It can be hard to find the energy or motivation to improve yourself these days. By the time you get home from work (or even wade through a chaotic day at home), you feel as if you have nothing left to give.
“I’ll do it when I feel better,” you typically say.
The problem with that decision, however, is that “feeling better” never comes. Inevitably, something will always arise that prevents you from working towards your goals.
Even worse, the longer you put it off, the easier it gets to procrastinate.
I encountered this situation shortly after my divorce. Forced by circumstances to work multiple jobs, I spent a mind-boggling amount of time either working, cleaning my home, and caring for my children.
I was stuck in survival mode. I wanted to improve myself. I wanted to take a correspondence class in computer repair, but I had no time to do it.
I was so exhausted that I cried myself to sleep each night. Just getting through the day was so draining; how could I manage to do even more?
I let the bad days motivate me.
Despite my misgivings, I paid for the class.
Every time something bad or simply frustrating happened, I’d promise myself that it would get better. I was doing something to make it better. This wouldn’t last; there was an end in sight.
That end would be the day I finished my course and started my computer repair business.
It’s amazing how that tiny shift in self-talk allowed me to dig deep, to find the time I needed to study. I found myself examining every moment of my life. Every time I felt the desire to throw up my hands I would ask myself “How can I finish this class faster?”
I began to look at my day with different eyes. That 30-minute lunch, the lunch I used to recharge a bit in order to make it through my shift?
I could use some of that time to study.
I began to take my books to work with me. My coworkers teased me, but after a bit they left me alone. I would nibble on my meal as I worked through the lessons.
Even if I only managed a paragraph, I knew that I was one paragraph closer to a better life.
Before I knew it, I was studying before I went to bed each night. I carried my workbooks everywhere. If I had to wait in line, I pulled out my book.
On particularly frustrating days, I made a point of studying even more. Every paragraph, every page took me closer to a better life, a life where I wouldn’t have to work so hard, a life where I could actually get some rest.
And it paid off.
In under a year I finished that class. Before I sent in the last few lessons, I took out an ad in the local paper to offer my services.
My life changed after that.
I stopped having to pick up extra shifts at work. I quit two of my jobs. While I kept the restaurant job for financial security (self-employment income is never guaranteed), I adjusted my hours based upon my needs.
In time I was able to take summers off from that job.
Eventually the skills I gained during that time allowed me to build an online business that enabled me to reach a dream that many claimed was unattainable. I became a stay-at-home single mom.
You CAN improve your life
Wherever you are right now, whatever your current situation, you can improve your life, too.
All you have to do is motivate yourself to do the work.
Look around. Use the bad days to motivate you. Ready to scream at your boss? Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you are on your way out. Tell yourself that when you get home, you will study and work towards building the skills that will allow you to move to a better place. Soon, instead of complaining, you will be grateful for the bad days, because the bad days will motivate you to work even harder.
You will find yourself making immense progress every single day instead of just wanting to scream.
This was why, instead of just quitting my current job to focus upon my goal of skill-building as I decide upon the path I want to take to re-enter the computer field that I resolved to keep working. It’s easier to find the time and motivation to do the work when you’re surrounded by things that frustrate you.
Now, instead of focusing on the things I like about my current job, I look at the things that frustrate me. If I wake up sore after a rough day, I remind myself that I am on the path to an easier job, maybe even a job I can do at home.
All I have to do is keep studying.
Don’t let the bad days get you down. Use those bad days to spur you forward. Every time something makes you want to throw up your hands in defeat look around. Ask yourself if you can find another block of time that you can use to work on your dream, and then do it.
Are you allowed to listen to music at work? Why not listen to audiobooks on your chosen field instead?
Do you check social media on your breaks? Download an ebook to your phone and read that instead.
Does it take you a few minutes to fall asleep at night? Listen to a lecture on the subject as you fall asleep. You can even play audiobooks as you sleep; you may not retain as much as you would by actively listening, but you will retain some information–and that will build up over time.
Stop just plopping down in front of the television at night.
Just stop it.
Think about your asshole of a boss. Think about the raise you deserve but were cheated out of. Think about how you are forced to do the work of several people, and use it to drive you forward.
Feel the rage and use it to better yourself.
Have you ever allowed bad days to motivate yourself to change your life? Why or why not? What were the results? Please share your stories in the comments below.
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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:
Barnes and Noble