They say the Key to a good relationship is Listening

Last week I asked you to do one thing. Find your Love. Think about it, sit with it, write it down. I hope you did. If not, it’s okay. The great thing about your life is it’s yours, and if then wasn’t the right moment, make Now the right moment. I mean, you’re sitting here reading this. In the time it could take you to finish this post, you could have a whole new life goal determined. You could be so invigorated with motivation you march right off this screen and into life. In that case, hell yes! Keep it moving, sweet being!

If you’re not feeling quite so fiesty, that’s all good. You’ve come to the right place.
We still have some things to work on, anyways.

Do you have your Love yet? Is it snuggled up besides you, lazily asking you just what do you expect it to do? Good. That means you found one with some tude, and those are the best. Before we go any further I need you to look at this Love of yours. Stare this passion down. Wiggle it in your fingers, lift it above your head. Throw it against the wall, roll it down the stairs. Wrestle this Love. Then hold this Love. Listen to it, ask it if it’s okay. Tell it a terrible joke, see if it laughs. Make sure this Love is YOUR LOVE.

See, for a long time I thought I had met my Love. I brought it everywhere with me. Pulled it out at parties, showed it off saying “see this, this is what I’m going to do.” People would ooh and aah or snort. It didn’t matter. My Love and I were tight, and I told myself it would stay that way. I was pretty sure my Love was the one for me. I had picked it, I hadn’t let anybody tell me which one was best. It had to be true, right?

Wrong. Somewhere I had gotten my Love and my Goals mixed up. Now, Goals are cool and all. Very useful for making plans. Except my Goals kept popping in my life, snickering at how little I was getting done, always poking fun at me. Here I was thinking my Goals were my Love and I couldn’t understand why they kept treating me so wrong. Eventually we broke up, and then I just hung around. No Goals, no Love, just lost.

Until one day I was feeling sulky, and I started writing about all the things I wanted. I wrote a couple of different lists, a couple of different times. Things like a functioning car, all of the cats, endless money, some new jeans popped up. They seemed important, especially the cats. Only they were always at the end of my list. Things like, a job I love, making sure my friends and family know I love them, completing my bucket list. Those stayed on the top. Again and again. Slowly I started to see my life, to have a haphazard idea of the “important stuff”. Not your typical important stuff, not someone else’s idea of success. My own strange, vague stuff. Then I got to writing about that, and then I figured it out. This weird idea is my Love.

What is my Love? Well, it’s hard to explain, and I feel silly telling people about it. But I think an example is necessary. My Love is to live my life seeking out all of the love. I want to do the things I love and I want to love the things I do. I want to give up bad habits that break me from the beauty of life, I want to commit to the good habits, to the things that make me happy like a wolf brutally on the hunt. I want to wake up and when I am sad, cry and when I am happy, cry. I want to move mountains with this illogical passion that I have spent so many years burying in fear. I want to give myself to the world, completely.

I wasn’t lying when I said it didn’t make sense. I know it’s stupid simple. Isn’t there some cheesy line about the truth being like that? And I will tell you, after figuring this out, it’s been a helluva lot easier to get out of bed in the morning.

This wasn’t what I meant to type in this post. Still, I think it’s the right thing. A life passion isn’t something to take lightly (not all the time, at least). As much as you may feel ready to jump at the throat of life and take it down, maybe you should take just one more minute of self relfection. The knitty gritty will still be waiting tomorrow. Your Lovd deserves a little more of your attention. It is, after all, the most important stuff.

All the ways to Love

Last week I asked you to do one thing. Find your Love. Think about it, sit with it, write it down. I hope you did. If not, it’s okay. The great thing about your life is it’s yours, and if then wasn’t the right moment, make Now the right moment. I mean, you’re sitting here reading this. In the time it could take you to finish this post, you could have a whole new life goal determined. You could be so invigorated with motivation you march right off this screen and into life. In that case, hell yes! Keep it moving, sweet being!

If you’re not feeling quite so fiesty, that’s all good. You’ve come to the right place.
We still have some things to work on, anyways.

Do you have your Love yet? Is it snuggled up besides you, lazily asking you just what do you expect it to do? Good. That means you found one with some tude, and those are the best. Before we go any further I need you to look at this Love of yours. Stare this passion down. Wiggle it in your fingers, lift it above your head. Throw it against the wall, roll it down the stairs. Wrestle this Love. Then hold this Love. Listen to it, ask it if it’s okay. Tell it a terrible joke, see if it laughs. Make sure this Love is YOUR LOVE.

See, for a long time I thought I had met my Love. I brought it everywhere with me. Pulled it out at parties, showed it off saying “see this, this is what I’m going to do.” People would ooh and aah or snort. It didn’t matter. My Love and I were tight, and I told myself it would stay that way. I was pretty sure my Love was the one for me. I had picked it, I hadn’t let anybody tell me which one was best. It had to be true, right?

Wrong. Somewhere I had gotten my Love and my Goals mixed up. Now, Goals are cool and all. Very useful for making plans. Except my Goals kept popping in my life, snickering at how little I was getting done, always poking fun at me. Here I was thinking my Goals were my Love and I couldn’t understand why they kept treating me so wrong. Eventually we broke up, and then I just hung around. No Goals, no Love, just lost.

Until one day I was feeling sulky, and I started writing about all the things I wanted. I wrote a couple of different lists, a couple of different times. Things like a functioning car, all of the cats, endless money, some new jeans popped up. They seemed important, especially the cats. Only they were always at the end of my list. Things like, a job I love, making sure my friends and family know I love them, completing my bucket list. Those stayed on the top. Again and again. Slowly I started to see my life, to have a haphazard idea of the “important stuff”. Not your typical important stuff, not someone else’s idea of success. My own strange, vague stuff. Then I got to writing about that, and then I figured it out. This weird idea is my Love.

What is my Love? Well, it’s hard to explain, and I feel silly telling people about it. But I think an example is necessary. My Love is to live my life seeking out all of the love. I want to do the things I love and I want to love the things I do. I want to give up bad habits that break me from the beauty of life, I want to commit to the good habits, to the things that make me happy like a wolf brutally on the hunt. I want to wake up and when I am sad, cry and when I am happy, cry. I want to move mountains with this illogical passion that I have spent so many years burying in fear. I want to give myself to the world, completely.

I wasn’t lying when I said it didn’t make sense. I know it’s stupid simple. Isn’t there some cheesy line about the truth being like that? And I will tell you, after figuring this out, it’s been a helluva lot easier to get out of bed in the morning.

This wasn’t what I meant to type in this post. Still, I think it’s the right thing. A life passion isn’t something to take lightly (not all the time, at least). As much as you may feel ready to jump at the throat of life and take it down, maybe you should take just one more minute of self relfection. The knitty gritty will still be waiting tomorrow. Your Lovd deserves a little more of your attention. It is, after all, the most important stuff.

Amore, amore!

It’s 2016! We’ve all had the last month to get high off the new year, new me motivation. I hope you spent it well! If you’re anything like me, you mostly made plans to kick ass. That’s okay though, because now it’s February. February is the real ass-kickin’ month. Why, you ask? Because February is all about the LOVE!

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Some of you may be groaning with that “don’t get all mushy on me” vibe. You might want to just swallow that vomit back down and get on this love train, because it is going to be great.

When I say February is the month of love, I need to clarify one thing. I’m not saying Valentine’s day is around the corner and because you might be alone you should start forcefully improving. Oh, hell no! I’m talking about getting down with all the love. Self love, family love, friends love, pet love, food love, and all the other great loves we, well, love! Valentine’s day is a great excuse to celebrate all these things. Since we’re making excuses, we might as well make Valentine’s day the excuse to celebrate it all month!

You may be thinking, okay clearly Cara has lost it. Love has nothing to do with motivation. To that I say pish posh, my friend! Haven’t you ever been in love? Being in love inspires and motivates you to do crazy things. I mean why do I do the dishes? Because I love my mom, and I know it makes her happy. Why do I go running sometimes? Take one look at my excited pup and you’ll figure out why. Why don’t I just say screw it and call out of work? Because I love the people I work with, and that would make their days suck. Think about it, find your gem of life. Then acknowledge just how much it inspires you to do.

At one point I wrote an article about intrinsic motivation, and how important it is to follow your own path, work on the things you’re passionate about. Oddly enough I didn’t even realize that all that really meant is, do what you love. If you do what you love, you’re going to be more inspired to keep doing it. End result? Love equals motivation.

My first step for this Love month is FIND YOUR LOVE. Get on those dating websites and hunt that perfect person down! Just kidding! What I’m talking about is better than a desperate Valentine’s date. It’s a date with yourself. It’s you, some hot chocolate (or coffee!), a comfy seat, and a pen and paper. Time to write out those feelings. I know it’s cheesy but I promise, it works. The only rule? Be honest and open with yourself. Give yourself some time to figure out what exactly is your favorite thing in life. What is the most important thing to you? Get down with your bad self and find that Love. It doesn’t have to be something concrete, it doesn’t have to make you money, and it doesn’t have to be sentimental either.

Your love is yours, it can be anything. Any idea, any rule, any person. It can be a noun, verb, or pronoun! It doesn’t matter. You can write one hundred loves, or maybe just one. You can write an essay about your love or just a single word. As long as it feels true to you.

Find it, acknowledge it, and sit with it. For now, just figuring out what you really are passionate about is enough. I know, this is some pretty heavy, vomit inducing, mushiness but just try it. I promise, I won’t tell anyone.

If at first you don’t Succeed ask yourself – Why?

What makes the difference between those of us who will procrastinate until we can’t function and the people who tackle obstacles for fun? Were they born with some super gene that keeps them going? Do they have access to some illegal energy drink that we don’t?

This guy's trying to figure it out too.

This guy’s trying to figure it out too.

I can’t vouch for the entire population but there is one factor that psychologists have pin pointed. A difference between the go getters and do-it-laterers. Why we are motivated. Why do you want to go to the gym? What is the point in eating healthy? Why are you waking up early? Are you doing these things to avoid something? To gain something? Then you are being extrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivation is carrots and sticks, rewards and punishments. It is an outside force motivating you. Those super powered beings? They are generated by intrinsic motivation, the desire to do something because they want to. It is motivation generated from the motivatee. Here’s an example; why am I writing this article? Am I writing it because I want to be a famous blogger or am I writing it because I enjoy it? If I’m writing it to be famous that’s an extrinsic motivator. Because extrinsic motivators can be intangible, like receiving praise or recognition, or avoiding shame. If I’m writing it because I enjoy it then I’m intrinsically motivated.

Now a lot of us have been convinced that rewards and punishments are always the way to motivate someone but this is not true. Extrinsic motivation can sometimes help but really once you put a price on something it loses that inner reward. Once you lose that inner reward well, no bribe or threat can really replace it. Intrinsic motivation gives us that push that even money can’t. Now after I learned about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation I kind of started to freak out. Everything I did was extrinsically motivated. I tried to read certain books to seem smarter. I went to the gym because I didn’t want to get fat. I worked my job because that’s just what grown-ups do. Everything I did was done because that’s what grown-ups do.

Then it dawned on me. Screw being a societal grown up. Screw doing anything because that’s “what you’re supposed to do”. I’d rather talk about magic than politics. Running around playing tag is always more fun than on a treadmill. Working a million jobs to avoid working one job I hate is worth it. I don’t care if I look like a responsible adult. Everything I did was extrinsically motivated because I had taken all of my intrinsic motivation and shut it down. My little spark was dying. My spark of curiosity and challenge, of passion and awe. I had allowed other people and outside ideas to determine what I should do. When I couldn’t force myself into that image, I felt inadequate. The thing is, I was never inadequate, I just had to actually be me.

When you’re trying to motivate yourself to do something, stop. Ask yourself; why am I doing this? Is this something I want? Do I enjoy this? Are these actions reaching towards a goal I made? Take the time to listen to your brain, instead of always stuffing it with more nonsense. Put down the so under ground it’s cool interest. Walk away from the images of what other people have told you to be. Find your little spark, and then make it a fire. Delve into the things you love and you will find yourself burning up with motivation. Keep that childlike wonder in everything you do. Turn to the challenges that you want to win. Chase after the things you are passionate about. Curiosity will take you farther than any candy bar could.

Whether your spark reaches for fantasy books, ultimate frisbee, knitting, or even world domination just go with it. And tell me about it! I would love to hear about your crazy dreams or geeky interests. I would especially love to hear how you feel about this post so let me know!

Coming Home

Trying to accomplish any goal is frightening. You’re nervous and people will tell you why you can’t do it. It’s strange and new and there is a serious possibility of failure. Then people will swell around you with support, or you just make the leap on your own. You go forward and try. Negativity falls away and you find yourself chasing dreams you never thought you could.

Then something happens, and you find yourself failing. Quietly your great ideas start to disappear and motivation is squandered. You stop following your diet, you don’t sign up for that class, you stop writing. Until you let it die, plagued with your shame. That failure lurks in the back of your mind. All those negative things people said thundering in your thoughts. Trying something new is frightening. Going back to try again is paralyzing. Because you did fail. Those people were right. You really couldn’t do it. Each time you try to push yourself closer to taking the leap again you find yourself further and further back. Failure looming in front of you, you quit and keep on quitting.

Dreams though, are not so easily deterred. You might have hid it in the back of your mind, buried it in excuses and shame. You thought it was dead, never coming back because it hurt so bad. It’s still there. Creeping along in the corners, whispering quietly into your thoughts. Until you find yourself toying with it again. Planning for it again. Obsessing over it again. And it’s all you can see, shadowed by the fear, shame, and guilt of your failure but refusing to leave you alone. You can’t get it out of your head. So you begin to take the leap, again.

This post is my leap. I am not a great writer. I am not a good blogger. I am not very motivated. But I can not allow myself to stop just because I couldn’t do it once. A dream is there for a reason. It’s the instinct of your soul, the reality of your purpose. Stuffing it down and hiding it only makes this life one we aren’t living. Maybe your dream is more insane than others. Maybe everyone says you can’t. None of that matters. Attack what you love, stop wasting time being afraid.

I ran away from this blog after I stopped posting. I was ashamed, and I didn’t want to post again and bring that shame to light. But I realize this blog isn’t about research and experiments for me. It’s sharing my experiences with you. It’s talking about what it really means to try to accomplish your goals. This blog is the real struggles on being motivated and what I’m doing to overcome them. And in my own personal experiences I hope you find a connection. I don’t want to feel alone in trying to do something everyone says is crazy. I don’t want anyone to feel alone in that. So I’m back. Stay tuned for all of the insane, overwhelming, I really-don’t-want-to-do-it steps to hopefully, one day, aquire my own dreams. I hope you’ll share your same with me.

Self motivation & What my Seventh Year at Hogwarts Really Taught Me

In life there are pitfall moments. Pitfall days, weeks, months, maybe even (but hopefully not) years. These moments can be made by anything. Injuries, family emergencies, Lord Voldemort, whatever. In my life, it’s usually Lord Voldemort. Oh, wait, I’m not Hermione Granger. Right. Well then, in my life it’s usually depression. Which is probably just as difficult as dealing with Lord Voldemort and all his dramatic hissing.

Now, I’ve never been diagnosed with depression. I don’t take medication for it. And most of the time I get away scotch free without dealing with it.  This doesn’t make it any less real. Being depressed is nothing like being sad. Depression is having a four hundred pound weight sitting on your chest. It’s a little monster wrapped around your heart, plucking at your arteries, making it hurt until there is a lump in your throat. It’s your brain turning into a spaceship that you have no idea how to control and you’re desperately slamming buttons until you hear “SELF-DESTRUCT IN 10..9..” Most importantly depression is not something to be taken lightly, and if you feel it overwhelming you, REACH OUT.

The reality is that it is an internal struggle that we must always overcome. Not always alone, but it is something we have to do for ourselves. Motivation and depression, to me, are closely linked together. I’m not motivated so I’m not doing anything. Not doing anything makes me depressed. Being depressed makes me not motivated. Until I spiral into a vortex of doom.

Alas! There is a solution! DANCE! Dance, sing, jump, or even – just quietly smile. In our depression, our anxiety, our injuries and family emergencies we lose track of progress. You feel like you are losing at the game of life. And, maybe, when you start to “lose” at the game of life you are like me and you throw your hands up and say SCREW IT! I DIDN’T CARE ANYWAYS! LET THE DEATHEATERS WIN! And, maybe, for a few days or weeks or months, they do.

But as the wise and powerful Dumbledore once said “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” So let us turn on our own lights. Let us dance and sing. For a moment, let’s remember all of the powerful things we do everyday. In moments of depression getting up to go to work, cooking a real meal, not spending six hours watching Netflix seems almost impossible. Today quietly smile to yourself, because you went to work, or you finally cooked a real meal, or maybe, today, you only spent four hours watching Netflix. Find your small victory and trumpet it proudly around! Grab everyone you see, shake them violently by the shoulders and scream “I FINALLY SCHEDULED MY DOCTOR APPOINTMENT!” Blast a victory song and dance wildly on your way to work because you ARE on your way to work even though you swore you would call out today.

Celebrate yourself and the moments you keep trucking on, no matter how seemingly small. Some people might think this is silly, that the small things don’t really matter. But I know that I am right, because self doubt will never get you anywhere and confidence will take you miles. Smile, dance, shake people violently. I don’t care. Just for a moment know that you did it. And in knowing you did, know that you will again.

My Worst Enemy

We all have dreams, ideas, and goals. Images we’ve painted for ourselves and others. Most importantly, expectations. Now of course once you see the word expectations on a motivational blog you must start thinking of great things. Publishing a book! Getting a great job! Learning an instrument! No. Drop those dreams for a minute, we have more important things to discuss.

Expectations we do not realize we hold on to every, single day. We expect we’ll probably be late, we aren’t usually on time. We won’t have time to fix that broken thing, we haven’t for two weeks. And I am absolutely certain that at some point today I WILL eat that unhealthy snack. I always, always do. The absolute worst expectation I carry around with me? Maybe I accomplished something today, maybe even a few days. But eventually I will break. Not a doubt in my mind, sooner than later I will fail. Does this expectation haunt you? Are you just counting down the moments until you give up?

I don’t want to give up. All I want is to be stronger. To see my dreams and once, just once, to reach them. The first step? Let go. Expectations and definitions have held my capability down like heavy chains. I didn’t realize I had made them myself. Slowly I had built what I thought was a security blanket, only to find a net and I was caught. It is time to cut my way out.

Before when I woke up in the morning I would confront myself. Am I going to get out of bed? Or will I just sleep a little bit longer? I went to sleep knowing I would have this confrontation. Then morning would come and sometimes I would get out of bed, others I would sleep. A few days ago I found the difference. In my first few days of motivation, I don’t even expect that morning routine. Contemplation isn’t involved. I wake up and I move. Not because I had the mental fortitude to work my way up, but because I didn’t cling to the expectations that I would go back to sleep. There was no second guessing.

Our worst critic is ourself. Our heaviest chains are our own doubts. We make our obstacles only when we focus on them. To find true success I first had to let go. Walk away from my own doubts and for once, not linger near them. I’m not saying shoving positivity down your throat is the best way to go. I’m simply saying that no one can succeed when all they expect is failure.

Drop the image of yourself you steadily built up. Those flaws you joke about? Quit it. Stop saying you’re always late, that you can’t make things work, that you have problems with commitment. I don’t care how lightly you mention it. That is not you. It is a wall of expectations you made and you need to knock it down. Yes, it’s hard to suddenly realize that maybe you’ve been setting yourself up for your own failure. But once you move on from that, all you have is success.