We all have those times when we want to do something, for fun or for our own good or to be responsible, but we are having trouble taking the necessary action. Whether it be figuring out how to get momentum going or getting a single step done on a given day, there is often a drag of something that tries to hold us back. For me, a couple of minutes analyzing the phenomena is often more profitable than just lecturing myself. I try to figure out what simple changes I can make that will help me escape the current mindset and motivate myself. Let me give you some examples for a few different scenarios.
Getting chores done:
Do I need something to listen to? Like The Tom Woods Show or a stimulating audio book, such as Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders? Music is nice sometimes, but a lot of times I need more meaningful content to keep my mind happy while I work. Our current state of technology makes that very easy to arrange.
Do I need to change the order of approach, starting with smaller jobs that make me feel like I’m making progress?
Do I need to break the chores down into smaller bits, like instead of “clean the bathroom,” make a list that says “clean the bathroom sink, wash bathroom rugs, launder bathroom towels,” etc.?
Do I need a healthy snack? Sometimes I feel distracted, but can’t put my finger on it, only to discover after a bit that if I eat a little snack, I can concentrate again.
Getting in my exercise:
Is the route for running or biking causing me stress? You would think this would be obvious, but it hasn’t always been. Sometimes, I have decided on a route ahead of time for good reasons, but find that on the day I need to switch to some place I’m not dealing with traffic or loose neighborhood dogs. I have learned to keep in mind a couple of routes that are less of a challenge in this particulars.
Do I just need to flip what I’m doing on different days due to weather issues? This is a good reason for having more than one option for exercise and for having a spinning bike in the basement, where it was moved after our bedroom remodel!
Do I need to adjust which part of the day I’m exercising? Sometimes, I need some variety, if possible. Sometimes, I just need to wait until the school buses are gone or the sun has come or gone (depending on the time of year). Sometimes, referring back to food, I need to move my lunch schedule so that my food is digested in time or because I need to refuel before the workout.
Maybe I need to leave the dog home this time? She is a good running partner a lot of the time, but sometimes I’m not mentally up to the extra responsibility or to managing her herding instincts.
Do I need to adjust my goals for the day and/or long term? There can be a tendency to think that there has to be some newsworthy goal, instead of just having fun with exercise, as I write about here.
Getting out in the garden:
I wrote specifically about this for the D&B Supply blog last week in an article called 10 Little Gardening Tips That Can Make a Big Difference.
And, several of the ideas motivating myself to do chores or exercise can also be applied to gardening.
Getting the bills paid, balancing the bank register and other accounting type work:
Do I need to plug myself into some instrumental music? This can help me a lot. It is not distracting, but soothes the spirit, plus the earbuds cut out other activity in the house.
Do I need to plan a reward for various levels of progress? Knowing I’m going to get out for a run or spend a little time on a sewing project after I’m done can help me over the hump of getting started.
Do I need a very specific check-off list? Kind of an adult version of getting stickers.
Life requires work. Even having a good time requires some level of effort. There are basics about attitude and self-control that are foundational to finding any enjoyment in life. If I’m just being plain lazy, I need to face that and snap out of it. If I need to stop being an idiot about eating and sleeping, then smaller changes might not help that much. However, when I am just struggling to manage the daily application of good goals and habits, sometimes simple changes in approach are all that is needed and the perceived problems with motivation fade away!