“How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” sing the desperate nuns of ‘The Sound of Music’. The unspoken and obvious answer is that it simply can’t be done. Although the film’s cloistered choir uses the metaphor to describe their impossible task of taming problem nun Maria, pinning down clouds is often what finding motivation feels like. With the summer heat weighing down our desire to do anything at all, we're in need of some ideas for curing a case of elusive motivation.
List it Later
You may be familiar with the small feeling of satisfaction after adding a task to a to-do list (and color coding and chronologically organizing said list). But while downloading a new font and typing up fifty summer goals may feel like an impressive accomplishment, no real task has actually been completed (or even begun). The same is true when it comes to announcing your plans for major productivity to friends. Research has shown that those who tell others what they mean to accomplish actually get a lot less done than those who stay quiet, while feeling like they've gotten closer to their goal. Making lists and talking about to-dos can hinder your performance because they give you the sense that you’ve made a real dent in your project (when, in fact, you haven’t). The lesson? Don’t fall into the false-sense-of-accomplishment trap. Start projects before you add them to a list, and focus your energy on completing projects instead of discussing plans to complete them.
Put it in Perspective
If you find yourself often trying to decide between finishing homework and marathoning your latest television obsession, a tactic to try is taking a minute to think ahead. If you wake up tomorrow morning happy and relaxed because you feel fully prepared for the day, will you regret saving Gossip Girl for another night? Probably not. Envisioning future benefits can help amp up motivation in moments of Netflix-induced crisis.
It’s always a good idea to shoot for the stars, but continuously expecting perfection from yourself can be a definite obstacle to checking things off the to-do list. No essay or painting or thank you card will ever be perfect, and neither will the first draft of one. Looming ideals of perfection can be intimidating and cause avoidance when you’re trying to start a project. It can be helpful to dive in without the fear of making errors - there will be time to organize and correct as you go. Motivation is easier to find when you only need it for a small task or first draft instead of a completed, shining, perfect result all at once.
(Photo Sources: blog.71.com, movethecrowd.me, tapeworthy.blogspot.com, huffingtonpost.com)