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.

New Year’s Resolutions that Really Matter

Virtue

Virtue (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

This time of year is exhausting for me and I strongly dislike watching the morning new shows which are filled with the same New Year’s resolution stories over and over.  They should just save some time and energy by replay the last year’s stories because they are virtually the same regardless of the network.  It’s all about eating more healthy, taking more vitamins, drinking more water, losing more weight, changing your appearance, and of course the mother of all resolutions – exercising.

While these are resolutions are good, they rarely continue after the first month of the year and hold little significant value to our overall quality of life.  Yes, your health and appearance can improve and thereby improve your self-esteem, but what if instead of focusing on improved self-esteem you focus on character development instead.  Better yet, what if your entire family set a New Year’s resolution of working on one character trait?  Just imagine for a moment the different it would make in your personal life, your family life, your spiritual life, your work life, and your social life if your focus was to improve an aspect of your character.  I dare say, that no new diet or exercise program can promise the same difference in every area of your life.  So instead of setting yourself up for another year of disappointing resolutions, try something new or more accurately spoken, something old.

In his autobiography written spanning from 1771 to 1788, Benjamin Franklin outlines thirteen virtues to which he aspires to master and thereby encouraging others to consider the same.  Here they are in his words:

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.” (Moderation in food and drink.)
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.” (Watch what you say.)
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.” (Organize all things.)
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” (Finish what you start.)
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.” (Spend wisely.)
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.” (Good time management.)
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.” (Think and speak the best about each other.)
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.” (Do no harm to others.)
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.” (Consider all points of view.)
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.” (Clean living.)
  11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.” (Strive for peace.)
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.” (Have sexual morality.)
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.” (Think of others before yourself.)

These virtues were not to be attempted all at once; instead he devised a system of concentrating on one at a time, until mastered and then proceeding to the next one.  So for this year, if you picked just one of his virtues and set for yourself a goal of mastering it until the end of the year, imagine the difference in your life and the lives around you.

Better yet and if you are really courageous, ask your spouse, a close friend, or a parent which of the virtues they believe you need to work on and tackle that one first.  Most likely, that will be the one virtue that will make the greatest difference in your life.  Now, that’s a New Year’s resolution that really matters.

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.

What a Pain in the Back!

It was sometime during my 7th month of pregnancy with our third child that my husband found out he would be gone six weeks prior to our child’s expected birth and for six weeks following our child’s birth for a job.  Having the foresight of two prior pregnancies and knowing that my mother could not stay for an extended time, I asked for my mother to come stay with us after the birth.  But before the birth was another issue.  Our oldest child was three and he had more energy than the entire family combined multiplied by two.  He had two speeds, go fast and sleep; there was no in between.  Our second child did not have the high energy but was a bit colicky even after turning one.  She always knew what she wanted and most of the time it was mommy.  Both pregnancies were high risk due to the premature birth of our son and the early labor pains of our daughter, so by default, this pregnancy was high risk as well which meant additional doctor’s visits with the kids trailing along.

Now, I’m 5’2” on a good day with a very short-waisted so all of my babies stuck straight out making me look like I had a beach ball inside my shirt more than an unborn child.  My posture was forced to change, I could not sleep on a flat surface because I literally could not breathe, and I was often carrying around one of the other two children if not both from time to time.  On top of all that, I was exhausted trying to keep up with our son and managing our daughter’s crying bouts.  The only relief that I had been my husband coming home at night to help out with the kids and now he was going to be gone.

The back pain was the worst I ever had in my life even after having gone through two car accidents that damaged my back.  I could not take pain medication because of my high risk pregnancies, the chiropractor was nervous about continuing treatment so close to the expected date, and over the counter medications did not work with my history of ulcers.  So I had to learn how to manage the pain without the help of any medication, without the ability to lie flat (I slept in a La-Z-Boy), and in between caring for the kids.

Take a load off.  Just getting temporary relief from the pain was helpful and restored my energy levels back to my new normal.  While heating pads helped at home, the largest difference was going to our neighborhood pool for at least an hour a day and just standing in shoulder-high water.  The kids loved to play in the pool and armed with extra floatation devices to put my mind at ease, I was able to get the weight off my back.  The water took the pressure off my back and for an hour a day my back felt weightless.  On days that I could not go to the pool, the garden tub we had been helpful but did not provide the deep relief because my stomach stuck out of the water.  Taking a load off my back did help to relieve the pain and taught me the importance of caring for yourself so you can care better for others.

Ask for help. Ok, I admit it, I’m not the type to ask for help or admit that something is too much for me to handle.  When my husband first told me about the job I encouraged him to take it and never once asked him not to see the job through to the end.  I did not want to be the reason he did not do something that he really wanted to do, so I dealt with it.  My husband, concerned about me and knowing that I would not ask for help, had two friends of mine come over to help several nights a week.  They would come over, take care of dinner, watch the kids, and let me take a break in my bedroom.  I’m grateful for them and my husband and somewhere along the way I learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  Allowing others to help literally carry your burden can ease the back pain.

Get some rest.  Sleeping on a La-Z-Boy night after night is not the most restful sleep but it was far better than not breathing or waking up to the circulation being cut-off in my arms and legs.  Having two young children taught me many things, one of which is to sleep when the kids sleep and the second of which is to value rest above sleep.  I honestly do not think I knew what rest meant, to me to rest was to sleep, but my kids taught me otherwise.  I learned that rest means relaxing, stopping what you are doing, letting the dishes pile up if necessary, watching a favorite kid’s TV show, or just observing them playing.  These simple things reminded me that rest does not have to be sleep and resting can alone ease the back pain.

Finding relief for back pain is not a fixed formula.  Sometimes the pain is because of a physical problem and sometimes the pain is because of an emotional problem.  In my case, it was both.  But learning to take a load off, asking for help, and getting some rest provided me with the relieve I needed.  Oh, and our third child, a girl, was born without any complications, hardly any labor, and with minimal medications while my husband was home for the weekend.  God is good.

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.