Motivate Schmotivate

Ever notice when there’s something you really don’t want to do, you just can’t motivate yourself? All those tried and true techniques like rewarding yourself after you do it still don’t seem to get seem to get you in gear? Listening to motivational podcasts don’t get your juices flowing? No matter what you do, you can’t seem to motivate yourself?

Stop “Shoulding All Over Yourself”

You pull out all the stops to motivate yourself. You “should all over yourself” by saying you “should” do it. Maybe you try to soften the blow by saying you “must” or “need to” do it.

How’d that work out for you?

In my experience those only work in the short term.

If you put it off long enough then procrastination sets in because you really don’t want to do it. Then the “shoulding all over yourself” ramps up because this has gone on long enough and it needs to stop! Like that ever motived you in the long-term – not!

“Should” “must” and “need to” are judgment terms that lead to consequences. We “should” do it because if we don’t then “x” will happen. We “need to” do it because if we don’t then we’re a slacker. We “must” do it or else we’re a bad person.

Any of those sound familiar?

For mundane tasks we usually find the way to get them done. If you don’t have enough clean underwear, you’re going to get that laundry done. But what about that thing that’s been hanging on your to-do list for two weeks? What are the downsides if you don’t get it done?

We tend to think it’s a catastrophe if we don’t get certain things done. That’s old school thinking and quite frankly, I’m done with it. It doesn’t make me feel good to think that way. I’m into how I feel these days, not how I think.

I don’t know about you, but those terms don’t motivate me, at least not anymore. I’m onto the game. I’ve moved on from “shoulding all over myself” to the next level.

Level Up

The next level isn’t about pushing, pushing, pushing, forcing and trying to motivate yourself. It’s about choice.

Our universe operates on choice. Choice is one big thing we can control. How we respond to a situation is a choice. What we decide to cook for dinner is a choice. How we run our business or our life is a choice.

We tend to take it for granted or forget we have a choice. Don’t. Choosing is your super power.

If the result of not getting something done isn’t that impactful, take it off your list and stop worrying about it. If it does “need” to get done (like having no clean undies), then choose it. Even then you can choose not to do the laundry and instead go buy new underwear! That’s a choice too. If it really doesn’t “need to” get done, let it go. I know, the perfectionists out there are probably freaking out right now. It’s ok, it really is. Not everything needs to get done right away. We think it does because we’ve been trained to think that way. It’s an old paradigm.

Every time I call my elderly mother, she’s telling me how busy she is yet she never seems to get it all done. “I should be doing this,” or “I should’ve done that” or “I should have everything in order” (for when she dies).  My response is always the same, “It’s ok, mom, it really is, don’t worry about it.” My response falls on deaf ears because quite honestly her busy-ness keeps her going so I don’t try to take it away from her. Let her stay busy, that’s how she operates. For the rest of us, listen up!

It’s a choice how you spend your time. It’s a choice what you prioritize. It’s a choice if you want to do something or not. If you don’t want to do something today that you feel “needs to” get done but don’t feel like it, my new philosophy is, don’t. Is it critical? No? Then let it go for now. Can you do it tomorrow? Then let it go for now.

All you perfectionists and “control freaks” (I say that lovingly) out there would really be upset if you knew how much I put off because I didn’t feel like doing it. My mom would totally be freaking out if she knew this about me so I don’t tell her to spare her the agony. I am going through this period of letting go of the need to push and force myself. If I don’t feel like doing something, I don’t. Period. I’m levelling up. I’m choosing a new way to live.

Choose to do it when you feel like it.

No one is judging you except you.

Choosing Gives Us Power

Choosing gives us power because we’re doing what we want when we want how we want. When we choose, we’re not being forced, we’re picking one thing over another. Nobody is telling us we “have to,” we’re allowing ourselves to do it. Even if your boss says you “have to” get this done by 5pm you can choose not to. Ok, the consequences may not be so great, but you can still choose not to. Or you can look at it as you are choosing to do it because in the choosing you get to keep your job. Not because you’re being forced to. Choosing gives you power. You’re not being dictated to; you’re picking the option you prefer.

So instead of trying to force yourself or using all the old tricks to motivate yourself, choose it. Stop trying to “motivate schmotivate” or “should all over yourself.” Give choosing a try. Really, try it in the next few moments or sometime today. Doesn’t it feel better to choose it versus telling yourself you “should” or someone else saying you “need to?” Choose, don’t force. Choose, don’t push.

Feel the power in choosing.  Feel your power in choosing.