When You Can’t Get Motivated

     It can feel pretty frustrating when you finally have a day to yourself, a day to do whatever you want and you just can’t get motivated.  Maybe you sleep later than you intended and then you stumble to the kitchen and get coffee only to fall down a rabbit hole on social media.  You start reading a book or watching a show or doodling in your journal, and you realize that hours have passed.  It’s lunch time and you are still in your jammies and haven’t accomplished a single thing.  Screenplay isn’t writing itself.  Guitar is not practicing itself.  New recipe you bought the ingredients for isn’t tossing itself in a mixing bowl…

     You feel a tinge of guilt about all of these activities that are not happening, but also a bit of happiness—even joy in letting yourself get absorbed in a book or perhaps all of your favorite songs from high school.  I don’t know exactly what is happening to our minds or subconscious when we “check-out” like this, but I am going to trust that it’s normal and healthy even.  It gives us a different kind of rest. 

     Sometimes, I will have a day that starts off like this, followed by a more intentional afternoon or evening, and sometimes I literally do nothing productive all day.  The hardest part about this is keeping the guilt at bay.  Don’t beat yourself up.  After all, there is no law that you or I are required to be productive all day, every day.  It is best to consider and believe that we were perhaps a bit burned out and really did need that rest. 

     If you are struggling in this kind of day and need to pull yourself out of it, here are my gentle suggestions:

  1. Write in your journal.  Write whatever comes to mind.  Write creative goals for when your motivation and energy return.  Write down a list of three things (maybe three teensy-weensy little things) that you will do once you finish journaling. 
  2. Do any short, necessary chores for the day.  Take care of your pets.  Unload the dishwasher.  Make your bed.  Toss in a load of laundry.  Plan dinner even if it’s just sandwiches or hummus and crackers. 
  3. Change modes of entertainment.  If you have been absorbed in a book, pick out a movie to watch or a podcast to listen to.  If you have been catching up with posts, groups, and friends on social media, step away and read a book for a bit. 
  4. Try taking a nap or even “resting your eyes” for ten or twenty minutes, knowing it is fine if you fall asleep.  Many times when I am unmotivated and struggle with focusing on a project, it is simply because I am bone-deep exhausted and need to sleep.  Once you are more rested, you might have more clarity about how you want to spend the rest of your day.

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