Your organizing mission this week, should you choose to accept it – make a list. I hope your stomach didn’t just drop to your knees. This is a special list, one that will give you pleasure and one that you will refer back to regularly. The list I want you to make is of the things that inspire, motivate, and rejuvenate you. It needs to be compiled of things that touch your very being, excluding things that are mindless or allow you to zone out.
This list is important for several reasons. One is that, once it’s done, in moments of need (more on this later), you will not need to take time to think of things that motivate you. Second, the items on the list can be used before beginning a task or as a reward for completing an arduous task. Third, this list also tells you the things that you need to make time for even if you do not need a pick-me-up at other points.
A while back I was preparing a presentation and was thinking about the things women stereotypically report wanting time for, the luxurious bubble bath, time to label and organize photographs, or time to bake, yet everyone has their individual ultimate in relaxation. For me, the greatest contentment I can imagine happened for me one New Year’s Day, when I spent the majority of the day lounging on the couch reading. I spent the next several weeks feeling light and free, motivated to get things accomplished. Therefore, this is on the top of my list, though there is not always time for a day of lounging and reading.
There are three moments when having our personal list of motivating and inspiring things is helpful, times when a concrete set of choices that will benefit us. First, we all end up facing situations where our motivation is lacking some oomph. Second, there are times when our skills at procrastination reveal themselves more fully. Third, life sometimes seems even more overwhelming and we look up and see no end to the demands on our time, energy, or money.
Without a list, without that fast and easy way to remind ourselves of what helps us, it is easy to dismiss the things that benefit us. When we find that we are procrastinating or feeling overwhelmed, it is often a clue that we need to take time to care for ourselves. It is often the hardest time to stop and re-direct our energy inward. Having the list means that we can pull it out and refer to it, and we recognize the importance of self-care, and even that we are willing to try it.
Doing something off that list then can help revitalize us; sometimes we need to energize ourselves to work on the next task. Having a list that is comprised of the things that inspire and motivate us is useful in rejuvenating our energy to accomplish what we need to. Sitting on the couch and zoning out to the latest television program does not result in our feeling more energetic.
On the other hand, knowing the things that benefit your state of mind can also be a great “reward” after completing a project. Out of curiosity, I took an online procrastination quiz and many questions dealt with the idea of treating yourself to something nice after getting a dreaded task accomplished. The list that you create would be the ideal place to turn for any reward you want.
There is a fine line between using this list to motivate yourself and abusing it by avoiding the tasks you need to accomplish. Yet the benefits of recognizing the things that benefit your state of mind are immeasurable. This list might offer ways of combining unpleasant or dreaded tasks with things that also motivate you.
Is there music that touches you deeply or one that makes you bounce around with energy? There is no reason that you cannot put that music on while you work on something else. A while back there was a television show on during the day that I was inspired by, so I combined my watching it with my daily stationary bike ride.
The things that rejuvenate you are the very items that need to be on your list. They are things that hold meaning for you and therefore deserve to be done regularly. It is too easy to get caught up in all the things that demand our attention and energy, neglecting the things that can help keep us going. By making time to do some of the things on this list we decrease the burnout that life can bring our way. Doing things for ourselves from this list can also benefit our friends and family for we have more patience and energy by making caring for ourselves a priority.
So I challenge you to make a list of things that inspire, motivate, and rejuvenate you. You can choose to share it or not, but make sure that you can refer to it easily. Make sure that you do not forget about it, use it, remind yourself that you are important and deserve some pampering.