Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It's the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. - Psychology Today
Lately I've been struggling with motivation in most aspects of my life - work, health and play. I'd like to say there's a reason behind this, like the blues, exhaustion or a bad experience, but there isn't and blaming something isn't going to get me out of the rut.
Here in the Southern hemisphere, Spring has now sprung (though you wouldn't know it in the land of perpetual sunshine that is Indonesia) and my Facebook news feed has been filled with motivational quotes directing me to dust off the winter cobwebs (Winter? What winter?!) and get excited about life. And you know what? I'm just not feeling it.
Find out what I'm doing to tackle this...
I've just passed my 1 year anniversary of living in Bali, a beautiful place that seems to inspire so many people to reach for their dreams but is beginning to leave me feeling sleepy and not really all that bothered. Bali is an expat's dream with ready access to Western comforts at cheap prices. I have absolutely loved my time here and wouldn't trade it for anything, but it is not without its frustrations.
The Balinese are known for living in the here and now. There is little consideration of the past and even less thought to the future. A great way to live and look at the world, but when you're trying to get things done, it can make for a very slow-moving train. Working here, don't expect to be told you're going away with the team for 3 days until the night before, throw out any notion you had about preparation for meetings (these will be sprung on you after they've started) and you will be sorely disappointed if you try to garner enthusiasm for a project that won't start for a month or two.
Time moves at a very different pace here and when you've come from the high-tech bullet train to a meandering locomotive, making the leap from one to the other can be very difficult.
I wanted to examine where I was tripping up the most in each aspect of my life and come up with a solution.
WORK: I work for a non-profit organisation in a volunteer capacity (kind of like the Peace Corps, but . I spend 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday in an office, sitting under a noisy air-conditioner and next to a toilet with a serious drainage problem. Some days the office is full of meetings and chatter in Bahasa Indonesia that I can only vaguely understand. More frequently, my colleagues don't come in at all.
The motivation that arrived with me in suitcase-loads now comes in short bursts and is often squashed by lack of enthusiasm from colleagues who are busy working in the field and are unable to provide support for marketing or fundraising initiatives. For the first time since I was made redundant 18 months ago, I miss working in a team, in a busy office with rules and deadlines and expectations. But the grass is always greener, right?
My solution: Honestly? I'm still working on it. I have a huge wishlist of things I'd love for my organisation to start doing, but with the resignation of my counterpart a couple of months back, this fell into the cracks and has never really been resurrected. I'm trying to open my eyes more and grab opportunities where I can. This volunteering for international development gig is tricky - we're meant to be building capacity of local staff members. If all I'm doing is designing the documents and running their social media for them, what good am I really doing? But if I don't do it, no one else will.
So I've given myself a short, achievable list and if all that I do is leave behind some easy-to-edit templates, social media tips and a revamped website, then that's pretty good. I've got 12 weeks left to do what I can to leave feeling like I've achieved something, whether I have buy-in and support from my colleagues or not.
HEALTH: When I moved to Indonesia I thought, 'Great! I'll lose heaps of weight, get a great tan, become a pro surfer and do yoga Every. Damn. Day.' Easy, right?
Problem #1: The Indonesian diet is full of palm oil and sugar (Indonesia ranks 7th in the world for Diabetes), making weight loss a tricky beast.
Problem #2: It's also a holiday destination, so it's difficult to completely shake off that 'I'm on vacation, I can eat whatever I want and laze around in bed until 10am every day' mentality.
Problem #3: I'm really not that good at surfing. Bodyboarding, no problem. Standing up. Problem. And you need to be seriously fit to surf, which is part of a vicious, vicious cycle.
Problem #4: Yoga classes are expensive and it can be really difficult to make yourself do a full 70 minutes in your bedroom, surrounded by the temptations of the internet and bed. My poor yoga mat, which I lugged over here so proudly, tends to sit gathering dust on the floor at the foot of my bed.
My solution: Get out of bed in the morning. Don't roll out at 8.30, just before you're due at the office. But get up when you wake up. For me, this is usually around 6 or 6.30am, having become accustomed to the loud dogs, chickens and children that start their chorus shortly after dawn. It's significantly cooler at this time of day, the sun still hours away from reaching its hottest, and my mornings (well, most of them) are now filled with a brisk 5km walk along the beach before work. BAM! Not only do I feel energised and ready to tackle the day, but I'm getting some of that hard-to-come-by exercise too.
PLAY: I can't even tell you how many TV series I've binge-watched since I moved here. The latest and greatest in TV and film can be purchased for $1 each from any number of bootleg DVD stores on the tourist strips, and I've made full use of each and every one of them. Entire days have been wasted surfing the web, with more time spent refreshing websites in an attempt to make them load properly on my awful internet connection than actually engaging with the content. With a wealth of distractions so readily at my fingertips, it's no wonder I've only read about 5 books since I moved here and my Wacom drawing tablet, sketchbook and set of pencils have lain unopened since late 2013.
Avoiding these distractions (for me, at least - I am my father's daughter!) is easier said than done - last night I decided to tackle clearing out a few drawers in preparation for the full pack-up that will take place when I leave in December. I found a couple of broken cameras and wanted to offer them to other expats on a Facebook group for the local area. I thought I'd better get the message out there immediately and would get straight back to the task at hand. Nope. Two hours later I was still lying on my (unmade) bed, now watching an episode of 'Wonderland'. Whoops!
My solution: No more laptop before work. No laptop in the evening. That's a rule. I have a kindle chock-full of great books I've been meaning to read, an always overflowing laundry basket, a love of cooking and I'm determined to find where my mother's incredible drawing ability is hiding out in me. I've got plenty of things to keep me entertained without having to resort to the internet or TV. Once everything's done? It's fair game, but so far I'm enjoying my newfound free time. Today I even read for an hour before work.
I loved The Nife en l'Air's piece 'The Need for Distraction' a couple of weeks ago on finding alternative distractions. Great inspiration for me going forward!
I'd be foolish to think that moving back to Australia will fix everything, in fact, it might just make the lack of motivation worse. It's certainly an uphill battle and one that I'm sure is going to take a lot of time and effort to perfect, but at least I've made the first steps. I guess I've been paying attention to those motivational quotes all over Facebook after all!
What do you do when you're struggling to get into the right gear? All suggestions welcome!