How to up your motivation - even when you're not feeling it.
I had it penciled in my diary with oodles of buffer time: Write a post blog before the end of this week. I fantasised about the wittiest, hilarious, terrifically intelligent piece penned and scheduled days before my self-imposed deadline. I was certain this would happen, even if I burned through significant hours throughout the week wrangling kids, drinking too much wine with friends at dinner, or, on the odd occasion, sitting on the end of my bed, staring blankly into the front garden and wondering if I should cut my toenails, have a glass of cordial, or both. Because there are moments in life that are deep, you dig?
Writing is one of the core services of my business, but it’s not just what I do for my clients; it’s one of the most important ways for me to promote what I do too. I know that the blogs I write for my own brand must, and I repeat, must materialise.
Try as I might to kick my butt into first gear – or a low idle at the best - I just couldn’t get started. The timing never felt right.
I thought if I exercised (bahahahahahahahah, bahahahahaha!), watched a high-brow documentary on the telly, or did some mindful colouring with my kids a sign from the heavens would tell me the time was nigh to pen my ultimate post. Yet nothing transpired. It seemed that I simply wasn’t ready.
Bunnings! Yes, Bunnings would do the trick. Between the sausage sizzle and the paint section I was sure I’d unearth that bloody elusive blog post. But to no avail. (By the way, am I the only person to can’t resist taking home paint cards for all the glorious colours thinking I might need to refer to them someday?)
I scrolled through my saved list of blog post ideas. None of them would do.
I painted the hand railing on our back steps, baked a cake and took a quiz on Facebook revealing what flavour potato chips I ate in my past life. I popped up to the end of our street to have a cheeky post-work wine with the neighbour, all the while waiting to be definitely, absolutely, no-doubt-about-it 110% ready, willing, ready and able to write to write this manifesto.
“What’s wrong with me?” I pondered. “People to pay me to write this stuff. I meet deadlines every day without fail. Why am I coming up blank?”
Then, my phone rang. It was a client I’d spoken with a week ago. Her business was delivering some amazing stuff, but she felt frustrated and had reached out to me for guidance. Business was slow, she was lacking confidence and everything just felt too damn hard. I wanted to show her how a fresh approach could work wonders. We didn’t have a moment to lose and lack of action would mean lost business – something we agreed needed to be ruled out immediately! I knew we needed to get started straight away and I was confident we were going to hit this one out of the park.
But she’d phone to tell me she wasn’t ready. She felt it wise to delay, take a break and catch her breath. She was unsure what direction she wanted to take her business in and if she spent some time doing a bit of soul-searching, the right time would reveal itself and she’d get underway. In the meantime, she’d continue to offer her tried and true (and comfortable) services and see what may evolve. I wondered if she wanted to take first steps down the exciting path we’d discussed, and explore where it could lead? Despite her grand – albeit slightly scrambled - plans, she declined. Time, not action, would help things become clearer.
“Crazy!” I thought. “All that lost opportunity! Her skills and talents lying dormant! Her potential clients missing out on her gifts!”
Then, it hit me. What a hypocrite I was! I stopped, turned on my heels, marched back home, opened up my laptop and declared to the universe, "ready or not, here I come!". *
(*Not entirely true. I did have a wine with my neighbour and then went home. Then I opened up my laptop.)
After wasting a week waiting for inspiration to hit, I busted out the blog post you’re reading now in under an hour. Had I just knuckled down and done the work, I could have written two, or five, or ten. Sometimes, things flow easily. Other times, results are harder to pass than a bowel movement after a week’s dose of codeine-based cold and flu tablets but the pain and the effort can be worth it.
Yep, I just went there.
Now, in the meantime, every other person I admired in business pumped out the content, pushed their business forward, grew their bottom line just a little, gained clarity through action. On some days, it may have felt easy but I’m sure that on others, it just felt like hard work. And possibly not even their best work.
The problem with waiting until you're ready to create nothing less than your masterpiece is that the world will have had its attention captured something new, bright and shiny. Someone who dared to leap and launch/ promote/ sell/ scale/ publish - before they felt certain they were ready to – will have stolen the show.
Do the work, plain and simple, even on the days when it feels like you’re walking up a very steep hill. Just put one foot in front of the other, and keep the momentum going. Because as tempting as it may be to stop, sit and catch your breath, it’s also the hardest way to get moving again.
I’ll even have a cordial ready for you at the finish line.