What to do When You Lack Motivation

Ok, admit it.  Some days you completely lack motivation to do the things you know need to be done.  It’s not like you don’t know what needs to be done or lack something to do; it’s that you have zero desire to do it.  In fact if you lined up all the things that need to be done you could actually spend your entire vacation time doing them and the list still would not be complete.

There are clothes in the washer than need to be moved to the drier so they won’t get mold on them and have to be washed again, but you still don’t do it.  There is a report you have to complete and a pending deadline all too soon but nothing you write makes sense.  There is a crack in your windshield that has been there for days, weeks, months or dare I say years but you have not gotten it fixed.  There is a friend you know you should contact because they are going through a rough time and you love them dearly but you dread the conversation.  Or there is my personal favorite, you know that it is time for an annual check-up (truth be told that time was really five years ago) but you won’t make the appointment.

Sound familiar?  Having read more self-help books and listened to more motivation talks than you can remember still is not helping you to do the very thing you don’t want to do.  So instead of following an old slogan like “Just do it”, try this instead.

  • Rest.  Maybe you are burned out and just need some rest.  Take one day off and do something fun to rejuvenate yourself.
  • Play.  Play with a toy, a game, or go to a park.  Just distracting yourself can be helpful.
  • Draw.  Did you ever doodle or draw as a kid?  Try doing that and see where your mind takes you.
  • Phone.  Call a friend (not the one you have been dreading) but another one that makes you smile.
  • Encourage.  Try to encourage someone else and be helpful to them.  Taking the focus away from yourself for a while is useful.
  • Laugh.  Watch an old sitcom that makes you laugh out loud.  Laughter is good for the soul.
  • Thanks.  Give thanks to God for the blessings in your life.  Don’t put in a request, just be thankful.
  • Change.  Go for a walk, take a drive or go to a different room, do something to change your environment.  Sometimes this alone is helpful.
  • Exercise.  When you are unmotivated to do other things, exercise seems like a good excuse.  Use it to push your body and cleanse your thoughts.
  • Think small.  Just doing one small step of your task list or project can be enough to inspire you to complete the larger item.

The bottom line is that doing something is better than doing nothing, even if that something has nothing to do with your “To Do” list.  When you are not motivated to do the things you need to get done, just doing a little thing can make a big difference in the end.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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To Sleep or Not…

Cover of "White Christmas"

Cover of White Christmas

To sleep, or not to sleep—that is the question:

Whether it is better for the mind to ponder

The outrageous thoughts and dreams

Or to tackle the sea of problems

And by challenging end them.  To wake, to sleep—

Which one—

Yes, which one.  It is some ridiculous hour when by all logic you should be sound asleep yet you find yourself wide awake for reasons beyond your understanding.  So what do you do?  Do you lie in bed trying to get to sleep?  Do you get up and do some work?  Do you turn on the TV in an attempt to distract your thoughts?  Or do you wake up someone up to help you go back to sleep?  Which to choose?

“It appears that every man’s insomnia is as different from his neighbour’s as are their daytime hopes and aspirations.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald realized that one solution may work for you but may not work for your friends.  You are different in personalities, dreams and experiences from others and even at times your personality, dreams and experience changes from part of your life to another.  So finding a solution to the sleeplessness today, may not work tomorrow.  This is why you need to have multiple solutions ready at a moment’s notice.

 “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep…”  Bing Crosby’s gave this advice in the 1954 classic “White Christmas” when his soon to be girlfriend was having a hard time sleeping because of her pestering sister.  This is a reasonable approach which does work on occasion mostly because it distracts you from the thoughts that are consuming you in the middle of the night.  Counting your blessings is about focusing your thoughts on the things you are grateful for instead of the things that need to be done or are causing you anxiety.  This attitude of gratitude has a calming effect and you might find that you fall asleep while counting all of your blessings.

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying.  It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”  Dale Carnegie’s advice suggests that is it better to get up and work then to worry.  If you are struggling with a deadline, thinking about the email you forgot to send, or just realized a solution to a problem you have been pondering, then getting up and tending to the issue may be the very trick that allows you to get back to sleep.  The little bit of sleep that you lose in productive work may actually be less than the sleep you would lose lying awake in bed worrying.

“You sleep alright?” asks the railcar employee to Eric Little as they arrive in London just before the Olympic trials from the movie “Chariots of Fire”.

“Like a log,” replies Eric Little waking up from his overnight railcar and looking at the newspaper.

“Aha, must have a clear consciousness,” he replies.  A clear consciousness is one of the many ways to encourage the elusive sleep.  Oftentimes as your mind rests, you become aware of mistakes from the previous day.  If the thoughts that consume you are about your mistakes or other people’s mistakes then it is best to develop an attitude of forgiveness.  Forgiving yourself and others is one way to clear your conscious and allow sleep to return.

“Come, blesséd barrier between day and day,

Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health!”

William Wordsworth concludes in his poem “To Sleep”.  Sleeping will rejuvenate your body and mind and is essential for productive living.  So the next time you find yourself sleepless, change your attitude to an attitude of gratefulness, an attitude of productivity, or an attitude of forgiveness and see if one of these does not help put you back to sleep.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.