I established yesterday that making concrete plans is not my thing. I know I have to do it, but I’m really finding it difficult to start. I’m having a huge problem finding motivation to do anything lately…including work. What I want to to do is go lay in a lounge chair in the backyard and read a book. But with an ever-growing to-do list, laying in the yard is just not an option.
Being so overwhelmed is draining my motivation even further, so last night I sat down and gave it some thought and I came up with a list of very specific goals that I would like to achieve before the end of this year. After I came up with my list of goals, I planned to take each one and break it down further into smaller, shorter term goals.
Except, what I ended up doing was watching the GOP debates and yelling at the TV. Because I quickly lost my motivation to keep moving forward.
So this morning, I decided to do a little reading on motivation, why we sometimes lose it and what I can do to get mine back. Here’s what I found out:
Motivation comes from within and is based on our emotions. True motivation is not external. Often, we think our motivation is external, like from a work deadline or an inspirational story. But the real motivation comes from the emotions these external factors create…like the fear of being fired for missing a deadline.
A lack of motivation can come from a variety of sources including things like depression, anxiety, substance abuse and grief, but also from less serious things like confusion, lack of clarity, boredom, fear, burn-out and being overwhelmed.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my lack of motivation is likely coming from a few of these sources. First, there is my fear of getting older and of not accomplishing my goals before it’s too late. There is my sense of being overwhelmed by the size of my to-do list. There is a lack of challenge…mostly regarding my work…but there is also a vague sense of boredom with my life in general. I also feel a bit burnt out…it’s been a really long time since we went away on a vacation.
The good news is that there are things I can do to renew my motivation and get things moving in the right direction.
Being positive and grateful are key. A bad mood kills all momentum. If you try hard to be in a good mood and you actively remind yourself of the things you are grateful for, it will help. To me, this is a fake it ’til you make it kind of thing. When I’m cranky or tired, I’ve got to plaster a smile on my face until I actually feel better. Switching, even temporarily, to a task I enjoy more might also help, so I’ll try that. I’m also going to start keeping my gratitude journal again. Writing down the things I’m grateful for is a good reminder of just how lucky I am.
Good music can be very motivating…mostly because listening to music you like can put you in a good mood. Interestingly, I was reading this tip as I was sitting on hold with the IRS. They play the same annoying 20 seconds of music on a loop and it’s maddening. Total mood killer. I counteracted the effects of that music by creating a playlist on Spotify called “Afternoon Pep Rally”. That’s when my motivation is at its lowest and I really need a pick me up. I filled it with songs that make me want to get up and dance. I’ll let you know if it works.
I love presents and treats, so I’m going to create a reward system for myself. At the end of every week, if I can manage to complete my to-do list for the week, I’m going to reward myself with a pedicure or some new shoes or by going to a movie. I might also use TV time as a daily treat. For every day that I am actually productive, I get one episode of my current TV obsession.
Apparently, peer pressure helps…which is why I’m putting this all here for the world to read.
One sports writer suggested developing a pre-game routine. Before he pitches a baseball game, he runs a lap of the outfield to get his head in the game. I won’t be pitching any baseball games anytime soon, but I think I need a pre-game routine for my day…something I do each morning to get my head right and make sure I’m up for whatever the day throws at me. I’m going to work on that over the weekend.
And lastly…I have to remember to tackle just one thing at a time. My personality often makes me want to do all the things RIGHT NOW!!! I have to keep reminding myself to just take baby steps. Eventually I will get to where I want to be.
Now…I’m going to put on my playlist and cover some rubber ducks in silver glitter. Because nothing is better than glittery ducks.