If you’re new to this blog, you may not know that I don’t celebrate holidays. This is the time of the year when I have to defend myself against the naysayers who cannot believe for the life of them why I would forsake Christmas (*insert eye roll*), and be on the lookout for people who would want to deceive me into celebrating. For me, the winter months are just as “cold” as the weather. It’s a stressful time. I can already feel the clouds closing in on me and my motivation plummeting.
That’s why I wanted to send you a quick message on motivation just in case you’ve felt your energy draining too. How do we stay motivated even when it’s hard?
Balancing Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Motivation comes from two sources. Intrinsic motivation comes from within you. For example, the desire to publish your book may be important to you. The satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in the world by adding your voice and experience is gratifying and provides you with an internal reward.
Extrinsic motivation comes from outside you (environment, family, friends, e.g.) and encourages you to achieve your goal by providing external rewards. An example of this might be the encouragement you receive from someone you love for the potential for your testimony to change lives. They may push you to publish your memoir or put in extra hours at the gym. They may say, “Wow, looking good girl!” You know you don’t really look good (you literally just started working out yesterday), but those kinds of positive reinforcements give you that little push you need to keep going
For times like these, it’s a good idea to balance both the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in our lives. That is, managing inspiration that comes from ourselves and from others.
Don’t Stretch Yourself Too Thin
I bought a book at the Decatur Book Festival I will be reviewing as soon as I find the time. As de Old People Would Say is a collection of Caribbean Pearls of Wisdom & Experiences. The collection was inspired by the author’s great grandmother who was born and raised in the British Virgin Islands and moved to the US Virgin Islands as a teenager. I love this book! It’s like sitting at the foot of the elders and soaking up all the wisdom of their experiences. One saying is:
“Doan hang yoh hat whey yoh han’ cyan reach.”
Translation: Don’t hang your hat where your hand can’t reach.
The sayings have their meanings under them so the everyday person can understand it. This saying means not to overextend yourself. If you know something is too much for you, don’t put yourself in the position. I used to think loving myself was giving so much of myself to others that there was nothing left for me. When I did this, I burned myself out and had to step back. Don’t spread yourself too thin by taking on too many tasks.
A mismatch between your habits and your schedule causes stress.
Limit Social Media Time
We mimic what we are around the most and in this now technological world we must now consider social media as a part of that. Being around people is no longer limited to being physically around them. When it comes to social media, people have become far too comfortable and tend to use the platform to whine, complain, and criticize others. Even worse, there’s a strange habit of sneak dissing. For those of you unaware, sneak dissing is when someone’s post is a cryptic, subliminal message to someone else. They may think that person is wrong about something or is in need of correction in general. The person disagrees with how that person lives their life in some way. Instead of reaching out to the person privately, the sneak disser will publish a post that is speaking indirectly to the person they wish to correct. It is a form of passive-aggression.
If this sounds cowardly, it is. Social media has many good uses. Unfortunately, it has become a platform for cowards. We don’t talk to each other anymore. Instead, we post how we feel on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Limiting your social media time will help you to stay focused on what’s important and you’ll develop the healthy habit of ignoring non-sense. Less time on social media will also help you to develop better posts when you are logged in. The time to think will certainly help to guide your posting decisions.
If you find yourself lacking in motivation, it may be time to clean up your environment on and offline.
Control Your Emotions: Mind Over Matter
Mind over matter is a popular saying for a reason. Cliche as it may be, it has a powerful meaning. If you can elevate your mental thoughts, you can master the physical things around you to include your actions. For instance, I used to think of this time of the year as “the darkest time of the year.” Although I still do in some ways, I have stopped speaking that over my life. Why cast those kinds of spells over yourself? If you stay in the light, there can be no darkness. One way to stay positive is to stop allowing our emotions to be controlled by others. The truth is that you will never stop suffering if you have an emotional reaction to everything people say about you. Learn to sit back and observe. Let stones people throw at you be used to stand on and the dirt to plant you. Haters are secret admirers and you should be honored to be the source of their inspiration.
Let attacks be the source of growth. Watch, pay attention and master yourself before your thoughts master you.
Do Something Fun
If your life is all about work, you are probably stressed out or just boring. Take a break every now and again to do something that has nothing to do with work, writing, or children. Don’t be afraid to have some fun. A good way to do this is to reward yourself. For example, after doing well on an assignment from one of my classes I decided to stop studying to catch up on one of my favorite TV shows. I also make it a rule not to work continuously for too long. It’s important not to get too comfortable but the breaks help keep me refreshed and excited about getting back to work. I am also one of the grown people who believe in taking naps. I also enjoy a glass of wine every now and again. I try to limit myself so that when I do drink, it’s a reward for working hard (and not just because it’s Thursday…seriously, drink too much and that starts to affect your outward appearance. You’ll be thirty and look forty. It’s a good idea to moderate your alcohol intake too.)
Over the next few days, I challenge you to think about an inside and outside reward that could help to keep you motivated in your darkest hour. Do you get your drive, your need to succeed, and your willingness to make a difference from inside of you (intrinsic)? Are you inspired by someone else who generates enthusiasm for you (extrinsic) or perhaps a combination of the two? Does the motivation you feel infuse you with the enthusiasm to achieve your goals even when it may become difficult?
Remember to take care of your mental health.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of Yah. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of Yah that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson