Think about that thing you know you must do, but you are having a hard time finding the motivation to get started and stick to it. Perhaps it's exercise, cleaning your home, or completing that big project or task that you’ve been putting off. This makes me think about how as I was growing up, I cherished all the advice that my mother shared, but she had this one saying that I still find challenging to this day…
“Sometimes we have to do things we really don’t want to do.”
I suppose there’s some truth to this little nugget of wisdom, so I decided to figure out a way to find some joy in those things that I wasn’t excited about doing naturally. In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear introduces a concept called Habit Stacking.
This is where you take a current habit that you’ve mastered and stack a new behavior that you want to make a habit on top of it. For example, while brushing your teeth each morning and evening you might start doing calf raises or squats simultaneously to strengthen the muscles in your legs. Similarly, I’ve found a way to couple delightful little distractions with daunting tasks to help me with starting, completing, or sustaining them over time.
Here are a few strategies to support you as you design your delightful distractions.
Movement and Music. This morning I did a challenging workout class and normally I would have scaled back my effort, but the music was so hype that I couldn’t help but to push myself. I love exercising, but there are days when I don’t feel like doing it and good music always gets me in the mood to move. A similar thing happens when I facilitate workshops. There are times when people are mandated to attend so they’d rather not be there, but when they walk in the door and hear the music playing, their mood suddenly changes for the better. Depending on the tone that you want to set in meetings and gatherings, music is a powerful way to move people to action.
Learn and Burn. One of my clients uses this term to describe reading while burning calories during exercise on a treadmill or other fitness device. I participate in a similar practice by listening to podcasts or audiobooks while cleaning or walking. I also engage in this powerful practice while driving and literally burning gas during long commutes. This helps tremendously when I have a lot of research to do for an upcoming project, or when I need information to support working through personal challenges, but I don’t have the time to sit down and read.
Walk and Talk. One of the biggest challenges that I hear from professionals that I support is that they have so many meetings that they don’t have much time left over to get work or anything else done. The increase in remote work and virtual meetings has made this even more challenging because it leaves us sitting in front of screens for hours on end. To remedy this I schedule 'walk and talks' with some of my colleagues and clients so that we can experience the benefits of movement while discussing business. This may look like moving meetings to the phone and walking on a treadmill, outside, or around your home or office. If you live in the same area you can arrange for people to meet you in inspiring indoor or outdoor locations.
This week I challenge you to identify things that spark joy that you can pair with tasks that you need an extra boost of motivation to start, complete, or sustain. Design your days with delightful distractions that enhance your wellbeing and move your work forward.
I am using music as my muse for movement and motivation.
I am accessing abundant opportunities for learning and growth.
I am engaging my community in creative ways that support my wellbeing.