Dear Tita Pacita: On Motivation
Dear Tita Pacita,
How to motivate oneself?
Marie, 25, research graduate
I wish I could ask you further about which aspect in your life you are in need of motivation. Is it to work or study when you’re not feeling like it? To smile when you really want to roll your eyes? To love yourself more? To exercise and eat gulay? Or to become a kind-hearted person in mind and practice and stop yourself from gossiping?
I will try my very best to give a general answer that may cater to all the possibilities I have in mind.
GIVE YOURSELF A REWARD LIKE YOU WOULD YOUR OWN CHILD OR PET DOG (WHOM YOU MAY ALSO BE CALLING YOUR “BABY”).
I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again. Like the love of your life, K-dramas are both a nagging temptation and a motivation. When you’re at home, you can’t help but curl like a fetus in bed and prop your laptop in the weirdest of positions so you can enjoy binge-watching to the fullest. At the office, you simply cannot wait for the day to end so you can finally be with your oppa.
But then again, K-dramas have good, if not the best, effects on your life, too. K-dramas make great motivators. For one, you can reward yourself with one to two episodes once you’ve finished a couple of things on your to-do list. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with deadlines and all the urgent-but-not-important tasks, fine, you can watch one episode! Use it to calm you down or get you in a better mood to work again.
I’m not saying you should adapt my way of life and indulge in K-dramas like I do. As seen in the cover photo of this article, I'm not in the best mood, but am fueling myself with food I love (more on that on the next point). Therefore, I'm saying that it can be a million more random other things that will work for me and may or may not for you.
The point is taking a step back and really thinking through what motivates you, what rewards you can give yourself, be it a tangible object or otherwise. Then you can direct all your energy on working towards that. At the end of it all, you should give yourself the so-called pat on the back, recognize what you have accomplished, and be generous in rewarding yourself. And if it’s a K-drama or a real life oppa, then that’s not so bad.
EAT AND DRINK LIKE EVERY OTHER HUMAN.
I’m a writer and I eat and drink (non-alcoholic!) a lot while writing. I think it’s true for other writers and non-writers as well, like graphic designers, accountants, executive assistants, and such. With doctors, I’m not so sure. It’s hard to imagine them eating while working but I don’t really know.
I think this is also the reason why a lot of us never really hung out at the library unless we’re after the free air-con. It's because it’s hard to study without munching on anything. It’s probably why cafes with free WiFi and power outlets are all the rage now. Because seeing the barista you’re secretly crushing on is definitely worth your allowance. Oh, and the coffee and croissant, too.
But yes, when you're down and feeling blue, do not forget to eat. You're a human, and it's a basic need. Whether it's fighting your inner demons or fighting sleepiness, I'm sure you know it's most difficult to act, or make decisions on an empty stomach. If you're motivating yourself to finally confess your feelings, how can you profess your love on bended knees if you're starving?
Also, make sure you don't stuff yourself, too, because then you'll feel lazy. What you intake will also have positive effects on your mood and energy, so choose wisely. As a bonus tip, you can never go wrong with a fresh fruit shake.
BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR HABITS AND HOW YOU UTILIZE TIME AND SPACE.
Utilize? Time and space? Now why does this feel like a science discussion on the definition of matter??
Let me explain. Take for example, you are trying to motivate yourself to work. First step is to identify your working habits. Are you a morning person or are you nocturnal? Are you prone to do shameless things when you’re alone that you need a boss or a guardian to make sure that you’re being productive? Know what your working habits are and find your way around it.
This is what I mean about time and space. If you know for sure that you're more productive during the day, then prioritize sleeping early so you’re up before the rooster crows and get more done then. In the evening, you can fake it 'til you make it. Surround yourself with blinding lights until you feel like it’s daytime. Maybe you can even play a rooster crowing sound clip on repeat. Recreate the ambiance so you have a space that’s conducive for you.
Another example would be motivating yourself to clean the house. A common practice is playing upbeat music, right? It sets the ~mood~.
In fact, while researching and thinking of what I can write to hopefully help you, I listened to Good Charlotte's The Motivation Proclamation to give me the ~vibes~. And since I've spent my angsty, teenage years with them, I'd say their magic still works on me.
My conclusion, therefore, is that there's no one formula that's proven effective. It's not a one-size-fits-all thing. But what you can do is really to pay attention to yourself, and adjust to it and work with it, instead of fighting it or sulking all day waiting inspiration to hit you. Work with yourself, that way, you'll be efficient on the days, the moods, and the times you're usually feeling motivated.
Cover photo by Miguel Alomajan.