How to Stay Motivated...in February

It happens every year.  The ball drops in Time Square and suddenly everyone is all “New Year, New Me.”  As a blogger who follows a lot of other bloggers on social media, it smacked me particularly hard in the face this year.  Instagram photos of shiny new planners with #girlboss and #dreambig hashtags.  Everyone chattering on about their fresh content and big ideas for the coming year.  And don’t get me wrong – usually I am one of those people.  I love shiny new planners with all their blank pages full of possibility.  I love goal setting and taking on new and exciting projects.  But this year....gag.  I was Just. Not. Feeling. It.  I didn’t particularly want to be Debbie Downer, but that’s where I found myself.  My motivation level was on empty.  So what’s a girl to do when she’s got zero mojo, but can’t just hide under the covers until spring?  I gave this some serious thought and decided to share what I came up with in the hopes it might help my fellow #girlbosses who just aren’t feeling quite so motivated these days.

1.  Break down tasks into blocks of time.  Here's what I mean by this: I often become overwhelmed by things that shouldn't be overwhelming.  For example, I will walk past a basket of laundry for days dreading the idea of having to fold it and put it away.  Now in reality, how long will it really take me to complete this task?  15 / 20 minutes?  Basically, way less time than I've spent dreading and ignoring it.  So, I've started to assign times to my tasks.  For instance, I will tell myself that for at least 30 minutes I will work on doing laundry and putting clothes away.  That is all I will do during that time - no distractions.  Once that 30 minutes is reached, one of two things typically happens.  1. I will feel relieved / proud that I accomplished something other than just watching TV or flipping through social media.  2.  I will usually feel more energized and want to keep working on the project even after the 30 minutes.  I compare it to exercising.  The worst part about exercising is getting started.  Once you get going, you always feel better and never regret working out.  I recommend breaking your tasks down into 30, 45, or 60 minute increments.  Setting a time limit lets your brain know that there is a stopping point and makes the task seem a lot less overwhelming.

2.  Get organized.  This one kind of goes without saying.  Of course, you are going to feel overwhelmed and unmotivated if you are surrounded by chaos.  Buy that shiny new planner and start setting some goals.  Some people do great with electronic organizers, but I am more of an old school pen and paper kind of girl.  I like to be able to write things down and feel the satisfaction of physically checking them off my list.  Find what works for you and get started.  The start of the new year is a great time to get your house organized.  I'm currently working on getting my home-office organized and prettied up.  I don't know about you, but I absolutely cannot work with clutter and mess all around me.  The new year is also a great time to dive into your closet and purge all those items that you know you didn't wear last year.  And don't fool yourself, if you didn't wear them in the last 12 months, you are not going to wear them in 2017.

3.  Think Spring.  Maybe you're a winter person.  But even winter people are a little "over it" as February trudges along.  Something I've found helpful is to incorporate some "Spring" into the more dreary months of the year.  What do I mean by this?  Well, we can't force the sun to make an appearance, but we can do small things to change our scenery and change our attitude.  Trade in that dark nail polish for a bright pink.  Add fresh flowers to a room you spend a lot of time in.  Swap out the pine scented candle for something floral or beachy.  Heck, start researching that beach vacation.  Subtle changes to your environment can have a big impact on how you feel.

4.  Do Something Good for the Soul.  Yes, you have a massive to-do list that seems to grow by the hour.  Walking away and ignoring that list might seem like the last thing you should do.  However, often times it's the smartest thing you can do.  I learned this lesson the hard way, but once learned I've lived by it.  During college and the years that followed, I used to push myself to get things done.  I'd sacrifice sleep, stay up all hours of the night and usually have some sort of tear-filled meltdown at 3 AM.  I've learned that you need to listen to your body and pause when your body is telling you it's time.  If you're sitting at your desk, but have done nothing but scroll through Facebook mindlessly for the last hour, it's time to walk away.  It can be scary to take that pause or to table your work for the next day, but it's so important.  What you do during that break is totally up to you, but should be something that brings you peace and happiness.  For me, 99% of the time it's taking my dog for a walk or to the park.  The combination of fresh air, getting my legs moving and seeing his wagging tail is all I need to feel reinvigorated.  I promise you, you'll be more productive when you return to your work.

5. Stop engaging in things that make you miserable.  Sounds simple enough right?  Surprisingly, this might be the most difficult thing in this post for people to actually commit to.  How many times are you scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and you feel like your eyes may permanently roll back into your head from reading certain people’s posts?  Don’t deny it…I know I am not alone here.  However, for some insane reason we keep following these people.  We let these opinions and values that we don’t agree with trickle into our mind and into our lives every.single.day.  It’s ludicrous.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret – it’s OK to unfollow these people.  It’s ok to not know what some rando from high school ate for lunch today.  Just Stop.  We live in this world where we fear we have to know what every single person is doing at every minute of the day or we might – god forbid – miss out on something.  Here’s what I’ve learned after my month of “unfollowing” people – you most certainly will not miss out on anything and the peace that you gain back is beyond refreshing.

Of course, this idea of not engaging in things that make you miserable extends well beyond social media into real life.  How many of you have a “friend” that is constantly negative and complaining?  I had a “friend” awhile back that I swear to you felt happier if I told her something in my life wasn’t going well.  In this case, misery LOVED company.  Who needs friends like that?  Remember when you were growing up and your parents wanted to know who your friends were, who you were hanging out with?  There’s a reason people.  Who you surround yourself with has a lot to do with who you become and how you view life.  Have a job that makes you miserable?  I’m not going to tell you to quit because I had people do that to me years ago and it’s infuriating.  Sorry, I can’t just quit my job – I have debt and bills and finding a decent job takes time.  However, I will tell you to start applying to new jobs.  Take some classes.  Create your own side business.  There are a million things you can do to shift the focus from the seeming misery of your current situation to those things that are going to set you up for future success.

6. Go easy on yourself.  Wait, we are talking about getting motivated and now you are telling me to go easy on myself?!  Shouldn’t I be pushing myself?  Well, yes and no.  Our world has become saturated with the idea that busy is better.  “Hustle” is a mantra that we toss around like confetti.  I shared awhile back how at one point in my life I was going to school for my Masters, working a full-time job, a part-time job and doing events on the side.  And for the most part, I was happy…because I like busy – I thrive on busy.  The problem is, especially for self-proclaimed perfectionists (like myself), being busy can become an obsession.  We start to compare ourselves to the other “busy” people in our lives and end up falling short regardless of how much we accomplish in a day.  It may seem odd to throw in a Ron Swanson quote at this juncture, but in an episode of Parks and Rec, he said “Never half-ass two things.  Whole-ass one thing.”  Sure it’s a funny quote, but it’s a pretty important idea.  The more tasks you layer onto your plate, the less you can give to each one.  So what I’m saying is, be kind to yourself.  Maybe you didn’t cross all 50 things off your to-do list, but you’re human.  Slow down, take a break, and I promise you the motivation to pursue those things that you are truly passionate about will come. 

If you still need more motivation, last time I checked Spring is only 48 days, 16 hours, 14 minutes and 54 seconds away.  We can do this.