~ How do you do it?
~ How do you get it all done?
~ How do you keep going?
~ Do you ever sleep/How do you survive on so little sleep?
~ Isn't it hard to do it all alone?
~ What motivates you?
I've been thinking about this all day, trying to come up with a simple answer. But the truth is, there is no simple answer.
Over the years, I have battled with what I am sure is depression - I've never actually been officially diagnosed, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out, especially after the amount of time that I have spent analyzing and over-analyzing every aspect of my life. Since I have never been officially diagnosed, I am not on any medication for it - I have just learned to deal with it.
Some days are easier than others. Some days totally suck. Pair the depression with PMDD and it can turn into an ugly ride at times. There have been days in the past where even getting out of bed - no, even opening my eyes - was just not something that I wanted to do.
Luckily, over time, I've learned how to deal with it much better. The lows are nowhere near as low as they used to be. But at those low times, if someone had told me that people would eventually be asking me for motivational tips, I would have just given them a blank stare, because laughing in their face would have taken too much effort.
Honestly, on those lower-than-low days, motivation was hard to find. I'd get a shower because I honestly couldn't stand the way that I smelled anymore - how's that for a glamorous bit of motivational speaking? "Take a shower, or you'll stink!" But seriously, that's what it all boiled down to for me.
As I started to pull myself out of the funk, I started using lots of little tricks to keep myself going in the right direction. I am the queen of lists. I used to make lists of everything that I needed to do in a day - but it wasn't something like this:
That list doesn't look too bad, does it? But at the low points in my life, the thought of doing "laundry" was too overwhelming. I didn't know where to start.
So instead, my lists looked more like this:
I broke everything down into the smallest steps that I could possibly do. I did this because it was easier to cross off each individual step as I completed it - and then, when I got done with the WHOLE thing, I took great enjoyment in crossing the entire task off of the list.
Sometimes, it took me hours to make the lists. I would lay in bed the night before and develop them. Sometimes I even posted them online in a group that I was in at the time - I know for a fact that it annoyed people, but it helped to have some accountability to others. They could see how much progress I made or didn't make on that particular day.
Another trick I used at the same time (and still do, sometimes) is to set a timer. On the bad days, I'd set it for as short as 5 minutes - on the better days, up to an hour. But whatever the time period was, I'd pick a task and focus on that task and that task only until the timer sounded. I'd turn it into a race against myself, to see how much laundry I could fold or how many dishes I could do (or whatever it was) and most of the time, even after the timer went off, I kept going until I finished the task. I still do that to this day when I just don't feel like getting myself moving.
Nowadays, since my life seems to have straightened out
When people ask me what keeps me going, the only answer that I can truthfully say is "the kids". I know that no matter how crappy I feel, no matter how bad of a day I am having, my number one priority is to take care of those kids. I have no choice on that one. I can't stay in bed and sulk all day - if I do, they'll likely burn the house down without a second thought. I have to get up just to ensure their safety, if nothing else. And well, while I'm up, I might as well throw in a load of laundry and wash the dishes, and well, you get the point....
The kids are my number one priority. And being a single mother, I know that if I don't do what needs to be done around here, no one else is going to do it. It doesn't matter if I'm sick - I have to get up and do what needs to be done around here. There isn't anyone else to pick up the slack. Honestly, I don't look at the majority of what I do as being the result of motivation - I look at it as a means of survival.
If I don't go out and buy groceries, no one else is going to do it.
If I don't do the laundry, no one else is going to do it.
If I don't take the kids back and forth to school, no one else is going to do it.
Another really good way to get me to accomplish something? Tell me that I can't do it - that I'm not capable of it. I have always enjoyed walking and hiking, and I had mentioned to someone (who shall remain nameless) a few years ago that I would like to start running. What did he say?
"You're too fat and lazy to do that." Yep. That's what I was told. So guess what? As soon as I got the hip replaced and felt strong enough, I started walking. And then it snowballed from there and I've now got a half-marathon and 3 5Ks under my belt. So there.
And now I have set a goal for myself to do one race per month for this entire year. I sat down last night and dug around online and found 7 or 8 that I can theoretically do (including the same half-marathon from last year and a 5K that I do with the girls every year) and I'm going to try my hardest to get them all in, if at all possible. Financially, I might not be able to do them all, but what I'm thinking is that if I don't have the money to do one, I can just do it on my own - start running and time it and see what I can accomplish. Having goals like that - actual events and dates on the calendar - is a huge help for me.
Having The Dude around has been an enormous help. I don't want him - or anyone for that matter - walking into my house when it's trashed. So before he comes over, I run around cleaning things up so that he can walk through the house without killing himself. Yes, he helps when he is here but he doesn't have to - and I don't want him to feel like he has to do anything. I know that part of that is the control freak in me, but I also just don't want him or anyone else who is a guest in my home to feel like they need to help me get things done around here.
So there you have it. What motivates me, the tricks that I've learned, and things that have helped me. I don't know if it will help anyone else, but if it does, great. I'd also love to hear from others on the subject - give me your tips and tricks, what has worked and what hasn't. Leave a comment here, post it on my facebook page, whatever - it might help me and it might help someone else who is going through a rough time.