By Heidi Braun
“I’m so done with this! College is taking too long! Why can’t it just be over so I can start my career?”
“I wish the lawn would just mow itself.”
“Another six months of training for that promotion? What a pain!”
Sound familiar? Who needs a lawn anyway? Maybe it’s time to switch to a rock garden! Okay, just some wishful thinking there. Yet these are a representative sample of some daily struggles one might face. One of the most difficult aspects of getting and staying motivated is overcoming the mundane element of a necessary, yet not-so-exciting task. The solution? Make the experience, not just the end result, worthwhile.
Today’s thought is: enjoy what you do.
While there are multiple ways to achieve this goal, there are two main elements I’d like to share this time: environment and attitude. The two go hand-in-hand.
Your environment sets the stage for how much or how little you will end up getting done. It can also help direct your purpose. One of the most obvious aspects of environment is the set of tools you have available. If you’re doing research, a room with a computer – maybe your office or even a library – is the place to be. A bumpy car ride, on the other hand, is probably not the best place to catch up on paying your bills. If you can sign your name on the go without making it look more or less like a zigzagged mountain range – that, my friend, is talent! The presence or absence of other people is another major consideration. This largely depends on your personality. Some find that teamwork gives everyone a sense of accountability to get the job done. Others would argue that having others around only slows the process down. Personally, I have found that something like a written paper, for which only one person can be at the computer typing anyway, is best done alone. However, in the brainstorming stages, a pool of people with different ideas can be an excellent source of inspiration.
Some other aspects of one’s environment that have a more direct impact on attitude are sounds and decorations. Inevitably, there will be some background noise wherever you are, and you may or may not have much influence over it, especially in the workplace. However, one common sound you can change is whether or not you listen to music, and if so, what type. For someone seeking to get motivated, something slow and dreamy like Bach’s “Air on the G String” is unlikely to help – unless the task at hand is violin practice. Yet if you’re half sitting, half vibrating in your chair at an office job as you listen to a heavy beat, it is unlikely that you’ll get half as much done. Decorations can also make or break your motivation. While it is true that a giant twenty-four by thirty-six inch glossy color poster of Hawaii could sway you from the goal at hand, a motivational motto or two can hardly hurt. Or if possible, a picture of the desired result! There’s a reason cookbooks usually have recipes with an accompanying picture of the finished dish.
Just making a few of these little changes can do a lot to make the task more enjoyable. But at the core, having a positive attitude about your goal and progress is what will really count. Just because you’re not there yet doesn’t mean you won’t ever be – attempt to view the project with a “glass-half-full” mentality. In fact, with a few positive changes to your environment, you may find the process is nearly as fun as the results!