Be a trickster and get it done

Your usual motivation is not working

It’s not easy doing things you’re supposed to do all the time. Being a goody-two-shoes is not fun. “Adulting” is not fun. And your usual motivating speech to yourself is just not working. Sometimes you just want to break free. Take your shoes off and run barefoot. Break out of the mold and be a free spirit. Run in circles on a mountain top with your arms spread wide, breathing in the clean air.

But you’re an adult…

But then reality sets in. You’re nowhere near a mountain. There are a million things waiting for you to do and no one else is going to do them. 

So you look at that never-ending list of tasks and think to yourself, “I really don’t feel like doing any of this. I wish I was somewhere else. I wish I was someone else.”

But talking like that – even to yourself – is not productive. And talking like that to yourself can do more harm than good. Bringing yourself down is one step down into the abyss of depression.

So – how do you lift yourself up and actually be happy to get stuff done?

Trick yourself

Picture your favorite place and trick yourself that you're there. And go do the task at hand.
Yup – that’s the place…

So – be a trickster. Start by picturing your favorite place. If you like the beach, picture your favorite beach. Now picture yourself in your favorite place. Take a few seconds to enjoy that. For me, it’s sitting by the water with my feet up, my dog right there, and sipping an adult beverage. Feel the breeze. Smell the ocean. Taste the drops of bliss. Now picture the task of the moment that needs to get done. Don’t let yourself think about that.

Open your eyes and dive in. You’re still sitting on the beach, but you’re getting something accomplished. Of course, you know that you’re not on the beach. You’re sitting at your desk or couch, but you’re feeling the sensations of being at the beach. And those positive sensations will linger as you take on the task of the moment. Whether it’s writing a report or clearing the clutter. Your job will be that much more pleasant for picturing your sunny spot.

Get up and do it

If something is nagging at you, and you seem to always be thinking to yourself, “I really should …” Just get up and do it.

No matter the “it”

No matter what the “it” is – you’ll be so much happier and productive if you just get it done.

Exercise? Do it.

Get up and do it. Here, it's exercise.

You tell yourself, “I really should exercise.” Get up, change into your workout gear, put some music on and move. Need something more structured? The next time you have 10 minutes free at your computer, search up some 30 minute workouts on YouTube and save the links on your Google Drive. Or subscribe to PopSugar Fitness. They’ll send you an email every day that usually includes a short workout on their site from a top fitness trainer. 

Eat healthy? Do the planning.

You get take-out every night and you’re tired of it. “I really should cook something healthy for dinner.” This requires a little more planning but depending on what’s in your pantry, you can do it on the spur of the moment. Just Google “healthy eating recipes” and you’ll get too many choices. You may want to take a close look at a few of the recipes you find with this search for the future. Save your favorites, make a shopping list from them and you’ll be set for a few days.

Organize the closet? Start now.

Every day you reach into your closet and encounter a tangle of hangers and clothes and you think to yourself, “I really should clean out my closet.” That prospect can be overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all at once. It may be cathartic to clean out an entire closet at once, but that can take hours. If you don’t have hours to spend on the task, take 15 minutes and grab a handful of that tangle. Only save the items you absolutely positively know you’ll wear again. The others go in separate bags to donate and pitch. During this process you’ll have more of a mess, but it will give you more motivation to finish.

Yes, Nike has it right – this isn’t the first time I’ve used their slogan:

Get up and do it.

Get one thing done. What a sense of accomplishment! And it will give you a reason to do it again tomorrow.

It’s OK to be a little scared

It’s OK to be a little scared and to go outside your comfort zone every day is a good thing. Just a little. It’s all too easy to stay in your rut and not try new things. But that, more often than not, leads to insulation and isolation. And we’ve had enough of that in recent months. We’ve been quarantining and isolating, working and schooling from home, zooming with friends, relatives and colleagues. At first we were all in shock – most of us had never experienced a global pandemic and its repercussions – and were terrified to stick our noses out of our houses.

And then time went on. Social distancing and masks became part of our everyday lives. We set up a little area to work from. Set up accounts with our grocers or delivery services. Cooked more but sometimes had food delivered. And we adapted. Now these things have become routine.

Remember social interaction?

As more people get their vaccinations for COVID, we can start getting together. First in small groups. How will you get together? It will be Spring soon – and it’s the perfect time to do things outside. Meet friends at a park, at the zoo. Take a walk. Have a picnic! All things we haven’t been doing for the last year. Be safe, but be brave.

Try a new recipe

If you’ve been eating the same kinds of things for months, it could be time to try something new. Be adventurous – try a dish from a culture you’ve never tried before. there’s a different ethnic restaurant near you that delivers – give it a try. It’s just one meal. Or look online for a new recipe that looks interesting. Use herbs and spices in different combinations. You might be pleasantly surprised. We’ve been cooking chicken on the grill (when it’s accessible – without snow on it!) using a new spice blend on it. Delicious!

Applies to your fitness goals

I've added more jumping to my exercise routines. The key is landing safely.

Being brave and going outside your comfort zone applies to your exercising too. I’ve been adding more jumping in my exercise routines. The key is landing safely, with soft knees!

If you’ve been diligently exercising at home, you might want to try something outside. As the weather gets nicer, outside walks rather than on the treadmill might be enjoyable.

Or try a different kind of exercise routine. Perhaps you’ve wanted to try a different form of exercise. Search YouTube for examples and you might find an instructor you really connect with. And another article about mixing up your exercise routine.

Try a different dance move. How about a different culture’s music. Or a different era’s music. Like TwinsthenewTrend on YouTube: You might like it – got a good beat, easy to dance to, give it a 10! These guys have been trying music from our era, and loving it.

We’ve been inside doing the same old things long enough. Be daring (just a little) and try something new.

Still anxious and stressed?

If you’re still anxious and stress, you could have GAD. That’s “Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” Yes, everyone is stressed these days. Combine a global pandemic with the country’s economic woes, and top it off with horrible weather – that adds up to a whole lot of stress. I wrote about stress a few months ago and some ways to deal with it. Stress hasn’t gone away. But regular, everyday stress could become bigger and turn into something that needs professional treatment.

An expert defines the terms

Angela Casper, licensed clinical social worker and behavioral health services coordinator at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago helps distinguish between run-of-the-mill stress and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) requiring treatment. GAD is defined as excessive worry and anxiety for more days than not during a six month period. This worry and anxiety is not focused on anything in particular – not work or home life, a specific event or anything else. This stress can also cause severe impairment of daily life or job performance. Casper says that sufferers describe this stress as “free floating” and can’t really pin down any feeling specifically. If this sounds familiar, you’ll want to pay attention to the frequency of your anxiety symptoms and your difficulty functioning because of them. If you can’t do the things you want or need to do, then you might need to visit a professional.

Anxiety reducers:

If you're feeling anxious and stressed, meditation could help.

But if you’re unsure as to the severity of your symptoms, or just want to decrease your anxiety, Casper recommends trying these things:

  • Prioritize basic self-care activities and routines.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Maintain good nutrition.
  • Reduce caffeine consumption.
  • Be sure to take your prescribed medication.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.If you’re new to meditation, try a guided one like my “Garden meditation.”
  • Get regular physical exercise.
  • Acknowledge and express your emotions – journal them if nothing else. A journal is your safe place – you can write anything down and not be judged. No one else will see what you wrote. I’ve created some lined journals, available on Amazon.
  • Practice acceptance of yourself and others.

This is a stressful time, there’s no doubt about it. So whatever you do to reduce your own stress is worthwhile. And if you need to, talk to a pro. There’s no shame in getting the help you need.