How to Stay Motivated When You Don't Want To

May 25, 2020
There's not a lot going on right now is there? Guess what I've been doing?
Each week during this pandemic I've:
  • Written a blog post
  • Created 2 to 4 resumes (one week I did 6!)
  • Recorded, edited and produced a podcast
  • Spent about 20 hours with prospective and existing clients
  • Worked out 6 days
And none of it I wanted to do.
Let's be clear on this word 'want'. When I get up in the morning I'm excited. I'm ready to take on the world and change it's thinking as it relates to career satisfaction and belonging. But that's just an idea, it's not action. When I think about all of the actions that have to transpire for change to happen it's quite daunting and for some, it's downright debilitating. This is how I beat that paralysis. It happens in three stages.
The Lies
Fear can stop me in its tracks if I let it. Fear comes with a tape recorder that plays in my head from time to time. It's like an ear-worm (a song that won't stop playing in your head).
My lies usually involve failure or why it won't matter if I do anything such as "What if I screw up a resume?", "What if I'm George Costanza*?" "What if I don't have the right question to ask my client?", "What if I have no ideas?", "What if I'm boring?"
My workout lies are the best. "I don't need to work out today, 3 days a week is what all of the articles say right?", "I'm so tired from staying up too late last night, I should sleep in and miss my workout."
The reason I'm going straight to doing is that this is how I operate. Lies hate doing and this is the best way to make them disappear. I can tell myself until I'm blue in the face that I'm unworthy of success but when I begin doing, everything falls away. I become fully present in my writing, workout, or client meeting. There's no room for doubt. I become one with the task and simply lose myself in it.
Sometimes I come up for air for a brief moment and realize I'm having fun!
Usually, halfway through any given task, I feel a sense of accomplishment begins to stir. "I'm doing it! I'm almost finished with the task!" This same sense can demolish me though. I can hastily finish, cutting corners and feeling lies creep back in. But then I remember what a good job feels like, the pride, the satisfaction. So I plow on to what I call the hospital corners of doing. These can be the last round of reps in the gym, an edit of a blog post, more research into the article I'm writing, or practicing the freshly written speech.
The Afterglow
If I do the work and do it well I will feel a sense of exhaustion but only the kind of fatigue one feels when fully satisfied. I will sleep better, have more patience, and will be more fully present.
Did I change the world today? No. But, I did things that got me one step closer.
My daily motivation is chasing the dragon of doing because only by doing will anything get done.
*In a Seinfeld episode George realizes if he only says one thing in a meeting he's revered but if he tries to add to this thought with more thinking he is laughed at.

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