My mom used to say, “My ‘get up and go’ has got up and went.” I’m sure we all can relate to that a time or two. The surprising thing is that phrase was spoken by a lady who had 10 kids in 13 years, 2 horses, 2 cows, 2 dogs, several chickens, sometimes a few pigs and a bigger than you can imagine garden space to feed all that with extra to give away. Is it surprising she felt unmotivated sometimes? Perhaps she was a little hard on herself for not being motivated all the time?!?!
I certainly don’t face half the workload she faced each day yet I know the feeling of “I don’t want to do what I know I should do.” I think that thought visits the majority of us sometimes for part of a day, sometimes for weeks, months and years.
If you’ve only lost your motivation for a short time, you don’t need to worry too much about it. It may just need a brief kick start of some sort. Here are some proven kick start methods:
Give yourself a break. Schedule a nap. Plan a day to sleep in. (If you feel like all you’ve been doing is giving yourself a break and it’s not helping, skip immediately to Plan B. You’re way past kick start mode.)
- Get some fresh air. Walk around the block. Sit in the sun.
- Move your body. Go for a walk. Stretch. I don’t have to tell you healthy eating and exercise are good for you. I’m also sure you know there’s a huge domino effect – when you exercise you’re more likely to eat healthy; when you eat healthy you’re more likely to exercise and do other healthy things. Do one thing to step into that healthy cycle.
- Get a change of scenery. Do your work or part of your work somewhere different if you can. Take a different route. Shake up your routine.
- Learn something new. Anything. From Pinterest, pick a project and actually do it. Check out free classes at your local library. Take a class at your community college.
- Volunteer somewhere.
- Yada, yada yada…the opportunities for kickstarts are endless. Just pick one. Don’t spend too much time obsessing if it’s the “right” thing, just start at the top and work your way down. or put the numbers in a hat and draw one. The nice thing about that is it helps you narrow down what you really want to do. If you draw one you don’t want to do, ask yourself which one you wish you would have drawn! Then do it.
When your cycled through the kickstart options or you are keenly aware that they just aren’t going to cut it, then it’s time for Plan B.
Arm yourself with some time…I know you don’t have time but seriously taking time now will help you reclaim lost time in the future.
Once you’ve carved out a bit of time, get a piece of paper or a blank screen (after you’ve shut down all distracting apps and files.) When the thinking gets hard you are going to try to distract yourself. Make a mental note of that so you are aware of it when you randomly reach for your phone or go to check your messages, email etc. etc.
The process is simple. You are only going to ask yourself one question: “Why?”…repeatedly.
Just one simple question. Channel your inner three year old, ask why and write the answer. When you have the answer to that question, take a look at it. My guess is it’s not the real answer but it’s a clue to the answer. Look at your answer and ask yourself the question again. Why? Write your answer. Don’t judge yourself – you hate being judged stop doing it to yourself. No editing and discrediting allowed. Just write down the answer.
Wait though, I can almost guarantee that’s not the real reason you’re feeling unmotivated. You are getting closer though! The answer is usually down at least one more and usually not more than 2 more levels away. Stick with it. Be aware your brain doesn’t want you messing in these deeper parts and will try to send you off to do something “more important.” This is the most important work you can do right now. You are almost at gold. Settle yourself and look at your last answer and ask yourself Why? again. Repeat this until you get to a profound moment when you are face to face with the cause of your lack of motivation. It’s there if you’re willing to do these three things:
- Clear distractions
- Focus. Listen carefully to your thinking.
- Be gentle with yourself. No judging or condemning your thoughts. No beating yourself up.
- Be aware of your feelings and notice the thoughts that are behind those feelings. Don’t tell yourself, “That’s ridiculous.” or “I shouldn’t feel/think that way.”
My real life example of this is when I was in a period of intense de-motivation. I was doing what I had to do but not what I wanted to do – like exercise, eating healthy, keeping my house the way I like it. I was craving and consuming copious amount of chocolate. I was tackling and winning at leveling up on an online game. Winning at non-reality; Losing at life! That’s seriously not true to who I am and who I know I’m created to be. Then one day while journalling and recording my lack of motivation for progeny I stumbled upon asking myself ‘Why?’ like I recommended above. And this is what happened:
Why am I unmotivated to do what I really want to do?
Because I have so much to do, I don’t know where to start and so it’s easier not to start at all.
Because I’m spending too much time at work and I’m exhausted at the end of the day.
Why are you spending too much time at work? (I am my own boss! Set my own schedule!)
Because I can’t say no to people so I take on more than I should.
(This is where my brain distracted me for awhile…Play with phone. Return to question. Check scrabble games. Return to question.)
Because I value my client’s opinion of me and I want them to think nice thoughts about me.
Why is that so important?
(Gulp) Because my self-worth is tied up in how other people value me.
OUCH! So I’m overworking myself and not doing what I need to do to take good care of myself because what people think of me is more important than what I think of myself. OUCH! People’s opinions rank higher in my value system than my own…or God’s! I’m sacrificing my own physical and mental well-being for what people think of me!
Now where to go with that?!?! Awareness is huge. Being aware of why you’re doing what you’re doing will in itself be a foundational shift. If your brain is seriously adept at throwing up too many distractions, I would recommend you take this discussion to an insightful friend, coach or counselor and get help working through the issue.
If you are very self-aware and can press on, the next step would be to work with the foundation shift. Looking after myself is more important to me in the long haul that what other’s think of me so I set out to establish healthy boundaries: I’ll limit my working hours, I’ll work at saying ‘no’ in kind ways and I’ll set some goals around healthy eating and exercise so I become who I want to be. What do you need to do to address your de-motivation? What strategy needs to be employed to make a foundation shift?
Was I successful? Off and on. I like the word ‘practice.’ I like the phrase, “Perfection isn’t the goal – improvement is.” Looking back over the 3 years since I’ve written that I can honestly say that although it’s an occasional struggle, practicing healthy boundaries and balance has paid off. I no longer overwork myself – most days. More importantly, I recognize the symptoms of being de-motivated and can move to correct it (see Plan A) before it spirals out of control. I can trust myself to take care of myself – to schedule moments of refreshment – and that’s huge. To accept I’m not Superwoman. As a result I enjoy my days so much more. I enjoy my life so much more. I enjoy you so much more!
“Everything in life worth achieving requires practice. In fact, life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, an endless effort of refining our motions.”
Thomas M. Sterner, The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life
Has your “Get up and Go, Got up and Went?
What are you going to do about it? C
an you correct it with Plan A?
Is it time to explore Plan B? You’re worth it. The people in your world need you to show up and be fully you.
You can do this thing…but it’ll take some practice.