When Our Motivation Falls Short
After a stretch of wet days, there is great satisfaction in weeding.
I was in the backyard the other evening and the crabgrass and chickweed were coming out smooth and easy. I filled bag after bag as the sun slipped down in the west.
I hadn't intended to spend that much time in the backyard. But whenever I looked up, I saw flowers, flat stones, open space that had been hidden behind a spring and summer's worth of wild grass. And it spurred me right on to weed more.
There are few better motivators than a sense of progress. My confidence perks up, my energy ramps up, and I'm ready to charge.
So much of our life is organized around huge, ongoing enterprises - work, family, relationships. These are long-road undertakings; signs of progress can be rare and feel minor relative to the enormity of the undertaking. Which can make it easy for motivation to fall short.
I think a worthy countermeasure to all that is, along that long road, giving ourselves plenty that delivers an immediate sense of progress.
I've been weeding. I know a man who cleans his car. It could be picking up litter, painting a side table, taking bags of clothes to Goodwill or bags of books to the library. We'll know it's right for us when we get a sweet surge of confidence and energy.
And what I've noticed is that the confidence and energy from these short-term undertakings ripples out into the long-term undertakings. Because I think we're reminding ourselves that we can get stuff done, that we are capable of making progress, making change. All of which can be easy to forget when life is full of long-term undertakings.
So when I need to remind myself, when it feels like I'm spinning my wheels and can't find motivation, I'll go spend an evening with the crabgrass and chickweed.