What to do when you wish you want to do something
as much as you don’t want it?
Every single morning I ask myself the hardest question in the history of the world. I still didn’t answer it. No, it’s not about what is the meaning of life. This one I have all figured out. The bothering issue is what can I do to stay in bed longer, sleep-in while everything I need to do would magically be done and everybody would be happy? When you don’t want to not only get up but in general don’t want to do anything, what should you do? Where to take motivation from?!
Does it matter why?
There might be hundreds of reasons why you don’t want to do anything. You may simply be tired, you might be upset because of what somebody did or forgot to do or your hormones might be now conspiring with some aliens from a different galaxy.
Whatever the reason – the thing that drives you every day doesn’t work at the moment. You need your motivation back and I’m here to help!
Related post: To every Mama, who stays at home…
The motivation from the outside
What you need is some kind of force from the outside, because you feel there is nothing inside of you to push you further? Extrinsic motivation is everything that makes you do something that is not your inner will. Does it make sense? It’s a grading system at schools, it’s a salary in your job, it’s a number of likes under your Facebook pictures or gummy bears given to a kid so he stops crying, which of course we never do (do we?).
Have you heard about a carrot and a stick approach? It’s all about our desire to be rewarded or the fear of the punishment.
The thing with the motivation from the outside is that when the reward or scare disappears so is your will to do the work. So yeah, for some short-term goal or small task it’s good to reward yourself. After I do something I don’t necessarily like, for example cleaning my refrigerator, I like to drink my coffee and eat something sweet as a prize. Why not? The thought about it helps me go through the process faster and after a job well done I deserve to indulge a bit. Right?
Motivation is already inside you
On the other hand, we all have this superpower called intrinsic motivation which is simply just-because-I-want-to attitude. It’s the force that drives us to do things with pleasure precisely for the reason of this pleasure. Let me tell you why it is awesome. Because you have the steering wheel of your attitude in your hands, well, in your head to be precise – it’s your mindset!! And having control over your mindset is everything, it’s gold.
Call it as you want but you were born with it and all you need is to discover how to use it. (Do you want to know a secret? Being able to control your mindset is the key to success. And it’s not that hard. You can practice it, just like playing the piano or martial arts).
It’s a no-brainer that if the motivation is coming from you, from your inner desire, it will be strong and powerful. If you start something because you want to, you expect that the end of the task will leave you with satisfaction and gratitude, you probably won’t have any troubles with engaging in this task and keep it going as long as needed.
There is a catch though
Usually, there is not a lot of exciting things in our daily routines. It would take a lot of time for me to wait until I feel a really deep urge to clean my bathtub. Scrubbing the grill after weekend’s BBQ party doesn’t seem so inviting either.
Are we doomed then?
So what to do to get any motivation to rise a bit? We lie to ourselves! Ok. Manipulate. The simple mechanism of coping – we know that stuff needs to be done, right? Let’s assume that we can’t delegate, so we have to do this on our own. But we soooo don’t want to. Adult life sucks, so we need to women up (watched Big Hero 6?) and just do it!
Related post: Balance in Mom’s Life – is that a joke?
We start with the carrot!
Find whatever makes you happy and set it as your reward. I would recommend starting small: ice creams/new nail polish/an hour of favorite TV series without guilt? That should give you a little spark of energy to start.
So I am putting this awful rubber gloves on and go to the bathroom. Then an important thought comes to mind – after all, it’s not a punishment. I’m doing this for myself and my family. Plus I can have a little bit of fun during a daunting task. I turn some music on. Nothing boring in scrubbing the tub if I am doing it in the fabulous company of Beyonce and J.Lo. And I’m hooked. Stuff is done, I’m tired but happy that it is over. I started with the idea of the prize but finished with the internal feeling of pride. Good for me.
More tricks for motivation, please!
There are also other tricks to boost your willingness to act. My favorite is curiosity. If you are intrigued by something, you want to explore the subject, you dig deeper and deeper. Nothing is more stimulus than being curious about what’s after the next turn. That’s why when I work on a new project nothing can slow me down, but when I’m supposed to plan meals for the next week… everything is a distraction.
Being in control is another one. You will do everything more willingly if you are making all the decisions. How different is mowing the loan if you decide on Thursday that you will do it on Saturday at 10 am and you will start from the north-west corner of the backyard, in comparison to being asked on Saturday morning to do that now, when you just poured yourself a cup of coffee?
Even if the control itself is kind of an illusion, go for it, use it! Create the illusion of control to get the stuff off the to-do list. You need to go shopping but you really don’t want to? Find one little thing that would make going out bearable (do you want to visit Starbucks? you could grab croissants for breakfast? maybe yesterday you left something you need in a car?) and then create your shopping plan around it. Go to the store close to Starbucks because you need coffee. If you want to have croissants for breakfast tomorrow, you can run the errands by the way. You need to go to the car to get your book, so if you are putting your pants on anyway, you can go and buy stuff.
Related post: Manage your time like a Mom Boss!
Are you up for the challenge?
I also like to use competition to shake off my I don’t want to attitude. Well, honestly not only my attitude. Best way to have all the toys cleaned from the floor? I give my boys two boxes and bet them who would fill his box first. Works every time. And not only with kids. Corporations run on managers trying to bit each other’s results.
You have no one to compete with? Challenge yourself. I did one burpee yesterday, let’s do three today! Ok, I got too excited. I’ll do two. And then eat a donut as a reward. But it’s progress! Yay!
There is one more thing. It’s painful but works every time. I’m sure you don’t want to hear this but physical activity is proved to spike your willingness to well… be active some more. And the movement is healthy. Long-term benefits, weight loss, well-being, aaaaaaa! Just go running and don’t make me think about it more, please.
Ok. Full disclosure – I tried. It works. It’s a secret weapon. If you are really desperate – go for it. If you are like me and you don’t run, check YouTube for some cool training videos. I love Polish trainer Ewa Chodakowska so I usually do her workouts (I’m not an affiliate, I recommend her just because she’s awesome) but you can find a lot of fitness stuff online. Fifteen minutes of suffering work miracles. Even for your mood.
And again – motivation is also all about mindset!
The Internet is full of tips and tricks on how to revive your motivation. But the truth is what works for X doesn’t necessarily work for Y. I’m sick and tired of reading “I know how you feel, I was there…”, “I know your situation…”. I’m sorry, that’s BS. Honestly, I don’t know your situation, don’t know what are you going through, what I know is that you are reading this text until the end, so you are looking for some support in the motivation department.
If you just wanted to distract yourself, you wouldn’t reach that far (thank you for your trust by the way). I can be your support if you want to work on your specific situation – contact me by email, Facebook, or comment below.
Related post: What’s the motivation behind redefining
The only universal advice I can give you is: listen to yourself!! You know what you need. We tend to not listen to our needs, but focusing on our wants. Redefine that! You can do it. If none of this helped you, please read my other post to find out how to get rest in mom style.
Need a short recap?
- Eyes on a prize. You have your goal – find something to reward yourself when you achieve it.
- Be aware of the consequences. What will happen if you don’t do it?
- Have fun while doing it. Turn some music on, invite some company, play make-believe. Whatever makes you less miserable.
- Make an interesting project out of the unwanted task. Research might help here.
- Be in control of every single detail, every step of the job.
- Try to make it a contest. Compete with others or with yourself.
- Move! You have all the power you need, sweat somehow brings it out.
6 thoughts on “Motivation struggles? Need a kick in the butt?”
I’ve been struggling with motivation a lot lately, and reading this really helped me to understand why. I will definitely be trying these tactics this weekend to tackle those tasks I don’t want to do!
I’m so glad you found it useful! Have a great weekend, Tana!
Good tips! I am an all or nothing kind of gal, sometimes it serves me very well, sometimes not so much! I agree with everything you said on mindset! It’s takes lots of practice but definitely possible to change your mindset!
I’m glad you liked it, Kristin! Mindset is soooo powerful!
I have to agree it is all about your mindset. I had to make a shift in my thought processs. When I am really struggling to push through a task, I focus on how good it will feel to get it done. (This is the reverse of what I use to do, which was thinking about doing it tomorrow!)
Exactly! This wonderful feeling of getting stuff done is a sweet prize! Thanks for sharing.