There’s an art to keeping yourself motivated over the long haul. It isn’t as simple as following five steps in a row, or making a Motivation Map or vision board or whatever the shizbuckets is popular these days. Motivation is complicated, and it’s most difficult to manage when you’re already sleep-deprived, broke, stressed, or all three. But tiny rituals help.
Tiny rituals are just that…tiny. Daily. Rituals.
They’re habits that keep you not only motivated, but fully alive and present. They’re not a big deal, they don’t require your participation in any 30-day challenges, and they take no offense if you skip a day or 17.
Tiny rituals aren’t little judgey assholes scrunching up their noses while discussing how much you suck. They’re immensely helpful little beings of light.
Tiny ritual #1: guard your beginnings and endings.
Whether you’re choosing to work for nine minutes or nine hours a day, guarding your time with a formal ending and formal beginning keeps you more focused. Instead of keeping your laptop open in the background while trying to do 22 other activities for six hours in a row, try lighting a candle and setting a timer for thirty minutes. Go hard, go fast, and see if you need another thirty minutes when the timer is up. You’ll get shit-tons of your work done in one-third the time it takes when you’re floating like a lost balloon in Distractedville.
Personally, I light a candle, then say a prayer that goes something like, “Help me to do my best and most sacred work today.” I pull a tarot card for my client(s) and get to it. When my work is done, I blow the candle out.
Easy beginning, easy ending. Energetic division…done. With one breath, my kitchen table is once again ready for hosting meals instead of laptops.
Tiny ritual #2: take breaks.
(Not dance breaks, unless you fucking love dance breaks.)
Truth is, dancing isn’t my favorite. Even by myself, I get sort of awkward and shy and weird about all that movement. But I can stretch like a mofo. I can breathe deeply, I can stretch my legs with a walk. You don’t have to dance in order to prove to your imaginary friends how imaginary cool you are. Do something else that switches your brain off when it’s tired of being on, or on when it’s tired of being off.
Oh, and…it’s okay to rest when you’re tired. Napping is as legit a break as busting out the Michael Jackson Remix.
Tiny ritual #3: bring on staff.
Pretend that you’re really fancy and you can spend $100,000 a year to hire a team of advisors.
Best-selling authors. Brilliant marketers. Poets. Artists. Entrepreneurs. Nobel Prize winners. The best minds of our time.
Imagine they’re all available to do your bidding and give advice whenever you see fit. Now, open your Podcasts app and choose up to five of these brilliant people to listen to each week.
Let your fellow humans teach you stuff, show you stuff, entertain you, and otherwise give you brain food. For free. (Bam! Just saved you a hundred grand.)
Of course, I’d be happy to be on your staff. Subscribe to That’s What She Said right here and you’ll get a new episode every Tuesday.
Tiny ritual #4: sip from other cups.
Whether you’re obsessed with Pinterest or Instagram; whether you’re reading another non-fiction series or you’re dying for the new book by your favorite author to come out, it’s your job to sip from other cups. To take in all the world has to offer and to remix it in your life the way only you can.
Actively seek inspiration, motivation, and input, or your well will inevitably run dry. (Input versus output is totally handled in episode #5.)
Tiny ritual #5: make stuff you don’t sell.
That’s right, stuff you don’t sell. Stuff you’re not trying to strategize or market or turn into your next paying gig. Stuff without hashtags or ‘follow me’ reminders. Just..stuff. Maybe that means you shoot film with your family, or you take a painting class, or you mess around with 30×40 inch canvases and waste inordinate amounts of supplies making new creations. (Yes, those are my feet in the photo up there.)
Maybe you build Play-Doh towers, the likes of which the world has never seen, or write poems like you used to, before you decided your voice wasn’t worth listening to or wasn’t that interesting. There’s power in making for the sake of making, and it fills your well like little else in the world.
Tiny ritual #6: do the crazy-ass thing every now and again.
“I made this ridiculous decision to go to Iceland with my friends for 13 days in August,” she said, “and then I figured out a way to pay for it.” Now THAT’S a client I adore.
Whether it’s Iceland calling, or you want a new chandelier for your bedroom, or a few days off for staycation in your hammock, let the reason you started this business take over every now and again.
Freedom. Security. Getting out into the world. Stability. Adventure. Mayhem.
Whatever your reason for being in business, let it out to breathe every now and again.
P.S. I’m proud of you.