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If We Waited for Motivation

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Right as I was opening the web page to write this post, I saw I had 21 drafts written up - twenty one, you guys - and never thought to publish.

Allow that truth to stand testament for what I'm telling you throughout the one post that passed the test of Kimber's judgment and through to the publish button.

I care way too much, man. Way. Too. Much.

(Moving on.)

Let's begin by putting a big ol' book-end to the title: there wouldn't be much done.

Us waiting on that motivation light bulb to go off and steer us straight for our goals' destination is like waiting for it to rain in the Summer months.

In California.

It could happen, but you shouldn't bank your cloudy weekend in the mountains on it.

It helps when we are in tune with what moves us though, doesn't it?

Whether it's climbing the ladder in your career, spending time with family, traveling and dreaming up vacations, or that acceptable time of day to have your third cup of coffee - we cannot rely on the idealistic fantasy of motivation to get us where we need to be.

To get the work done we know will better us.

It's not motivation we need most to tackle our biggest goals.

It requires action, moxy and discipline.

I'll make it clear right now: I'm not advising you over work and miss out on life leading to burn out. I'm not suggesting you go hard and never set time aside to rest - even if this is toward your passion.

I'm also not saying you should veg on the couch for days on end yet expect to have the results you want - personally, spiritually, physically, relationally, financially, etc.

It takes a combination (not balance) of work and rest. Some days will require you be 80% dedicated to the grind of the work, and 20% rest, other days it might look like a swap or an even 50/50.

Rest is required of you in order to do the work ahead.

The occasional Netflix binge is not bad in itself; and neither is listening to nonsense podcasts is not wasteful. Taking a nap is not a waste of time.

I'm pretty sure my brain would shut down if I was "hustling" 24/7.

So yes, hold off on finalizing that project.

Step away from the stressors of deadlines and meal planning.

The key is to rest is to do so intentionally and for limited periods of time.

Not everything has to be an intensive learning experience. Give your brain a break.

We need to step away from the "beast mode" work mentality in order to refreshen our hearts and minds - a necessity before digging our heels in to face whatever is in front of us. We don't get mad at our legs when they turn to literal jelly from running for miles - so why do we beat ourselves up so much when we are tired after a long day of work, school or keeping tiny humans alive and happy? I'll just leave that there *cough* grace.

It's important to understand what truly gives us rest if we expect to accomplish a lot.

If we're not careful with how we use our time and what we define as "restful" (e.g. is it what gives you rest, or is it what the world says should give you rest?) we risk wasting our time on fillers.

Much like when you know you need to eat dinner - a nutrient rich meal to end your day - and you still reach for the snacks piled high in your cabinet, actions that numb us are starving our creative-hungry souls.

Though it's good to "snack" (take breaks) - our bodies need intentional and personal ways to do it.

Challenges grow us, comfort doesn't.

When we're motivated, we feel comforted by the thought that we have something to gain at the end of it all. There is an empowerment that comes from our own ability to work toward our goal(s).

Motivation is a method of comfort. When I say "the work", I'm not speaking solely about homework assignments, errands, job projects or book edits - I'm also talking about spending time with your people. Getting those extra snuggles in with your little one. Making time to learn more about your spouse. Setting your alarm clock to be just a little bit earlier so you can get some quiet spiritual time in the morning before the inevitable chaos of life begins.

Books on the topic of how to get motivated, though I haven't read many, are quite dull, since you can't exactly force yourself to be in that kind of mindset at the click of your heels (and it's no stroll on the yellow brick road, either).

Think "filler" like when you believe Instagram will satisfy the productive itch you have in a social or learning kind of way - but you end up going down a rabbit hole of comparison instead.

It doesn't fill or feed you - if anything it leaves you hungrier then before.

So...How Should We Respond?

What do we do when we're hungry to accomplish our goals and aren't sure where to start? How do we manage to sift through the groggy thoughts of "I'm not enough for this" and get to the part where we know we are the one's for the job at hand?

Here are some realistic approaches for us to put into practice (no motivation required) starting now:

  • Lay Out Your Goals: First and foremost, we need to figure out what our goals are and write them down. When we talk amongst friends or watch inspirational videos that fire up our hearts, getting tot he root of what we want to do is easy. We can bounce around ideas, affirm one another in our own dreams, etc. What happens when it comes to putting those passions from ideas on cloud nine to pen and paper? Though challenging at time, this is the first big step in taking action on completing your to-do list (whatever the length).

  • Block Out the Time: This is a huge discipline and lays the foundation of holding yourself accountable. Going off of what I said in the beginning of this post - we need to allow ourselves to take breaks in order to grind into the work: you can do both, remember (and it's not about "finding that balance"). Now when it comes to the work, it's necessary to block out the time to get it done. Why is this important? Because if we go off of hear-say in general terms such as "I'll get this done by the end of this week" or "I'll get to reviewing this sometime this afternoon" there is a high chance we won't do it (insert clapping here, because I am). There's no ref keeping score or making you feel guilty for not going ham on that project you swore you'd get done before it was due. Be smart, block out an hour each day or week if things are really crammed, and don't see that time as replaceable. Your time matters just as much as the next persons'. There is freedom in this system, rather than the cage we feel like we're putting ourselves in by doing so. Know that there is no requirement to meet that says you have to get everything done in a day (or one year, even). It's a repetitive discipline. Friends, this is not my instinctive response. If I had ten things on my list today, I want to check them all off. If I don't, I feel like I failed. This is obviously a lie that I tell myself every day and twice on Sunday. Success can only happen when we build it one breathe, minute, and mundane task at a time. Imagine if we skipped the part where we failed, got back up and were better for it in more ways than one - where would we be? Blocking out time can look like 1 hour every other day in the mornings, or a couple of hours on the weekend when you have some time alone (or if surrounded by chaos, reach out to friends or family to help - this is important). This time is non-negotiable Your time matters just as much as the next persons'. There is freedom to be had in setting time aside for specific goals.

  • Cut Off Distractions: I first titled this one "limit distractions", but that leaves room for allowing yourself to get off track, and that's not our intention. I literally just picked up my phone and had to drop it back on the couch because I know myself enough to understand I'm not going on Instagram just to look up dessert ideas for a colleague's baby shower.

  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: Before you reach for that third cup of coffee to fill your tank, consider when you last had a full glass of water. I'm going to interrupt us all for a little hydration reminder - kind of like that commercial where the referee appears in the bar and shouts WATER BREAK (or something like that). For real, you guys. When we're groggy and just not feeling that creativity we thought we had, the likelihood of it being a result of you not drinking enough water is high. So when you're in the hustle and getting the work done, don't forget to drink that water (remember: half you body weight in ounces per day at the very least!). To make it easier, bring a fun water bottle or hydro-flask with you. Even when I'm getting chores and errands done, I forget to stop and take a break to chug some water - but having my bright large travel cup with a lid and straw helps me not forget all that much (also, I'm a child and drinking water with a straw is a whole lot more convenient than a regular cup). Try adding a whisper of flavor to your water with some sliced cucumber and lemon juice or fresh berries and mint!

  • Turn Away From the "If" Word: from "if only I had [fill in the blank]" to "what if I was [fill in the blank]". The only place that word (when accompanied with lust, fear and worry) ever gets us backwards. Stop with the what if's, friends. I don't care what they are or if they seem legitimate to you, your cousin Dale or your weird neighbor - its all a mute point. Why? It prevents you from asking the intentional questions that matter and to which the answers to then with move you forward rather than holding you back. Asking "what if" puts the responsibility off of you and into thin air. Ask questions that will have definite answers, not the ones you shout to the wind and are left wandering in circles in your local grocery store for. Your job isn't to wait for things to fall into place or have certain possessions before you can pursue your calling head strong. What would the world do if we all waited for the right things and the right time? You make the time right when you act on it, despite what you own, where you live or how you look.

  • Be Smart When/If You Multi-Task: it's not for everyone as it can be more of a distraction then a productive way to get multiple things done at once. When you start to believe you must do all the things that don't necessarily get you closer to your main goal, put them away and come back down to earth. Seriously, is it just me or does everyone start with picking up one thing and end up scrubbing the entire house with five other things in hand? What I've found helpful in times where I struggle to refocus is to ask "is this an eventually or a priority?" Meaning is this something that can be done after I've put in the hour for this blog post or is it more important (like feeding my child and/or myself). On occasion, I like to multi-task if it means I'll get a handful of little things out of the way within five to ten minutes - not if it all adds up to an hour. So be considerate of what you decide to multi-task with and when.

  • Invest in the Quiet: In the words of Hannah Brencher, "sustainable work is secret work". It's the hours people don't see. Invest in the secret hours you find yourself - your strength - when nobody else is watching. You know how when you share your "behind the scenes" with another person? Like, if you're planning to run a marathon? And the high you felt when you shared the excitement kind of took away from the drive you had to finish the work you still had in front of you to prepare you for the race? Similarly, that's what happens more often than not when we share the work that needs to be done in the quiet. This is the work that drives us heavily toward our goals.

In the end, determination to grow and dedication to the work is much more powerful than waiting on motivation. It's what steers and moves us forward and doesn't risk us left at a stand still.

Your determination is based upon your why, versus motivation which is more heavily on the what. It digs deeper and therefore produces higher qualitative results. Don't focus on how much you've accomplished, but more at what you've come so far in doing. I bet it'll blow your min din retrospect what you're truly capable of.

If motivation is what you believe you need to achieve your highest goals, please consider to think again.

It's like saying you need a drink in order to make it through that awkward family dinner. It may help you become comfortable and passive, sure, but it's not what will get you to make a true shift in the situation.

The work will not always look Instagram worthy - most things in life aren't, let's be real - but those are the things that are oh so much more worth doing - filter free.

You don't need motivation, friend - you just need to get down in the mud and do the work you already know you can do.

Do the work with heels dug in and grace offered to self daily. Use what you've been given, get into the muddy waters and finish the work in front you.

It's as simple and complicated as that.

No more would've, should've, could've or what if's.

Just show up.

With cracked hands and tired eyes,


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