Small Changes to Spark Motivation

Unpleasant task ahead of you?  Maybe it’s not unpleasant, but something you really want to do, but have been procrastinating.  My husband and I tried a subscription to Let’s Make Art, the subscription box that gives you the supplies to make four watercolor paintings per month, but then we never got it out of the box!  Finally, this last Sunday, we dug into it and got started with a project.  What helped?  It was snowing so we were reluctant to get out of the house and we decided to work on it at our breakfast bar that separates the kitchen from the dining room.  That breakfast bar is the most underused part of our house.  I think normally only one of the three barstools gets used, ever so I was excited to be in what felt like a new location, and to finally be working on this long-awaited project. 

Similarly, I have a client who was struggling with diving into some projects involving a lot of writing and updating—working in her journal and organizing notes on a subject she was studying—these projects were both very important to her, but she knew they would be time consuming and just couldn’t make herself get started. 

We had talked here and there about adding breaks to her day, and considering ways she could make routine tasks more fun.  Between that conversation, and her desire to get to work on those projects, an idea sparked, and my client is now making amazing progress on both projects.  What did she do?  She decided to tackle those projects in bed!  For many women, there is something luxurious about being in bed early or in the afternoon—it means you are going to be very comfy.  From there, you may feel inspired to work on a project or read a book, or sip some hot tea.  Anyway, she was overjoyed when telling me about it.  Suddenly, the projects felt like treats and rewards to work on, because she could do them in bed.

This got me thinking.  What unpleasant chore or task do you have to do or need to get started on?  Now, brainstorm some ways that you can make it more fun or more pleasant.  I remember a lady who used to dress up to pay her bills (this was before electronic banking); another friend would always make a lunch date following her women’s wellness exam.  Yet, another friend was frustrated with the lack of creative expression in her 9-to-5, so she started taking several pictures each day and posting to Instagram to create a practice of finding beauty in her everyday life.  Find a way to connect something fun and pleasant with the task you are not looking forward to. 

I try to practice this idea in several areas.  When I am grading for my online class, I combine that with getting my steps in for the day.  I will grade for forty-five minutes, and then walk for fifteen while listening to a podcast.  I repeat this cycle until I finish grading.  If I have 2 ½ hours of grading to do, that means I will be getting forty-five minutes of walking and podcasting listening in!

If you are stumped with these suggestions and can’t find a way to do your procrastinated activity in a fun way, can you change the location?  Work on your project in a quiet, beautiful café?  Read the required chapters at the park or at a museum?  Start your project at the breakfast bar in the kitchen where you can really spread out, instead of the kitchen table?  Sometimes, just changing the setting is enough to change the plot. 

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