Back in September, I was interviewed by Enterprise Nation, an organisation that champions small businesses. They were interested in profiling my business for World Mental Health Day and finding out what I learned and put into practice from the Amazon Female Founders Bootcamp that I took part in back in March.
Can I say that Enterprise Nation have been a real help too in my business journey.? I’ve lost count of the number of webinars I’ve attended hosted by them through Covid, but they given me information and tools on all aspects of my business and I wouldn’t be were I was today without them…
Here’s the resulting article, telling my journey from developing my business idea to becoming a fully-fledged business:
As Christmas creeps closer, Jo Robinson, life coach and writing for wellbeing facilitator talks about finding motivation as part of the lead up to my Coping with Christmas workshops:
“It was good timing that Anita asked me to guest blog about motivation, as I could feel my motivation flagging halfway through November as we approached the Christmas season.
Blocks to Motivation
As soon as talk of Christmas starts and the festive adverts come on the television, a voice inside me says, ‘Oh, maybe I can leave that until the New Year?’ whenever an unresolved goal or life admin task rears its ugly head. However, the trouble with putting things off until the New Year is that those annoying tasks I’m dodging tend to mount up and spoil Christmas. They’re looming over me so I can’t relax and then January turns into an anxiety-inducing ball of avoidance.
Thankfully, I’ve finally become more aware of my self-sabotaging habits, and this year I’ve promised myself that I’ll avoid these by getting going on my ‘to-do list’ before my Christmas break starts.
‘How do I get the motivation to do this?’ I hear you ask.
How to find motivation
1. Do a brain dump. Write a list and get everything that’s bothering you down on paper – that can be a longer free-write/brain dump to start with, which can then be used to create a numbered list of things that you want to start work on.
a. Write and post two blog posts on my website
b. Prep for a workshop for late January
c. Do research into funding opportunities
d. Get more decluttering done in my flat.
2. Find your why. In order to get motivated to do a goal it’s always best to start with why you want to do it. For me, I want to slow down in December to spend more time with friends and family, then be totally work-free over the Christmas week rather than thinking about those things that I need to start in the New Year.
How to make your list achievable step-by-step
The ideal way of deciding if it’s achievable is to look at your diary and decide a deadline. My deadline is Friday 17th December, so I have just over 3 weeks left. Can I realistically do all the things on my list in that period and if I can’t, can I do parts of them, or cross them off my list?
My Blog: I’ve already drafted two posts, so it would take two days max to get them finished and posted.
My Workshop: I’ve got a meeting set up next week to discuss a potential new workshop
Funding plan: I’ve discussed a funding grant with a friend and discovered that the deadline is Friday 5th December
Decluttering: When am I next going near the charity shops?
The reason I work out my deadline is so that I can ‘reverse engineer’ my tasks – I look at where I have slots of time available and put them in my diary in advance. This enables me to break my goals down into manageable steps, prioritising them in order of importance, which also helps to prepare the different projects.
Just going through this process has increased my motivation; I mentally feel more ready, and it seems to have boosted the proactive part of my brain. It’s conquered the procrastination which was hindering my motivation, which is a reason to celebrate!
I also find talking my plans through with a fellow entrepreneur friend like Anita, or having an ‘action partner’ to check in with helps to keep me accountable and on target. If I’m feel stuck or overwhelmed, it’s good to have a supportive ear to give me a new way of seeing things, or to just listen to me.
Now that I have a plan in place, I have put the items in my diary around my current plans. It’s easy to get distracted, or say yes to last minute invitations in December, so having the tasks in my phone and paper diary, will help to keep them at the forefront of my mind.
If I’m tight for time, or not in the mood, I use the Pomodoro Technique. I set a timer for 30 minutes and get to work on a task. Then I have a five-minute break, and, if I have time after that do another 30 minutes. I use this technique for dealing with emails as it focuses my mind and enables me to use my time more effectively.
In my experience, setting myself rewards a long way ahead isn’t a good motivational tool. I have found that daily bite-sized rewards work more effectively than weekly or monthly rewards as they keep my motivation going. I use simple things like ‘If you get this post finished today, you can watch Netflix for an hour,’ or ‘If you tidy up after dinner, you can have an extra half an hour in bed tomorrow.’ The sort of things a parent might say to a child to make them do their homework!
Another effective technique is to write down what the consequences will be if I don’t get my list done:
How will I feel if I don’t get my tasks done by 17th December?
How will it affect my time over Christmas?
Who else will it affect?
Answering these questions is usually all the motivation I need to keep me going!
I hope these tips have helped you as writing this post has already boosted my motivation!
What is your procrastination list for December? Write this down and choose at least one goal to work on, breaking it down into smaller steps if needed? Feel free to share yours below…and banish those January Blues.”
Jo Robinson is a Writing for Wellbeing Practitioner and Life Coach. She leads therapeutic writing workshops for people who want to increase their social engagement and use writing as a tool for creativity, stress management, and self-expression. A member of the Lapidus Therapeutic Writing Community, Jo has run workshops for several major organisations, including Mind, Hestia, and homeless charity St. Mungos. From her own lived experience of mental health issues, she is passionate about the transformative way that therapeutic writing can help people change the way people think, feel, and act, in order to live happier and more engaged lives.
Find out more about her business on her website or check her out on Instagram @thisisjotoo .
I’m aware that it’s been 3 months since I last posted, and it felt liberating to finally put pen to paper earlier this week in preparation for a new blog post and metaphorically blow away the cobwebs from my mind!
Life has been tough, resulting in me wrestling with unhelpful, self-critical thoughts and doubts about my future. I’ve chosen to hold onto my mustard-seed sized faith in God, even when I can’t see more than a few centimetres ahead of me. Psalm 57:5 (NLT) says “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.”
Also, Ps 32:8 (NIV):
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Both these verses fill me with hope that God has a plan for me, even if I don’t see that crystal clearly right now.
CBT thought sheets have become the order of my day: my most recently tackled thought when reframed was “Although I’ve not written a blog post recently, I am writing regularly, e.g. journalling and at my writing group, and can express myself well. Remember I won 3rd Prize in an Association of Christian Writers’ Journalism competition!” The aim is to come up with a more realistic, rational truth that overcomes the unhelpful thought! That more realistic thought has led to an almost instant change in behaviour, and resulted in this blog post!
The other lesson I have learned is that I have overloading myself with daily tasks, and need to do less. This past week, I have experimented with how much I have planned into my day, purposely making my ‘To Do” list longer some days and seeing how this has affected my mood and how productive I was as a result. Then on other days, doing the opposite: putting in a fewer tasks (more realistic), again seeing how I felt on achieving these and how productive I was. Interestingly, it was on the latter days that I felt better, was more productive and had a greater sense of achievement. This is in contrast to putting too much into my day, falling behind, rushing and hence being less productive and feeling I’ve not achieved enough. On the days with less tasks, I had the choice to add in another activity if I had time and the inclination.
My daily plan for this coming week involves 1 activity in the morning (writing, housework or some admin that needs doing ), having lunch, possibly a rest, e.g. Ignatian meditation or progressive muscle relaxation. Then another activity (prayer group, meet a friend or something enjoyable for me) in the afternoon. It’s taken several months to acknowledge my limits and accept that I’ve been expecting too much of myself and falling into that worldly trap of perfectionism (a battle that I have fought with myself since childhood, I think!). I know I am not alone in thinking this way – Katharine Welby-Roberts writes about her own struggles with perfectionism in her Inner Conflict chapter in her book “I Thought There Would Be Cake” (SPCK, 2017). The other thing I’ve noticed is the automatic negative thoughts racing through my mind have subsided somewhat, as the pressure is taken off myself to be defined by how much I achieve each day. I am learning to be kinder and more accepting of myself, regardless of how much I do, and know that God loves me just as I am, with my imperfections and weaknesses!
Are there any unhelpful thoughts that are affecting your mood? If so, what might be a more realistic, rational thought to tell yourself instead?
Are there any areas of your life where you are overloading yourself? If so, bring it to God, and ask for His wisdom to prioritise what’s important and what can wait.
What can you do to find some rest/ do something relaxing or enjoyable this week?