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Sunday Edition #29: My Column in Yellow

Dear Yellow:

It'd be nice to hear some motivation tips from you. I work 70+ hours a week and feel like outside of that I can't make myself to much of anything substantial. How can I make my (very few) free hours count for something beyond just washing my socks and recovering from the work week?

I work about 50-55 hours a week for my job. I’m an Executive Assistant so you might catch me reading and responding to emails throughout the evenings and weekends in addition to that. You have me way beat on hours but I still understand the struggle with staying motivated and not just running on a wheel that gets you nowhere.

Before I jump into motivation tips, I want to take a look at the work itself. Does the job bring satisfaction or at least provide a benefit you can use towards finding joy? (an example being… do you work 70+ hours but you get an insane amount of vacation so you can travel extensively?) If no, I suggest taking a step back to determine why you give so much time to something that doesn’t have a benefit outside of a paycheck.

Last night, I shared an Uber Pool with a lovely woman. We got into talking about travel, work and a sushi restaurant on Canal she loves. I explained to her that I look at a salary as a company’s payment towards the purchase of our lives. We only get so many hours of life and we give a huge chunk of it to work. What we get in return needs to equate to the value we put on our life.

As far as finding time and motivation for things outside of work, I believe it is important to do an inventory of what and who matters most in our lives. Then compare what and who you give most of your free time and energy to. Do the lists match or are you giving away precious energy to activities and people who aren’t on your priority list?

When I did this for myself, I saw a sad pattern of wasting time, money and energy on things that didn’t matter… a friend who didn’t deserve it, regularly being drunk and hungover, scrolling through social media, activities I committed to that I didn’t really want to participate in, just to name a few. So, I started cutting it away.

What I gained was time and energy.

You say you want to do something substantial. What is it? Do you know? If yes, just start, even if at a slow pace. The reward of simply doing it will hype you up for more. Commit to it. Tell friends and social media followers. Create a deadline you can’t miss.

Find a space you can work on things that isn’t home. Sometimes being home, makes the exhaustion set in. When I find motivation to write lacking, I go straight to a cafe down the street after work. Not seeing my bed helps!

Get into a weekly routine. I try to always make it to the cafe and write at least once a week. I plan what day that is in advance and stick to it. If I’m invited to something during that scheduled time, I SAY NO.

An important thing to remember is it is normal to not always be motivated. We get the wrong idea that we should have unlimited energy for the things we love or are pursuing. That isn’t true. There is nothing wrong with taking a rest. I’ve learned that the hard way and burnt out. Even though My Life in Yellow and poetry are my priorities, I don’t always have the energy for them. I will go weeks without writing/slapping stickers or creating something new. I used to feel guilt or shame for not pushing forward harder, but now I accept it as part of the process.

Be kind to yourself. It is okay. The love of what you are doing will return along with the motivation.


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My Life in Yellow is not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and the advice within this column does not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a health/medical professional. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.

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