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What disappears as soon as I examine it but appears as soon as I start? Coming in with the finesse of a corgi, it’s ways to generate motivation!

Motivation is ideal when brimming with caffeine and inspiration, but it’s a drag when it’s missing like a shoe with a hole on a rainy day.

Prepare for close contact with discomfort!

In some ways, I have amples of examples of how to ride the waves of motivation to accomplish all sorts of luster and lackluster items from achieving 3 events on my life list this year to cleaning, cooking, and quarantining.

In other ways, I’m like a tiny bunny in a big field of overachievers. 

Example #1: My coworker. A volunteer summed up my coworker with, “he does more on accident than I do with intent”.

Example #2: Mr. BuLL. He should have a shiny sticker for his chronic case of get-stuff-done-itis. At one point, he worked 40 hours Monday through Friday, drove 3 hours (one-way) to work a part-time job on weekends, and was gearing up for a master’s degree. All without complaint! I’m 99.5% sure he’s human.

My motivation isn’t quite as dizzying. However, it is sustainable with tricks and hacks to getting stuff done that doesn’t involve Dramamine or Valium.

I’m crushing this adulting candy land. 

Assess the Mess

When I need to pull motivation from the air and turn gas into energy, like my favorite leafy friend, trees, I start with an evaluation. 

Sometimes a lack of motivation is just a cover for feeling overwhelmed by possibilities. Crafting a will fell face-first into this category. A will rumbled around for a while on my to-do list because it felt like a huge burden that was hard to start let alone make progress. 

So, when I feel overwhelmed by life as I know it, I started by learning more with exploring bulky terms and concepts. Just learning more about a topic dissolved some of that discomfort. Once I felt more comfortable with the new jargon, it was easier to start crafting a list of steps to go from zero to hero. Plus, where I work, there are resources for writing a will which is how I started putting limits on a limitless world. 

The list blossomed into 8ish items. Some were more work than others but having a map with directions to the destination is enough to build motivation.

Targeting Time

For decades, I was a night owl. I worked best at the end of the day and was happy to stay up late to get stuff done.

I changed somewhere around the time I went from college to real-life chaos. Now, I would much rather get up at 5 am and get through the day that way, than stay up until 10 pm and whine away the day. 

My optimum motivation time is in the morning, after breakfast, and, critically, after coffee. That is when my motivation is higher than anti-diarrhea pills after gas station sushi.

Terrible Toads

If I can, I will procrastinate. Delaying the inevitable is a human condition. I avoid what is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and whatever else will generate copious amounts of stomach acid. I want candy-coated happiness, not pickle juice, and coding lectures. 

It doesn’t help that my little years were cushy and I learned decades of easy work and easy rewards. When I became big, I had to put in more effort and discipline. Even then, that recipe isn’t a predictor of success, more like a hopeful sacrifice for a chance of success. 

Effort aside, the longer I delay, the more it is delayed and it becomes a swirl of shame. Instead, I eat the toad or in modern, less gross terms, I do the dreaded thing first.

From calling customer service to writing a post, I do that first. What I instinctually want to push to third place, is voluntold into first. Doing and completing the dreaded thing first becomes a burst of adrenaline for the rest of the day. It’s common for jittery, nervous-like energy to gurgle up after accomplishing a dark and dreaded task like a virtual or in-person presentation or calling a medical biller to figure out erroneous charges. No matter the flavor, I get a rush of energy. With high octane energy flowing through my arteries, everything else is easier. 

Whether I use that energy to keep tackling bulky tasks or infuse it into less painful escapades, I feel accomplished because I did the thing.

Leveraging Rewards

Another way to generate motivation is through a reward. Rarely do rewards involve money because my fun isn’t tied to funds.

Sometimes my life needs parental supervision to ensure I stay on task and focused. I don’t have a looming overlord, but I can generate a reward like one. 

These are my favorite ways to reward my motivation: 

  • Take bath
  • Watch a movie from the library
  • Take a nap/meditate 
  • Read a chapter from a borrowed book
  • Go for a run/walk
  • Create a sweet treat (hot cocoa and brownie-in-a-mug are my favs)
  • Juggle
  • Draw
  • Visit a friend 

It’s like kindergarten 2.0. Instead of a teacher providing snacks and naps, it’s my reward after doing dreaded work. 

Starting Small

I love starting with small, unrelated wins.

Accomplishing little successes like putting laundry in the dryer before it grows mold and shredding paperwork are how I roll unrelated success into a careening motivational snowball. 

Sometimes just a few successes are enough to leverage bigger burdens. 

Ways to Generate Motivation 

Motivation is like a lock that has changing combos. Sometimes it only takes one try and I can unlock my motivation. Sometimes I have to scroll through a litany of tricks to try to unlock the rusty, stubborn padlock.

No matter how I generate motivation, it’s always worth the effort. I hark back to my six-week furlough and remember the litany of obstacles on my to-list. I enjoy prying this memory loose because I accomplished 95% of that daunting list.

Did I feel motivation bubbling to the brim every day? No, not even on the same continent. Still, I did it and I know I’ll be able to do it again. Not because I want to, but because I know how to leverage the human I am for the human I want to be.

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