Six Ways to Get Motivated

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a doctor.  I merely have first-person experience with losing motivation.  Honestly, my desire to avoid cleaning up my house is what is helping me rationalize that this post is more important.  The irony, right?

1.  Refer to Your To-Do List

After I had my firstborn, I had Postpartum Depression (PPD).  I have all sorts of memories and feelings tied to those dark months.  The funny thing is with PPD, or with any depression really, is that it wipes away a piece of your functionality.  Most days I could not function past the daily chores of feeding a screaming baby, changing diapers, and feeding myself.  But it was more than just not functioning, my brain couldn’t even process what it SHOULD be doing or getting done.  It was as though depression had made me dumb.  I was ‘depression dumb’.  Shall we coin this term now?

My husband saw the situation for what it was and knew I needed help.  I was losing ground fast.  I was slowly forgetting how to do basic things, like shower regularly.  At the time, he worked close to home and was able to come home for lunch.  He left in the morning and gave me ONE chore to complete before his return for lunch.  Just one.

We had a baby bottle warmer (you know how it is with your first child, right?).  The water inside was needing to be changed.  My one chore was to dump the water out and fill the cup back up.  I didn’t have to clean it.  I didn’t have to do any special treatment to it.  I had to dump the water out and fill it back up.  Guess what?  I DID IT!  I felt like I had conquered the world.  I was given a task and I completed it.  My husband was so proud of me.  He sincerely congratulated me and I enjoyed the satisfaction of completing a task.

So, what does this have to do with referring to a to-do list or even getting motivated?  One of the largest road blocks I face is battling ‘depression dumb’ (it’s already catching on, isn’t it?).  I get in a funk and my mind goes completely blank on what I should be doing.

I create my To-Do List during those moments when my brain is actively thinking of all the many things that need to get done.  I’m a wife and mother, there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done.  Now with smartphones, I have downloaded a free app called Task List – To Do List.  Since I regularly have my phone on me, it’s easy to update the list when the thought hits me.

It’s even more common that I have my phone on me when I’m avoiding life and getting lost in social medias.  Anyone else out there a victim to the time-thief known as social media?

Those times when I sit there trying to forget all that should be getting done, I pull out the list and get a reminder of all the ways that I can actively engage in my daily life.  I sometimes put the smallest of tasks on there just so that I can have the satisfaction of completing a task.  Because sometimes you need to dump out the water and fill the cup back up and you have some added motivation.

2.  Change of Position

I dread the idea of even having to do this one.  This method of getting motivated is most needed for me when I’ve found myself wanting desperately to escape my downs through sleeping.  The idea is that whatever position you are currently in when you feel yourself slipping deeper into the blues, you change it.

This suggestion was offered up once in a therapy session when I confessed that I was taking ridiculously long naps during the day.  I wasn’t getting anything done and my kids were being baby-sat by the TV.  It breaks my heart thinking about all that I missed during this bout of depression and how neglected my kids must have felt.

My therapist revoked me of my napping rights.  I had to keep moving.  Laying down was feeding the depression.

For others it may mean sitting down and taking a break.  Some people lose sight of a healthy balance when they are constantly running their lives at a break-neck pace.  Perhaps that person feels most down when they don’t have a moment to sit.  Maybe they’re wondering what’s all the rush for and it makes them sad to think they’ve lost site of the quiet moments.  Quiet moments are needed to reset the priorities of our motivations.

Simply put, change your position.

3.  Serve

The past couple of days, I felt the signs of ‘depression dumb’ coming on.  I was quickly losing motivation, functionality, and engagement in my world.  Realizing I was withdrawing, I saw that I needed to reach out to my friends.  Guess what?  It turns out they were having their own struggles and unfinished tasks.

As I found ways to serve these friends, I noticed that my blues were dissipating and my functionality was returning.  I was processing thoughts.  I was useful for a moment or two.  Service is an amazing blessing for all parties involved.  It isn’t always the easiest to perform or even be motivated for in the first place, but it always brings about more good.

A fresh perspective, the joy in knowing you lightened a burden, and the break from the monotony can do wonders for motivating yourself with your own life.

4.  Go for A Walk

You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking, “I’d love to go for a walk, IF I WERE MOTIVATED!”  Agreed.  This suggestion may need to go hand and hand with another suggestion from this list.

As a young girl, my parents would take me on walks at night.  As I grew, the walks continued.  Some of the greatest conversations I have had with my parents were on walks with them.  When I got married, my husband and I would go on long walks too.  I can recall countless times in all of these walks when I started the walk with nothing to say.  By the end of the walks, I felt like I had accomplished world peace.  Thoughts, ideas, hypotheticals, goals, and deep discussions were had on these many walks.

There’s something about getting that blood flowing that opens the mind and motivates the body to follow suit.

5.  Play Music

This suggestion only really works if you enjoy music.  I happen to love music.  I happen to hate cleaning.  But if I mix something I love with something I hate, usually the love wins out.

When my husband and I were first dating, I would ask him what he wanted to go and do.  His response was often the same, “I could be shoveling shit against the tide and it would be fun if I were doing it with you.”  Nothing says romance like a vision of shoveling shit with your mate.  Amazingly though, it was a sweet point that he was trying to get across.

Doing something you hate, doesn’t have to be miserable.  Add something you love into the mix to make the time go by faster.  Adding laughter to a task would also serve as a great motivator for me.  Perhaps that’s why the idea of shoveling shit with my husband sounds splendid.  I know he would have me laughing the whole time.

6.  Grab a Dr. Pepper

When all else fails, grab a soda.  Certainly not advice received from a doctor, hence my disclaimer at the beginning.

In the 1950’s, Dr. Pepper’s slogan was “the friendly Pepper-Upper”.  It certainly is friendly.  I can vouch for that.  When I drink it, I become more friendly.  A friendly Sara is a motivated Sara.  I like to drink my friendliness right into me.

So, there you have it; six ways to get motivated.  Now, in my efforts to motivate myself to clean my home, I am going to combine suggestion 2 and 5 to start making things happen over here in our home.

What gets you motivated?

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Honesty Shared

Starting at a young age, I got called “Mom” a lot.  I even recall my own Mom and brothers responding to my remarks with an, “OK, Mom.”  As I grew older, the term would be used amongst friends, then co-workers.  I always took it as a compliment.  I see now that it wasn’t always delivered as such.  Nevertheless, I thought the term implied that I was a natural at being a Mom.  On the day my eldest was born, I learned that Motherhood was not as natural as I had imagined.

Abigail joined our family 6 weeks earlier than her expected arrival.  Just prior to delivery, my nurse came in to inform me that there would be more nurses than usual in the room to prepare for any possible complications, as a result of her premature arrival.  At the time, I thought nothing of how this was not going along with my preconceived idea of having a baby.  I was too scared for any reflection on the scenario.  Before I knew it, I delivered Abby, they checked her out, cleaned her up, let me kiss her cheek, snapped a picture, and they whisked her off to the NICU.  It was one of the most amazing feelings to know I helped bring life into the world.  I had delivered a baby.  I was on cloud nine.  Complete euphoria.

It would be three more days before I held her in my arms.  She was still covered in cords and surrounded with so much padding that it was tough to really hold her close to me.  Postpartum emotions were starting to set in, my body was not healing properly, breast-feeding was completely unsuccessful and I was growing tired of the multiple trips to and from the NICU.  I wanted my baby home.


Then she came home.  A few days into her being home, I began to realize that this whole situation had not gone as planned.  I was supposed to deliver a healthy baby girl, they were supposed to clean her up and lay her in my arms, I would then get a picture of that magical moment when the baby looks in her Mom’s eyes and the Mom still has that birth glow, then I would start to breast-feed my baby and she would take to it perfectly.  Motherhood is natural and naturally that’s how things should’ve gone in my eyes.

Yet nothing felt natural.  My daughter was colicky, she had acid reflux, and she didn’t seem to like me very much.  Suddenly, I found myself in the depths of depression.  I realized that Postpartum depression (PPD) had happened to me without me even realizing it.  It snuck in and set up shop.

Addressing the topic of PPD is for another post at another time.  This post is to tell you of an unforgettable conversation I had with a woman about a month after I delivered Abby.  So, I told you all of that, to tell you this…

The conversation is still so vivid that I can see where I’m standing, which way I’m facing, and what the weather was like outside the adjacent window.  The woman was a friend of mine who was a young Mom like me.  I had conveniently hid all of my feelings of sadness to the outside world, as my heart was filled with too much shame over the matter.  We were having small talk about having a baby when she asked me how I was doing.  I must have made some comment hinting to my true feelings.  She shared with me how difficult it was for her when she first had her baby.  She shared that she was jealous that her husband got to go to work and she had to stay home.

It seems like such an uninfluential remark to make about being a new Mom, but she changed my way of thinking in that very moment.  She was basically telling me that it’s not perfect for her.  Up until that point, I had only heard perfect stories.  Since then, I have heard many an imperfect birth story.  The birth of my second child could be added to the imperfect birth story list.  However, at the time, this woman was doing something I had yet to hear.  She was being honest with me about matters that so many women aren’t honest about.

In the hustle of people around us, she ended up having to leave.  I remember so desperately wanting to talk to her more.  I wanted to know that I would be okay.  I wanted to know that what I was feeling didn’t have to be shameful.  I loved and adored my daughter, but why wasn’t the bond that I had envisioned there between us?  I thought maybe this woman might have more answers for me.

I don’t remember the conversation ever getting picked back up later.  All I know is that from that day forward, I started to let some of my real feelings slip out into conversations.  I started to feel less shame.  I got help through medication and didn’t hide that I had done so.  I warned mothers-to-be of the potential of PPD.  I opened myself up to being more vulnerable.

I don’t introduce myself with a list of my short-comings and vices.  However, as people take the time to get to know me, I take the time to share me; the real me.  That’s one of the main reasons that I want to do this blog.  I want to share me.  Someone shared their real feelings with me and it helped get me through a dark time.  My goal is to pay that same gift forward.

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