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Momentum vs. Motivation


Fall seems like a good time for doing things. Days are still long, the weather is good and opportunities (necessities?) abound for fun, exercise, and taking care of da house and yarden. But that very fact often drives me into a funk. Because I’m all like, I don’t wanna do things! Mainly, I want to drink beer with friends and/or watch all the Netflix. But, ultimately, doing things helps you get out of pretty much any funk, so here I am, doing things. (Because, yes, even this crazy cheerleader-type lady who started a sun-shiny magazine about inspiration gets in some funky darn funks.)

So what things am I doing? Well, for starters, I’m writing! (I know; it may not seem like it just yet.) Taking the time to just write (Ha. As Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do it sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”) is something I haven’t done in a long, long time. And that’s a damn shame.

My trouble is finding the motivation.

The ball we need to get rolling can feel like an 800-pound boulder. But if we can just get it rocking past the tipping point, we can watch that mother-flipping thing roll down the whole damn hill. Momentum, baby. It’s what we’re trying to harness here. I have a few tricks to make this work in my life and I thought I’d share them here today (spoiler alert: I’m a list fan).

1. Lists: Today, To-Do, Life

It’s fitting that the first thing on my list today is “make a list” (check that off the list, woot!). I have three lists: “today” and a general “to-do” one sitting next to me, and a “life list” on my computer. Let’s talk about today lists first.

A. Today lists:

Sometimes I look at the big (giant) general to-do list of things I need to get done and I feel over-freaking-whelmed. Give yourself a break –make a breakout list! Breakout lists are smaller – for me, usually just a quarter of an 8.5×11 page – and only have the things I need/want to get done on one day. Breakout lists also give me the chance to cross things off twice (on the to-do and today lists), which is so very, very satisfying (amIright?).

But still: how to get the motivation? Do the easy stuff first. I have been known to write, “take a shower” on my list. (Especially post-becoming-a-parent, because, damn, it can be hard to find the time!) We work from home, so my day list is a little unique in that I can include housework too. The thing that gets my ball rolling is laundry (that sounds a little dirty, ha)! That blessed machine does all the work, but somehow makes me feel like I’m getting sh*t done! I often do laundry first-thing in the morning. Sometimes I even shower WHILE the dryer is going…cause then we’re really getting somewhere! If you have a more traditional job, maybe you can write, “organize desk” or “make office coffee” or even “clean up computer desktop”. A tidy workspace can make the day seem so much brighter. And, look: You can cross something off your list already. Go, you!

B. To-do lists:

This is the stuff you need to get done – written down because you don’t want to forget, but know you can’t possibly get it done in one day (or month) – all in one place. This list is often long, and can freak me out. I sometimes hide this list and only look at what’s on for today.

C. Life lists:

What are your dreams? Your goals? Think this month, this year, the next five, and, ultimately, your entire life. Breakout lists can come handy here too! 🙂 My current life list is titled “35 Before 35” – I turn 35 next year, and made this list at age 30. Before that, I had “30 before 30” made at age 22. I had some “rollover” goals move from that list to current – NBD, folks. Just writing goals down is a motivator. If you’re making a life list like this, make sure to also include some easy stuff. (See 1A, re: motivation.)

2. No fun Internet until you get the most important thing on your list done.

Simple concept; big impact.

3. When you find yourself getting off track – trailing into your time-wasters – go do something else on your list. For me, it’s usually house stuff or prepping/cooking food. I recently starting making exercise the “hey, do something for yourself” thing I do too (hopefully that’s a new habit!).

None of this is to say you can’t spend a little time on Facebook or searching for vintage campers on Craigslist; just recognize when you’re doing those things to simply avoid other work.


4. Pat yourself on the back

Stop being so damn hard on yourself. Once you give yourself a break, you’ll realize you’re doing pretty well in this here life. Did you get one thing done today? Did you even slightly utilize your day in a way you wanted? Then give yourself a high five, friend, because this is LIFE! No guilt, no worry, no regret. Are there only five minutes left in the day and you didn’t get one thing done? Do one little thing, then plan to ride the momentum into tomorrow. And then pat yourself on your damn back. You got this.