(When Your Motivation Got Up and Left)
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” –Zig Ziglar
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.
Other weeks aren’t as simple.
My body feels too restless to sit or my list of necessary errands or travel demand more of my time than I anticipate.
Sometimes, the voice of my Inner Critic overwhelms my Muse, sending her cowering to the corner with phrases designed to keep me small. She says 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.
A bit of transparency for you: I’ve been struggling with every aspect of writing for the last three months. I have hinted at it here and there, but haven’t been ready to baldly state it.
Anyone visiting this website, connecting with my via my social circles (Facebook or Twitter), or subscribed to my newsletter might tell me that it isn’t noticeable, because week after week, I’m still producing content.
So the question you might be asking yourself is how the heck am I getting stuff done when my Muse (and motivation) seems to be absent?
I lean into these tips (and tricks) in order to get around the challenge of the 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.
Awareness & 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.
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.
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.
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 a part of the Body-Head-Soul loop of creation.
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.
So, what I’ve been doing for the last few months is beginning with my body. I may have an inkling of an idea of where to start (Soul), but most of the time, the Muse of Wise Blog Posts hasn’t appeared to whisper completed posts.
What does happen is this: I enter the B-H-S Loop through B, the Body. I sit my body down and start writing. My Head becomes involved. Eventually, the act of writing creates the motivation.
I know it doesn’t sound very sexy, but, baby, it is the unimpressive truth.
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.
Compassionate discipline requires that we let our vision for our life guide us. Compassionate discipline also allows us to cut ourselves some slack.
Minimum Weekly Requirement
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. And our bodies get involved because we take action with routines (as mentioned) and by giving ourselves a deadline. The Deadline is the time-space element of any dream.
Right now, my MWR for writing is to complete two pieces by 2 PM Saturday.
For me, it’s two pieces of work. For someone wanting to lose weight, it may start simply with three 30-minute walks a week by Sunday. For an artist, it might be a number of hours in the studio.
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 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.
What about you? What are you trying to get done? What are you doing regain your momentum?