Most people will agree that if you want to get something done, counting on motivation alone is not enough. Even when we are working on something we love, there are days when we do not feel like showing up. There are times when something else–or everything else–will feel more important than what we committed to do. Anne Lamott’s recent Facebook post on May 1, 2013 traveled around this week reminding us that “There is no good time to write. It will never be easier. If you won’t find an hour a day now, you won’t find it then.” Her writing, as always, is a good read, and she both calls us to action and gives us the first steps to get going.
Before I began writing this, I sat down with my two young daughters to map out our day. There were several jobs that each one of us needed to do and did not want to do. There were other things we preferred to be doing. To say we had ‘an absence of motivation’ would be a gross understatement of our actual state. Both children sprawled out in front of me like a big life lesson.
What do I believe works best when we are in full-blown resistance or avoidance? Three things rise to the top and survive the rigor of quality assurance tests.
1) Add humor immediately. I used to think that reviewing ‘why’ I had committed to something was the most important step. When a person is in resistance though, even the most noble intention and the most inspiring call to action sound like utter hogwash. My daughter did not need to review the many reasons she needed to take a shower before heading out to socialize tonight. She knows all about the importance of hygiene, and still did not want to shower. Instead, I asked if I could break our family rule of no name calling, and wrote an impromptu rap piece for her on the staircase called “Stink Grumpy and Mama Grump II.” When I added chest thumping and pathetic dance moves, the tone shifted and we began to move forward.
2) Hang out with other people who are skilled at staying in action. I shared with my kids my list too, and told them where I was feeling most resistance. Then I showed them how I was prioritizing the list (in purple marker, of course) and when I would be available to help them and when I would be engaged in moving through my own stuff. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to inspire a person is by minding your own business and taking your own good advice. Some people get inspired by seeing the change and progress others around them are making.
3) Ask yourself which part of the task feels hard and then insert some fun. For me, the length of time it takes to generate a piece of writing felt hard. I did not want it to take as long as it sometimes does. To add fun, I played ‘beat the clock’ to see what I could generate in forty-five minutes. To get started, I suspended my concerns about quality and focused on how much content I could crank out in the allotted time. Once I engaged with the writing, the time limit became less important and my focus returned to the value and quality. By that point, I had moved passed the part that felt hard and was doing what I need to do.
We are about half-way through our jobs today. My blog post is ready for editing, Stink Grumpy has showered, and the guinea pig is celebrating having a clean cage by leaving her droppings in every corner of it. Laughter has replaced whining and progress has replaced resistance. It is time for a little lunch, our own small celebration, and possibly a few more rap songs to get us through the afternoon.