How Do YOU Self-Motivate?

For me, it’s suspended disbelief. Fiction – it’s what I do. For example, today is April Fool’s Day, and there’s little that I enjoy more than getting my mom. She’s the master of April Fool’s Day pranks, so I’m always on my guard on April 1st. Well, I got her good today. First, you begin with something that could happen. Probably won’t happen, but could happen.

I’m a sucker for those alien conspiracy “documentaries” and I know my mother watches them too. Not for real, not because we believe in the credibility of the documentary hosts, but because it’s fun to suspend disbelief. So today, I shared with her the top secret news that someone we know was assigned the task of tracking UFOs, and they found something so big, they had to break silence to share it with me. 😀 Hook, line, and sinker… and I’m a terrible actor! (If you know my mother, she’s coming your way. Don’t fall for her story.)

The good news is, this suspended disbelief ploy can really work to motivate yourself and others. There was a game I used to “play” with my kids when they were little and I wanted the house to get tidied. In order for this trick to work, you kids have to be all-in, suspended disbelief. I would tell them that Dumble***e, from a particular book series, was coming over and we should tidy everything and prepare tea and dessert for his impending visit.

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, I’m a jerk who lied to her kids to benefit from some child labor. Let me be clear, they were suspending their disbelief. They were old enough to know that Dumble***e wasn’t really coming over for tea, but it was just enough of a push for everyone to get into the fun of this game of make-believe. I merely motivated child labor to get the whole house picked up, vacuumed, and the dining room table cleared and set for tea. (We would have real tea afterwards, real food – muffins, cookies, croissants – whatever we found in the fridge.) There was a real reward at the end of the manic cleaning, but the game of make-believe was the reward. It was a side benefit that the cleaning sometimes went on for more than an hour! Do you know how much cleaning an adult and two children under the age of 10 can get done in an hour? It can be impressive; beds were made, toys put away, flowers on the table… and I never think to put flowers on the table.

(Some DIY Environmental art outside the Word Crone Cottage, inspired by Nigel Dunnet, U.K. landscape designer.)

I use my suspended disbelief daily to motivate what could be an odious task. Yesterday, I was picking up sticks around the yard that fell in the last storm. (I’ve got LOTS of sticks and a bad back.) I’m not a big proponent of burning debris. I’d rather use it in some artful way. So yesterday, I prepared the yard for a joint visit from Monty Don and Nigel Dunnet, U.K. gardeners extraordinaire. I think they would be horrified by my homage to Nigel Dunnet’s Environmental Artistry and Monty Don’s “garden rooms.” Good thing they did not show up at the end of the day.

In order for this to work, there has to be a pay-off at the end. In the case of yesterday’s project, I guess the little witchy stick garden is my payoff. The jury’s still out for deliberation. And so it goes with any big project – cleaning the house, renovating a studio space, writing a novel… or preparing for a wedding that is in just seven weeks!!!

So I’m psyching myself out, to complete some other big tasks, (like finishing the current work-in-progress) before the wedding! And don’t tell me there won’t be a special guest at the wedding. He might magically appear! I’m gonna be ready for him, if he is, because I’m all in, suspended disbelief!

In the meantime, I think I’ll make some art, read a book… and write one!



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