How to stay motivated : Are you focussing on the right things?

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Some of the greatest questions I have received recently are “How do you stay motivated?” “How do you keep doing all the things you do?” How do you show up consistently”

I am going to let you in on the big secret. How to stay motivated.

It is very simple but it is not easy. As in it’s a simple theory but it takes some habit-forming, some courage and some experience, because when you start to experience it and feel the results, then and only then will you have the courage to repeat it over and over again, then and only then will you understand the solution and feel the flow of fairly consistent motivation or at least understand how to shake things up and make some changes.

Are you ready?

I get rid of the things I loathe.

Let me explain this a little deeper for you though, because we all have stuff that we would rather not do. All of us. Life is not perfect, running a business is not a piece of cake. So there is a lot of stuff that could go in the “annoying” “tedious” or “frustrating” pile that we don’t actually loathe. Some of those things might even be helping us to grow or we might decide we are going to pass them on to someone else.

And yes loathing is a very strong feeling, but that is exactly why it is so powerful and it is the deciding factor. because I am not talking about things that are a little boring, mildly frustrating or the stuff I would just rather not do…I am talking about the things that you loathe, on repeat, they are causing blockages, conflict, pain.

Here is an example. And to prove that I have been doing this process for most of my adult life. I hated commuting to my job. I was living in the middle of Tokyo, I was commuting by train in peak hour traffic up to an hour each way. You’ve seen the images of the men in uniforms and white gloves pushing humans onto the Tokyo trains right, if not you should Google it, it’s not a joke it is a reality, it is painful, dangerous and part of the daily grind in Tokyo if you are working the 9-5 or 7-7 worker.

At first, I thought it was marvelous, what a rich cultural experience, I was lucky to be part of this ridiculously foreign and unique daily happening. It gave me a buzz. But 3 months in that buzz wore off, the weather started to heat up, the heating in the trains stayed on, people would begin to faint around me, I watched as one woman threw up on a man pressed so tightly against her that she had no choice, no way out. And my buzz turned to dread. After months I found myself feeling anxiety in my body every morning when I woke up, I would strategize my positions on the overcrowded platforms so that I could get a spot near the door but often times I was taken by the sea of human traffic and had to physically fight my way into a corner.

It didn’t help that at the time I was going to a job that I had begun to dread and although I had dreams of bigger things I felt completely stuck in this situation, fighting to stay ahead in one of the world’s craziest cities.

When we start to loathe something, we often have two choices. One we change our mindset about it, we get better at handling it or we delete it.

In the Tokyo commuting case, I tried to make it more pleasant, change my mindset I would listen to my favourite music, I would read Murakami on days when I had the space to lift my arms and position a book at eye level, I would make it into a game, daydream or journal just before I got on the train so pleasant thoughts would roll around in my head on the commute.

The awful thing about loathing something, really despising, is that it will ripple out into all other parts of your life.

Like when you loath going to the gym, but you have a membership becasue you told yourself that if you get a membership then it will motivate you to go, but instead of motivating you to go it has caused other feelings to pop up like guilt everytime you don’t go or shame that you are not feeling results but you are still spending the money and then your husband makes a joke about it and it turns into a snarky comment that wasn’t meant to come out that way…but if you had only recognised that you loath goign to the gym in the first place and that you had two choices…change your mindset about it or delete it.

By the way…I deleted my gym membership last week. When the guy asked me if we could perhaps work on changing my mindset around it all I answered honestly with “Nah I have been kindly donating to you guys for a year and it is time to change that” Ask I hung up the phone I felt the weight release and instantly felt motivated to step into my studio for a freestyle hoop practice. I loathe going to the gym, for multiple reasons, and that is ok. I deleted it and I feel motivated to stick with movement practices that I love.

So there is one way that I stay motivated. I take an honest and open look at the things I loathe doing in my business and creativity. And then I ask myself do I change my mindset or do I delete it?

If I change my mindset about it by creating healthy habits , getting active and re-inspired around it all by implementing a new system, starting a fresh approach, asking the big questions, getting someone to help me with it then it gets taken off the loathing list. Motivation to keep going with it stays flowing and the dread disappears but if it stays on the loathing list or creeps back there time and time again then it gets deleted, in time it must go to make space for other things.

And if you are wondering how I got myself out of the Tokyo commuting situation. I couldn’t just quit my job at the time, that would have meant I lost my income, my visa and ruin what actually turned out to be an incredible pivot and launch pad in my life as a creative. You might be in a similar situation where you can’t simply just delete something, you are not in a financial situation to quit, you are just not ready to give up your day job but you know that you are destined for greater things and that change really needs to happen.

Well, I waited out the year. Finished up my contract, in the meantime, I was applying for a bunch of other jobs, secured a new contract, found a new apartment closer to work and bought myself a pink bike. Yup, I deleted the commute, and decided to explore the city, ride to and from my new job on a pink fold up bike, I found more freedom, got fitter and I never had to be pushed onto a train again, unless I chose to.

So let’s go back to the initial question “How do you stay motivated?” I switch on my loathing radar, it is not fickle or impulsive, it knows what’s up. When something has not been working, it is causing great pain and I have tried, truly intelligently tried to change my mindset around it and that hasn’t worked I delete it. What I am left with are the tasks I have chosen, the ones that serve me creatively and provide a service for my friends, my audience, my students. I get really in tune with how I can creatively show up and keep momentum doing the things I love and that is by choosing the things I love.

If you are sitting listening to this thinking “geez I wish I had that kind of freedom” I encourage you to embrace the fact that you do. That freedom might not come in the form of quitting your job this afternoon, packing up your prized possessions and booking a one way trip to the Himalayas but I bet there is something on your loathing list that you can already feel needs a small change. You can change your mindset around it or you can delete it. Start small, play big, go for it.

What works for you?

p.s. This practice is the reason why I haven’t had a “job” that I have to turn up to for almost a decade. I got real with myself about what I needed to focus on, I realised I was battling a system that wasn’t going to change (I was a primary school teacher) and the only way change was going to happen was if I made it myself. So I did. I quit the 9-5 and have been creating and sharing ever since. By consistently clearing off my loathing list I make space for the things that give me joy, help me to be of service and provide me with creative and financial support so that I can give and share even more. If I kept saying yes to shit I hate then I would not be able to serve in a way that makes an impact, I simply wouldn’t have the energy.

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Fierce clarity.  Wild creativity.  Spirited courage.

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