There comes a time when the motivation monkey is happily swinging from branch to branch with the wind in his face and the world passing beneath him, when, out of nowhere, he loses pace, grabs some rotten foliage, and promptly plummets to earth with a thud.
If he has a particularly lengthy fall he might be left feeling a bit tender. A bit unsure. Looking up, he might see an epic, mountainous climb. Looking down, he might see a soft bed of leaves.
I know what I’d choose.
Does your motivation monkey lose the battle of wills when he takes a tumble? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Mine is so used to falling off track he’s developed a habit of catching some lower branches to cushion his descent—a toolbox of helpful techniques I try to deploy before he reaches ground zero.
First off: why do we lose motivation?
Boredom. Big yawns all round! Who wants to clean the house or cook dinner when you could be reading… or doing whatever it is that flicks your switch.
Distraction. When YouTube distracts… this is like diving into a rabbit warren for me. I could waste hours on YouTube under the guise that I’m learning something. Usually, I start off with something educational and related to my story building—a little philosophy, or perhaps a historical documentary on the rise of the Third Reich… two hours later I’m glued to videos of animals being rescued from abuse, while I eat ice cream and cry uncontrollably.
Overwhelmed. Christ Almighty, I have gazillion-and-one jobs I NEED to get done each week. What’s the answer? Do none of them and pretend they will all go away! Feeling overwhelmed is the biggest motivation killer for me.
Laziness. Come now, don’t be ashamed, laziness is okay in small doses. I like to think of my lazy episodes as holidays from reality. We all need a break now and then. Don’t beat yourself up. However, if people start to comment on your personal hygiene it’s probably an indicator that you’ve taken it a step too far. Now, go and wash!
So what’s the answer?
Well, I had a gigantic list of things I’ve used written down in my note book: from hypnosis and meditation to self-help books and taking regular walks. But I won’t be penning these techniques here.
There are far more eloquently put examples and excellent motivational experts out there (check out some of these videos here and here).
In the interest of brevity, I’ve whittled it down to one question I ask myself when I lack or lose motivation:
If I do it, will it count towards enhancing my life and those around me?
If the answer is no, I find something else to do. Chances are it isn’t all that important, and there will be something else with a higher priority that I need to achieve. Anyone who has been to my house will be able to witness this question in action. I still have walls without plaster… it’s been two years since we moved in.
If the answer is yes, I do it. Well… most of the time. I might need an extra mental boot up the behind. And that comes in the form of addressing my own mortality—recognising that you have a finite amount of time is, without a doubt, the best motivator around.
So, don’t put things off. Get your motivation monkey back up into the tree canopy and start swinging! Because the next time you drop off and dawdle in that comfy bed of leaves, there might be a hungry tiger waiting for you to fall asleep.
Our cat, Dave Lister The Smeg, is a total tiger.
If you happen to have any techniques of your own, please let me know. I like to acquire information with the same passion a person with collectomania gathers possessions.