Have you ever started on a project with great enthusiasm (aka: a terrific book idea or a fantastic new business concept) – then somewhere in the middle you lost interest – then speed?
Eventually, perhaps, you puttered to a stop.
If you’re groaning in recognition, you’re not alone.
Many people have half finished manuscripts and a pile of napkins doodled up with brilliant business plans – all collecting dust in a drawer somewhere.
In my twenties, I decided to paint my living room a gorgeous powdery sky blue. I fell in love with the paint color – when I saw it by happenstance in a hardware store.
I brought the paint home, then soon realized that the ladder I owned was too short. Unfortunately I was unable to paint all the way up, up, up to the top of the ceiling’s edge.
And so I stopped 7/8th’s of the way through.
But I made a self-promise that I’d get a taller ladder next week.
This soon became next-next week.
Then next-next-next week.
I’d convinced myself I preferred the way the room looked this way – 7/8ths powdery sky blue with 1/8 puffy cloud white near the ceiling’s border.
I told myself (and all visitors who asked) that I loved how “ethereal” the room looked this way!
If you’re presently procrastinating on a project, I’ve been there, and not done that.
Happily, I now have a few wonderful motivational tools to get the job done. And these tools were all inspired by my 3 year old son (Ari Salmansohn).
Ari loves music. One of his favorite toys is a plastic guitar with pre-recorded songs. Plus, he’s always up for dancing. Even to jingles on television or music in restaurants.
If we’re in a diner and Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It” comes on, my son wants to stop chowing down his fries, and start boogie-ing down!
Ari recently saw a Youtube video of a band called Rooney playing Ironman’s theme song. OMGosh! He loved it. And he kept asking me to re-re-re-re-play it. He’d pretend to play his plastic guitar along with the band. I asked Ari if he’d like to learn how to play a real guitar.
I then signed up both Ari and myself for guitar lessons. With a real guitar. And with a fun and talented guitar instructor.
The first bunch of lessons Ari remained excited about guitar-playing. And mommy (aka ME) was proud to learn how to play the theme song to Batman.
Then a few weeks into our lessons the guitar teacher showed up, ready to teach us some advanced new chords.
Ari was completely disinterested.
He didn’t even want to be in the same room with the guitar or the guitar teacher.
“I don’t want to learn the guitar,” Ari announced. “Don’t make me.”
I decided not to force Ari too much to take the lessons – because I was aware I could wind up making Ari hate/resent music.
So I told the guitar teacher that Ari and I were going to take some time off from guitar lessons. We wanted to figure out if we were going to continue.
A few days later, I wound up finding the famous Gangnam Style video on Youtube. I played it for Ari. He went wild! He started dancing along.
Next, Ari asked for his “real guitar.” Ari started “playing” along to the music – in an enthusiastic (aka discordant but passionate) way!
“Look at my fingers, mom,” Ari said, “I’m playing the guitar to the music! Look at my fingers!”
I then DJ’d a series of other music videos. Ari danced and improvised with his guitar along to the music!
“Look, look, I’m playing the guitar! Look at my fingers. High. Low. High. Low.”
“Ari, do you want to take your guitar lessons again?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, yes!” he announced with glee!
Procrastination is a universal thing. We all start off with great enthusiasm on a project or hobby because we’re in the honeymoon period of loving the project or hobby.
As soon as difficulties set in, the honeymoon waxes and wanes.
If you want to fall back in love with a project, you must remind yourself WHY you originally fell in love with the project or hobby.
It helps if you can imagine the awesome end results – the greater good end benefit you have to gain.
In Ari’s case his greater good benefit was being able to play lively, happy music!
When Ari was reminded of the end benefits of learning how to play music (aka: viewing a video of incredibly energizing mood-boosting music happy musicians), he was able to move through the urge to procrastinate – and start learning the guitar.
In case you don’t know what a Vision Board is, let me explain. It’s a collection of images which represent your goals, dreams, desires. It’s a recommended practice in the spiritual community to create a Vision Board to help “manifest” what you want.
Many folks believe that Vision Boards work for “thought energy” reasons – The Law Of Attraction.
I believe Vision Boards work for lots of psychological reasons. They keep you focused on and excited about the greater good benefits of what you want. As a result, they keep you motivated to keep on going – and going – towards what you want!If you want to motivate your child to keep going forward towards a goal, you can work on a fun art project.
Start collecting images of the “greater good benefits” they are seeking.
After you collect lots of inspiring images on the theme of their goal, you can turn it into a fun collage. Then you can hang this artwork in their room!
Or start a Pinterest board!
I also recommend you talk with your child very directly about the importance of effort. You should definitely let them know very clearly that effort is a normal part of the process for pursuing a goal.
Basically, you want to make sure you reduce any negative-self-talk your child might be doing about not being good enough – simply because their pursuit is requiring some hard work.
I’ve written about this subject of “effort” in another article on my site over here.
The quickie lesson of this other article: You must celebrate effort – as well as outcomes!
Ari is now back practicing the guitar. However – truth be told, he sometimes has surges of effort and interest – followed by resistance and disinterest.
I understand from my own life: This is a familiar problem for most of us humans.
I’ve since found myself saying a few things to my son which motivate him to keep moving forward. Feel free to use these motivation tools on yourself too!
I make it clear to my son that the more you practice something, the easier it will be over time.
Plus I motivate him by letting him know that the start of something is always the hardest part. It gets easier and easier thereafter.
Yep, every expert on this planet started out making mistakes.
Experts are just people who didn’t give up – even when they wanted to give up. And that’s how they got to be amazing.
I tell my son “never give up” in a funny voice – so he doesn’t feel I’m lecturing – and so he laughs.
My hope: My son will then embrace these words – and want to repeat these words to himself – making this “Never give up, never give up, never give up!” mantra one of his very own.
Note: My mission kinda sorta has started to work. Now I sometimes hear my son say out loud to himself – “Never give up, never give up, never give up!” – in a silly voice – which ensure he keeps on going.
Recently Ari and I received a new mantra to repeat during challenging motivational times – via a Teenage Mutant Ninja toy.
This toy says a bunch of things – including, “Failure is not an option.” When I heard the toy say this phrase, I said, “OOOooooh I love that! Failure is not an option! That’s a good one!”
We then talked a bit about what this phrase means. Now when he’s ready to give up, he’ll often announce “Failure is not an option!” in the same funny voice that the Teenage Mutant Ninja toy says this phrase!
Basically, my hope is to empower my son to talk to himself kindly and lovingly and enthusiastically during challenging times. I want to help him create a “supportive voice” in his own mind and heart. Plus I want him to start to naturally to talk to himself with this loving voice – even when I’m not around.
Okay… So those were some of my motivational ideas for kids!
Perhaps you’ve presently shelved a book you thought you’d write because the fun was gone! Suddenly the effort it was taking overshadowed the passion you’d been feeling.
If so, you can jumpstart that loving feeling for your book again by imagining the inspiring greater good benefit – the fabulous end-game!
Because my last name is “Salmansohn,” I went to the “S” section. I noticed my book would have a wonderful book neighbor: Salinger!
For some reason, envisioning my novel next to Salinger’s kept me going. Eventually I finished writing my novel and sold it. First to St. Martin’s Press as a book. Then later to Miramax – to be a movie starring Marisa Tomei.
If you’re right now procrastinating on a project, take your eyes off your present struggle.
Re-focus on the awesome end result you desire!
When you keep your eyes on the prize of your long term happiness gain, you’ll be more motivated to move through the temporary pain!
Need further support to think happy?
Live your happiest life. Get my research-based happiness newsletter delivered conveniently to your inbox.