Friday, November 27, 2015

Best of the Archives: Getting--and STAYING--motivated during the busy holiday season!

Myra here. Welcome to another Best of the Archives Friday! Since November is almost behind us and the busy Christmas season is beginning (or may be well underway for many!), I'm reprising (and updating) a post from December 2009, when I wrote about how to stay motivated and keep your priorities straight during this often hectic time of year.

So grab a cup of hot chocolate, put some carols on the stereo, and sit back and enjoy!


When December rolls around, I always find myself running behind on just about everything. We're enjoying a visit from kids and grandkids this Thanksgiving, and the Saturday afterward is when we usually put up the tree and decorations. We may get around to pulling out the tree and boxes this weekend, but I haven’t even started on the annual Christmas letter and cards. As for Christmas shopping? Oops!!!

How do you stay motivated to keep writing when holidays, family crises, illness, or other interruptions interfere? It isn’t easy, but if you have a strategy in place, your writing life can survive.

And one of the best strategies this time of year is to stop feeling guilty for what you aren’t getting done--whether it’s shopping, baking, sending cards, keeping up with e-mail and blogs, or--yes--even pounding out the pages of your next book manuscript.

Easier said than done, but I recently read a great little book that’s full of big ideas on how to stay motivated and prioritize your life: 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself: Change Your Life Forever, by Steve Chandler. Here are a few of the sections I found especially inspiring:

#4. Keep your eyes on the prize. Chandler points out that a huge obstacle to success is letting our worries and fears distract us from our real goals. Anyone here guilty of that?

#6. Simplify your life. I always intend to simplify, but somehow things keep getting more complicated. Chandler’s advice? Make a list of every small task you need to get done in a certain period of time, like over the weekend. Then do them all in one concentrated burst of action--a “manic blitz.” Don’t put anything off, just get it done.

#40. Find your soul purpose. You’re not going to be much good to others unless and until you’re happy with yourself and excited about your work, so take the time to discover what really makes you happy.

#59. Upgrade your old habits. According to Chandler, bad habits can’t simply be broken. You have to replace the bad habit with positive action. Like eating a healthy snack instead of one heavy on calories and fat. Like doing a workout video instead of watching TV. (Hmmm, notice the connection between food and weight loss this time of year???)

#68. Get up a game. Competition can be healthy--as we “contest crazies” here in Seekerville can testify! Competition forces us to reach deep inside ourselves, helping us grow and improve. The real victory comes not from besting someone else, but from bringing out the best in ourselves.

#73. Use the 5% solution. “Great things are often created very slowly,” Chandler writes. What if you brought 5% more purposefulness into each day? What kinds of changes would you see in your life?

#74. Do something badly. We’ve all heard the old adage, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. But what if that isn’t necessarily true? Whether it’s writing that first draft, baking Christmas goodies, composing a Christmas letter, or cleaning house for company, maybe we don’t have to be perfect. Maybe we should give ourselves permission to do something “badly.” Can you let go of perfectionism enough to just get started on some task that’s facing you?

#85. Replace worry with action. Worry only increases the problem, but when we get busy and act on our worries and fears, we regain control.

#101. Teach yourself the power of negative thinking. This one might well be my favorite. Saying no can be a powerful thing. It means standing up for ourselves and our beliefs, taking a stand against things we simply won’t tolerate. Ask yourself what you really don’t want in life, and experience a burst of energy to turn that into positive motivation!

What are your biggest challenges during the holidays? Make a promise to yourself now to focus on what's important (family, friends, and most of all Jesus, the Reason for the Season). Everything else will still be waiting for you in January!

Remember, comments are closed today so you can take full advantage of the time for reading, writing, or whatever is on your agenda.

Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Her most recent novels are The Sweetest Rain, a historical romance from Franciscan Media, and Rancher for the Holidays, a Love Inspired contemporary romance.