So, I have a confession to make.
I haven’t always been the productive person I am today.
Truthfully, I’ve never been a person with an overabundance of natural energy. Some people are naturally energetic, like my wife. She’s up and moving with a smile on her face within 3 minutes of waking up… but not me.
Catch me before 10 am and its likely you won’t talk to me for the rest of the day.
I’m just a pretty relaxed kind of dude. Because of this I often used to struggle with staying energized and motivated, especially during the cold rainy months we often experience here in the midwest of the U.S.A.
But like a lot of people that read this blog, I’ve always had this idea in my head that I wasn’t going to just be another run-of-the-mill dude. I wanted to do something great, something that would change the lives of a lot of people, so when I started struggling with this kind of ‘demotivated’ state of mind, I knew I had to find a way to control it.
I had to come to terms that there was a myth, or an invisible script that I was fighting – that because I wasn’t a naturally high energy person, that I wasn’t “meant to” do something great.
Thankfully I figured it out.
Being a Little Too Relaxed
One of the biggest changes in my life in terms of how much I was able to get done was when I realized I had control over my state of mind. Because of my relaxed nature, I used to struggle with getting into productivity ruts where I wouldn’t feel like doing much of anything. I’d watch TV, play video games, and frankly just be lazy.
Even worse, I would rationalize my behavior by telling myself that I “just needed a break” and that “I’d get back to being productive in a few days.”
What I soon learned was that when you sit around and don’t do a whole lot for a few days, you’re much more likely to continue doing exactly that for a long time to come. See what Issac Newton has to say about this.
Soon, a few days would turn into a week. A week into a month. Before I knew it, I would go through three months of doing not a whole lot other than going through the routine of life.
It was a cycle of work, eat, sleep – and that’s about it.
It might work for some people, but to me, and I hope to you as well, that’s no way to live.
I’ve always been someone who has to do more. I’m not OK with just going through life on cruise control. But when I would get into this kind of rut, that’s exactly what I was doomed to do.
Getting Stuck in a Rut
One thing I learned throughout all of the struggle is this. When you’re in that state of mind, you typically don’t really think about how to get out of it, because you just want to keep being lazy. It’s not your fault. It’s just your body’s natural biology at work.
But here’s the thing. If you really know yourself and how you respond to certain activities, you can control your state of mind with just a little bit of discipline.
And that’s what I had to learn how to do.
Actively Controlling Your State of Mind
Eventually through a bit of experimentation I learned that I needed to do three things to get myself up and going again, and into a solid and productive state of mind. You can do these things as well.
1. Getting your blood flowing – Physical activity helps to stimulate the mind and raise cognitive activity. With basically all of my work being in an office environment, I don’t get a lot of movement outside of the gym, especially in poor weather. When I recognized what this was doing to my mental state, I developed a routine to make sure I got to the gym or at least did some sort of physical activity 2 – 3x a week. I would also randomly do things like pushups, situps, and jump rope when I felt a little sluggish. This helped keep me from getting too drug down by a lack of activity, and when I just felt randomly “blah.”
2. Finding a long-term project – The day to day of life, or as I like to call it, the hamster wheel of life, can sometimes cause a sense of stagnation. I felt this quite often, and I trudged through the days just kind of on auto-pilot. In order to feel like I was working towards something meaningful, I needed to find a long-term project where I could improve something. Whether it was learning a new skill, building a course on my website, or completing a project in my house, this gave me something to do other than just go through the normal routine of life. This really helped me look forward to each day and what I could accomplish to improve myself and the world.