It’s spring, at least for us northern hemisphere’ites… and all feels blissfully… normal…

… the birdies are totally randy and twitterpated (way too many PDA’s! even PDF’s!)… houses are selling above asking price within milliseconds of being listed for sale… daffodils and snowdrops and daphne are all in sunny rainbow bloom …

Springtime, and the acacias are blooming”… (The Eagles)

… but of course, not EVERYTHING is normal, not anywhere, at least not on this small blue planet that Elon Musk is trying to escape. Dark ominous shades of COVID clouds persist, for a little while more anyways.

We’re all finding NEW adventures and new ways of doing things we love because many of the old adventures and old ways have been subtracted from our daily arithmetic.

Maybe you’ve made 5,000 sourdough loaves, or crocheted 75 doilies, or binge-watched Bridgerton sex-scenes 6 times, and ZOOM’ed 10,000 work meetings or chatted with family members…

… in my case, I’ve spent my COVID sabbatical year writing and recording probably a dozen new songs, which is WAY above my normal productivity.

Sure there have been changes, and I really do miss helping out at the soup kitchen, but… most of the things I love to do haven’t been profoundly affected by this year of closures and partial re-openings followed by more closures, and then more re-openings followed by… you get the idea.

However, the one thing that I’ve missed the most is external motivation.

I thrive on motivation which is why I’m constantly searching for mentors and leaders and thinkers who inspire me to get off my butt and JUST DO IT!

Once again this year, for the second year “running” (thank you COVID), I’m missing my spring Half Marathon race in Vancouver (first Sunday of May) that typically pushes me hard – physically and mentally hard – in training from January to May each year.

It’s a beautiful spring run – surrounded by 10,000 other crazies like me – with fresh, early morning ocean air, and gorgeous snowy mountain vistas that blunt the mountain of advancing pain in the waning kilometres of the race.

Training preparation is the motivational voice whispering in my head that tells me to run a little farther, a little faster. I’m the dog with his ear listening intently to his master’s voice on the RCA Victrola machine.

Now, if you’re a strong self-motivator and don’t need a looming deadline, I hereby award you a gold star and applaud your discipline and energy; I bow to you humbly.

You’ve already graduated and can leave the classroom now. But, if you’re at all like me and need a reminder and a push… especially in viral times like these…

… well, let’s work together and push ourselves forward until this pandemic is in our rear-view mirrors!

In the “tips and pushes” I’m listing below, I’ve largely focussed on physical exercise for my examples… but they can just as easily apply to gardening or reading, piano or sewing, or a hundred other pursuits that get your heart rate or enthusiasm gene excited…

*8 Ways to Inspire and Motivate Your Way Through A Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Pandemic*

  1. My biggest personal item… JUST start. Don’t wait and wonder when the motivation or inspirational moment will arrive. For me, the stimulus occurs when I decide to make it occur. It ain’t magic, it’s simple (but ironically difficult) perspiration and dedication.
  2. EAT the elephant one bite at a time. Sure, a terrible cliche, you say? So true. It’s super easy to be dissuaded from starting a big project because it’s … well… BIG! Broken down into a bunch of tiny steps, it’s amazing how the big can be tamed by focussing in on the small stuff and taking one teensy step after another. When I run a half-marathon, I don’t cross the start line with the entire 21.1 kilometres coursing through my head… instead I focus on one kilometre at a time… first kilometre goal in 5 minutes and 15 seconds. Kilometre 2, can I closely match the first kilometre time? When I reach the final 5 or 6 kilometres, my mind tells me to try and only slow by no more than 5 seconds per each kilometre. Yup, one bite or kilometre at a time.
  3. FIND your focus – it’s easy (so so easy) to be distracted by a dozen or more things on your TO-DO list. It takes a lot of discipline to narrow your focus and decide on the most important stuff to tackle. This is why I usually do my run training early in the day, so I’ve accomplished this and can let my TO-DO monster go wild for the remainder of the day.
  4. TALK up your ideas and desires – by sharing your goals and plans with others you build in a voluntary “peer pressure” system for yourself. Many of us like to show our relatives and friends that when we say we’ll do something, we follow through and do it. YOU have sticktoitiveness… YES!
  5. MUSIC – this works even when I’m looking to motivate myself to write… music! Listening to music we love has a magical power to excite, energize, and motivate us when we need a lift. Today, 30 years after I first heard it, John Parr’s song MAN IN MOTION (also the theme song for Rick Hansen’s wheelchair-around-the-world-tour to raise money for spinal injury research) still pushes me to go much harder than I would otherwise, when running a track interval training session. Music is a genie in a bottle that needs a release… if you only let it…
  6. FIND your competitive spirit – no, not in the way we normally think of competitiveness. The approach that I’m looking for here is the internal drive to go beyond what we have done before. Maybe a friendly competition with yourself to, for example, finish a boring or routine task. Repeating a single line of a guitar lick in practice literally 100 or more times isn’t always fun, but eventually carries me to where I want to be. The routine things are often what we have to surmount to get to the greatness of our overall goal. Call it a necessary evil.
  7. AVOID the ruts… yes, ruts can and will kill motivation. And ruts, like SH*T… happen. Change and variety can bring you a freshness and new approach to your task, so mix things up. Try varying what you do instead of just going through the motions. As an example, when preparing for a half marathon, I mix up my types of exercise so it’s not only running. I bike or swim, or play some soccer for the mental break away from only running. Try listening to music and podcasts that you usually don’t listen to. A refreshed mind is a good way to keep the enthusiasm up. Rah rah!!

  8. REWARDS – this is the super fun part. If you’re really looking forward to a nice reward after you’re done with a task or a project, then your motivation tends to go up. Tea or latte break. Exercise break. CBD or THC oil break. Cookie or ice cream break. Martini or Margarita break. One minute “self-appreciation” break. OK, a Bridgerton sex-scene break! During the half marathon run, I readily admit that I begin to hallucinate and fantasize about the food table set up after the FINISH banner… cookies, muffins, donuts, bananas, juices. Dangle those carrots *ahem, more like chocolate Larry* in front of your nose and celebrate to keep your motivation up.

Congratulations… we’re fired up and ready to get going. Let’s not let this golden moment pass us by while we await our “old” world – somewhere over the rainbow – to return…