19 April 2012

Conscious Living: Motivation

This post is written by contributing author Shelly Kerry.

Has anyone else been hit with a lack of motivation? Perhaps life has been a little hard or you live near me in the Northwest and have been dealing with the rainy weather. If you have I just want to say you are not alone and I have some tips and tricks for you to get over the hump and to be better prepared in the future. Direction, awareness, self-care and well-developed systems can help you manage low motivation.

In my post last month I invited you to explore your ideal day. In some ways is your perfect day similar to how your current lifestyle but with more time for family and friends? Or does it differ greatly with drastic changes like quitting your day job and diving into your own creative project? Did thinking about the ideal day begin to motivate you to make changes in your life? 

Perhaps this reflection was scary too – discovering that some very big changes need to happen before you can really achieve your goals. Both reactions are common but I encourage you to find at least a couple of things from this project to help guide you in future decisions. If you did document it by writing, drawing or collecting images please keep them close to you. There are many ways that this refection can help you live more consciously. 

motivation heart
Photo: SweetOnVeg

Your ideal life
When life throws you those curve balls or you are hit with an absolute lack of motivation your ideal day project can help guide you and help bring direction. What about that vision you feel an aching desire to make happen? What do you really want your life to look like? Hopefully, your ideal day inspires you instead of creating panic but regardless making a list of things that you can do over the next month or year to get you closer to your goal and breaking it down into simple steps is helpful (We will be talking more about this next month.) Remember your ideal day is really a small reflection of something much greater - your ideal life. 

Recognizing what is happening when you feel a little stuck is very important. Listening to your inner thoughts instead of being hard on your self will help you have a clearer vision of your needs. What do I feel like when I am not motivated? Do my thoughts wander or do I find myself searching the web when not working? What does distraction look like to me? Think about the places and people that make you feel most inspired and make sure you spend time in/with them. Self-awareness is the first key to setting up systems that can make lack of motivation manageable.

Giving yourself a break for a little bit of self-care can be life changing. Back to the ideal day - does it include daily walks or time at the gym? Perhaps if you are staring at that blank canvas for hours it’s time to get out of the studio for 30 minutes or so. Taking yourself away from a project for a little while and coming back to it with a refreshed vision can be very helpful. Plus you are taking care of yourself and giving you the respect you deserve. How can that be bad?

Create a system
Also having productivity and organizational systems in place that can prevent distractions and make difficult times more manageable are vital. Set only certain times of the day to look at your email and work on social media. Turn off notifications on your phone and email except during certain hours. Use website blocking applications to like Self-Control or Leech Block to prohibit browsing sites for a certain amount of time. And try your best to plan your week in advance and keep things physically organized in the studio or office. Don’t waste energy on the simple tasks. Reserve it for creativity and other fun things. Remember that sometimes old systems stop working for you. I experience this often at the gym. When I am really struggling to get myself there it is usually out of boredom with my routine. It helps me to plan my workouts way in advance so that I am doing a new one every month and not stuck on the same machines, working the same muscles. Change is better for my body and better for my mind.

Do make time for distractions during your day and allow for moments of creative block. It is inevitable. It is going to happen and you are going to come through it just like you did last time. Try not to get caught up in the stickiness. Instead take the time to reflect on what is not working, situate yourself back in the right direction and welcome new ideas and discoveries.
Your homework for the next month: 
  1. Create a list of the “must happen” from your ideal day.
  2.  Start a journal to track how you feel when you lack motivation and how you feel when you are surged with creative energy. Think about the places and people that make you feel most creative - how can you find time to add this into weekly schedule?
  3. Add one self-care treat to your week whether it is a nice short hike, an hour in the park reading a great book or a soak in the bath.
  4. Set up one new organizational system to make life a little easier. Check out the Creating Space Pinterest board for some inspiration 

Shelly Kerry is co-owner of Lightbox SF. She is an artist, designer, and motivator. Since 2006 she has been working to build her own jewelry design business, em’s studio, and she wants to share all she’s learned. Shelly knows that building your own art or craft business can often feel lonely and overwhelming. She also understands how much of a struggle it is to balance a “day job” with a budding creative business. Read more about her here. Connect to Shelly via twitter or facebook.


  1. Hi Shelly! The hardest part for me is lack of control. I have a husband who has a very demanding professional life and four teenagers.Need I say more? Unpredictable is the word to describe my life! So I am trying to make order out of chaos. I know that your advice will definitely help me make it.
    Thanks so much!!

  2. Hi Shelly!
    I love this post... Like Laurie I have two teens in the house and like you I am a very creative soul, so I have made it a habit to follow my creative urges when I get them. Blogging has been a surefire way for me to share my creative adventures while accomplishing my creative goals at the same time. I've learned over time that the dry spells are just the quiet before the creative storm. The best thing I can do during these times is relax about it and go about my daily rounds. Before I know it, I've got a new stream of ideas pouring forth! Your tips are spot on! Thank you!

  3. Hi ladies! Wow I bet I could learn a thing or two from you. I can only begin to imagine life with teenagers (although sounds divine - I love their energy and optimism!) I do always try to remind my friends with kids to remember to ask for what they need as well!

    Laurie I am so glad you brought up lack of control and making order of of chaos. I bet we all forget from time to time that this desire for order, structure and organization is all about trying. Just trying to be all the above. Perfection certainly doesn't exist and how boring would that be anyway. Life's unexpected adventures are what makes it exciting and helps promote growth.

    My need for direction and organization really come from my inner dark layer of realism! Ha! I want to be one step ahead so I can always be prepared for the inevitable hurdle and 1. not freak out and 2. actually try and settle into the challenge or chaos. My friends laugh at me because I always have to be 15 minutes early - you know just in case something happens!

    Thanks for reading ladies and I look forward to learning more about how you two manage your busy lives. Rolling with the punches has to be key to sanity, right?

  4. Awesome advice! I was feeling a supreme lack of motivation yesterday about getting a design project done. I've noticed that whenever I have a lot to do, my brain tries to avoid it so I don't get overwhelmed. And that's how I end up on Pinterest... I'll definitely take some of your advice!

  5. Thanks Paige! Oh how I know about the lovely Pinterest escape.

  6. Great ideas, I'd love to read something about how to aid concentration, I've been really struggling lately as I find that within a few moments of doing more tedious tasks my mind begins to wonder. I've tried planning in scheduled breaks but it's made no difference so far.Rx

  7. Lots of great ideas! I love the idea of creating systems, thanks for the helpful tips.
    Everyday Inspired

  8. Thanks Valerie and Rachael!
    Rachael, have you tried doing the more tedious tasks for shorter periods of time? Are there certain times of day where your attention span might be stronger?

  9. Thanks for reading Valerie! Hope the tips help!