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No Motivation

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 

For as long as I can remember I've had problems motivating myself to do anything. In high school I couldn't motivate myself to study, which has continued through university, and resulted in my dropping out.

Now it's causing me problems in every day life. I am an artist, but can't motivate myself to draw, despite the prospect of art work making money. I can't even get the motivation to do the crafts I enjoy; knitting, crochet among other things. I just end up sitting around all day, doing very little. I just can't make myself get off the chair to be productive, despite the positive things doing it would result in. It's not even something as simple as laziness.

I do housework, play with my daughter, and do all the necessary things, but I find doing anything that's optional impossible. I'm terrible for procastination, and just don't have the will to do much. It makes me feel miserable and useless, but I have no idea how to get out of this rut. I don't even know why I have such a huge problem with something so silly.

I'm also worried that I'll turn out like my Mother; she was lazy and never did anything with us because she didn't feel like it. She rarely played with us or took us anywhere, and complained if we wanted her help in anything.

Can anyone give me advice? I'm so sick of wasting my days and just want to be productive and make the most of my artistic skills. I also worry that this awful habit might rub off on my daughter when she's older. Any help would be great.

 

Edited to add; UPDATE #39!


Edited by nettlesoup - 11/14/10 at 3:32am
post #2 of 42
Well, my mom was busy allll the time. She worked full time, did house work AND knitted, crocheted, sewed like a mad woman, wallpapered, painted, retiled bathrooms and kitchen counters, reupholstered furniture (!), cooked, maintained a big garden, made artsy crafty things for the holidays, all with 4 children. Did I mention she worked full time?

I have two children and I am a sahm. I haven't done even half of what my mom has done. So I don't think you're doomed to be like your mom. Obviously I'm nothing like my mom.

I can only take your word for it that your mom was lazy. But just consider that she might have been dealing with some demons. She may have been very depressed. That does not make your childhood experience one bit better, but maybe it's a helpful insight.

All that said, I TOTALLY get what you're worried about.

How old is your child?
post #3 of 42
Have you been to a doctor? Are you fatigued or chronically ill or depressed or anxious?

ETA: you do housework and play with your daughter. That sounds like being a full-time SAHM. Do you NEED to do extras for money, or do you just think you should because of someone else's expectations?
post #4 of 42
nettlesoup, I think I could have written much of your post! Much of the time I find it impossible to work on things that I want to do but don't feel like doing. Would you say that sounds like your problem, or is it more what lolar2 suggested, that you don't want to do these optional things at all, you just feel like you should want to do them? Do you start out excited to paint but then end up playing solitaire when you go to look up a reference photo, or do you dread the idea from the get-go?

If you have my problem, I'm sorry to say I haven't found a solution, but here are the insights I've found:

1. Maybe it's the fact that we spent out whole lives doing things other people made us do that we just never had the opportunity to learn how to make ourselves do stuff. Is it a discipline thing? I don't know. (Maybe a lot of people have this problem but you can't tell because they're just not trying to work on things like art projects.)

2. I'm considering mental illness. I've been procrastinating(!) on talking to a doctor and just researching on the internet for now. I'm thinking either inattentive-type ADHD or dysthymia, probably the latter. Maybe you should also look into other mood disorders/depression.

3. Some people say procrastination is a product of perfectionism. Are you discouraged from working on an artwork because you feel like you won't be able to get it perfect? Can you try giving yourself permission to make less perfect artwork?
post #5 of 42
Thread Starter 
Cyllya, that is exactly what I feel! I want to but I just don't feel like it. Or I'll get sidetracked and lose the motivation. I've been looking online for answers, and a lot of people seem to say that positive thinking may help. I am a pretty negative person, and often think 'why bother', or 'what's the point anyway'. I think it's my negative views of myself that are killing off my motivation.

I have 'You Can Heal Your Life' by Louise Hay, which I have had on my bookcase for years, but have never got through. I decided to give it a go last night in hope that it might help me, and I think it might really make a difference! A lot of the things she is saying really make sense, and I'm starting to see how my negative thoughts are stopping me from doing what I want to do.

I am not depressed, but I do sometimes feel down and stuck. I feel like every day is the same and that's I'm getting nowhere. It doesn't help that my daughter (who is 18 months) is going through a development spurt and is a bit difficult at the moment.

Journeymom; I would love to be like your Mum! It's not that I don't want to do these things, I really do, but I just find it impossible to actually make myself do it. One thing that puts me off is the thought that my drawings won't be good enough to sell, so why bother. Again it seems to be a product of negative thoughts. I was brought up by a Mother who was mentally and emotionally abusive, put me down all the time, told me I was fat when I was skinny, things like that. If my younger sister did something wrong, I got punished. So now I suffer from guilt and low self worth, which I'm sure has a major part in things.
But I no longer live with her, and have my own life, so I'm working on letting the negative stuff go. It's so difficult, but will make things a lot better for me.

I also want to try and alter my diet; maybe sugar is having an effect on my mood. I've ordered 'The Mood Cure' in hope that a change in diet can help me. I have terrible mood swings at times, and silly things can get my in a bad mood. So I'll see what happens when I work on both my diet and mental/ spiritual health.

After all this, I realise I've answered my own questions! Thank you for all the help, and I'm glad I'm not alone with my lack of motivation. If I successfully get through this I'll update with my experience, in case other people find it helpful. Wish me luck!
post #6 of 42
I also lack motivation, and have been trapped in an abusive marriage (which really effects your ability to think and get things done). For me, motivation is significantly biochemical- if I take my mega b stress complex and a teaspoon of kelp powder, and tons of vitamin c, then I get much more done. Also- clove oil is motivating and rosemary activating (among other aromatherapies). Some drops in a spray bottle and spritzed around the house do help me (sometimes I put them in my spray cleaner). And one more thing- my sister, who is the highly motivated get everything done type- recommends the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_Habit...fective_People and I haven't read it yet. Must motivate to the library at some point!
post #7 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
you do housework and play with your daughter. That sounds like being a full-time SAHM. Do you NEED to do extras for money, or do you just think you should because of someone else's expectations?
I'd say it's totally the opposite. Being a full-time SAHM fulfills society's expectations. But she's talking about making art, which to an artist is pretty vital for self worth.

Anyhow, I know how you feel. I write and paint and have to really force myself to do either sometimes (though I've improved as of late). I'd agree that it's probably linked to a psychological issue. My only advice is this: sometimes I'll pull out a bunch of poetry volumes and/or art books and leaf through them until I feel a.) inspired or b.) so guilty from not working that I have to prove something to myself. Maybe that will help you!
post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzybee View Post
I'd say it's totally the opposite. Being a full-time SAHM fulfills society's expectations. But she's talking about making art, which to an artist is pretty vital for self worth.

Anyhow, I know how you feel. I write and paint and have to really force myself to do either sometimes (though I've improved as of late). I'd agree that it's probably linked to a psychological issue. My only advice is this: sometimes I'll pull out a bunch of poetry volumes and/or art books and leaf through them until I feel a.) inspired or b.) so guilty from not working that I have to prove something to myself. Maybe that will help you!
I didn't mean society's expectations. I meant maybe one person or a small group of people-- sometimes that is enough to feel pressured if the person is, say, your mother or your DH or someone else very important to you.

I am a musician and I really do get the whole artist thing. But I also don't enjoy it when I'm under pressure to do it, yk? Either I can be motivated to perform something because I'm being paid or fulfilling a volunteer commitment, or I can be motivated because I love it and I am doing it for myself for the joy of it, but just the occasional "you shouldn't waste your talents" comment (whether from within or without) is not at all motivating.
post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
I didn't mean society's expectations. I meant maybe one person or a small group of people-- sometimes that is enough to feel pressured if the person is, say, your mother or your DH or someone else very important to you.

I am a musician and I really do get the whole artist thing. But I also don't enjoy it when I'm under pressure to do it, yk? Either I can be motivated to perform something because I'm being paid or fulfilling a volunteer commitment, or I can be motivated because I love it and I am doing it for myself for the joy of it, but just the occasional "you shouldn't waste your talents" comment (whether from within or without) is not at all motivating.
Ohh, I see what you mean. I'm pretty mixed on that. On one hand, I hate when my husband nags me to write, but on the other, it works wonders at making me just sit down and do it. I get mad as a hornet and then I crank out something hahah.
post #10 of 42
Thread Starter 
Provocativa, thanks for the supplement recommendations, that might be a good idea. I'm sorry to hear things are tough for you.

The problem with the art is, I'm never motivated to do it, unless I have a commission. I did have relatively frequent work from the Botanic Gardens, but they seem to have either run out of work or replaced me.
But I just can't make myself do it, or any other crafts despite wanting to. It's like it's just too much effort to actually get up and do it. Because of this I have nothing to show. I have nothing to put in exhibitions because the only work I ever bother doing is that for other people.

But I'm also thinking maybe I need to try something new which might motivate me. So I'm going to do a course in woodworking in October, and you never know, it might be something I'm willing to do a lot of. We'll see.
post #11 of 42
Great posts here.

Some people say that doing your hobby for money takes the joy out of it. A mom here talked about how she'd become a good seamstress, but the one time she made something for pay, with a deadline, it was an unpleasant experience. My mother-in-law decorates lovely cakes but for the same reason won't be paid for it. She's made several wedding cakes for friends and family. She does it when she feels like it.

Quote:
Journeymom; I would love to be like your Mum! It's not that I don't want to do these things, I really do, but I just find it impossible to actually make myself do it.
She was an amazing woman. But I wonder if she kept so busy so she didn't have to deal with us.

I think we're full of ought to's and shoulds. Well, because there is a lot of stuff we should do. We're parents and we have huge responsibilities.

That 'negative thinking' concept has a lot of merit. I think this stops me a lot. My automatic conclusion is that if I make it, it won't be good. No matter what. If I made it, it's inferior.

When it's something I've simply had to get on with, regardless of my reservations, I succeed just fine. Like learning to cook. I had to learn to cook when we had kids, because there was no way we could afford to eat out all the time. So day after day I slogged through, making lots of mistakes and learning a lot.

And there's also this idea that since the whole self-esteem movement from the 60s and 70s, kids have been learning that it's more important to be smart than it is to work hard. The result is that these kids give up sooner than other kids do. Po Bronson talks about this in Nurture Shock. The kids who are told they're smart but aren't particularly encouraged to stick with challenges and not give up, they give up if they don't 'get' something the first time.

I definitely think this applies to me.
post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by nettlesoup View Post
But I'm also thinking maybe I need to try something new which might motivate me. So I'm going to do a course in woodworking in October, and you never know, it might be something I'm willing to do a lot of. We'll see.
Excellent idea! With your additional details, I thought "bored with the old stuff and needs to try a new medium." There you go.
post #13 of 42
maybe it's something ingrained from childhood- many of us were taught to work for grades or rewards, not to find value intrinsic in the work or process of working. i was great at my art (mostly writing, some visual), but never really found pleasure in just writing for myself, and i was a schoolteacher's kid who won all the academic awards, and probably got hooked on the praise that way (our parents treated us pretty equally and sanely at home).
post #14 of 42
So...you are a full-time mom to an 18 month old daughter who you play and interact with while staying on top of your housework? If that is the case I would stop telling yourself that you lack motivation. You don't. Your job right now is to take care of your daughter and home (apparently, not saying it has to be). Rather than a motivation problem, you might have a life-stage problem! Self talk is so extremely effective. I would immediately start thinking of a new way of describing the problem you are having. Maybe someone will take me to task for saying this, but I feel like a low energy, unmotivated person would not be able to keep up housework. Housework is pretty tedious, entertaining a toddler is full of joy...but...anyway, please stop telling yourself that you have no motivation in the global sense. You have given yourself clear expectations of what kind of mother you want to be and you are meeting those expectations. It is okay, right now, if you only have energy for your child and household chores.

BUT you want to create. Do you actually have chunks of time available or are you trying to squeeze it in before your daughter wakes up or during nap time? Were you able to get stuff done when you had a commission? (I think your post said yes). I would wonder if rather than just than being motivated by the money of a "job" you were able to complete commissions because there was structure- you probably weren't starting with nothing. So, can you give yourself structure? Your daughter's birthday is in 6 months. Can you start planning her party and do stuff for that? Think up some crazy, interesting theme. Crochet or otherwise craft little favors, make decorations that would also be fine art, make funky handmade invitations. It doesn't have to look like Martha Stewart. A reason and an endpoint might help give you structure.

I also think it is okay to "waste your talents" for a little while, or forever. There are stages of life, maybe this one doesn't include the same type of art you are used to doing. Maybe telling yourself that you don't have to create right now, but that you have the rest of your life to make art will help. You may end up creating the mental space you need to get inspired and create anyway even though "you don't HAVE to " right now. Self talk is really incredible. I would explore your thoughts about this a little...
post #15 of 42
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately that's not the case. I was like this long before she was born, and I'm just the same now, despite having some time to do things. When I say I do housework, it's often the bare minimum. And not because my daughter's keeping me busy. It's because I can't get the will power to move and actually do something. The majority of the day is spent doing very little, and I hate the fact that I waste hours doing literally nothing. I wish my daughter was the reason, because then I'd know it would pass, but she's not and it feels like it'll never pass
post #16 of 42
Nettlesoup, get yourself to the doctor and get checked out for depression. Medication might help you cope with the challenge you're living with and will live with for the next few years.

In your first post you said,
Quote:
For as long as I can remember I've had problems motivating myself to do anything. In high school I couldn't motivate myself to study, which has continued through university, and resulted in my dropping out.
This was my experience as well.

What was studying and doing homework like? Was it easy or a challenge?

How did you feel after you dropped out?

Honestly you are probably still dealing with the aftereffects of this time in your life. It effects your daily life, today.

At least, that is true for me. Dropping out of college did a huge number on my self-esteem and I've been feeling the effects ever since. (I'm 42 years old and my kids are 15 an 11 years old.)

I've been taking antidepressants for 10 years now. I've been in therapy for 2 years. My perspective has been changing. I wonder if the reason I can't get motivated is because I'm not living the life that's right for me. I should probably have a very simple life. A small house, an easy schedule. Fewer obligations, more fun with friends and family.

Anyway, your comment about your school experience intrigued me and I think you should explore it.
post #17 of 42
Thread Starter 
Studying and homework was definitely a challenge. I would find other things to do instead, and I just couldn't sit down and study, no matter how much the subject interested me. My biggest regret in life is dropping out my herbal medicine degree. I was very interested in it, and enjoyed it, but I dropped out near the end of second year. My excuse at the time was that I had got my dream job as a botanical illustrator. But it was also around the exams that I should have been studying for.

I don't think I'm depressed; I sleep fine and usually am relatively content. But over the past week since realising my issues with movitation, I have been feeling pretty down. I think it 's because it seems like an impossible task to overcome. I'll give the Louise Hay method another try, and I've also just got The Mood Cure through the post. If none of this helps, I'll maybe start looking elsewhere for answers.
post #18 of 42
I just wanted to chime in and say that pre-child I was a highly motivated, very productive person, crafted all the time, wrote, kept up a garden. I was always working on something. But since I've had a child I have zero energy or motivation to do anything beyond the normal upkeep of a house, healthy cooking and occasional yoga. I just don't care about creating art anymore. Once a every 9 months I'll get the urge to knit or sew, but it's nothing extravagant. For me, the way I parent combined with the lack of outside help/support means that my little one takes every ounce of creative and motivational energy, and I'm kinda OK with that for now. I feel like if I an put my creative energy into raising my son and cooking healthy food and that is all I can do for the first few years of his life, then that's ok.
post #19 of 42
One of the things causing those sort of feelings is hypothyroidism....
post #20 of 42
I've always been like that too.

I've recently been diagnosed with ADD inattentive type as well as hypothyroidism. I've also struggled with depression my entire life. I believe all three make motivation hard. Especially the ADD... sometimes I get unmotivated because I'm too overwhelmed.
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