If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2 yet, reading those first may help give some more context before reading Part 3. Or you can read this first, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can always refer back to the first two parts of this mini “motivation series.”
Part 1 stressed that motivation is not necessarily a feeling. To accomplish something, you can’t solely rely on how motivated you feel. Otherwise, chances are, your “momentum” will not last forever and you’ll easily want to quit.
Part 2 stressed that on the other hand, sometimes it’s necessary to be a little more forgiving when someone doesn’t feel motivated to do anything, because the lack of motivation might be due to poor mental health, which can often be easily treated or helped with medication and/or professional therapy.
Both of these views are rather “extreme” and “absolute,” and suggest more of an underlying “all-or-nothing” mindset. But in most cases, the average person usually experiences a combination of both self discipline and a motivating feeling. So Part 3 will be called “normal.”
Normal: Somewhere in Between
We’ve all experienced some kind of “I have no choice but to do this anyway” approach (e.g. writing papers in college, picking up your dog’s poop, showering, dragging yourself out of your cloud-like bed to go to work), as well as the “I’m feeling so pumped right now LET’S DO THIS” approach (e.g. signing up for a half marathon without thinking, starting a business after getting majorly inspired, happily doing your first homework assignment after the first day of school, getting up at 5AM to hit the gym on January 1st, 2nd, and 3rd).
I do not believe that you or I have experienced ONLY doing things by means of self discipline, or ONLY doing things based on how pumped we feel. There’s a time and place for black and white situations, but this is not what we’re talking about here.
I myself have fallen prey to such black and whiteness, to all or nothingness. Actually, the situations themselves may not have been so black and white, but rather my way of thinking just did not have much of a middle ground. I believe that this all-or-nothing way of thinking and approach to life is why my life at times have felt so difficult or un-enjoyable.
I am also, right at this very second as I am typing this sentence, experiencing major writer’s block and cannot figure out what it was that I was supposed to talk about at this point of this blog post. My brain feels fried and empty, but I am still typing this.
I cannot say that right now at this moment I am practicing outstanding self discipline, because if I was, I would probably just willfully and unforgivingly tell myself, “Amy, snap out of it right now and use your brain to its full capacity for goodness sake. Just force yourself NOW to give it your absolute all and nothing less, or else you are a failure and your life is meaningless and you will never succeed in life because successful people don’t give in to their lazy feelings so easily so what in the world is wrong with you.”
But a part of me also thinks that this military-like mentality would likely result in unnecessary over-exhaustion by the end of the day. So, on the one hand I somehow am still typing away at this post, yet not beating myself up over not writing the most intellectually stimulating content, and also not fully succumbing to my blank-mindedness or blah-ness.
I guess maybe my current state of being and how I am responding to this circumstance is illustrative of this “happy medium” or “normality” that I am trying to explain here. I’m basically experiencing and practicing an approach that is somewhere in between the two “extremes.”
I would also say that what I am talking about is very much related to the matter of perfectionism, which is one of the top characteristics of people who waver between one extreme to the other, between black and white, between all or nothing.
Perfectionism “brings home” the discipline aspect and the emotional aspect, but not in a positive sense. If I were to let my perfectionism get to me right now, I would probably just keep thinking about how my head is starting to hurt and I have no idea what I’m writing or if my train of thought even makes sense at all, so I give up on writing this post because I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore, and why would anyone want to read this, etc. etc. and then as a result of this approach/way of thinking, aka this deadly perfectionism, I probably wouldn’t get anything done today. I’d rather complete a task imperfectly than not complete a task perfectly.
Meanwhile my eager best friend keeps texting me almost every day asking for a new blog post.. so giving in to my “I don’t know how good my writing is” thought would result in disappointing at least one of my perpetually excited readers. And I hope she feels special that I’m giving her yet another shoutout on this blog. You’re welcome. 😛
So how do you feel motivated when you’re feeling down or low energy? Do you just suck it up and forget how you feel altogether? Do you throw a pity party and say that your life sucks, and let your emotions give in to every negative thought in your mind? I don’t have the answers. But both Part 1 and Part 2 have their place and their validity.
I do, however, have a few “tricks” that seem to almost always work for me in terms of motivation, though sometimes it takes longer for the motivation to kick in.
Sometimes, when all the energy is gone and motivation is but a distant memory and all I can do is sprawl on my bed which, by the way, is the most comfortable bed ever, I have found that the hidden inner motivated Amy within knows that anything is still possible with her iPhone 8.
Literally though, I can’t even count the number of times my phone inspired me to get out of bed and get things done. What does this look like? A few different possibilites..
Possibility #1: Text one of my bffs, usually the one in my timezone, and say that I need motivation and can’t get out of bed. But for some reason I can still text in bed.. Then she’ll send me all the cheerleader-like texts and emojis and even record herself saying “You can do it” in a weird voice, or come up with a great convincing reason for me to get up. I’m fortunate to have this kind of best friend, but maybe not everyone’s friends are as weird and quirky as us..
Possibility #2: Open YouTube app, and watch or listen to a personal development video (also while in bed). Sam Brown’s videos will usually do the trick. I don’t know why, but I would say in less than 15 minutes I’m usually “pumped” again because something in those videos always sparks renewed inspiration in me.
Possibility #3: Similarly, sometimes I’ll open either my Podcasts app or Libby app to play life-changing podcasts and audiobooks. I am currently listening to The Magic of Thinking Big. If you listen to or read a portion of that book and you don’t feel at all motivated and/or inspired afterwards… maybe you’re not a real human.
There is an overarching principle in all the above iPhone techniques. If you have an Android that’s fine too. The principle is that when there’s no motivation in me, I draw from others’ energy and motivation to get energized myself.
This “hack” somehow works well for me. It even worked, or at least helped to some extent, when I was miserably going through a rough breakup, in which case the bff technique usually worked best.
All that being said, I will add that if you’re feeling down and low energy, you might just need to take a nap or get to bed earlier. Or maybe you just need to eat a healthy meal, drink some water, or go for a run.
Our bodies and souls are so intricate and complex, for which reason practicing self care is (in my opinion) mandatory and foundational for our well-being. Any little issue with our body, soul, or spirit, can affect a person’s level of motivation.
My purpose in writing these three posts is not to address every possible scenario or solve everyone’s problem. I am just a fellow millennial figuring all this out myself alongside you, and sharing my own insights that could potentially be helpful or thought-provoking for my fellow Gen Y-ers.