Grad school might be a financially strapped time, and the country might be full of financial uncertainty, but I think I have my priorities in order. When I discovered that my nephew's birthday party would be held the week after he turned one, a weekend I was remarkably free of Friday and Monday classes and meetings, I immediately shelled out airfare for a much-needed vacation. If I were given to superstition, I'd have taken the fact that I managed to travel for just $300 on less than 2 weeks noticed as a sign confirming how vital this trip was.
I stepped up my production schedule to get all my classwork done in advance of my trip, which was the weekend before the last week of classes; I wanted no deadlines floating around in the back of my mind. I only brought my laptop because I would return Monday morning and go straight to campus. I did not think about school or research for three whole days, except to provide the one-sentence-summary of my comps paper when asked how school was going.
Chasing my niece and nephew and hanging out with my sisters led me to an important revelation: I want to move. As much as I love the city I'm living in, I'd love being within easy travel of my family more. Getting from the continental divide to the East coast is rarely convenient; it's a trip that has been limited to just twice a year. I've been thinking about how much I want to get out of grad school recently; now I have some idea of where I want to get to. Motivation increases tenfold to get it all done - the sooner I finish comps and defend my dissertation, the sooner I'm spending more time playing with kids instead of staring at a computer screen. It might not be the best motivation for getting a PhD, but it's a far more effective goal to keep in mind than, say, landing a professorship.