Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Spring Cleaning and Other Evil Drains on Momentum

How to Make the Most of Your Momentum When Getting Things Done

I, for one, have none.  Momentum is hard to come by under the best of circumstances, and this winter has brought mine to an absolute all-time low.  I'm, essentially, motionless.  I was doing fine until I noticed all the things that needed to be done around the farm to make up for a winter in hibernation.  I cleaned one cabinet, and that was the end.

For me, then, the task at hand is to build some momentum, and that means becoming motivated to take a step forward into some arena.  I started last week by making an appointment for a consult prior to scheduling a colonoscopy.  Yeah, me either.  It's my least favorite thing to do, so I started with that, figuring everything else will seem like dessert on my plate by comparison.  My appointment is today, and I admit that knowing that did get me motivated to add a few other items to my calendar.  Before my appointment, I have to order a new washing machine.  Score two for unpleasant tasks.

Motivation = your reason for doing things
Momentum = keeping your doing rolling forward
Motivation + Momentum = Success!

Whining aside, I'll cut to the psychology of motivation courtesy of Abraham Maslow, one of the most famous of all the monkey scientists.  I refer, of course, to the scientists who made huge leaps forward in understanding human behavior by studying behavior in other primates.  Maslow did us a favor by putting our needs into a cool-looking hierarchy pyramid that's almost entirely understandable by anyone who can read.  You'll find it at the link in this paragraph and at the bottom of the post.

Me, at Level 2
Motivaton, at Level 0

Working backwards, I'm going to posit that after the ridiculous winter some of us have had (and are still having, as there's a half-inch of new-fallen snow on my lawn as I type), we're not feeling especially high-minded.  The "Self-Actualization" piece is probably going to have to wait until we've got a firm foothold on spring.  I, for one, don't care if I'm actualized.  I want to be warm, fed, and feel a little better about myself and the world.

So we're at the bottom of the hierarchy today.  Physiological and psychological needs are our number one priority.  Warm, safe, fed, and feeling no specific fear is a good thing, and, for most of us, more easily mastered than being totally actualized.  And BOOM!  We've taken care of the first two steps of the pyramid.

Since we humans are highly motivated to fulfill those needs, it makes sense to find something in that realm to internalize as an immediate goal.  If, like me, you're coming out of winter with muscles aching and spirit dispirited, getting some physical movement into the day would be a great start.  Walk today.  Walk as much as you can given your day's schedule. Walk at home.  Walk at work.  Walk around the farm.  Just move!  But for the sake of the next step on the pyramid--Safety--do not overdo.  Set a small goal and reach it.  Reach it over and over for a few days until it becomes part of your scheduled activities and you are ready to up your game to, say, lifting things.  If you rush, you'll hurt something, and nothing says despair like another ache added to the rest.

On the safety front, this category is relatively easy, so jump on in.  First, don't hurt yourself on step one.  Second, use this time to start a methodical check of everything surrounding your riding life and your life outside the barn.  How's your car running?  Could it use an oil change or brake service?  Appliances all safe and sound?  Heating system in need of servicing?  At the barn, when was the last time you took all of your tack off the rack and out of the trunk and looked over the stitching, screws, bolts, leather condition, know, everything.  If there's something awry, this is a great time to add those repairs or replacements to your to-do list.  Then  put them on your calendar so you will make them seem as important as they are.

With all of that done, you are well on your way to Level 3:  Love and Belonging.  Level 4:  Self-esteem, comes along for the ride if we do Level 3 properly  We all feel better in the company of loved ones.  And we feel better in that company if we're not feeding ourselves on a constant stream of negative self-talk about the things we need to do but haven't done.  So go be with your peeps armed with your to-do list and with some of your recent accomplishments in mind, and feel the love.  Love yourself and the world will come a-running.  Really.  Humans are drawn to other humans who project safety and power, and that comes with the self-love/ self-esteem package.

That's your assignment.  Start small; get organized; get moving.

Pushbullet's cute icon
I happen to be a PC/Android person, and I love Google Calendar and Pushbullet as motivational tools.  You know what an online calendar does, and you probably already use one on your phone, tablet, and/or computer.  What Pushbullet does (and there are versions for both my PC/Android people and my Apple die-hards) is "push" notifications to and from your various devices in a very easy-to-manage system of alerts.  Nothing says "Get moving!" like your notification ring-tone blasting through the quiet of your office.   And nothing gets your attention like a pop-up on your computer screen telling you what you should be doing right now instead of trying not to let the boss know you're playing Solitaire.

Schedule your activities as if you were getting paid to do them, and you will.  You'll do them, and you'll be paid in motivation with which you can build more and more momentum until you're a rock star.

maslow's hierarchy of needs five stage pyramide

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