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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« How to Climb Mountains to Boost Your Motivation | 10 Most Common Motivation Challenges & Easy Solutions »

How to Work the Motivation Pendulum to Your Advantage

You never know when inspiration will happen. During a recent conversation at one of the many BBQs I’ve enjoyed so far this summer, the seed ideas for this post began germinating. At the time I didn’t connect the dots to motivation. However, after a good night’s sleep and morning mindfulness practice, an interesting link surfaced that I’m about to share with you. It gave me a new perspective about motivation that I hadn’t fully realized before. I hope it will be useful for you too. 

In the conversation I had with a parent, she shared with me how frustrated and unhappy she was about her high school-aged child being home for the summer with no specific or productive plans. She relayed that her child had promised she would “do things,” but with a few weeks into the summer, her plans were non-existent. The mom didn’t want her daughter sitting around all summer “wasting” her time and doing nothing. From other stories that the mom shared about her daughter, it seemed as though she was regularly busy and engaged in life. But for this particular moment in time, she wasn't motivated to do anything. 

It made me think about the times I’ve worked hard and for prolonged periods on a project. When those projects ended, my energy was depleted. The projects took a lot of sustained motivation to keep going and see them through. Post project, I needed non-pressured downtime to reflect and not do so that I could regroup and gear-up for next.

We live in a time when constant doing is the norm. It’s expected. Only when we’re on vacation or sleeping, do we allow ourselves (guilt-free) to stop and do less. However, I propose that we need these stopping or not doing periods more frequently. Let’s honor the motivation pendulum instead of expecting constant motivation to accomplish and to be busy. Let’s appreciate and respect the value of pausing after those big-push times. 

The amount of activities, assignments, projects, and things that kids (and parents) have to juggle during the school year is immense. It’s no wonder that our children need a break from the intense, frenetic pace. Taking part of or the entire summer to pause can be a great way for our kids to restore their motivation reserves. And the truth is that having the summer off is one of the luxuries of childhood. Unless you’re a teacher, which a few of my friends are, most adults don’t have that opportunity anymore. 

Whether you’re a kid or an adult, allow some downtime after expending sustained energy. Your motivation will return if you allow yourself time to come back to yourself.

What is your experience with the motivation pendulum? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (8)

For me it is all about giving myself one day (or at least part of the day) to disconnect and relax. This is Sunday for me, but it could be any day of the week that worked for someone's schedule. I don't read work-related emails, I allow myself to do completely fun things, I nap... whatever the day calls for. Knowing I have this day coming up each week helps me sustain motivation on the other 6 days. We aren't machines, we need to rest and refresh.

July 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

I love this and also have a hard time with it myself. Thank goodness for my yoga practice and slowing down somewhat at night, planning a walk with my partner or watching a show together. It is so true though that we don't really allow ourselves to just be or to slow down unless we are sleeping or on vacation. I have Mondays off over the summer and I do take some time for myself during these days which I find is so needed for me to be able to give to and be there for others. Thanks Linda for a great reminder.

July 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I hear you! I recently went on 2 college tours, and an orientation with my kids and found that the downtime gave me the inspiration to write. So, I brought my tablet and started typing away on it while looking at the scenic views of the countryside. Taking a road trip, even if it was just a weekend, allowed me to see outside of my office and helped me get relaxed faster. As a result, allowed me to take advantage of the creativity that came forward.

July 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Seana- I love how you consistently carve out that one day to “disconnect and relax,” especially the nap part. I try to pace myself throughout the week, but am not quite as intentional about calling a specific day to just stop. Something to give thought to. Thank you.

July 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Kim- It sure sounds like you’ve found wonderful ways of slowing down with your yoga, walking, and summer Mondays off. I think the key is paying attention to what you need and doing your best to honor that.

July 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Sabrina- Oh! I remember those college days tours with such fondness. Mostly, it was a wonderful bonding and one-on-one opportunity to have some precious time with our daughters. But it also was so much fun to getaway. I love how you found time to write and felt that surge of renewed energy and creativity.

July 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I could definitely learn something from this post - and from Seana's practice of having a day of rest every week. I try to do it, but it never "sticks."

On the other hand, I have no problem with going to a cottage and doing nothing for a week!

July 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- Love that you found something helpful here for you. Doing nothing at a cottage sounds wonderful. I can understand that it can be more challenging to break away during a work week. The benefits of doing that for even a day or part of a day are undeniable.

July 20, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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