Nothing kills motivation like four hours of sleep and the smell of a poopy diaper. Welcome back to ParentalGrit, where we continue WEDNESDAY’S march onward towards motivation. As we discussed, motivation for a parent doesn’t always have to be motivation to parent. While many moms and dads are looking for more motivation to be better parents, others need it for exercise, career goals, or side passions. Kids tend to be this massive vacuum of time and energy, often leaving depleted parents with little drive for alternate dreams. So how do we push through the insanity that is parenthood and generate some motivation to take action?
In Wednesday’s post, we discussed at length how scheduling is the secret weapon of conquering your goals as a parent. When I Get Around To It…is code for something never getting accomplished as a parent. This is what I say about yardwork and my Honey-Do list…and I gleefully never accomplish anything. If you want to work towards a goal, you need to schedule it before the week and not attempt to squeeze it in during the week. We also mentioned that motivation is fleeting, so the earlier in the day, the better!
One thing that rarely gets mentioned about scheduling is including downtime in the equation. Parents riding the wave of motivation to chase down their aspirations often cling to ALL DAY EVERYDAY! to achieve their goals. Not only is that unsustainable, but it often casts all progress into a muddled purgatory. That is to say, it is much better to commit 100% to your goal for small chunks of the day rather than commit 50% all day. Schedule that workout or brainstorm or one-on-one with your spouse and leave it be; trying to do all the things all the time only leads to weak results. And since we’re going to be scheduling, it is beneficial to set aside time for relaxation. It is much better to kick back and enjoy a Friday night movie with the spouse that was planned than to spontaneously decide to binge watch The Office for the 17th time when you were going to work on a side hustle.
When we talk about maintaining motivation for your goals, ambiguity is always the enemy. Motivation will fizzle like my grass in July if there isn’t a clear and specific motive supporting it. Do you want to be a better parent or do you want to remain patient during your child’s public tantrum? Do you want to lose weight or lose 15 pounds by Christmas? Do you want to find a new job or find a mentor in a different career field? Motivation is irrevocably tied to a vision grounded in clarity and specificity. Ambiguous goals are the hallmark of what I call Do Better Syndrome. Do Better Syndrome is the passive, wishful condition for those who only move forward in their daydreams. As a dreamer and a creative, I am guilty of this far more often than I’d like to admit; my motivations were always Do Better or Be Better without much substance behind them. If you want to stay motivated as a parent, you need a ridiculously specific endgame that allows you to quantify your progress and focus your intentions.
The final path we’re going to mention in keeping your motivation in overdrive as a parent is to skip the guilt. One of the most surprising—for me anyway—developments in becoming a parent was all the random pangs of guilt I feel when it comes to raising my daughters. It’s like every second spent away from them somehow triggers an instant feeling of regret. The reality, however, is that time spent away from my daughters helps me to become a better parent with them. Succeeding at work, grinding at the gym, or exploring a side hobby completes my person, which then indirectly positively affects my interactions with my girls. We must detach quantity of time spent from quality of time spent to really move forward without any negative thoughts towards a new goal.
Parenthood is this weird transition where every aspect of your life is suddenly in competition with every other. Free time is that thing you had 13 years ago that you can barely remember and energy only comes from a magical bean in 16 oz portions. Life moves quickly as is but children put things on overdrive. If you want to stay motivated as a parent, commit to your goal, get it scheduled, get it specific, and balance your priorities. Having my daughters was the best thing for my life, even if it makes every step forward exponentially more strenuous. Have a good weekend…and stay motivated!