motiva(ca)tion

Hand winding yarn balls seems like an easy task, but somehow, mine always end up a knotty mess!

Hand winding yarn balls seems like an easy task, but somehow, mine always end up a knotty mess!

There are days when I feel so inspired and have so much energy that my productivity levels are through the roof. Like, by the time 9am rolls around I'm ready for lunch because I've just checked off all my to dos for the day. Other days, it doesn't take much for me to make a million and one excuses why I should not do something. On those days, not even my two fav hobbies - the stitch and the stretch - can spark the 'get up and go' in me. It's like my motivation takes a complete, off-the-grid, no-wifi-reception kind of vacation. A motivacation.

Knot What I Expected

Last week, I had a sudden afternoon burst of motivation. I hadn't touched a stitch project in several days and all of a sudden I was frantically searching the web for a crochet piece to dive into. I had already decided what yarn to use, and who the piece would be for - all I needed was the pattern.

When I finally settled on the one, I texted back and forth with my mom discussing measurement adjustments I could make while hooking. Once all of that was settled, I couldn't wait to begin so I ran (ran!) downstairs to get the hook and yarn, ripped off the yarn label and cut the tie holding the hank together. (A hank is yarn in coiled form.) 

Now, I've never rolled a ball of yarn from a hank before, but I thought to myself 'how hard could that be?' Welp, it turns out, pretty darn difficult. (I must be doing it completely wrong.) The beautifully interwoven hand-dyed yarn quickly turned into an aggravatingly knotty headache. I struggled with the yarn for over an hour, and repeatedly had to silence the voice that said, "Forget this, go buy one that's already wound." My motivation to start my crochet project soon hopped on the first bus out of town. 

While I did finally detangle and wind the entire ball of yarn, I didn't begin my project. The motivating force that had energized me to conceptualize the project was on recess from the sheer effort it took to just get the yarn neatly in order. But hey, at least I didn't give up unknotting, right?!? 

Across the Bored

My motivation has a tendency to go on sabbatical both when I've got too much to do and also when I'm bored. And my lack of motivation has the tendency to apply to most everything I do - whether I'm excited about it or blah about it. (Except laying in bed staring at the ceiling. I can usually do that without any motivation whatsoever.)

One would think that when it came to my hobbies, I could always muster inspiration. (Yes, one would think that.) My Pinterest boards are bursting with kickass ideas. My yarn collection is growing beyond the point of being able to hide it from kitty Takk. I've got yoga mats out the wazoo. There is no doubt I am prepared for any stitch or stretch that crosses my path. But my mind is sometimes too clever for this readiness, and it starts to fabricate excuses. "I haven't the time." (because I'm staring at the ceiling); "I don't know how/where to begin." "I need different materials." And the biggest drain of all, "I don't feel like it."

So what can one do when motivation seems to take a vacation? I've discovered a couple of helpful steps when mine wanders off. Maybe they'll help you too.

1. Take Baby Steps

Often, I'll excuse myself out of doing a personal yoga practice at home because I don't have an hour to spare. Or, I won't get out my knitting project because I'd only be able to get one row done. But what's wrong with a shorter yoga practice, or only doing one row? Just like detangling that knotty ball of yarn, sometimes, you have to be okay with taking small steps. Maybe you don't get everything done that you want, but at least you do something. You take a step in the right direction, no matter how small. Even a tiny feeling of accomplishment after a short practice or one row can nudge you toward motivation. (I've since started that crochet project, and I'm halfway through!)

2. Look for Inspiration

I just recently joined Instagram, and so far I have been amazed at the wonderful communities out there with creative people who are doing things! I have seen some awesome stitch and stretch inspiration out there, and instead of feeling like I can't be as incredibly awesome, I'm actually feeling like, "Why not me?" We're all human - we all have the same challenges from time to time - and we can also do our part to motivate others when we're feeling moved into action. Look for inspiration when you need it, and share it when you've got it! Hop on the locomotivation train!

3. Ask for Help

I don't typically ask for help. (I mean, that would be admitting that I actually need it!) BUT, sometimes a little help goes a long way. My modus operandi is to think of something I want to do and try to set about doing it without telling anyone. Like the project that was to come from the knotty ball of yarn - I considered not telling anyone about it and then, if I could get it done on time for the birthday girl, great - if not, then I'd buy a gift and no one would know the difference. But I've now told two people. Those people can hold me accountable to my declaration of finishing the piece for the birthday girl. They can also encourage me along the way. Sometimes, having someone else around to help out - whether through encouragement or getting involved in the activity - can boost your motivation with just the right amount of 'you can do it-ness.'

4. Proceed Calmly

I am my biggest critic, and I know I'm not alone in that self-defeating behavior. We can be so hard on ourselves to get things accomplished, to be productive 100% of the time, or to fake motivation if it happens to take a leave of absence right in the middle of a project. The more critical I am, the more pressure I put on myself, the more anxious I get and the less motivated I feel. Every time. I start almost every new year saying that I want to practice yoga each day. When there comes a day (usually within the first two weeks of said year) that I don't get the time to practice, or don't really feel like it, I can't look at myself as a failure. That critique would make it a million times harder to roll out my mat the next day. What I need to do is accept that I missed a day of practice, and check in the next day to see if practice fits in and feels right. It sounds so simple, but the inner critic is often clamoring for a voice, so proceeding calmly takes practice. See how your motivation unfurls when it is approached with composure. And if it doesn't make an appearance, don't beat yourself up about it. We all have those days, be gentle with yourself.  

5. Reward Yourself

Were you ever rewarded for a good deed? Like when you were little, and your mom gave you an ice cream cone for cleaning your room? Motivation thrives on reward. Often times, the feeling of inspiration feeds into motivation and attainment is the reward. Other times, you straight up need chocolate (and if you don't, I do, so feel free to pass it along!) Employers reward motivated employees, so why shouldn't you reward yourself for accomplishing what you set out to do? Knowing that there's a sweet treat for you at the end of untangling a ball of yarn or more energy in your day from having made that 6am yoga class can definitely kindle motivation.

I'll be honest, one of the biggest difficulties that I come across from day to day and year to year is an absence of motivation. But with little tips like these, thankfully the motivation doesn't stay away too long. The next time you feel like your motivation is on vacation, see if any of these tips can help you lure it back, and trust that it won't be gone forever!

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