The Mindful Enthusiast: The struggle to stay motivated in the face of opposition, boredom, or confusion (or all of the above)

I am currently in a bit of a slump (or series of slumps).  My reading list is pretty short.  I haven’t felt creative or inspired to write.  Things are feeling pretty stagnant.  Motivation can feel elusive once there’s been in drop in productivity and focus.  How can we cultivate that feeling of being in the zone, when we’re so far out of it?


I would never call myself “a runner,” but I do like to run and try to log a few runs every week.  I find that those miles offer me a break from thinking and worrying.  I am able to be present.  Left foot.  Right foot.  Breathe.  Running has also helped me connect with my body more – I am sure to stretch and practice yoga daily to help make sure my body stays healthy and injury-free.

But I also happen to live in the northeast of the United States and…it’s winter right now.  Waking up early in the morning to layer up and head out in 20 degree weather is not easy.  To say the least.

Why am I sharing this?  I mean, this is an evaluation blog, right?  Well, I see a parallel between my (lack of) motivation to run and my feelings about practicing evaluation skills. 

I love evaluation.  I fell in love with the field a few years ago.  It makes me feel empowered and purposeful.  I love helping people and communities explore ways to create and measure their efforts.  It’s something that has helped me stay passionate about anti-violence work.  But I haven’t been able to engage in as much evaluation work recently, due to some organizational changes.  It’s up to me to teach myself and practice new skills.  

I’ve read about a few ways to set the stage for motivation and consistency:

  • Take some time for an attitude adjustment.  I worked with someone who offered his life’s motto: “There are only two things you can control: Your effort and your attitude.”  It’s both a freeing statement and one that imbues a lot of responsibility.  Shifting from an “I should” mentality to one of “I want to” is something I’m trying to do to help with motivation – especially with this time of year’s messages of resolutions and “New Year New You.”  So I’ve been saying “I want to spend the new hour reading” and “I want to feel the clarity that comes with a morning run.”  It’s really helped me shift my attitude to one of abundance and achieving goals.    
  • Connect my goals to my values.  Speaking of goals!  I would like to – by the end of 2017 – to be able to speak knowledgeably about something new.  I have this goal for both my social life and my evaluation life.  This helps me connect to my beginner brain and keeps me excited about the process of learning.    
  • Set up some rewards.  Call it childish, but sometimes I like to treat myself for accomplishing something new.  It could be a new shirt for work or maybe a cup of hot cocoa (with marshmallows!) or a beautiful walk outside.  Small wins can go a long way to feeling positive and making progress. 

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