How to motivate yourself when you don’t feel motivated at all?

I’m tempted to go through my old blog posts to see if I’ve already written about this, but I dislike searching (you could say I’m not motivated to search…). I’ll do a little thinking instead. At least I know why I feel unmotivated: I like results, and I feel I’ve had no result for ages.

  • The flu is not over yet (though, admittedly, I’m better than yesterday, why does my inner critic refuse to count that as a result?)
  • I haven’t worked on my project for a week (well, that’s what it feels like, it might be shorter or longer).
  • My blog hasn’t saved the world yet (okay, that wasn’t my ambition, but still, my inner critic asks me: what’s the use of writing on days when you only have private stuff to share?)

So if there are no results to talk about, or I’m not saving the world, why write? What’s the use of commitment when it leads nowhere? Writing this down, makes me realise it’s the inner critic who’s being discouraging.

Other inner parts to the rescue

I’ll ask other parts of me ‘why write’ and see if they have to add something. And yes, they do. Here’s what they have to say. Write because:

– writing is fun (hello inner child!)
– I enjoy the connections it brings
– it’s useful for me to type out the inner voices (hello inner adult)
– I’ll feel better when I stick to my commitment than if I don’t: I’ll be proud that I made it, and found a way to do it even when it was a struggle

The last sentence is important: it leads to the difference between norms and values. AKA carrots and sticks.

Value and norms

A norm tells you what you have to do, and that you’re bad if you don’t do it: it’s motivation by stick. The inner critic likes to use that stick to beat you into obedience. It fears there’s danger it not obeying the norms, so it tries to help you by criticising you. (Does that make sense?)

A value on the other hand is more like a carrot: a positive force that drives you to act. You do it because you WANT to, because you BELIEVE it’s the right thing. You feel happier when your values are in place, and feel bad when someone treads on them.

(Here’s a puzzle for you: is there a value that makes people want to obey rules? Then obediency might be a carrot for them, not a stick).

Commitment from the place of “I have to” sets the horse shoe in motion that I talked about. It brings out my inner toddler. Or it does now. I have a long history of being very obedient to my “I have to-’s”.

Commitment from the place of a value brings me to what I want. I want to show myself that I can stick to something for 30 days, even when it comes with ups and downs.

Full circle?

When I started my project, one of my goals was to show myself that I could do it: work on something that’s very challenging for me, and not drown. Because I was ill, I had no energy to work on my project. But I can work on my blog from that same goal: get something done (I know how to do that), and make the adjustments I need to get it done in a way that’s good for ME (that’s what I’m learning: boundaries, flexibility, and probably a bunch of other important things that I don’t realise at this moment).

So, in the end, I WAS motivated to write this post. I had to search for it. If I had found none, I truly believe that the healthy option would have been to not blog today. And from there, decided again tomorrow: to continue or to quit? For now, I’ve made it to #NaBloPoMo day 27.

If you would have told me on day 1 of my project that I’d be LONGING to work on it later this month, I wouldn’t have believed you. I do now.

5 thoughts on “How to motivate yourself when you don’t feel motivated at all?

  1. Pingback: Day Twenty-Seven– NanoPoblano – Poem/Poetry – “Earthy Eloquence” by David Ellis | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

  2. TooFullToWrite

    The more I read your posts, the more anxious I am becoming for April and the whole doing something every day but I keep taking inspiration from your posts, particularly as you were posting when you were feeling poorly too. We both managed to complete the whole of November though and it is not as if we haven’t done this before.

    I think I am more excited than anything about writing intensely again in April but I keep trying to remember your lessons throughout this month and will have to heed them throughout April. The value to doing a poem a day in April is that I already have a poetry collection to publish and could have another one book that could be worked on if I complete another thirty poems in the month. I like the idea of this incentive carrot. Carrots are a good metaphor too, since it is Easter and there are bunnies everywhere 🙂


      1. TooFullToWrite

        Awww not because of you Angela, it is just that reading your posts is a reminder at how determined you have be to complete the challenge. I think the reason that I am a little anxious is because there are certain factors involved this time round. I’m doing a lot of physical work at the moment which leaves me exhausted. My Dad has illness problems right now that is leaving us all mentally and emotionally exhausted. And after doing performance videos in November, I’m keen to do the same again in April, which all takes time and preparation, along with the work on the blog posts themselves (which is all separate from doing the poems). I think the best way to reduce the pressure is to a). Try to get the poem written as early in the day as possible, I have a tendency to leave it to the last minute if I’m struggling to find my muse. I should be more willing to use other prompts that I have if the NaPoWriMo ones end up lacking in inspiration (I’m never usually inspired by all thirty of them, no matter how well crafted they are). If the poem is written then I will have more time to do everything else, as the stress and pressure ramps up if I have completed the poem but still have to choose a picture, write the post, spruce it up and do a performance video. b). To not get upset if I don’t have time to do a poem in the a particular day. I abhor playing catch-up but if it becomes necessary to complete all thirty poems and take a little extra time then I will not give myself a hard time for doing so. It happened in November when I fell a little behind, so I used a bit of December to get the project finished. I was comfortable doing this and had no shame doing so because 24 hours is not always enough when you have other things going on in your life to deal with. I think I will also have to consider posting “bare bones” posts and sprucing them up later if that means I can post something on the day and then tidy it up later but I’m usually reluctant to do that because once it is out there, people are not likely to return back to a well presented post later. I think I am more mentally prepared this time round, which is good, as I am all about trying to make the process fun and interesting for me, which will come across this way to my readers, even if some of the themes or subject matter might be personal, at least it will be relatable 🙂

        Liked by 1 person


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