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Posts Tagged ‘Motivation’

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” 

― H.G. Wells

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Photo by Patrick Metzdorf on Unsplash

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Some of what I do in this blog is about leaving notes to myself, because I want to remember a recipe or an idea or an event.

Don’t have a blog? Continually misplace your diary? Wish Post-It notes were harder to lose? Want to give Future You a pep talk or notes on a brilliant idea or the memory of the most beautiful thing that happened to you today or a reminder of why you should stick with that challenging long-term goal?

You’re in luck.

FutureMe: Write a Letter to your Future Self

Does what it says on the box.

Decide what you want to write, when to send the letter and whether to make it public or keep it private. I sent myself a little NaNoWriMo encouragement for next year. Not sure what to say? Check out some of these public letters.

Is this time travel? No, but it’s the closest thing we have at the moment so I’m making the most of it!

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Photo by Ali Bakhtiari on Unsplash

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Getting Past Ugh

I ran across this bit of text and don’t remember its origins. I *think* I wrote it as a summary after watching one of Carol Dweck’s TED talks on learning and the growth mindset, but I can’t be sure (apologies if I missed the author). Still seems like good advice.

A motivation problem is solved by thinking (convincing yourself that something is important). A follow-through problem is solved by not thinking (don’t deliberate, just act).

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Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

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“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”

― Leo Tolstoy

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If only it were that simple!
Photos by Gabriel Jimenez, Markus Spiske, Tobias Stonjeck

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It’s been a weird week.

I’d planned something else for today’s post but the website I needed is down. Or just hates me, which is the same thing.

Instead, let’s talk about motivation. And how I don’t have any at the moment. I’m a little stuck when it comes to writing, and while other work is getting done, on that front I’m just… stuck. 

I’m sure I’m not alone, and it can help to remember that.

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I’m reading, way too much. Not possible, you say? Well, honestly, I’d agree you most of the time. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read (thanks, parental units!). It serves me well most of the time, and of course you have to read well in order to write well.

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

Input is good but there must be output as well. And right now the balance is a bit off. 

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I am hesitant. That’s a fairly accurate word for it, I think. Asking which direction to go, what steps to take, what story to tell? It’s called the paradox of choice, as in, having too many options makes it harder to make a decision, not easier. This concept is typically applied to decisions about things like breakfast cereals, but it works here too.

So, what to do?

Maybe I’ll limit myself to a certain genre, or length, or story model. Or maybe I’ll make a rule to follow. (I actually like doing that, it does make life much easier. As in, Monday, Wednesday, Friday I work out. No questions, no time spent planning, no wasted brain power trying to wiggle out of it;)

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It helps that today is Friday, that most wondrous of days. Mr. Man will be home soon and there will be laughter and warmth and frosty adult beverages for all. And so long as I keep moving, keep doing, keep trying, I’ll still make progress. Even when things get weird:)

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Photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexels.com

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Today, do something amazing.

And the more I learn about creativity, productivity, and motivation, the more I realize that the most important word in that sentence is “today.”

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

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Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.
— Abraham Lincoln

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What I’m reading today:

Pretend It’s Aliens
A neat mental trick to understand the climate battle ahead.
By Farhad Manjoo

It’s Valentine’s Day today, and I love this essay! (Also Mr. Man and my family and unicorns, but this I can share:) It’s a genius way of identifying one of humanity’s main flaws when it comes to making change, and then (here’s the good bit) finding a way around it.

…climate change is not war. There is no enemy, other than ourselves. And we are very bad, as individuals or collectively, at fighting ourselves over anything.

This thought chilled me.

Then, one late night after taking a dose of a kind of sleep medicine that is now widely available in California, I had an epiphany:

Pretend it’s aliens.

For years I’ve been saying that if aliens invaded, we’d get over our internecine squabbles pretty damn quick. Sadly, it would also require an actual alien invasion. And while movies of same tend to end with triumphant human victories, they generally don’t show the part where we have to bury all the bodies.

Unless it’s not pretend at all?

Just, you know, saying!

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Right now I’m all about WIPs, or works in progress, in writing and other arenas. (Ironically, I started this post days weeks a while ago and then skipped over it to wrap up November with the NaNoMakeMo post. Now we’re back to this post in progress:)

I haven’t wanted to post much here because my day-to-day isn’t necessarily all that interesting, so I like to have something interesting to say. And the middle of anything can feel… well, just average. It can be tough talking about works in progress.

For example, what did you do today? Got up, hit the treadmill, worked on a story, did some research, switched from the treadmill desk to the standing desk and worked on the day job. Periodically took breaks to do things like make a bunch of sous vide egg cups, wash a million plastic bags**, or hit the workshop.

Speaking of the workshop, part of why my writing project is taking longer than I’d like is that I’m dividing my attention. You may remember I put up a post about the “exciting creative synergies inherent in cross-media productivity” or something like that;) Still true, at least for me, but spreading one’s attention does tend to slow things down, at least that’s how it’s working out for me. It’s like doing a dual major instead of just one. The prep takes forever but in the end, it will all be worth it (right? here’s hoping!).

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In writing:

I’ve been working on a longer-form piece and don’t have much to say about it, honestly, except “Hey, still working on that novella!” and “It’s going to suuuuper great when I get it done but, well, it’s not done yet” “Yep, this is taking freaking forever!” and “I’m past the bit with the donuts but now I’m stuck at the part with the walk-in freezer. Honestly, who has a walk-in freezer in space, anyway?” (answer, me:).

I was going to put up a shot of my writing file, but I don’t want you to see all the highlighting and bold text meaning “this word choice is terrible and/or completely out of place and/or if she was wearing a spacesuit in the last scene, how can she be rubbing her face in this bit?, fix it or else!”*

Here’s a shot of a lake in winter instead. From inside, because it was -29C, people!

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In wood:

I made a handle for a friend’s fishing pole (you may remember my adventures in deepwater lake trout fishing from a ways back; it involves metal line and requires a sturdy handle, and his wasn’t). Well, I’ve actually made two so far and I’m finishing up a third. Practice is good for skill development, of course, and I want to keep going until I have a product I’m happy with. The proportions of the first version weren’t quite what I wanted (Mr. Man likes it, but I wanted to try again), the second has a potential weak spot (and again), but the third looks just right.

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Maybe there’s value in sharing the tedium as well as the highs, the work that goes on behind the scenes so that you know it’s not just you. I’m just a regular Jolene, plugging away at something that makes me happy (most of the time, anyway:). If you think a thing is worth doing, and you’re learning and improving and it’s helping you be the person you want to become (unless that person is unpleasant and/or criminal, just saying), go ahead. Make the effort. I’ll do my best to enjoy all the days, average or not.

So let’s rewrite this experience of “in progress” or the “dreaded middle.” I’m not done yet, but I am rounding the corner. What’s my goal? What’s in the way? How can I break it down to make what’s left more manageable?

I love crossing things off a list. So satisfying! To that end, I’ve started listing each project on a piece of paper and break it down into component parts. Like so:

The big stack on the left are completed goals. Everything else is in progress, including “The Secret Life of Henchman #3” and “make a bed of nails.” Because that’s how I roll:)

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(interjection from the future, which is now, but was later, then)

The space pirate story has a beginning (two, actually, must fix that) and an end, and it’s ready for next steps. No one died.

/ahem

Allow me to rephrase.

No one died who didn’t absolutely deserve it.

 

Here’s hoping your year is starting off well. Or at the very least, better than Henchman #3’s!

 

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* Still, here’s a bit I find amusing: “The difference between us is that I will actually call you a ride. The fact that they’ll come bearing handcuffs is your own damn fault.”

** I hate washing plastic bags. I like the fact that it keeps waste out of landfills and encourages a reuse mindset, but the process of washing and drying bags is just ridiculous, awkward, messy and inefficient. The whole time I’m chanting to myself, “There has to be a better way.” If you know of one, feel free to share!

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The Balance

Ever have one of those days where it seems like everything goes a little wonky? I think of it as The Balance.

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Many item drops in video games are randomized but still seem to follow a pattern. It’s as if “randomness” is spread over a thousand rolls of the dice, and has to balance out in the end. So if you’ve gone days without getting a decent drop, suddenly you get three great items. Or if things have been going your way, you get a sudden run of bad luck.*

I find this happens in real life too. Some days everything goes perfectly, but other days?

Not so much.

Some days, if there’s a cord to trip over, I trip. If there’s a remote to drop, it’s dropped. And if the cat decides to get into the closet and eat dry cleaning bags, you can be sure that any effort to stop said behavior will result in a catastrophe of much greater proportions.

Like what, you might ask? Like thwacking one’s head against the treadmill desk holding your breakfast smoothie and having it all come tumbling down.

Everywhere. On everything. And then spending the next two hours cleaning it up.**

That was no fun but it’s actually kind of nice to have such things concentrated into one day. At least you know it’s coming and can prepare accordingly.

  • Will that knife balanced at the edge of the counter fall? Yep.
  • Wonder if you can carry that mug of tea and three books on your laptop and make it downstairs without incident? Nope.
  • Think you might have forgotten to close the garage door? Definitely!

The Balance. It’s not real, but it might be true;)

(As an added bonus, now I know how to disassemble my treadmill:)

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* I know this isn’t how randomness and statistics work, I’m just saying that some days, that’s how it feels.

** Someone needs to investigate the usefulness of chia seeds’ gel coating for adhesive. So sticky!

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