How to Take Action Towards Your Goals When You Really Want to Complain Instead
Hint: It’s not about finding the motivation . . .
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand complainers.
Want to know why? It’s because they bring the energy of the room down with them and lack the guts to go after what they want.
Want some lunch?
My stomach hurts.
Want to take a walk?
It’s too hot outside.
Want to play a game?
I’m not in the mood.
Sometimes though, when I’m in “a mood”, I’ll start complaining about everything too.
Before I sat down to write this story, want to know what I thought? “I don’t feel like it.” “I’m not in the mood to write.” “I’d rather do something else.”
There I am, a self-professed go-getter, complaining about a story I actually do want to write. Ah, such is life.
Eventually, I reminded myself that the sooner I sit down to write, the sooner I’ll feel like writing. I know from past experiences that when I start to do something, even for five minutes, my emotions usually have a chance to catch up with me.
Don’t Look for Motivation — Create It
So how do I make myself do something when I’m feeling unmotivated?
Answer: By reminding myself of times in the past when I was able to produce motivation by getting started on a project.
This works for all kinds of activities I don’t feel like doing. Last week, I didn’t feel like doing laundry. So, I started small and simply sorted my laundry. I also made sure to put my dirty laundry basket by my bedroom door, so it’d be easy to grab and take downstairs the next time I was headed that way.
Another example: I wrote a 50-page thesis when I was in seminary. How’d I do it? By breaking it down into baby steps and sitting down, every day, to work on it a little bit. I maintained my motivation to work on it by simply doing the work.
I’ve written about how taking baby steps can help us tackle problems in my article about Behavioral Activation.
Behavioral Activation: How to Tackle Your Big Problems with “Baby Steps”
Behavioral Activation is a method for getting started on, and completing, a task when you feel unmotivated.
Inspiration often follows action instead of preceding it.
After I get started on a project, I usually find the motivation to finish it. (Kinda like how I’m finishing this story right now.) Because I know that what I start, my brain wants to finish. My brain likes closure and endings that are tied with a string. Once I start something, I find the determination to keep going until it’s done.
So the next time you want to complain, consider just starting on a project of some kind. You’ll find that once you get started, you’ll want to finish. And you’ll feel a sense of pride when you do.