When I first made the decision to have a blog associated with my coaching practice, I made a commitment to myself and anyone visiting that I would have a fresh post each week. Some weeks, this commitment feels easy. My muse softly whispers in my ear and the words flow without struggle. I believed that because I was passionate about the work I was doing, I’d never lack for motivation.
I wish that I could tell you that’s I sit down to the computer every day knowing just what to write here. That my desire to help folks live a life that felt more nourishing and loving would flow from my fingers to the page. And that I would always have the ability to help find the motivation for folks to actually make changes in their lives. Rather than accept burnout.
Yet, darling, I would be lying if I told you I always had a burning motivation each and every week.
Just like you, I have moments of feeling overwhelmed by my responsibilities. There is always laundry to wash and fold. Meals need to be prepared from start to finish – which includes grocery shopping, cooking, and dishes. And even when I love tending these things, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take time away from my writing.
Of course, there are times my body just interferes. I’m feeling too restless to just sit at my desk. Or I am struck down by a bad case of bronchitis and struggle with doing anything beyond laying on the couch.
Other times, the voice of my Inner Critic overwhelms my Muse, sending her cowering to the corner with phrases designed to keep me small. Those voices in my head say things like “who do you think you are?” and “that’s a stupid idea” and other such nonsense. Since I am my own boss, I could make excuses because, who’s to know, right? But here’s the deal, kitten: our Inner Critics are Pros at helping us justify-away not making progress towards our goals and commitments.
There’s also all the ways I get distracted: social media especially distracts me. Or I read a great article by someone else. And then feel zero motivation because the old comparison pops up and I believe I’ll never write anything as brilliant.
I’d planned to dive into 2020 with gusto, but to be honest that hasn’t exactly happened. We traveled over the holidays and getting back into the swing of things this month has been hard.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Yet, here I am with a fresh blog post. And that love note I send every-other-Saturday will arrive like clockwork. So, I’m sure your’e asking the question: how am I getting stuff done? I’ve been sick, battled with my inner critic, and battling the demons of distraction. That’s why I wanted to share some of my favorite tools, tips, and tricks to deal with the challenge around missing motivation.
And, darling, best of all, these tips are usable and adaptable for all sorts of challenges: eating right, exercising, writing, creating art or any kind of work you find yourself avoiding.
If your motivation has gone missing, here’s seven tools to turn to to help you get things done.
One – Make Peace with Your Lack of Motivation thanks to Awareness and Acceptance
The first step for me is to create awareness around the fact that I’m struggling, courting my muse or battling fear demons. Sure, it’s easier to avoid that awareness, because coming to grips with it can be a bit painful. But, to continue to argue with the reality of the situation just delays getting anywhere.
What I find most helpful when working through awareness is pulling out pen and paper. Whether it’s making a list, turning to my journal, or exploring a series of questions to help me find my answer, a pen and paper is helpful.
Then, it’s a matter of accepting the fact that THIS is where I am for the moment. Acceptance allows me to start from the here and move forward.
Two – Stop Looking for the Siren’s Song of Inspiration
It’s easy to get caught within Siren’s Song that promises Results if we are Inspired. We tell ourselves that, of course we can Get Things Done if we feel motivated, inspired or enthused about an area of our life when it’s meant to be. And I get it. I love it when my muse is Loud and Strong. The trouble is that if we require these feelings, this level of inspiration, to be present before we take action, then we’re setting ourselves up for major disappointment and few real changes in life.
It isn’t that we’re not motivated, it’s just that we expect to FEEL motivated before we have to take action. The truth of the matter is that motivation is created by showing up. Not the other way around.
The trick is to stop looking for inspiration and just do the work. Yes, even when you’re tired or feeling a crappy. Even when your inner voices are screaming in your ear. Taking action helps restore your motivation eventually.
Three – Find Your Motivation with Supportive Routines
So, how do you show up when you aren’t feeling it? You create supportive routines around your goals. Routines allow us to get our bodies involved. At first, it may feel as if you’re going through the motions, but here’s the deal: when our bodies become engaged through the muscle memory of routines and habits, it allows our minds and souls to engage with us.
This is the challenge, by the way, of pursuing our goals and resolutions. We have desires. And sometimes we even make plans to make those desires into real goals. But if we don’t make space for taking action towards our goals in our everyday life, they’ll never really come into fruition. Making space in your daily life for what you desire allows you to get things done. Even when you’re motivation is missing.
Four – You can find Motivation by Utilizing the Body-Head-Soul Loop
As creative beings, we have this awesome system with which to work. It is comprised of these three elements of being: our bodies, our heads (minds/thoughts) and our soul (or heart’s desires). It’s a circle. Think of it as the Body-Head-Soul Loop (B-H-S).
When it comes to motivation, most people think that creating things – change, weight loss, businesses, art – is all about inspiration. Or, the Soul. And yes, an idea or concept might originate within the soul. The good thing, though, is that B-H-S is a closed loop – and you can enter it from any point! I have discovered that I can choose to enter from whichever point is available to me in the moment. This allows me to set aside the requirement for where to always start.
And it means that none of the points has to be “the best” or the “only” place for me.
When my motivation is lacking, I begin with the body. When you allow your body to lead, eventually your head becomes involved. Eventually, the action allows us to reconnect to that motivation from the soul level.
I know it doesn’t sound very sexy, but, baby, it is the unimpressive truth.
Five – Remember the Art of Compassionate Discipline
Let’s be honest: as humans want to experience pleasure over pain (at least most of the time). Words like “goals” “discipline” and “action” seem worlds away from pleasure. Of course I want to feel good. I want ease and flow! I want unlimited cupcakes, lattes and for the words to just jump onto the page.
But you don’t move forward in any area of your life if you don’t sometimes go against the flow of things. (And let’s face it, cupcakes sound a lot more pleasurable than going for a jog!) But to live only for this kind of pleasure means that we’re giving into our inner two year-old and ignoring the dreams of our deeper wiser self.
Compassionate discipline brings clarity and deliberateness to the game and trumps that a momentary tantrum. By channeling it, compassionate discipline requires that we let our vision for our life guide us. It also invites us to cut ourselves some slack.
Six – Create a Minimum Weekly Requirement and Non-Negotiable Standards.
When my muse is strong, I can easily create 10,000 words of content in the blink of an eye. When my motivation seems to be missing in action, I apply the Art of Compassionate Discipline with the creation of a Minimum Weekly Requirement (MWR). Think of the MWR like the amount of Vitamin C and D your body needs each day. The MWR is about engaging the B-H-S loop.
So, your goals and dreams and desires bring your soul in the mix. Our souls want us to live an engaged life. Our heads get involved by defining what that minimum weekly requirement is. When we take action with routines and giving ourselves a deadline, we’re better able to accomplish tasks. Even big ones
For me, it’s two pieces of writing per week. However, if your motivation is lacking around your weight loss goals, it may start simply with three 30-minute walks a week by Sunday. And for an artist, it may be a number of hours in the studio.
This is where non-negotiable standards can serve you, too. Setting non-negotiable standards means that you are setting the rules for your life according to your desires, not the desires of others. It’s about choosing to take control on the quality of your daily life. It’s easy for a bad day – or bad series of days – get us off track. This is another way to get things done when motivation is invisible.
Seven – Give Yourself Grace and Be Grateful for Baby Steps
Every journey, no matter how large or small, begins with a single step. Getting your motivation in gear is no different. Motivation is created by momentum. Momentum doesn’t have to begin with huge gestures to get started. We can begin with a tiny movement and as the momentum grows, we create success towards our goals. Over time, we suddenly find our motivation has returned in force.
And, over time, those tiny victories will allow us to create a larger body of work.
Look, darling. I know that it can on.sometimes feel as if our motivation will never return.
But I promise that if you access even a portion of these tools, you’ll be able to get things done, and eventually get back in the saddle of motivation.