Recently, a friend of mine wrote up the list of books that she’s read so far this year. There were 15 books on her list, and a lot of them were either feel-good tear-jerkers or self-help books. Not my kind of reading, but to each her own. That got me thinking about the books I’ve read this year – lots of urban fantasy and a few fluffy romances – and I tallied them up. However, I wasn’t entirely sure which books I had already counted – sure, I meant to only tally up books after I finished them, but was that mark for this book or the last book? – so I went through again and wrote out an actual list. Turns out I have ready 25 novels and novellas so far this year.
I know that seems impressive! We are currently 41 weeks into the year, and I’m averaging about 1 book every 2 weeks. Considering all the other stuff I do in a day, that isn’t surprising. However, I remember a time (back in high school) where I would bang through a book in a day! If it was really thick, over 800 pages, it might take me as many as 3 days to finish. I can’t lie on my bed all day and read like I used to, but I know I’ve actually read more than 25 books. The thing is, I just haven’t finished the books. There’s at least another 5 that I nearly finished reading, but just never read the last few chapters. There are another 20 books that I abandoned when I got to about chapter 2. Many books I never got past the Introduction.
This distinct lack of motivation I’ve had to finish books honestly bothers me. Its the same lack of motivation I had to look for a better job when I worked at Barnes & Noble, and its the same lack of motivation I have for keeping on a health regime. I go at it full tilt, and then I run out of steam. There are some things and projects that I managed to power through – crocheting a blanket, planning my wedding, just to name a few – but most of the things I start, I’m not able to finish. And it’s all about motivation.
Sustaining motivation is really just hard. Whatever you want to do is worth doing well, but getting out of bed and actually starting to work on it is a royal pain in the ass. Once I’ve started, I’m fine, but starting to work on it every day is super hard; its like doing homework. I could do anything else in the world, but sitting down to start my homework without my dad telling me to was virtually impossible.
I’ve found that keeping a positive mindset about what I want to do helps. It is so easy to bitch and moan, or to procrastinate with another episode on Netflix, but reminding myself of the happiness at the end of the tunnel – being married to my husband or having a job that pays a living wage – keeps the attitude positive while I’m working on it. Even better would be to enjoy what I’m doing, because then the difficulties aren’t impossible, they’re challenges.
Also, having a support system is crucial. I did my best when Andy and I decided to do Fitness Blender together, so we set aside time every day to do one of their routines. Because somebody was there to day, “Come on, lets do this thing,” we actually wound up doing this thing. Mom nagging me about job applications I’d put out and asking about interviews got me to actually apply to a place that I customer recommended to me, which led to my current job at Club Z Tutoring (an awesome place to go if your child needs a little extra help on homework, BTW). The support system can be friends, family, or even apps. If I didn’t have my FitBit app, and if my friends and I didn’t start doing the Workweek Hustle Challenges, I wouldn’t be nearly as active as I am. It’s really been a help, and sometimes I just need that help.
Having a deadline, especially if it is set for me by somebody else, keeps me on track better than anything else has. It’s a basic part of goal-setting – Create a big goal, determine small, measurable goals that will help you achieve your main goal, have a support system, create a system for achieving each goal. Deadlines a big part of that. For example, today I need to do this list of items if I want to have a clean house. Therefore, I have to do all of this by dinnertime today (because activity ends for me after dinnertime). I’ll probably need to start at about 10am to get it all done. Then I will wake up at 9, eat breakfast, drink coffee, and get to work.
But, keeping an attitude of thankfulness has really been helping me to stay on track lately. Little things, like saying “thank you” at the end of my emails, even when I didn’t get what I wanted, has helped to keep me a pleasant person despite the disappointments and challenges that have come my way. Having to say thank you forces me to accept the setback for what it is – a setback and not the end of the world – and gives me the opportunity to think my way around the challenge. I can say thank you, and then I can decide to do better. I can find a new motivation to do what I want to do. My favorite quote is something I found on a plaque in an antique shop: “If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success.” Failure isn’t the end, it’s just one path that won’t work and you need to find another way. Then you just keep up your positive attitude, and work your way onward and upward.
I hope this has helped us (yes, me too) to continue doing what we need to do to get what we want. What other advice would you give to us to help keep us motivated? I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a complete list by any means.