I went for a job interview the other day where I had to fill out a form. On the form was a question that read: How do you motivate yourself? Underneath the question was a really small box where I could hardly fit my name let alone all the ways I use to motivate myself.
After the interview the question kept coming back to me as I had never really thought about what keeps me going or what I do to keep focused.
As I lead a varied, even sometimes a hectic life where I have to juggle many balls at once I can often hit a wall. The wall can seem so big that is can seem impossible to get over it with everything that is going on. There are, however, a few things I do to overcome these hurdles.
Plan, plan, plan and plan. It may sound dull but once I have things mapped out I can see that they are do-able. It helps me unclutter and prioritise. As I have a fairly big family to run there are many things that need to be considered. For this I use a few methods:
The Huge Calendar:
I put things the whole family needs to know on this. When people are coming to visit, when the older kids go to see their dads, football practices, my big school assignments and to remember to get money out for the kids’ school bus (We use to forget this and have to rush last minute every week to get the money out). I put the Huge Calendar up on a wall where the whole family can see it and the kids take turns in crossing out the days as they pass. I always hang up the current month and below it I put the coming month as nothing is worse than realizing last minute something is about to happen. This way we always have an overview of the coming weeks and everyone in the home knows what is happening and when. Each person even has their own colour!
My diary contains most of the things that are on the Huge Calendar. It also has all the reading I have to do and assignments, small and big. It also has all the personal “mummy stuff” in it like: Renew passports for such and such, book trains etc. I highlight each thing I have finished. I LOVE highlighting stuff! It gives me such pleasure to be able to tick things off!
A busy home means little time. When you have many mouths to feed you start dreading the daily question of: “What’s for dinner?”. I solved this by sitting the family down and getting everyone to brainstorm what to have for dinner for the next 2 weeks. This way everyone gets something they like, and I always know what’s for dinner and it spares me headache and angst! It also saves a lot of money as one doesn’t have to go to the store as often. Sometimes we reuse old menus and sometimes I get my cooking books out to get some new, fresh ideas as it is easy to get stuck in a rut regarding this.
Due to security, I am told this is not something one does in the UK, so we have worked out a safer way of doing this over here. In Iceland we used an envelope system. This system was applied to our finances. We were both working low paid jobs and didn’t have much left at the end of each month. By using this system, we managed to do things we wouldn’t have dreamt off before. We had envelopes marked “Week 1”, “Week 2”, “Week 3” and “Week 4”. In each one we put money for grocery shopping for the relevant week, usually a big shop in the first week, smaller in 2 and 3 and then a fairly big in week 4. We also had separate envelopes for “Petrol”, “Bits and bobs” (when we had to nip to the shop for a loaf of bread or milk etc.). Last but not least the envelope called “Live a little” in which we put a little bit aside to be able to go to the movies with the kids, go out as a couple for a meal etc. It is really important to budget for some fun as well, other wise the whole system goes out of the window as it is easy to give up when budgeting if there is no fun involved.
As planning the mundane and day to day stuff is not fun on its own I also make a list of things I want to achieve that year (usually based around the academic year as I have gotten use to working around that in the last three years). One of the years this list had things like: Try out all the swimming pools in the Reykjavík area (I did not get to check that one out as there were more of them than I realized), go to Tenerife (we managed that, even saved up for it using the envelopes!), cook new food once a week (mostly achieved), travel around Iceland (we did it in 27 hours and therefore didn’t stop much, but still, around we went!) and so on! Making that list was fun. Having to think of fun things to do throughout the year, for me and my fiancé, for all of us as a family and for myself. It is so important when life is busy and feels like all you do is eat, sleep, work to have things to look forward to and to have goals, even though they are not bigger than trying out new swimming pools or cooking something you haven’t cooked before.
As you can see above visual motivation in the form of crossing things out of lists gives me pleasure. At one point in my studies life was quite hard. I had a big load of assignments at school, my fiancé was battling severe depression and anxiety, I was working a lot and the kids were a little more demanding than usual (as they seem to be when everything else is). I was about to throw in the towel and quit school. I thought I could not do it and it seemed to be such a big task. Thankfully, I took some time and thought about it and rather than giving up I found way to motivate myself.
Sort of a list but not really:
I printed out a list of all the courses I had to finish to get my bachelor’s degree. I put each term separately into an Excel sheet. This included the name of each course and how many credits I would get for it. Some I had already finished. Then I took a highlighting pen (as I love that pen!) and highlighted what I had finished already, which was about one term and then some. It was so empowering to see the courses I HAD finished, the credits I had already earned, and no one could take them away from me. It made me want to keep going. I had this on a wall above my desk and every time I sighed or thought about giving up I looked up and thought “No, you can do this, you can’t give up now, just see how far you have come!”. Every time I finished a course I highlighted it until all of a sudden it was all done!
I decided I needed something more to inspire me. I looked online and through an ocean of quotes and eventually I found 3 quotes that suited me. There were many good ones and many that made me feel all warm inside, smile or giggle but after a bit of research I choose the following: ,,If you can dream it, you can do it”, “If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough” and “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t”. Here I was working on my self-doubt as previously discussed, and as I am a big dreamer, I can get a little lost in my dreams but then disregard them as just that, dream. I needed to remind myself that in fact I could and would make them a reality.
On top of all that I kept reminding me how far I had come and why (which you know all about due to the blog I posted last time, if not, click here).
I have gone through so much in my life and I had to grow up quickly. I have often had to rely on myself and just pull through. I was only 17 years old when I decided not to let other people or events define me. Things happened that were out of my control, but when I turned 17 I decided to take control of my life and from then on be responsible for where it would take me. I did loads of very spontaneous things in the years to come and many stupid things, but I don’t regret any of them as they shaped the person I am today. Even after difficult times I have gained some experience and usually had some fun along the way.
The hurt little girl, rejected teenager, the single mum, the divorcée etc. has come out on the other side and will only keep climbing that wall, even though it is cliché: The sky is the limit!