Three Ways to Maintain Traction

So, you’re in a rut. You’re unmotivated, feeling guilty, and actively justifying tuning out. Everyone has been there. Some people live there, minus the guilt. It almost feels good to swing in the wind rather than put rubber on the road. Don’t trade in your dream destination for the backyard tree just yet.

My tire swing is online television. I find some excuse to “watch just one…” I have discovered that there is no human limit to how many episodes of high drama cable television one can consume in a single sitting period. If you’ve also wasted away a perfectly good day unintentionally, here are three personally-tested and effective traction-generating methods to get you back on the open road where you belong.

1) Manipulate yourself. We are born master manipulators. My three-year-old is going to be an incredible salesman one day. Why not turn your skills on yourself? Here’s my first go-to trick: “I am just going to get one thing done, so that I don’t feel terrible after this day of gluttony. It will only take 10 minutes and then I can watch that next episode and find out if James dies.” As soon as I get that one 10-minute task done, I feel the traction and my creative mind is back in the driver’s seat. I end up knocking out a dozen more.

2) Go on a walk. This is harder because you have to move. However, it’s just a walk. It’s not actually “exercise”, it’s leisure. It helps if you have a destination, like a coffee shop or, in my case, the frozen pond. My self-talk: “I am just going to go for 10 minutes, maybe 15. The fresh air will feel good and I will burn off some calories from breakfast (we have notoriously large breakfasts).” Inevitably, I get a creative bug while I’m walking and come back excited to take the next steps. Brain imaging and cognitive tests conducted in a 2010 study back this up: even light exercise boosts brain activity (See here).

3) If all else fails, indulge intentionally for today. Let go of the guilt. Perhaps you’re burnt out or you need to dump some built-up stress. When my spouse and I argue, I can’t focus on work and that day becomes a sitcom marathon, which is okay. If you’re passionate, disappointments like a day wasted in anger are hard to bounce back from right away. Let your mind tune out for a minute without the burden of negative self-talk that will haunt you tomorrow. Even better, indulge with someone you love; you’re multitasking! Ultimately, being intentional allows you to let go of justifications and be honest with yourself. If you’re reading this post, you honestly don’t want to indulge like the masses, you want to make your dreams a reality and indulge like no one else, perhaps in Costa Rica. Take a power-break and move on.

What’s your guilty pleasure when you’re feeling blah and, more importantly, what has worked for you to get back on track?

  1. Sounds like you could turn your love for movies into a tool for purposeful indulgence: pick a movie that is going to leave you motivated, perhaps an entrepreneurial movie or a documentary, and then your indulgence is limited to around two hours.

  2. Movies suck me right in and it’s two hour before I have the opportunity to get back on track. Luckily, I usually watch pretty motivating and uplifting movies that trigger me to do something productive afterward.

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