I was sitting at the keyboard, typing away but without my regular gusto. I switched to Facebook, the news, the NBA scores and then wrote a few more paragraphs.
My partner asked if I wanted to go walk the dog with her; I said — No, I have to write.
A couple of hours later, I hadn't produced much. My partner asked if I wanted to watch a movie with her. Can’t need to write! I replied.
More procrastination, and a few more paragraphs later, I finally called it quits. I didn’t have writer's block; I just had a lack of motivation on this day. Instead of calling it early and spending time with my partner, I forced myself to waste half a day with my laptop with little output.
Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break. The permission that not every day is a 10/10 on the motivation and production scale. And that’s OK.
1. Treat yo self
When my dog does something good, I reward him with a treat. When I do something good — I move onto the next thing on my to-do list. This is the wrong way to think. We need to focus more on allowing ourselves little treats.
Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before, writes “Treats” may sound like a self-indulgent, frivolous strategy, but they’re not. Because forming good habits can be draining, treats can play an important role. When we give ourselves treats, we feel energized, cared for, and contented, which boosts our self-command — and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits.”
To remind myself of this, I often just watch this one-minute clip from Parks and Recreation. The phrase Treat Yo Self is so applicable.
First, watch the video above. It will put a smile on your face.
Then follow the advice of Tom and Donna and treat yourself today. Take an hour off work. Eat something you normally wouldn't allow yourself to eat. Sleep in. It doesn't have to be big — it just needs to be a small reward to yourself from yourself.
2. Praise yo self
We’re quick to recognize others’ achievements. But when’s the last time you gave yourself a compliment? Or even shown yourself some compassion? Research shows that self-compassion can reduce the stress that causes us to procrastinate.
There has been a lot written about the power of positive affirmations. According to research, spending just a few minutes thinking about your best qualities before a high-pressure situation — can calm your nerves, increase your confidence, and improve your chances of a successful outcome.
Cognitive scientist Dr. Sian Beilock says, “since we tend to be pretty good at reminding ourselves about our self-doubts, it’s important to be very specific and deliberate in reminding ourselves about the positive.
Praising ourselves is a way of increasing self-esteem and boosting our confidence. It very different from narcissism which means you think you’re better than other people. You're building yourself up for the benefit of yourself not for the detriment of other people.
When nobody else celebrates you, learn to celebrate yourself. When nobody else compliments you, then compliment yourself. It’s not up to other people to keep you encouraged. It’s up to you. Encouragement should come from the inside.” Jay Shetty
Write down the three things you like most about yourself. Then read them aloud throughout the day.
Any time you have a small win — write it down and reflect on it any time you have self-doubt.
3. Be yo self
Elizabeth Scott, wellness coach and the author of “8 Keys to Stress Management, says, “our expectations for our lives may be unrealistic and skewed based on what we think others have. Our perspective of what others have is limited; they do not have the lives we perceive.”
I know I look at successful writers earning tens of thousands of dollars and berate myself for not being as “good” as them. My inner critic thinks if they can do it, why can’t I?
I then put pressure on myself to write more, work more, do more. If they write 2000 words a day, I should write 3000 words a day. If they write for three publications, I’ll write for four. The only thing I’m creating is stress and anxiety.
It is part of the comparison trap which has been exacerbated by social media. University of Houston psychologist Mai-Ly Nguyen Steers refers to social media as “everyone else’s highlights reel.” If you have to log onto social media, you should remind yourself that people are only showing their best lives. Most of it isn’t real.
We live in a world where everyone is sharing one perfect second of their imperfect day, and we’re interpreting that perfect second as a life of perfection. However, the reality is much different. They are living a life of quiet desperation like the rest of us”. Joe Dumas, host of Entrpeneurs on Fire
Put aside competition with others and fake social media, and compete against yourself. Sonja Lyubormirsky, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, and the author of The How of Happiness, says, “people who are happy use themselves for internal evaluation.”
Practice gratitude. Write down three things you have in your life that you are thankful for. Focus on the joy these things bring you.
Next is to compete with yourself (and no one else). Run a personal best time. Write an extra article. Read an extra book. Remove yourself from competing with anyone else.
For me, I now realize I don’t want to be the next Stephen King. I want to the first Ash Jurberg.
On that wasted day, I finally logged off and went on a long walk and then met some friends for dinner. I left my phone behind and had a complete break. On the way home, the idea came to me for this article. It seemed my brain just wanted a rest and refresh without any pressure.
It just needed a spa day.
And that’s OK.