The problem with optimism

Wow, I’m writing a lot at the moment and it’s not even half of what’s in my head. My head is so full of high speed thoughts that I have to get some of them out even if they are immediately replaced by others. Plus I like to write and it’s something that could almost be counted as productive to do with my time.

This time off is meant to be my chance to sort things out. I know I don’t need to know where I’m going right now (although I do wish people would stop asking) but I don’t want to waste it. Occasionally I will have these wild half hours of extreme optimism. From nowhere I will become energised, come up a list of all I can achieve over the next however. How I’m going to get up at a sensible time, go for a run every day, maybe even build up to entering a half marathon, have some sort of schedule. Goals that I want to achieve, a cushion patchworked, a new necklace made. Unimportant things perhaps that aren’t going to change my life but things that could make me just that little bit happier. Unfortunately these moments inevitably occur at stupid o’clock in the morning when it isn’t really feasible to achieve anything. So I go to sleep with plans for my fresh start etched in my brain.

And yet it never happens. I wake up and I can’t begin to face the task of getting out of bed never mind the rest of my crazy schemes. There’s nothing that should prevent me achieving these goals. Hell, I could be out for a run right now or at the very least making cards, if I could just find the motivation to move from this desk.  Instead here I sit feeling lower than before because once again I’ve failed to do that which I’m eminently capable of. There is nothing stopping me but me so why don’t I just get out there and do it? But then of course that’s what got me into this situation in the first place. If I could find motivation, stick to schedules, not let things build up then I would never have had to drop out of my course. I’d never have messed my first degree up. I would be what I want instead of what I am.

That’s why I hate the optimism. For the tiny periods it is present, it gives me hope but ultimately all it does is remind me of how little I am achieving. I can’t honestly describe putting some bread in the bread maker (it means I don’t need to leave the house to buy some) as anything other than one of life’s many necessary tasks  but that is the sum total of my yesterday and it took hours of effort to even get to that. Deep down I know I could be so much, I cannot live with the fact I am so little.

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4 Responses to The problem with optimism

  1. Alison says:

    I feel we kind of have a lot in common but I dare write a lot of what I am feeling down for fear I’ll start to admit things I don’t want to. In your case your time out has to be taking slowly, it’s got to be one day at a time, some of those days you’ll have boundless amounts of energy to do loads and other days you won’t want to get out of bed, I think we all go through periods like that. Now for instance I can’t sleep at night but come 8am when I should be thinking of gettin up, I can’t stand the thought of crawling out of my bed!

    Motivation is an arse at times… I wish I could find some to do the college work I need to work on… I did do the ironing, baring in mind it’s been stacking up around the floor for over a week and taking up half the sofa!

    Hang on in there Ana xxx

  2. Alison says:

    I feel we kind of have a lot in common but I dare write a lot of what I am feeling down for fear I’ll start to admit things I don’t want to. In your case your time out has to be taking slowly, it’s got to be one day at a time, some of those days you’ll have boundless amounts of energy to do loads and other days you won’t want to get out of bed, I think we all go through periods like that. Now for instance I can’t sleep at night but come 8am when I should be thinking of gettin up, I can’t stand the thought of crawling out of my bed!

    Motivation is an arse at times… I wish I could find some to do the college work I need to work on… I did do the ironing, baring in mind it’s been stacking up around the floor for over a week and taking up half the sofa!

    Hang on in there Ana xxx

  3. Kate says:

    As an itinerant list maker and multi-planner who also struggles with motivation, I might be able to offer a few tips.
    I can’t really advise you on how to get out of bed in the morning since I rarely have that problem (it’s the reverse for me – I need to find a way to stay IN bed beyond 4am). I think that’s more a case of boot-camp style discipline and, so I’m told, if you can make yourself do it for several days, no matter how uncomfortable it is, then you soon fall into the habit (rather like giving up smoking, which I’ve also failed spectacularly at a dozen times over)!
    Lists are great. I make loads (presently having to use them to remind myself to get washed, eat etc. It’s desperate!).
    Next revise your list and prioritise. Too many tasks and you’ll be overwhelmed and acheive none of them.
    Use S.M.A.R.T. goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed. Naff as they might sound, it really does help.
    If you can’t face a particular task/activity – file it away and choose a less demanding one.
    When motivation/inspipiration is absent, do something that doesn’t require much creativity but will prepare you for the next time you’re ready to attack. For me this might be – cleaning painting equipment and putting it in order, tidying my desk, sorting reels of cotton and untangling knots etc. I learned this from reading ‘Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintainance’ when I was 17 and it really does work. In attending to the soothingly monotonous organising and categorising chores, the mind subtley works on problems on another level. Plus you have the added bonus of things being in place for when those rare burts of creative energy emerge.
    Finally, and most importantly – don’t beat yourself up for ‘failures’. We all know this is counter-productive yet we all still do it. But also reward yourself for each small acheivement (chocolate bar, hot bath – whatever you might consider a treat).
    If you have a friend who’s into the same sort of thing, invite them over for a ‘session’. From time to time, I get together with a neighbour and a box of old magazines to make collage. It’s fun, it’s fairly mindless and it’s amazing how much more of a momentum you can sustain when there’s someone else to encourage/distract you. You can also drink tea/wine, listen to music and gossip while you’re at it.

    Having alot of free time is a double-edged sword. One has the illusion of having acres and acres of freedom so things get put-off. It’s often when i’m most busy (with work for example) that I feel most creative. I guess that’s partly the desire to compensate for time lost to duty/wage-slavery or, in my case unwaged-slavery along with the being-active imperative which keeps the mind ticking over and generating more thoughts and ideas.

    Oh and running is a great idea. I need to pick that up again in the spring. The added oxygen and invigoration is a great brain and motivation stimulant.

    Don’t know if any of that was helpful. I probably just sound like a smug,sanctimonious, patronising school-mistress.

    Hope you get it sorted!
    K.x

  4. Kate says:

    P.S Did I say ‘itinerant’ just then? I meant inveterate!! Although I’m lso an itinerant list-maker from time to time (made one on the back of my wallet on the way to work the other day)!
    😉

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