I have reached a new low: being scolded by Grammarly (I would say it’s borderline cyber-bullying as I get a ‘reminder’ from them once a week). Receiving an email with an image that shows that you haven’t written, well, anything is pretty brutal. What happened to me (and my productivity)?
I am still working hard and doing all of the things that busy women entrepreneurs do, except for writing, which I love to do. I used to produce a blog post a month for my own site or others, but seem to be stuck. I’ve started a bunch, but they stay in a folder marked “blog posts” and never make it to publication.
As a health and fertility coach, many of my clients have gotten through COVID-induced changes, started back at work, re-emerged in society…etc, but many of them report that at least one aspect of their life seems to be stalled. For some, it’s their movement practice. For others, they stopped meal-planning and started getting take-out again. Some of my fertility clients just ‘need a break from trying’ but are nervous that this break will be detrimental due to their age. They, like me, have reached a little lull in motivation.
I read an excellent article by Adam Grant called Languishing and it struck me that this is what many of us have been going through. We used a large portion of our emotional bandwidth to survive a pandemic and now barely have enough reserve to proceed with our everyday lives. We are missing the ‘extra’ that fuels creative endeavors (me) or, like my clients, tells us that we are too tired to make a meal or go for a walk.
So, what can we do? Here is some advice to get unstuck.
1) There is a mantra in sports "Progress not perfection" that applies to me, and to many. We try so hard to do something perfectly that our only outcome is frustration. Perfectionism. can look like: not exercising at all if you don’t have 45 minutes or, maybe, having a folder of blog posts that never get completed because they feel subpar. It’s the frequency of completing a task that gives you the dopamine hit to make you want to continue it, not the perceived quality of the product or behavior. So, writing a blog post about not being able to write a blog post is better than doing nothing.
“My cat ate my homework”
2) Don’t berate yourself for what you haven’t accomplished, just start from now. I have my clients send me pictures of their meals so that we can discuss their choice of food and portion sizes. The other day, one of my clients sent me a picture of pizza for lunch, a cheeseburger with fries for dinner, and tater tots with a shot of whiskey for her bedtime snack (which I actually thought was pretty inspired). Now, any and all of these are ok in moderation, but the fact that she chose them for three meals in a row was unlike her. When we discussed it during our next session, she told me that once she had the pizza, she already felt like she ‘blew it’ so why not continue on that path. The pizza itself wasn’t even a bad choice, but her shame about it led her to make other choices that then perpetuated her shame cycle. So, forget what you just did (or didn’t do, in my case) and, emulate Michael Phelps: Just Push Off.
3) Utilize pockets of time. Many people tell me that they don’t have time to exercise, so I have them do an activity log. It’s pretty revealing as there are many 15-20 intervals during the day where they are either scrolling social media or the internet, thinking about doing something, or spending time justifying why they can’t do something (oh, that’s me). So, I advise that if they want to start a movement practice, to wear their sneakers (or have them readily available) and when they have a free 15 minutes, go out and walk. Or do ‘’trigger exercises” where they will keep weights or bands in an easily accessible place, then when they walk in that room or brush their teeth or wait for the shower to warm up, it’s a reminder to do that quick exercise. There is no perfect time, environment, situation or consequence to start or sustain a lifestyle change, so waiting for one is futile.
4) (I spent too long thinking of something to write for my fourth strategy, so in the spirit of progress and not perfection, I’m only leaving you with three.)
I just want to conclude with a small disclaimer. If you feel mentally wrung-out and can’t do one more thing at the end of the day (or you are having an awful day) then honor that. Rest, recover or do whatever is needed to fill your tank. But, if every day is like this, then you may either need to make some changes in your life so that you don’t feel constantly depleted or you need to experiment with the strategies above to see if you just need a little nudge in the right direction. Explore how amazing and gratifying small (but frequent) accomplishments can make you feel.
Executive Mom Nest Advisor Monica Moore is a nurse practitioner, health coach, and the founder of Fertile Health, LLC (fertilehealthexpert.com), a consulting company with two distinct, but interrelated, branches that together can optimize the care of infertility patients: training new nurses in reproductive endocrinology and health coach, where she can assist women who are waiting to conceive in becoming the healthiest versions of themselves prior to pregnancy. Visit Fertility Health to learn more.