3 Simple Tips to Break Through Motivation Gridlock

We all desperately want more orderliness in our lives—in our chaotic family lives, in the never-ending quest to seek work/family balance, and in our living spaces that can feel bogged down with so much mess and clutter.

...It’s enough to make anyone feel beyond overwhelmed.

Here’s the thing—stress, anxiety, depression, and the inevitable lack of motivation that follows happen when you mistakenly think you have to figure it all out and fix everything all at once. As if we’re all Samantha from Bewitched who just wiggles her nose and—voila! All is magically done. I have to admit, it would be nice, right?

But it’s more realistic and fortifying to consider our lives as adventures that take exciting twists, painful turns, and most importantly require time. The Families of Character way is to take really small, manageable steps each day that eventually add up to real progress. And when we lean into the adventure, that’s when we grow and build character strength individually and as a family. So, first off, surrender this impossible idea/goal of tackling everything all at once. Not only is it unrealistic, it’s not a fun or productive way to live.

But once you realize that life as parents in a less-than-perfect family is something to embrace, how can you kick-start your motivation so you are growing each and every day towards important goals, one small step at a time?


3 Tips to Break Through Motivation Gridlock

Get ‘er done with “Mini-Sprints” not “Marathons”

Building on the notion that not all can be done at once, think of your day as filled with potential opportunities for quick, short bursts of activity that are like “mini-sprints.” Have a problem area (or 20!) in your home that could use some work? Don’t approach it as a marathon runner, but a sprinter. Structure your weekend or time at home to include a few ten-minute mini-sprints working on that area. Set a timer. When we aren’t mentally bogged down with the idea of completing the whole huge task, it opens up our motivation to do a little. Then a little progress spurs us on to do more. Approach all situations in your life that are requiring more order this way. For instance, trying desperately to find more family time together? You don’t have to institute a whole new policy, but maybe plan 10-15 minutes once a week discussing everyone’s major plans for the week. We call this the Family Huddle. It shouldn’t be elaborate and over-involved, but if that’s your jam, no judgement. Just set aside mere minutes each week to be together for sacred family togetherness. If you feel like there’s not enough balance of time with your spouse, but you’re feeling stressed just by the idea of getting a sitter, schedule a 30-minute mini-date. Let the kids watch a show and enjoy a heartfelt conversation or some snuggle time. Revel in the progress!

Each Week List the 3 Most Important Things You Need to Accomplish

We humans can be a flaky bunch. But writing things down makes us accountable. When we are intentional about our most precious resources of time and attention, we accomplish more and set ourselves up to feel successful which in turn makes us feel motivated to keep inching the ball forward. Many people swear by daily to-do tasks, but that can feel overwhelming at first. If you’re already a big to-do lister, make sure your tasks are actually doable!  When we don’t hit our target goals it has the opposite effect on us and exacerbates motivational gridlock. And for those of us who are not natural list-makers, on Sunday evening, pick three things/tasks that are achievable and simply do your best to stick to it. Be reasonable about your goals and write them down. Watch how quickly you go from to-do to to-DONE.

Make your Tasks More FUN!

Fun is a great motivator for everything! Whether it’s going through paperwork, or doing calisthenics, when we add a little enjoyment, these tasks don't seem so far out of our reach. For example, if you’re trying to create more healthy habits into your daily life, like exercise, eating healthier, or having more quiet, contemplative time without screens—incentivize yourself. We know the power of rewards with our own kids, but have you tried them for yourself? If you need to exercise more, find a podcast that you can sink into and listen while you take a run or walk. Or invite a friend to join you. Maybe you’d like to get quiet time built into each day to pray or meditate. Shoot for a weekly goal of 2-3 times a week. If you hit the goal, reward yourself with something you cherish. We won’t “tsk tsk” if that translates to a bubble bath and a glass of wine. 


The point is, doing a little each day amounts to a lot over time. Family life is hard enough as it is, we don’t need to feel further paralysis by all the mounting demands of the day.

Keep in mind, you’ve got this! Cultivating character strengths like orderliness will pay off big time in your whole family’s future. Not only will you experience amazing personal gains, your spouse and children will model that growth. Our Adventure into Character Kits make small daily goals even more manageable. With over 120 years of parenting and grandparenting experience under our collective belts, we’ve developed a one-of-a-kind subscription box experience that embraces the adventures of family life, while offering daily prompts and activities that are fun, achievable, and offer real growth in character! Family life is a wild ride regardless, why not take the guided tour that avoids so many dead ends and unexpected turns?! Find out more about our Adventure into Character Experience by clicking the button below.

If you have an issue you’d like our help with, drop us a line at Hello@FamiliesofCharacter.com. If you’re experiencing a problem, chances are thousands of other families are in the same boat. We’re ALL in this parenting boat together! 

Remember to tap into our Thrive Community on Facebook. It’s free and our team’s very own clinical counselor offers helpful tips and encouragement to parents who are adventuring together. 

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