Stop Waiting for the Mood, the Motivation, the Moment
by Kitty Slayer
When last we spoke, we talked about how we need to start seeing our individual selves as Enforcers of Change and how that only happens when we take control of our own lives. No major influencer, no mover and shaker, no revolutionary made it happen by only acting when the mood struck her. That’s not how that works. That’s not how life works. That’s not how anything hard and good and remarkable happens.
Let’s talk about the myth of motivation. Many of us buy into the notion that at some point we are going to get that magical spark inside of us to ignite enough to create a steady burn that allows us to take control of our lives and fulfill our potential. Maybe deep down we believe that it’s just one day going to strike like a lightning bolt and everything will change and we are going to heed its call. In our bones, we just know we aren’t going to die without realizing our dreams, without figuring out how to keep our homes reasonably orderly. Surely we aren’t going to die before we figure out how to get fit and stay fit. Before we take that trip, write that book, run that marathon, start that business, tell that person how much we love them. Certainly, our time won’t run out before we create the life we were meant to have? Here’s what we don’t like to think about. That happens all the time to people. Probably more often than it doesn’t. They die. They die with unmet potential.Unfulfilled dreams. Frustrated passions. Look. I know this isn’t lovely to think about, but it’s really necessary to acknowledge from time to time that we get one life and we don’t know how long it’s going to be. There really is no time to waste on getting on with it.
Motivation is nice. Here’s how I see it. Motivation gets us going fleetingly. It relies on outside stimuli. Motivation is like that fun friend that checks in from time to time and you have the best laughs and you are like, “we should totally do this more often this so great” and then you know, 6 years go by before you do. Motivation and Mood are those fun buddies. They show up At The Moment. The Moment is a surprise party that the M & M buddies throw for you. You don’t know when it’s coming, you have no control over it and it’s awesome and spectacular and you will remember that night forever but if you are hinging your entire social life on waiting for Mood and Motivation to get it together to throw you a surprise party, you aren’t going to get out much.
Did you know that our brains are designed to keep us from doing anything new, risky, brave, hard? We might have the urge and if we don’t follow through within milliseconds, our brains will start to propose ways to talk us out of it. This is Science. We decide we are going to do something a little bit out of our comfort zone. It might be cleaning the bathroom, it might be running a marathon, it might be leaving an abusive relationship. We have the idea, the urge, the spark. Then. We hesitate. The Brain Brake activates: It’s going to be too hard, too tiring, too risky, too time-consuming, too expensive, too embarrassing if we fail. We can do it tomorrow. It directs us to other things to anesthetize the desire to move out of our comfort zone. Social media, TV, food, sleep, easier tasks, and of course Valid Excuses as to why we can’t do hard things. Those things are for Other People to do. Those things are for us to do but only One Day. Ah yes, that one fine day when Mood, the Moment, the Motivation really takes hold and gets us going. Here’s the thing. We are basically hardwired to survive but not to reach our potential or even to explore what we are actually capable of. It all goes back to survival. When human survival was actually plenty challenging. Just staying alive back in the time of the T-Rex was pretty damn badass. Now that we have that more or less down, we get to evolve and do other amazing excellent things.
Except most of us don’t. We stay in caveman mode. We shut down the potential our imaginations dream up before they can become reality.
So: how do we overcome the survival/sabotage instinct? It’s actually so simple. Truly simple. But, oh honey, you aren’t going to love this. It’s a dirty word. Brace Darlings. Here it comes:
Discipline.. Ew. Yuck. So not sexy. STAY WITH ME THOUGH. Do not shut this down.
If you are busy saying, “oh well, I’m out then. I’m just not disciplined” I will say to you. That’s a pretty lame excuse. You are going to need a better one. Most people aren’t born disciplined. Discipline is a decision. You can build discipline, by practicing it and working on it. Like a muscle. Little by little. You can. And then discipline starts becoming who you are. And discipline gets you the results that you want. The life that you want. The body you want. The dreams you want. But how do you become a disciplined person? Well, first you decide that you want to be. That what you want is worth trading in your current situation for. Because you can’t have both.
Then you start with something you really want to accomplish. I’d’ start with something that’s easily achievable but still outside of your comfort zone… Something you just haven’t managed to get down but you think it would be cool if you did. Let’s say, making your bed. Leaving your room looking orderly every morning. There’s a reason every damn motivational speaker tells you to Make Your Bed. Because it’s a small achievable thing and it starts your day off right. puts you in a mode of taking control, and when you come home at the end of the day you are reminded that you accomplished something good that day even if the rest of the day went to hell. Yet most people don’t bother to do it. So you start with making your bed. Even if you are late that day. You decide that making your bed is a non-negotiable like brushing your teeth. You do that for 3 weeks. It gets easier. Then it’s a habit. Before you know it, you are bed maker. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Let’s see… What else can you do? Can you start exercising every single day for 15 minutes before you are allowed to check your social media?. How about 30? Maybe you want to sign up for a 5k? You follow a couch to 5k program. You print out the program, stick it on your mirror. You check off every single box of that damn program with a red sharpie. You run the race. Before you know it, you are a runner. You run races on Saturdays which means you eat better on Thursdays and Fridays, you drink less, you save money by not going out.
This is how you get shit done. This is how you become a powerful person. A badass. This is how you start believing in yourself and trusting yourself to get things done. This is how you fix your own life and become an enforcer of change in your family, in your community and then in the world. This is how we change history. We start with making our own beds. And if you don’t believe in making your bed because of that study (do not quote that study at me, I read that study, thanks) or you already make your bed, or if you are tempted to find another excuse as to why this would never work for you. Find your figurative bed. Make it. Make it every day. Start seeing yourself as a bed maker. A thing doer. Then expand upon it. When you have an urge to do the hard thing that’s going to get you closer to you having the life you want: Do not hesitate. Do it immediately. Do not let the brain safety brake engage. Just do it. Then do it again. Every day. This my darlings, this is how we slay.