Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Pace Smith, The Pathfinding Coach.
Are you feeling unmotivated? That might be a red alert, signaling that you are off your path and that you must make a change immediately. On the other hand, it might be a false alarm, signaling that you need to, like, eat some peanuts or something.
I’ve seen would-be Creative Giants turn away from their heart’s deepest calling because they mistook a false alarm for a red alert. I’ve seen would-be Creative Giants quit a career that could have been deeply fulfilling if only they had eaten a handful of peanuts.
I don’t want the same to happen to you, so listen up.
Here’s what a red alert looks like:
Once upon a time, Stephanie decided to follow her childhood dream of becoming an artist. Everything was great for a while, but then her motivation dried up. Day after day, she sat in her studio staring at the canvas, trying to summon up a spark of creativity.
When that failed, she wondered if she had chosen the wrong path. She feared that she wasn’t cut out for this. She doubted her worthiness as an artist.
She forced herself to paint anyway, and the painting was coming along nicely, but then she started painting faster, more roughly, more haphazardly, with angry strokes.
Stephanie took a step back and realized that she had completely ruined what would have been a perfectly good painting.
“Why did I do that?” she wondered aloud.
Here’s what a false alarm looks like:
Once upon a time, Brianne decided to follow her childhood dream of becoming an artist. Everything was great for a while, but then her motivation dried up. Day after day, she sat in her studio staring at the canvas, trying to summon up a spark of creativity. When that failed, she forced herself to paint anyway, but instead of jumpstarting her creative engine, it only created a big ugly mess.
She wondered if she had chosen the wrong path. She feared that she wasn’t cut out for this. She doubted her worthiness as an artist.
She took a break.
She went for a walk.
She called it an early night and got a good night’s rest.
And when she came back to her studio the next day, she saw how to turn yesterday’s big ugly mess into the beginning of something new and beautiful.
Here’s how to tell the difference:
The key tip-off to a red alert is self-sabotage. When Stephanie ruined her perfectly good painting, that was her heart acting out, trying to tell her that painting was not the right path for her.
Brianne’s unmotivation, on the other hand, was caused by the natural cycle of creativity and by needing some time and space to recharge.
If you’re continually sabotaging yourself in a way that feels a little bit out of control, maybe that’s not a flaw to be overcome. Maybe that’s your heart screaming, trying desperately to get you to listen.
If you’re still not sure which type of unmotivation you’re feeling, try this three-step checklist:
- Take a break, for longer than you think you need to.
- Take care of your body. Move. Eat. Sleep.
- Remind yourself why you care. Reconnect with your vitality.
If your unmotivation is a false alarm, one of these three things will fix it and you’ll start feeling motivated again. (Tweet this.)
If you do all three of these things and you’re still feeling unmotivated, that’s a red alert. That’s your heart saying to you, “Hey! This is not the right thing for you. I’m trying to help you, but I can only help you if you listen to me. Please listen to me. I love you.”