If you’re groaning in recognition, you’re not alone. Many people have half finished manuscripts and a pile of napkins doodled up with brilliant business plans – all collecting dust in a drawer somewhere.
In my twenties, I decided to paint my living room a gorgeous powdery sky blue. I fell in love with the paint color – when I saw it by happenstance in a hardware store. I brought it home, started to paint, then soon realized that the ladder I owned was too short to paint all the way up, up, up to the top of the ceiling’s edge. And so I stopped 7/8th’s of the way through – with a self-promise that I’d get a taller ladder next week – which soon became next-next week. Then next-next-next week.
Two years later, I’d still never finished painting the living room. I’d convinced myself I preferred the way the room looked this way – 7/8ths powdery sky blue with 1/8 puffy cloud white near the ceiling’s border. I told myself (and all visitors who asked) that I loved how “ethereal” the room looked this way!
I tell you this story, because I want you to know that if you’re presently finding yourself procrastinating on a project, I’ve been there, and not-done that. Happily, I now have a few wonderful motivational tools to get the job done – which were inspired by my 3 year old son (Ari Salmansohn).
Ari loves music. One of his favorite toys is a plastic guitar with pre-recorded songs. Plus, he’s always up for dancing – even to jingles on television or music in restaurants. If we’re in a diner and Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It” comes on, he’ll want to stop chowing down his mac and cheese and want to start boogie-ing down!
Ari recently saw a Youtube video of a band called Rooney playing Ironman’s theme song. OMGosh! He loved it – and kept asking me to re-re-re-re-play it – while he pretended to play his plastic guitar along with the band. I asked Ari if he’d like to learn how to play a real guitar. He enthusiastically shouted “Yesssss!”
I then signed up both Ari and myself for guitar lessons – with a real guitar – with a fun and talented guitar instructor.
The first bunch of lessons Ari remained excited about guitar-playing – and mommy (aka ME) was proud to learn how to play the theme song to Batman.
Then a few weeks into our lessons the guitar teacher showed up, ready to teach us some advanced new chords, and Ari was completely disinterested. Ari didn’t even want to be in the same room with the guitar or the guitar teacher.
“I don’t want to learn the guitar,” Ari announced. “Don’t make me.”
I decided not to force Ari too much to take the lessons – because I was aware I could wind up making Ari hate/resent music. I told the guitar teacher that Ari and I were going to take some time off from guitar lessons, to figure out if we were going to continue.
A few days later, I wound up finding the famous Gangnam Style video on Youtube. I played it for Ari. He went wild! He started dancing along. Next, Ari asked for his “real guitar.” Ari started “playing” along to the music – in an enthusiastic (aka discordant but passionate) way!
“Look at my fingers, mom,” Ari said, “I’m playing the guitar to the music! Look at my fingers!”
I then DJ’d a series of other music videos – while Ari danced and improvised with his guitar along to the music!
“Look, look, I’m playing the guitar! Look at my fingers. High. Low. High. Low.”
“Ari, do you want to take your guitar lessons again?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, yes!” he announced with glee!
It’s a universal thing. We all start off with great enthusiasm on a project or hobby because we’re in the honeymoon period of loving the project or hobby. As soon as difficulties set in, the honeymoon waxes and wanes.
If you want to fall back in love with a project, you must remind yourself WHY you originally fell in love with the project or hobby.
In Ari’s case his greater good/grand quest is being able to play lively, happy music! As soon as Ari was reminded of the end benefitsof learning how to play music, (aka: viewing a video of incredibly energizing mood-boosting music with people having fun playing the guitar and dancing!) he was able to recognize it was worth it to move through the struggle – so as to get to the “end game” of playing the guitar!
In a quirky way, the benefits of Ari watching that music video were similar to the benefits people get creating what’s called “A Vision Board.” In case you don’t know what a Vision Board is, it’s a collection of images which represent your goals, dreams, desires. It’s a recommended practice in the spiritual community to create a Vision Board to help “manifest” what you want. Many folks believe that Vision Boards work for “thought energy” reasons – The Law Of Attraction. I believe Vision Boards work for lots of psychological reasons. They keep you focused on and excited about the greater good – the grand quest – which then keeps you motivated to keep on going – and going – towards what you want!
If you want to motivate your child to keep going forward towards a goal, you can work on a fun art project – collecting images of the greater good/grand quest they are seeking. Collect lots of inspiring images on the theme of their goal –- then create a fun collage or piece of art – which you can then hang in their room!
I also recommend you talk with your child very directly about the importance of effort – letting them know very clearly that effort is a normal part of the process for pursuing a goal. Basically, you want to make sure you help ameliorate any negative-self-talk your child might be doing about not being good enough – because their pursuit is requiring some hard work. I’ve written about this subject of “effort” in another article on my site HERE – which you can read by clicking HERE NOW! The quickie lesson of this other article: You must celebrate effort – as well as outcomes!
The good news is: Ari’s now back practicing the guitar. However – truth be told, he keeps having surges of effort and interest – followed by resistance and disinterest. I understand from my own life – how this is a familiar problem for most of us humans. I’ve since found myself saying a few things to him which have been helping to motivate him to keep moving forward.
1. I remind him: “Practice is how we learn. The more you practice, I promise the easier it will be over time.”
2. I make it clear to him: “Every amazing guitarist started out as a beginner – just like you. They didn’t start off amazing. They just didn’t give up – even when they wanted to give up – and that’s how they got to be amazing.”
3. I tell him serious things in a funny voice – so he doesn’t feel I’m lecturing. Mainly, I’ve repeated “Never give up, never give up, never give up!” in a silly loop – and funny voice – so – he laughs – then repeats these words himself – taking in this ““Never give up, never give up, never give up!” mantra as his own. As a result, Ari will sometimes even say out loud to himself – when he’s about to give up, “Never give up, never give up, never give up!” – in a silly voice – then sure enough – he keeps on going.
4. Recently Ari and I received a new mantra to repeat during challenging motivational times – via a Teenage Mutant Ninja toy. This toy says a bunch of things – including, “Failure is not an option.” When I heard the toy say this phrase, I said, “OOOooooh I love that! Failure is not an option! That’s a good one!” We then talked a bit about what this phrase means. Now when he’s ready to give up, he’ll often announce “Failure is not an option!” in the same funny voice that the Teenage Mutant Ninja toy says this phrase!
Basically- my hope is to empower my son to talk to himself kindly and lovingly and enthusiastically during challenging times – so I help him create a “supportive voice” in his own mind and heart – to talk to himself with – even when I’m not around.
Okay… So those were some of my motivational ideas for kids! If you are an adult and are finding yourself losing motivation on a project….here’s what you can do….
Perhaps you’ve presently shelved a book you thought you’d write because the fun was gone! Suddenly the effort it was taking overshadowed the passion you’d been feeling. If so, you can jumpstart that loving feeling for your book again by imagining the inspiring greater good – grand quest – fabulous end-game! Visualize how your book’s message will help people. Remind yourself how what you’re writing has meaning and purpose. If it’s a novel, remind yourself how your storyline will entertain people – and get yourself psyched about your novel being optioned for a movie to star your favorite movie celebrity!
When I was writing my first book – a novel – I kept re-motivating myself to write by taking myself to book stores so I could fully imagine my book on the shelf. Because my last name is “Salmansohn,” I went to the “S” section – and noticed my book would have a wonderful book neighbor: Salinger! For some reason, envisioning my novel next to Salinger’s kept me going – and I finished it and sold it – both to St. Martin’s Press as a book – then later to Miramax – to be a movie starring Marisa Tomei. (Note: More on that story in another blog!)
If you’re right now procrastinating on a project, take your eyes off your present struggle, and re-focus on the awesome end result you desire! When you keep your eyes on the prize of your long term happiness gain – you’re motivated to move through the temporary pain!
The main lesson here for us adults: It’s very powerful to remind yourself how your goal or mission has meaning and purpose! When you supercharge your goal/mission with meaning/purpose, you have more motivational energy to keep moving forward. Plus, if you can also create a way to visualize yourself reaching your goal, you’re also more likely to stay motivated – because you’re creating FAITH POWER – which is a humongous booster shot for motivation!
NOTE: If you want an extra booster shot of motivation, sign up for my BRAND HONEY PROGRAM! I will empower you to pillage and conquer your project, book, or business – and get you amped up to a whole new level of moving forward with enthusiasm, clarity and purpose! Just click this paragraph for more info!
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.