminals

  • New battery

  • Capped off hoses

  • Replace brake fluid

I bought the bus on 3/26/24, so it’s been exactly 11 weeks at the time I’m writing this. About 2 and a half months. I probably hoped to be done gutting everything by now, but of course everything takes longer than you think it should. My time has been packed full of learning! Here are some things I’ve learned:

What I've learned

  • I’ve learned about different types of wrenches and extensions

  • You can use a drill like a wrench!

  • You can put a hex bit in a wrench!

  • How to use an angle grinder to cut and grind

  • How to stop up a pipe

  • How to disconnect electrical wiring

  • You can leave cut, connected wires in your walls and loose in your vehicle if you cover them correctly (this was especially okay for me in the skoolie because what I was disconnecting carried such low current)

  • How to disconnect and replace a car battery

  • How to clean battery terminals

  • How to use a reciprocating saw (it will give you blisters)

  • How to remove rivets using an air hammer and a drill

  • After each use, you need to drain liquid from an air compressor

  • How to use a rivet gun

  • How to check and replace brake fluid

Not everything that I’ve learned has been necessary to learn. I learned how to do some things and then found out later that what i had done was actually unnecessary or not the ideal way to do that thing. I’ve learned to embrace this part of the process, too, because perhaps even more than the final product, this is about the learning and the personal growth and transformation that this project will initiate in me. So even when the learning i receive in a day is that i will need to redo everything i just did in a new and more effective way, i still try to celebrate that, because it’s means I’m growing. It means i know more than i did before. 

perhaps even more than the final product, this is about the learning and the personal growth and transformation that this project will initiate in me

I’m noticing i’m also developing better meta learning skills. I’m learning how to learn faster. For instance, I am better able to foresee when it’s likely that i’ll make a mistake and prepare for that possible outcome in a way that saves me time. I’m learning about myself and how to accommodate my unique brain’s proclivities. For example,

  • I am motivated by visual progress. If i have to do something that has little to no visual progress, i might tack it on to another project that will so that i still feel accomplished at the end of the day.

  • Do less. I tend to want to over-effort things. I naturally tend towards the brute strength and speed method for getting things done. This is not the best for my body, and therefor not the most time efficient in the end, so i’m intentionally trying to make my movements ergonomic to minimize the need for strength and embracing a slower pace. I think i’m probably able to get more done in a given day, even if it takes longer, if i go at slower and more manageable pace. 

  • Try new things at the end of the day. If i have to do something that I have absolutely no experience doing and will require me to learn how to use a new tool or material, it is much, much harder for me to motivate myself to get started. To overcome this, i’ll often start new things at the end of a work day, when i know there’s absolutely no way that i’ll finish, just to force myself to get started. Starting a new day with a new project feels extra intimidating because i may have to spend the entire day struggling against the unknown. If i’ve already spent at least 20 minutes trying the previous day, it greatly reduces the sense of the unknown and makes the task feel more possible. Day 2 is always easier than day 1, so i try to make day 1 as short as possible to get the ball rolling.

  • Start researching way before it’s necessary. It helps me to start watching videos about how to do different things well before i have to actually do them. Having a sense of how to do every step of the bus build before i even bought the bus made it feel like this was indeed something i was capable of doing, because i had already imagined how i would do each part of it. 

  • Ask for help. Asking for help can be a hard thing for me, but i’m learning that it can make things a lot easier. Especially if i’m feeling overwhelmed, it can be really helpful to have someone step in and keep the progress moving forward even if i’m too overwhelmed to do it myself. Even if maybe i could have done said thing by myself, the morale boost of seeing progress even when i feel like i can’t go on does a lot for me.

  • Do something every week. I have a lot of inertia. This means sometimes i get a lot done all at once, but it also means that when i stop doing things, it can be really hard to get started again. To combat this, i try to do a little bit every week. Even if i can only spend a couple hours in a week making progress, it makes me feel like i’m still moving forward. I try to do even a tiny bit every day. I think this is also more sustainable for me than doing fewer very long days. I don’t think i am capable of spending 8 hours in a day working on the bus. Maybe there will be some days where that’s possible, but i think for now about 5 is my max. 4 is a more average number and a good goal for me

I think one of the biggest lessons for me so far that’s been coming up a lot in other areas of my life as well since I started the build is that we will make progress towards anything we make consistent effort towards. There are so many things in my life where i’ve thought, “i’ll never get the middle splits, i’ll never be a good juggler, i’ll never be a good singer,” etc. But then, if for even one session I spend time practicing one of those things, I see improvement. No matter what it is in our lives that we want to see change in, it’s important to ask, “Did I actually try?” If yes, then, “how hard did I try?” and if we feel like we tried pretty hard, we still might still add, “Did I try trying harder or for a longer period of time?” I truly believe that it does not matter what the goal is. If we make consistent effort towards a goal, we will get closer. Maybe we won’t get there in the timeline that we originally hoped for, but we will get there. And of course, there are some things that are not worth the effort! I actually don’t really care to be able to juggle! But it’s not that I can’t learn to juggle, I just don’t care to put in the effort to learn. This is a crucial distinction.

Then i suppose the next more important question is, “what is actually important enough to me that I will put in the effort in to see through?” And of course sometimes things may be harder for us than they would be for other people. Maybe it’s not something that we're naturally gifted at, as other people are. Maybe we have fewer resources or physical limitations. This is the nature of life. Some things will be harder for us. Some things will also be easier for us. But something being disproportionately more difficult for us than it would be for other people is not a good reason to not do something. There are solutions. I don’t believe that anything is impossible. So what is it that your heart truly longs to bring into this world? 

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