Today’s big idea is that if there’s something that you’re wanting to do, or needing to do, and you’re not doing it, a good way to get yourself motivated is to think about the personal costs of inaction and the ways it’s affecting you.
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The Personal Costs of Inaction
This might sound like a downer. This is not about judging yourself. Or beating yourself up. It’s about being honest. I’ve got a story about this and simple exercise to walk you through it.
I got motivated to do a Dry January this year after a night of miserable sleep because of one too many hot toddies. We are blessed to have a covered porch. And we had some friends over for some outdoor, socially distanced drinks. I made paper planes. Which is a bourbon drink that has a ton of lemon in it. Almost like a margarita but with bourbon, and then a hot ginger lemon teddy. They were so tasty, and these friends so fun, and our kids so happy to have us out of the house for a little while, that we stayed out there a long while.
I should note that one of our friends wasn’t drinking alcohol
He explained that he was doing a Dry January. I shared that I had just read an article about how Chrissy Teigen had given up drinking altogether. And another friend I had talked to recently was off the sauce, too, and she had told me how she felt so much better in ways she didn’t expect, so that it no longer felt like a sacrifice. But then I said, oh but it’s still the holidays, I’m enjoying myself—and proceeded to pour myself another hot toddy.
That night I got about two hours of sleep, which is what happens, pretty reliably, when I have more than one alcoholic beverage. As I lay in bed, not sleeping and feeling like a baked potato I was so hot (because alcohol increases hot flashes, I find), I had ample opportunity to think about the ways I was paying for those drinks.
Here’s what was on my mental list:
Increased hot flashes
Irritability, from being tired
Reliance on alcohol to take the edge off
Modeling relying on alcohol to take the edge off to kids
Interacting with kids in ways I didn’t love
Yeah, it’s that last one that really got me. That next morning I was ready to commit to a dry January of my own. So now here I am, 10 days in. It’s not easy, per se, but it feels good. And I’m having fun exploring mocktails and tea.
You know, it’s hard to find the motivation to do something a little or a lot hard
Or scary, or inconvenient, if you feel like things are cool as they are. I mean, why? Why would you do it?
Maybe things really are cool as they are, and hey, that’s great! But a lot of the time, it’s just your ego telling you that everything’s cool, because it’s trying to keep you from making changes. You see, the ego is obsessed with keeping you safe. And that means that change—even positive change–can be triggering to the ego, because change is new, and new is unknown, and unknown is scary!
That’s why taking an honest accounting of what’s NOT cool about inaction and where you’re currently at is crucial, and a huge motivator. Once you can clearly see the personal costs of inaction you’re paying to not make that change, you’re going to have some leverage and some momentum to get over your ego’s objections.
Daily Tiny Assignment
So your tiny assignment is to think about the personal costs of inaction. And NOT doing something that you’ve been thinking about doing. Whether it’s a dry January, or looking for a job, or ending a relationship, or even something small like going to the grocery store or starting on that work project. Perhaps you just have to find your motivation to feel better—and that becomes a lot easier to do once you’re honest with yourself about the ways you’re not feeling all that great right now.
Also, did I pick a doozy of a year to embrace Dry January, or what?
You know how they say you can get a donkey to do what you want either by offering them a carrot, or hitting them with a stick? Well, I get that today is more of a stick. Come back tomorrow, when I’m sharing a way to find your motivation by giving yourself a carrot.