Unfulfilled

Lately, I’ve been bummed out by how I’ve been choosing to spend my free time in the evenings. Usually I end up watching TV or surfing the web, and then all of a sudden it’s time for bed and I feel like I wasted my time.
There are all sorts of things I imagine myself doing instead: reading, knitting, biking, taking tennis or swimming lessons to improve my abilities, taking a cooking course, starting a couch-to-5k running program, taking up my clarinet again, cleaning, doing things around the house, baking….so many things.
So, why can’t I get off my butt and do these things? I seem to have a never-ending list of excuses: I’m too tired, I just ate, I deserve to “relax”, and I’m not feeling well (headache, stomach ache, or achy neck/shoulders are the usuals) are all the reoccuring favorites. What it comes down to, though, is I just don’t have the motivation to climb out of my lowest energy state. 
Another problem is how I define “relaxing” – for some reason, I think it means to basically turn off, tune out, and dumbly stare at a screen. Then I feel like butt later. When I do something more productive, I always feel so much better. For some reason, though, I just can’t connect that feeling to motivating me later on (this is the same with working out – always feel great after, but that never helps when I have to do it the next time).
Do you find yourself in motivational ruts? How do you get out of them?

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Comments on: "Unfulfilled" (13)

  1. Sometimes outside motivation helps — arranging to meet up with someone for a post-dinner bike ride, for example, will force you to go and do it so you don't let them down. Or if you sign up for a class and pay you'll be more motivated to do that one evening/week.
    I have a personal deal with television which is that the minute it goes on I pick up my knitting. It might be a really simple project on a night I'm too tired to focus, but I find if I at least knit while watching tv –even a few rows — I feel like I got something done besides just staring at the tube!

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  2. when my kids were much younger all I could do was make it to about 5PM and then I just wanted to crawl into bed! Now that they are older I am able to motivate to do pilates at night, but that is about it. I make myself go by signing up for classes. I have to pay whether I show up or not

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  3. We don't have kids so that is a GIANT difference but DH and I are prone to wasting time in front of a screen. Ages ago I stopped paying for cable, now I go online instead (recommended!). My TV watching is done with intent, ex: particular shows that I download ahead of time, but I can still browse blogs for hours. His vice is online sudoku games and comics.

    The beauty of a laptop is: the battery will run out! That's our cue – if we've exhausted the battery then our computer time is up, and we need to switch tasks.

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  4. I'm with you too! I have been trying to consciously remind myself just how great I will feel once I have done “X”. This morning for example, I had decided I was going to go on a little walk with the dog before everyone woke up. So I set my alarm and when it went off I was mighty tempted to just lie there until some child came in to our bed. But up I got and twenty minutes later I was back and feeling ready to go for the day. Logged that in to the mental bank so next time I get a chance to go on an early morning walk I will remember.

    My evening vice is the laptop – blogs, pinterest, and twitter…..and I have all of the same vices as you holding me back. Too tired, deserving of a relax, etc, etc. I try to not take the laptop out of my bag (I use it for work so it travels to and from the office with me everyday) until I have completed one task……luckily one task often leads to another and before I know it I only have 20-30 minutes before I should be crawling in to bed. I like the idea of not plugging it in and when the battery is dead then its time to get off! I also turn the TV on while puttering around in the kitchen. I can make a pot of soup and a batch of muffins while I “watch” an entire show. Somehow it lets me believe that I was totally relaxing while still being very productive.

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  5. Oh geez, I feel like I could have written this post… I do the exact same thing, frittering time away even though I KNOW I'll feel a million times better if I write something, pick up my guitar, do some pilates or whatever. It's particularly bad now the Olympics are on!

    The good thing with Mr E Man being away, though, is that in the last week or so I've been more motivated to make plans with friends and to go out and do other stuff by myself. For example, tonight I'm going to go to a Cafe Scientifique event downtown, even though none of my geeky friends can make it (there'll definitely be at least one friend-of-a-friend, acquaintance, or someone I at least know to look at down there so I won't be completely sad and lonely!) At least, that's what I'm planning… I'm going to try to fight the usual 6pm “I'm tired and I just wanna go home” feeling!

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  6. For me it's a matter of habit, really. Some months ago I thought I could try to teach myself singing a little better. Since it's difficult for me to take lessons at this point (no daycare place yet, but we have two starting in January) I had to find a time and place to do it at home. The first week went well, then there's the motivational valley, and at this point it's about to become a habit, then the motivation isn't so difficult anymore. (That having been said, practicing without instructor only gets me so far. Sooner or later I'll have to look for an instructor or get myself another hobby.)

    I guess what I'm saying is it might be easier if you do it regularly, on a fixed schedule, and try to hold on to that for at least a week or two. After that it might become easier. Besides this, I don't think there's anything wrong with sitting on the couch watching TV, so don't feel bad about it!

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  7. Wool Free – I think I will sign up for a class or two in the fall. Paying for it might help! Also, love the idea of TV = knitting. I'll try that, thanks!

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  8. feMOMhist – maybe I'm overshooting just how much I can do with a young child at home? I do like the idea of paying for a class to motivate oneself. I'm thinking of signing up for 1-2 in the fall.

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  9. Natalie – Love the laptop battery idea!

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  10. Kelly – good on you for taking the walk when you really didn't want too! I like the idea of not using the laptop until you've done 1 productive thing, or having the TV on while you do something else.

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  11. Cath – sounds like we're not the only ones! Glad you're making plans to be out and about with Mr. E Man gone. It can be easy to just slip into bad habits when no one is around!

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  12. Bee – I know you're completely right! I need to make a deal with myself to do something consistently for 2-4 weeks and then see what happens.

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  13. Yes, my preference for being out with people rather than home alone is strong enough to over-ride my inherent laziness! Although I don't think sending DH away for six weeks was quite the solution you were looking for…

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