It Will Give You Wings

This post is the blogging equivalent of a Red Bull.  I'm making some assumptions here, as I've never actually had a Red Bull.  Unless that sample in a plastic cup they passed out during exam week to get exhausted, desperate students hooked counts.  But I don't think it does.  Anyway, I promptly spit it out all over the sidewalk because it was SO disgusting. This week I've been sluggish, to put it mildly.  In an attempt to pull myself out of my sick/tired/lazy butt slump, I've used every single motivational tool at my disposal.  And I've decided to share them with you.

Warning, these are to be used in moderation.  Use with caution, especially if you are prone to starting ambitious projects and not finishing them.  You will not actually receive the gift of flight.  It's figurative.

Housework motivation:  This lovely little comic from Hyperbole and a Half make me giggle every time.  It's hanging on my fridge right now.  The post from whence it came is something I (shamefully) relate to on occasion.

Oh man!  I want to scrub baseboards!   Don't you?  No???  Well, perhaps I shouldn't have led with that, because it's my favorite.  But here's some more practical advice/inspiration.

From Get More Done in Less Time by Donna Otto (Confession:  I did not actually read this book.  But I DID read my friend Aliesha's blog, which is where this helpful little tidbit came from.):

"Do you know what really makes you tired? The things you don't do, not the things you do!

Procrastination--worrying about the things you need to get done, putting them off because you dread them or because you would rather be doing something else--makes you tired, not work."

It has taken me three years of cleaning up after a husband and a toddler to realize that this is absolutely true (slow learner).  Not saying that you don't work up a sweat mopping and scrubbing and tidying (oh my!), but it's a different kind of tired.  It's a "Whew, now I can collapse on the couch and read a novel and sip a Diet Coke in my sparkly, peaceful living room because there is no clutter hanging over my head, literally for figuratively" kind of tired.  Muscle-sore.  But muscle-sore, well-earned tired is not NEARLY as exhausting as living in a house with stacks of dishes/paper/toys on every flat surface.  It's defeating to live in a messy place - to walk in to the kitchen and see dishes to be done, walk into the bedroom and see clothes to be put away, walk into the bathroom and see a counter to be de-cluttered.  There's no refuge from the to-do list, and it takes an incredible amount of mental fortitude to ignore it.

SO - I agree with you, Donna Otto.  Doing things doesn't make me tired, NOT doing things makes me tired.  (This applies to all manner of to-do lists, not just housework, obviously.  But I live with a MAN and a THREE-YEAR-OLD so my life pretty much revolves around picking up after other people.  But think big - think workplace, relationships, projects, and all manner of chores.  Accomplishing things energizes you - putting them off is really what wipes us out.)

And this is my little motivational secret weapon.  My ace in the hole.

"Don't do what you want to do.  Do what you will want to have done."

I hear a chorus of Amens somewhere afar off.  This doesn't just apply to chores, it applies to LIFE!  To our ministry with teenagers here.  To parenthood.  Essentially, it is a reminder to release our pathological need for instant gratification and start making choices based on wisdom and priorities.  Do what you will want to have done!  (A professor of mine used to say, "You will never become what you are not now becoming.")

On a sort of daily, mundane level it looks like this: I WANT to blog while Madeline naps, but at the end of the day, I will want my house to be clean so that I can relax after dinner with my family.  So I've found that when I clean instead of blog?  I have a much greater degree of satisfaction in life. Translation:  I don't gripe and moan at Dan about having to do dishes at 10:00 at night and how there's  JUST NOT ENOUGH TIME IN THE DAY!  (Better for all parties involved, I assure you.)  And most nights, I get to blog, or read, or paint my nails at a leisurely pace after M goes to sleep - as I sip seltzer water and Dan watches ESPN.  (Rather than trying to finish something post-able with one eye on the clock and ears strained for the pitter patter of little feet in the bedroom.)

The things that usually top my "will want to have done" list are: exercise, clean, return phone calls, and pray.  All of which require discipline.

But what I'm really interested in is what it looks like on a not-so daily, mundane level.  What will I want to have done this year?  During our time in this town?  During this phase of Madeline's life?  During my twenties?  What will I want to have done?

So those are my top 3 self-motivational tools (with the exception of a killer playlist, which perhaps I'll compile and post as "It Will Give You Wings II"):

1. CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!!!!

2. Not doing things makes you tired.

3. Don't do what you want to do, do what you will want to have done.

So adios for now - I'm going to meditate on my little list a few times in hopes of mustering the strength to take down the Christmas decorations.

I'm curious:  What will YOU want to have done?  Today, this year, in life?