Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Motivation: 3 Steps to Finding your Get-up-and-Go

It was Wednesday.  I was sitting on the couch, staring disconsolately ahead, but not really seeing the crumbs and dirt and drips and whatever else was currently "decorating" my kitchen and dining room floors. 

It was Wednesday.  Floor mopping day.  But as I sat there, barely moving, I knew it wasn't going to happen that day.  My motivation, my get-up-and-go, so strong earlier in the week, was gone.  I knew this would happen.  I just knew it.

On the previous Sunday, I swept the floor, gathering an unbelievable amount of debris, the detritus of a few days' living, cooking, and eating in a home with 5 people (at least 2 of whom have an incredibly difficult time keeping their food off the floor).   I thought to myself, self, you should mop this floor.  It's been...well, I don't know how long it's been, but it's...well, don't take this the wrong way, self, but it's kind of disgusting.  You know it's true.  You should mop it.  Right now.  Kids are in bed; Hubby's at a meeting.  It's perfect timing.  Just do it.

I almost talked myself into it, but then I told myself, self, you want to start cleaning on a schedule instead of willy-nilly cleaning things whenever you feel like it.  You know that there are some jobs that you find more desirable than others.  OK, so not "more desirable"--more like "less distasteful," but you know what I mean.  Without a schedule, the less desirable/more distasteful jobs will never get done.  If you mop the floor today, there goes your schedule, right out the window, before you've even begun.  Is that what you want?  Really?

So I talked myself out of it again.  But I knew, in my heart, that I was not going to feel like mopping on Wednesday.  Sure enough, here it was, Wednesday, and the floor was going unmopped yet again.

How do you find your motivation when it's deserted you?  Here are three tips, from someone who knows and understands the pull of inertia intimately, for rediscovering your get-up-and-go:
  1. Play some upbeat music.  Honestly, who can resist dancing (or at least swaying or moving in some way) when her favorite song comes on the radio?  Don't wait for it to happen--make it happen.  Crank up your iPod (or put in a CD, if you're living in the dark ages like us), and see what happens.
  2. Promise yourself a reward.  You know you want that chocolate.  Tell yourself you can't have it until the dishes are put away.  Or that, after reading one chapter in your textbook, you can read a chapter of that can't-put-it-down book.
  3. Force yourself to do a small task. Let me tell you this: motivation begets motivation. I've found that, when I force myself to do something, anything, I feel more motivated to take on other tasks.
Do you know what those three actions have in common?  All three produce endorphins, and it is all about endorphins.  You know how they say laughter is the best medicine?  It's because laughing produces (uh-huh, you guessed it) endorphins, which have been shown to decrease pain and increase feelings of well-being.

And housework is nothing, if not painful.

On that Wednesday, I did not mop the floor, but when I finally mustered up the strength to overcome my inertia, I turned on some music, promised myself some yummy coconut M&Ms, and cleaned the sink.  Which led to clearing clutter, which led to sanitizing our kitchen counters and dining table and vacuuming more thoroughly than usual, which led to cleaning the bathroom and straightening our guest room and sorting through Roger's closet to weed out clothes he'd outgrown.

My motivation?  I got it back.  Temporarily, anyway :)  It's Wednesday again, you know.  We'll see if that floor gets mopped today.

Just one more tip before I go:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

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