Simple Motivation: Something to Look Forward to
This time of the year is the hardest for me when it comes to staying focused and productive. I associate December with wrapping up the year, unwinding, and celebrating.
This time can also be intense for people who’re not comfortable with the social aspect of the holidays.
Both situations (productivity and extra socializing) can feel quite stressful.
For the last few days, resistance has been kicking my ass. It’s a combination of habitual procrastination and dread associated with a big project.
How about you? Are you struggling with a task, or project, you need to complete? Or are you feeling apprehensive about certain social gatherings?
If you’re suffering, or feeling anxious, about anything, I invite you to read and join me in using a simple way to alleviate resistance—a way to bring us more peace and harmony.
Something to look forward to
In order to move past resistance and work on my project, I decided to focus on one thing to look forward to.
I’ll share with you below my unfinished project as an example. But the same approach can work on any experience.
What is the thing to look forward to?
In most cases we just need to remember why this is important to us. What’s the bright light at the end of the dark tunnel of hard work?
The project I’m working on is moving this site from WordPress to Jekyll. I’ve learned the basics and the site is up and running. It’s the formatting of posts and images that’s sucking my time and effort. The rest can be tweaked later.
I’ve been working on it on and off, without a firm deadline, and now I feel I have to get it done before the site’s hosting expires in early January.
So what’s the thing that I can look forward to?
The most important thing that has driven me to want to change platforms is: simplicity and peace of mind.
Once the site is done, I won’t have to worry about plug-ins, database issues, or hacking vulnerabilities.
A simple site, without a complex database and plug-ins, is something I’ve been thinking about for years. And this year I turned my desire into reality (more about this in an upcoming article). But the reality is incomplete and I need to finish.
As I write this, I keep reminding myself of how simple things are going to be at the end of the painful transition.
Below are a few pointers that can help in reviving our motivation and moving past resistance.
How to offset resistance with motivation
Negative attitudes and behaviors are usually the symptoms of underlying feelings. So we will start with how we feel.
1- Recognize the feelings and situations behind resistance.
Let’s start with the most powerful reason we procrastinate and then examine other contributing factors.
Overwhelm: Without a clear strategy, working on an unusual task, or project, on top of everything else leads to overwhelm. The same applies to social commitments. If we have too many commitments without defined priorities, we will feel overwhelmed.
Confusion: When we feel overwhelmed, we won’t know what to do, or when. We’ll feel indecisive and stuck.
Unfamiliarity: If we’re wanting to do, or experience, something new, we’ll feel unsure of what we’re doing and compound the overwhelm.
Temptation: If there is something that’s pulling us in a different direction that feels easier, or more fun, we’re more likely to resist.
Habit: Most resistance is habitual and ingrained. When we add a new task, or event, we’ll fuel more overwhelm and resistance.
Resistance is something we all experience. It’s how we handle it that can make a difference.
2- Remember your why.
Why do we want to do this project, or task? Why do we want to socialize during the holidays?
Behind everything we want to do there is a desire to feel a certain way. This brings us to the third step.
3- What’s the desired feeling?
How would we feel when we do what we set out to do? How would I feel when the blog is completely done? How would you feel when you get together with family for dinner?
We usually desire positive and helpful feelings. A few of the feelings that motivate me are:
Connection: When we feel connected to something bigger than us, we tap into the power of the collective. A sense of belonging to a community, being part of a family, or a work group, can be a wonderful motivation.
Freedom: This is the biggest desired feeling for me. It’s to feel free, as much as possible. In my example, I’ll feel free to focus on writing, and not worry about complex issues.
Relief and expansion: When we get something done, we stop worrying about it, and we create space for doing something else, or simply being.
Contentment: A job done, or an event attended—no matter how big or small—will come with a feeling of satisfaction and peace.
Joy: Even the most dreaded tasks, or social gatherings, can be fun, if we find the thing that we can enjoy and appreciate. Joy is closely tied to our why. When we find our why, we find our joy.
The above are just examples. They’re meant to remind us of what’s at the end of a challenging task, or event.
4- Choose the thing to look forward to.
When we determine our why and the desired feelings, we can come up with one thing that can serve as a reminder and motivator.
In my example, I desire the freedom and peace that come from simple writing and publishing.
What happens if we can’t find something to look forward to?
I can’t think of anything that doesn’t have an upside. There is always something in it for us. If we can’t find it, it means we’re not looking deep enough.
But if you can’t genuinely find anything about the situation that’s beneficial to you, then it’s time to evaluate your choice.
5- Start and look forward.
Motivation without action is useless. We need to take action, and look forward to the desired feeling and outcome.
What if what we’re looking forward to doesn’t materialize as anticipated?
If we’re not too attached to the outcome, we’ll be okay—no matter what. This is the ideal.
But in reality we might feel disappointed. It’s okay. We can find comfort in the fact that we did our best—with less resistance and suffering. And this is a great way to live and grow.
So I invite you dear friends to look forward to something today, tomorrow, and every day. Look for what inspires and motivates you. Look for what tackles resistance gently and lovingly. And go for it with all your heart.