I’ll admit it…I can be a lazy sack of shit sometimes. And I’ll even admit that sometimes when it matters the most, I have a really hard time pushing myself to do the best I can do. Even when I sat down to write this blog I blasted some Eminem and rapped to my dogs for half an hour because I was putting off writing it (they weren’t amused, but now my rap skills are top-notch). When you’re in that mood like me where you just can’t get yourself to put in 100%, it’s important to figure out how you can push yourself or who in your network can help encourage you to give it your all.
Let me get this straight, just because you have a hard time giving 110% all the time doesn’t mean you’re not successful or productive. I struggle with this a lot and think that any time I’m not working or being productive it’s a waste of time and I’ll end up living back home and spend my days laying on the couch binge-watching Gordon Ramsay shows. Maybe you overwork yourself at your day job so it’s hard for you to put effort into your projects when you get home, or you just get distracted easily and can’t put all your focus into what you need to get done. Whatever your case may be, here are a few things that over time I’ve found out help me get into that productive, conquer the world, kick ass and take names mood.
Think of your end goal
When I’m working on a project and I’ve reached my breaking point and my eyes start glazing over, my first go-to remedy is to remember what my end goal is. In my case, it’s normally delivering a high-quality, unique design that I’m proud of to my client. I’ll take a look at my work and think, “Would I really be happy showing this to my client or having it represent my work?” The first few times I ask myself this the answer is almost always a big fat N-O. And then I’ll get disappointed in myself for not pulling an award-winning design out of my ass on my first attempt. It’s this feeling that I’m letting myself down that motivates me to try harder and really give my best. It’s almost like I’m trying to prove myself wrong and that I can do better than I think, which might be crazy, might be genius…haven’t figured that out yet. So when you get stuck, remember your end goal and if you feel you’re not quite there yet, use that discontent as your push.
Use your network
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the most motivated I have ever been was after a professor made me cry when she was critiquing my project. I thought I was a failure and a disappointment to graphic design. Now, I’d also be lying if I said I put my blood, sweat and tears into that project and it was an absolute masterpiece. I knew it was a piece of crap but I presented it anyway because I was young and stupid and didn’t want to try. At the end of the day, I worked through the tears and busted my ass coming up with a new design that ended up being roughly 7 million times* better than what I presented the first time. It was then that I learned that sometimes I’m not even enough to motivate myself. From then on, I tried to use my network as a source of inspiration to give 100% when I needed it. I started asking for more honest opinions and guidance, followed people that I admired, and wasn’t afraid to let people know I was stuck and needed help. 100% of the time my network was there to pull me out of my funk and push me to do some awesome things. Moral of this little ditty is to surround yourself with good people that you admire and will help better you.
Take a break
Sometimes you just have to say fuck it and walk away for a little. This one’s not as serious or full of “wisdom” as the others, but it’s just as important. Why try and keep pushing yourself when you know you’re not in the right state of mind or mood to deliver something that would make you proud? You’re just going to burn yourself out and end up despising whatever it is you’re working on. Instead of trying to ‘push through it’, go ahead and take a well-deserved break. Have some wine, cuddle your pups, and put on the same standup special you’ve been watching all week because you can’t find anything better on Netflix. When you come back to your work with a clear mind, you’ll be able to figure out what wasn’t working before and you’ll have new energy to make it better than you ever thought it could be.
Now I’m not saying these ideas will work for everyone, but from my experiences these three things always seem to find a way to pull my head out of my ass and get me working at a higher level than I ever thought possible. Hopefully these little nuggets of wisdom will help you too, whether you’re trying to start your own business, working on a difficult project, or putting together a scrapbook (I don’t know, just seems like things people do).