Motivation is a strange thing, as mysterious as the sea and mercurial as a cat. At times, it can be easy to grasp and other times it manages to stay just beyond our reach. I’ve tilted with this windmill myself, throughout my writing career. I wish I could say it gets easier, but it never really does.
There are those people who always seem full of energy and never lacking for motivation. As much as I would like to be like that, I just can’t seem to manage it. Although I am a writer, much like many writers I have a “day job” to pay the bills until writing becomes more than a passion. I’ve published several novels and continue to do the right things, but success is writing is as much about luck as it is hard work. Some days, you take the good with the bad.
I’m certainly not into Crossfit, I’m not a fixture at my local gym and I’m not always happy-go-lucky. Some days, I’m just in a bad mood. That doesn’t mean you can’t still motivate yourself. There will be times with it will take a bit more effort than others. Depending on what you are going through, it will vary just as much. We’re all different and unique. What works for some of us might not work so well for others. Sometimes, it only takes willpower. Others, it might take a bit more than that. It’s different for each of us.
I can’t give you a “be all, end all” list of things that will motivate you. I don’t think anyone can. There will be people that claim if you buy their “program” then you’ll lose weight, grow hair, get the weeds out of you garden and transform yourself into the perfect you. However, I’m a realist and I know that there’s no cookie cutter solution.
The following is a list of things that have worked for me. They might help you or you might just find that they point you in the right direction. Your path to motivation will likely be as unique as you are. Don’t be fooled by the plethora of “self-help gurus” out there.
1. Music. Music can be used to bring emotional change in a big way. There have been entire studies done about it. Look into the psychology behind it if you like, but I assure it that it works. Select music that fits the mood you are trying to achieve. If you’re trying to inspire your writing, try something that is soothing and promotes creativity. If you’re needing extra energy, try something with a heavy beat or really powerful lyrics. Only you truly know the music that really gets to you.
2. Exercise. Yeah, I know. I’m not pushing the gym or anything, but you’d be amazed at the difference that you will feel by just taking a walk along a nature trail or hitting the treadmill for a good jog. The truth behind this is nothing more than a release of endorphins. Exercise releases them and you will “feel” better.
3. Surroundings. There’s an old adage that says “change your surroundings, change you mood.” It’s true. Go sit on the beach, by a lake or a river, or even just find a rock in the park. Being away from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life can let you just breathe in your surroundings and let go of that stress you’ve been bottling up inside. Besides, even if it doesn’t work, you’ve spend a few moments enjoying the beauty of nature. Even if you’re not motivated, you will undoubtedly feel better.
4. Taste. Reward yourself with something that tastes good. You don’t have to go overboard and eat an entire cheesecake, but a small piece that you savor and enjoy slowly will fire off the receptors in your brain and make you feel better.
5. Smell. Bake some cookies, drive by a bakery, go to a flower shop and just smell the flowers. Smell evokes strong memories and can take you back to more pleasant times in your mind. Believe it or not, it really works.
6. Steam. I can’t tell you how great it feels to go sit in a sauna. If you’ve never experienced it, it’s totally worth the cost of a gym membership just to enjoy the sauna. Not only is it great to sweat and clear your pores, breathing in the moist, humid air feels amazing. Give it a shot, sometime. I really think you’ll love it.
7. Drinks. A good drink can wash away a myriad of stresses. Be that your favorite juice, a soda or an alcoholic beverage. Again, the key is moderation. I’d never recommend overindulging in any drink, especially strong ones. However, this keys into taste. I’m a scotch guy and just sipping a glass of that strong, smoky liquid makes me smile and relax while I appreciate the subtle layers of flavor. Find your own taste sensations.
Basically, anything that engages your senses on any fundamental level can alter your mood. By learning what things invoke different moods, you can use that as a guide to inspire whatever mood you choose. That’s the key to motivation. Breaking the cycle of being in a bad mood or “just not in the mood” to accomplish your task.
In one way or another, I’ve used each of these methods at different times to motivate me in my writing and in my “day job.” Sometimes all you need is a nudge in the right direction. Motivation isn’t something that you have to pay to achieve. Don’t let the latest craze or fad motivational speaker lie to you and trick you into purchasing an expensive program that really does nothing more than make you feel like an idiot when it doesn’t work.
Take some time to take care of yourself. Too often we forget the simple things in the rat race of our daily lives. Eat a good meal, have that slice of pie, listen to that music. Take a moment to remember the things you love and enjoy. You’ll be surprised to find that will motivate you in ways you could never imagine.
I tell this to the fans of my writing, but it applies to life as much as it does to literature. Writing is a journey that we all take together. Thank you for taking it with me.