When the Motivation Is Gone, Apply the String Method

Auriane Alix
A way not to waste all your efforts.
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I couldn’t find any more inspiration to write. I had a list of 70+ subject ideas, but I couldn’t find one that would give me the spark and make me rush to my keyboard.

I almost quit. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t write anymore. It was a pity because I had put a lot of effort into my writing. It was beginning to go well, my efforts were bearing fruit, and exactly at that moment, I was about to stop.

I think I’ve reached the dip. A deep dip.

I couldn’t write anymore, but I could bring myself to stop. So I applied the string method. Don’t try to Google it. You won’t find anything but climbing techniques. The string method is a personal invention that was born just for this special time I’ve been through. And I wasn’t even aware that I was creating it.

Quit without Quitting

The string method is about taking distance from something but keeping it close at hand. Imagine a rope that connects you to the thing. You’re not as close as you used to be, but you’re not completely separated.

That’s quitting without quitting. This can be translated in different ways. For me, it was trying to keep editing and publishing the drafts that hadn’t found a home yet. I probably wrote 3 stories in 3 weeks, instead of my usual 21.

The trick here is twofold.

First, you take a little distance, which allows you to rest. It’s one of the ways to restore motivation. Sometimes all you need is a break. That way, you rest without losing track of your efforts and progress. It slows you down, but when motivation returns and you get back on track, you don’t have to start all over again.

Second, it’s a good way to test whether or not something should stay in your life. Motivation is tricky. Sometimes it’s not there when it should be. But at other times, if it’s not there, it’s for a good reason. How do you know when to stop? How do you know you’re not wasting time and going down a path that is not in line with who you are and who you’re becoming? Well, taking some distance is a good way to test that. If motivation doesn’t return after a while, it may be a sign that you should move on.

Find a Way to Maintain a Connection

It’s crucial that you don’t leave this thing out completely. You have to keep that thing in the corner of your head. Keep a connection, even if it’s 5 minutes a day, or 10 minutes every other day.

If your thing is sport, and you can’t find the motivation to do your daily 40 minutes workout, focus on completing 20 minutes workouts, or do 2 sessions a week instead of 6. If your thing is drawing and you can’t find inspiration, just doodle 5 minutes a day and see what comes out of it.

Just get through the storm without losing sight of your thing. That’s what the rope’s for.

When motivation returns, you’ll just need to get back to your usual pace, step by step. You don’t have to start from the beginning. You’ll just get back to your thing after a few necessary and well-deserved vacations.

We are human beings. Not machines. Nothing’s consistent, and it’s up to us to keep showing up. And sometimes, often, it’s not simple. A million reasons to stop get in the way, and consistency is one of the most complicated things to have. And yet it is crucial to achieving our goals. Nothing happens overnight — oatmeal apart.

Take a rest if you need it, but don’t forget why you started. And be aware of one thing. If you stop because you encounter obstacles, you will end up starting something else, which you will also stop when you encounter obstacles. For there is nothing in life worth living that does not have obstacles in the way. Obstacles are there to test your motivation. Prove to them that you’re not planning on giving up anytime soon.

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