How to Motivate Yourself to Improve

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.

It works.


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.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


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:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

How Will You Spend the Time You Have Left?

My father died when he was 57. My mother wasn’t much older when she was killed.

My nephew was just 35 when he died a couple of weeks ago, but my uncle was 88 when he passed away right after Christmas.

At my current age of 51, that gives me a wide range of odds, especially since I’ve relatives who lived to be over 100.

But with COVID on the rise, I may not make it to tomorrow.

So what do I do with my now?

As news has trickled through friends and family that I’ve actively began to immerse myself into computers again the reactions have been mixed.

“Why are you doing that? I thought you liked your job.”

“You know you’re too old to go back into computers. You’re the wrong gender, besides! All they hire are young guys. You know that!”

“I’m surprised you waited so long. You’ve always had a gift when it comes to computers. Way to go!”

“At least you won’t be binge watching movies any longer. That was so unlike you.”

“It’s good that you’re still learning. Shame that you’re on the verge of retirement, though–you won’t get to use the knowledge at a job.”

“Only you!” (spoken with a good-natured shake of the head)

Lessons Learned

One thing I have learned over the years is to disregard any negativity I receive. In fact, my greatest successes have been when the responses I received were overwhelming negative.

Even so, my critics have a point. I am older. In just ten short years, I’ll be eligible for early retirement. In 13 years, I’ll be eligible for normal retirement.

But if I wait until I’m 70, I’ve got 18 whole years to enjoy myself.

With modern medical science, I believe that it is safe to say that, barring COVID or accidents, I can live until my 80s. That’s almost three decades of life I have left.

So how do I spend that time? Do I spend it living, or do I spend it dying?

We all die

That’s a fact. None of us can escape it, so we need to accept it.

We don’t have to sit around and wait for it, however.

Whatever your age, you don’t have to just give up and wait for death to take you. Whatever your age, it makes no sense to continue living if you’re just waiting to die.

If we’re going to be here anyway, why not have fun while it lasts? After all, none of us really knows what the next adventure will bring.

So look around. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet? Do you want to take a trip, learn something new, change careers, or explore a path you’ve not dared to take?

Why not do it now?

You don’t have to take major steps. If you have always wanted to travel, you can research places and pick one to visit. Save up money, or maybe think of ways to go on your current budget.

If you’re interested in learning something new, you can take a class online. The prices are amazingly reasonable, and you may catch it on sale. I had a look around Udemy this weekend and I was amazed at how far online learning has came. You can take a class for almost anything these days!

I don’t care what society says, and I certainly don’t care about the opinions of those around me, and you shouldn’t either.

You may be old, but you’re not dead yet.

So stop acting like it!

Take the trip. Have the adventure. Join the class.

But don’t stop there. Make sure to tell others that you’re not done living yet. Share stories about your dreams and adventures. You can start by sharing them in the comment section below.

Do the Thing

Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from achieving your dreams.

I come from the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I’m the daughter of an ex-con and a dancer. My formal education was a joke, yet despite everything I managed to achieve everything I really set my mind to.

  • I opened a computer repair service in my thirties.
  • I pivoted to writing by my forties.
  • I became a stay-at-home single mother by teaching myself how to write online.

And now I’ve given myself permission to dive deep into the world of computers in a way I’ve never given myself permission before.

If I can do all of that with barely a high-school education and all of the odds stacked against me, there is no limit to what you can do with the advantages you have today.

This is your chance. Don’t waste it.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


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:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Katie’s Graduation

The big day finally arrived. My youngest, the reason I worked so hard to live on less, finally graduated high school.

It was a bittersweet day. I spent close to 20 years striving to work less so that I could spend as much time with her as possible. I swam against the current as a single mom but this day marked the moment where the journey was finally over.

My baby is now an adult even more so than she was when she turned 18.

A friend of mine drove over four hours to celebrate with us. The first thing we did that day was surprise her with flowers.

The next thing we did was take her and her boyfriend out to Olive Garden. We wanted to make this a day she would never forget.

We gifted the kids with a round of gag gifts. Her boyfriend C really got a kick out of one of them!

As we told him, we figured that since he was going into the Army he could use the guy for practice! Oh how he laughed! His real gift was a journal in which we inscribed “to keep track of your future adventures with Katie.” He was touched.

We also got him a set of crowns so he could remind Katie of who was the “king” – complete with spares for when she knocks them off his head! She got a tiara, of course – she is my princess!

After digging out some other gifts Katie finally got around to her big one from my friend. I’d given her my gift earlier because I didn’t want to detract from the moment. Here’s the expression on her face when she realized that my friend had gifted her with a pair of diamond earrings.

Once the dust had settled C had another surprise for my daughter. I was the only one aside from him who knew his plan. He smiled at her and announced. “I’ve got something to go with those earrings.”

That was when he proposed.

After all of that we still weren’t done. We drove them around and took lots of photos of them to mark the big day.

Once we dropped them off so they could do their thing prior to graduation my friend and I went out for a good stiff drink to mark the end of an era. We both needed it by then. My friend had known her since she was a baby and I needed liquid strength to get through the graduation ceremony. Not only was my youngest daughter graduating, I was lost. I’d spent so many years trying to be the best mom I could be, trying to spend as much time with her as I could. It didn’t help that, like my daughter, my dad had been dying of terminal cancer as well when I had graduated from that very same high school. I was filled with bittersweet memories, all of which came to the surface as I sipped on my Jack and Coke.

Thus prepared, we headed to the stadium for the graduation ceremony. We looked around, relieved to see that her dad, my ex-husband, actually managed to attend. He’d had Hospice take him. Once the ceremony finished we met up with the kids and took some more photos. I’m the one with the red shirt and big boobs.

So this is it, folks. The end of an era. My goal of raising my daughter is complete. Katie has not only graduated high school, but she’s engaged as well.

I’m both proud and sad.

The Art of Teaching Yourself

Not everyone can manage to get a formal education. In some instances, the subject of study desired isn’t even offered in a class. I learned a long time ago that if I wanted to learn about something I would have to figure out a way to study it outside of formal methods.

This determination has served me well.

When I wanted to learn more about computers, I started reading books on the subject. I scavenged computer parts from discarded machines and used them to practice what I learned until such time that I managed to take an online course in computer repair.

When I desperately needed to make repairs on my home, I located a couple of books on the subject, read them, and applied what I learned to tear out walls, reinforce the studding, repair electrical wiring, insulate, and install drywall in the place of the ancient paneling that had originally covered the walls. I even learned how to take a rotting porch apart and rebuild it to make it safe.

I’ve done this with many subjects over the years. When I needed to learn something, I would either locate some books or find someone who was experienced in the subject to pepper with questions until I figured out what I needed to do.

In recent years I used this method of self-education to learn how to start writing online, then I expanded my research to learn how to self-publish books and create my own website. I built my writing business by simply teaching myself what I needed to know.

Since the markets have changed I have decided to learn how to write in a completely new genre. I’ve been studying the art of writing fiction for several years. Since romance authors are the most successful in the field of publishing (both traditional and self-published) I’m focusing on that narrow spectrum in order to build my business.

As with everything I learn, my first projects will doubtless stink. They generally do, in my personal opinion, and that’s okay. I need those first attempts in order to learn from my mistakes and to grow closer to my goal. I know that each project will be a bit better until I am finally satisfied with the results.

I have been collecting the most ubiquitous romance novels I know of to start: Harlequin novels. I am collecting every single book I can get my hands on to analyze construction, plot, and other features. I figure that once I master that format I can teach myself how to write longer works.

I intend to use the money I earn from writing these books to support my passion. I want to continue teaching people how to live on less while keeping this website as non-commercialized as possible since I cannot in good conscience encourage people to buy more than they need.

This project is not only how I plan to support myself with my current limitations; it is also a way that I can continue to afford to write about my passion. Barbara Ehrenriech discussed this dilemma in her article In America, only the rich can afford to write about poverty. It isn’t perfect, but it is the only solution I can come up with. I am not going to give up this website without a fight, any more than I’m going to just lie down and die because of an injury that severely limits what I can do to earn money.

So wish me luck, folks. I’m gonna need it.