Why the act of putting on your sandshoes in itself can motivate you. Image courtesy of Olovedog at freedigitalphotos.net
With the onset of the hotter and more humid weather typical of the Summer months of South-East Queensland, has been an annoying and often persistent feeling of inertia, a laziness and frustrating apathy. Not all of the time, thank goodness, but I definitely experience a languid, listless fatigue that inevitably befalls me around Christmas time and the New Year.
Out of the many faults inherent in my nature, I have the subjective notion that laziness can be one of my worst. At other times, I surprise myself by a fervent energetic enthusiasm – I can not always predict which will be the victor.
Of course, there are times when the “enthusiastic side of me” needs to be the victor. At times when I have no expectations of myself such as jobs that need to be done, it is all very well to allow any inertia to be present without such a pricking conscience.
However, along with the Christmas festivities that are a part of this time of year, are obligations I must tend to – the buying and preparation of gifts, visits and time spent with people who I unfortunately don’t get a chance to see at other times.
It therefore seemed like a good idea to reflect upon what worked to ignite the necessary motivation to achieve the necessary goals and tasks to accomplish if I am to fully relax and enjoy the joy of the Christmas season.
The biggest and most counter-intuitive self-discovery is that motivation comes after the initiation of a task, not an emotion that I need to invoke first. One of my earliest pieces of writing I refer to exclusively explores this concept “You Can’t Steer a Ship that’s Not Moving”. My brother gave me this worthy piece of advice a year or so ago, and its application has proven its validity to me time and time again.
Writing, for example. Often I do have an idea that comes to me first, sparking a desire to write. However, today is an example of an instance where no such inspiration lay within me, egging me on to write.
However, upon berating myself for what I saw to be laziness provoked reflection upon what did succeed in motivating me to carry out an action when a ‘natural urge’ was lacking. I thought I would share what I feel to be the more worthwhile summations of these ponderings - what I feel can help motivation when it feels to be lacking and a task is desired to be completed.
1. Start first. As stated, begin! Anywhere! For example, a perpetual obligation I know spares nobody is housework of some description. Some worthy individuals possess a natural and praise-worthy propensity to enjoy such a chore. I don’t. So… I do seven small ‘bits’ of housework…”1. Put away those socks, 2. Empty the kitty litter…up until 7. Empty the garbage”. Upon completion of this completely arbitrary choice of seven chores, I feel immediately better – I have succeeded a bit and things look that much better! It is like throwing wood on a fire, a few metaphorical twigs have been cast upon insignificant embers and before long a worthwhile fire (or action) is burning!
2. Upbeat music. Actually, the choice of music is completely arbitrary, depending upon individual preferences. For some, turning on the television provide the same sort of stimulation…I know this might not work for some, but many have mentioned music helps them while doing a chore, so I mention it.
3. Little rewards along the way. What the reward is is completely up to the individual, but a scientifically consistent finding is that positive reinforcing a desired action will increase the odds it will be persisted with.
4. Thinking about what doing the goal will achieve – in the longer term – that is, WHY is it worth it? Studying? Good marks? Long term, a job! Cleaning – a great feeling after…! You get the big picture!!
**5. Doing the goal in a do-able way. For example, self-awareness that you work best in half-hour chunks of time for some. For others, it’s just getting it all done, and having an early ‘knock-off’ time. This again, is completely individual! So, do what you know works best for you!!
These are 5 ways I have found to consistently help me to do what I might not feel like doing! In fact, not only do I find these 5 tips help me to get the job done, I also feel motivated nine times out of ten to do even more than I initially expected of myself!
Jussie, thanks for sharing these ideas. There are some tasks I am never going to actually want to do but I want the end result so the best thing is to get started. An example is painting around the house. Wow, I love the end result but I don't actually enjoy painting. Therefore I just have to start it. As you suggested, if I decide to just do a half hour, I am quite likely to do more. If I think I should spend the whole day painting I will find any excuse not to start.
As you said, each person has to find what works for them.