How to keep your motivation when you have zero Fs to give

It’s 8:08 p.m. and I couldn’t give a F less about writing. The baby is in bed, I’m full from dinner, and halfway through my second glass of wine (a real, appropriate glass, not a “I’m-pretending-this-is-one-glass glass”). Today was a good day: the baby was happy, my friend came to visit, and the baby didn’t cry too much before bed. A win all around!

Since tonight is video game night for my husband [cue eye rolling] I always sit down to the computer to get some writing done, and work on my blog if time permits before my [absurdly early to all non-parents] bedtime. Lately, though, I’ve been feeling very uninspired. The day is so eventful that all I want to do is rest when it is done. Actually, I guess that is the line I use so that I don’t have to work on my blog. “You deserve to just sit and rest!” I tell myself, before melting into the couch with another tv show.

The reality is that if I want my blog, and hopefully future business, to work, I need to work. A dream without the work is just that, a dream. It never finds fruition. Because I couldn’t care less right now I then begin the guilt soundtrack, right on schedule. I feel guilty that I don’t write more and work harder on my blog. If I troll Instagram I see nothing but successful moms, coiffed and running their own mini empires. Their t-shirt lines are successful (my effort failed). Their blog took off (mine is slow to start = fail). They found a unique niche and are now telling me how I can profit, too, for the low price of $19.95 (I can barely keep up with my blog and my life. FAIL.)

So what is the problem? Why can’t I get my shit together and work harder every night after the baby goes to sleep, dinner is put away, and dishes are running? To tell you very honestly, I can’t figure it out. Have you had this kind of dilemma? You want something so badly to work, but when it’s time to hit the pavement, you just can’t quite get moving? The answer isn’t simple. It’s not a one fits all answer. The answer is not at the bottom of your wine glass. Or second glass. Or third—I’ve checked all these places already.

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My brilliant mother always sends me the best articles. Inspiration, ah-ha moments, and life answers that all of a sudden spark a light bulb when really I should have been able to figure it out myself. One particular one she sent me—and I wish I had the link because it was so good, I must have put it somewhere for safekeeping i.e. it’s now lost forever—was so good and made such perfect sense. The most basic bottom line, and I’m doing the author an injustice here, was that motivation doesn’t lead to action. Action leads to motivation. And it’s totally, gobsmacked-ingly true!  There are so many times that when I really didn’t want to work on something but made myself start, I got excited and pushed full steam ahead all the way through. I even felt better afterwards—accomplished, satisfied, and uplifted, to be exact. Why hadn’t I started sooner?

I always ask myself that question, and the answer is as elusive at the next go around. I wish I could tell you that motivation led to great accomplishment, but so far I find it to be the opposite. So how do we start when we have no motivation to do so?

For one, I remind myself of the end goal. What am I trying to accomplish? What are my future plans? When I look at the big picture I can more realistically remind myself that I need to complete the smaller goals if I ever have hopes of reaching the prize. I sometimes write them down. I re-read my blog bio to remind myself that I am trying to help my readers, and help future readers, and I can’t do that if there is zero content to read.

Another tactic is to make a deal with myself. “Okay, write for ten minutes, just ten minutes, and then you can go do something else.” Almost every time that ten minutes turns into an hour, and results in a blog post and then some extra work to boot. Like I said before, once you get the locomotive moving, the steam usually carries it through to the next station. Are these metaphors doing anything for you? Moving on…

Do something else. Yes, you read that right. If I really am avoiding doing something, I do something else either a) creative or b) physical. Getting the juices flowing usually leads to more motivation to do something else. Has cleaning your teapot turned into cleaning your counters, which led to vacuuming the kitchen, which led to organizing the incoming mail? I hope I’m not the only one! As that author said, doing leads to motivation. The proof is in the pudding! Or in this third glass of wine. I mean, not food or wine. Writing? Yes, writing.

Avoid distractors. Nothing kills my train of thought like my cell phone. Because in that very inviting cell phone lies social media apps. And in those apps lie time waster after time waster. I can’t tell you how many times I go to “check” my notifications and find myself 20 minutes later scrolling through photo after photo, meme after meme. What a waste. In fact I’m adding “avoid cell phone numbing” to my daily list of tasks. It’s really a time waster, and really pointless! But don’t stop reading my post; I’m not a fuck-boy so I promise I won’t waste your time. You can keep coming back to me, girl.

And sometimes you just have to say to yourself “SIT YOUR ASS DOWN AND DO IT.” My inner self pisses and moans, but my physical self sits in the chair and turns on the computer. I feel better every time when I’m done, but getting started? Whew, nah girl nah. I hate the phrase “Put on your big girl pants and do it.” I hate every variation thereof: “Put on lipstick and handle it.” “Put on gangster rap and get it done.” “Suck it up buttercup.” Dear Lord don’t say that last one to me EVER. I will crush you. I hate it that much. But find a phrase that works for you. What pushes you enough to sit down and just start? Write it on paper and tape it your mirror, cupboard, or fridge. Repeat it often. Out loud, if you have to. I promise, I won’t judge you for sounding like a crazy person.

My final piece of advice: just don’t do it. What?! You just told me to do it. Why would you tell me to quit it? I’m telling you this because sometimes, you really do just need to sit down and take a night off. If you are, in general, working very hard and are tired, you need to take some me-time so you don’t burn out. If you are burnt out you are good to nobody, especially yourself. It is way more likely that you will quit trying if you are tired and grow resentful toward whatever you are trying to do. The writing can wait. The dishes and laundry can wait. The _______ project can wait. But sometimes, just sometimes, the wine/Real Housewives/early morning run/afternoon yoga/[your vice here] cannot wait. It’s time to indulge it. Go ahead. I give you permission, if you need it.

Speaking of but not really but really because this is the end of the post, this banana bread cannot wait. I’m giving myself permission to call it a night. I’m sure the tomorrow me will thank the now me.

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