I know almost everyone has been in the same boat, but I have really struggled over the last year with keeping my motivation up. Any tips for getting the mojo to flow again?
There were days during the height of the pandemic when the only way I could motivate myself to get out of bed was to promise myself a doughnut if I did. Unfortunately this led to me gaining 19kg over the last year so recently, as our industry has started to open up, I’ve had to put down the Krispy Kreme’s and dig deep to find some motivation to get going again. Some days I really have to dig deeper than others. Steve, I hear you. The struggle is real.
Motivation is a little bit like creativity – too often we think it’s something we have to wait for, or engineer the perfect circumstances – sat on a mountaintop at sunset, beside a lake at moonlight, that sort of thing. Waiting for motivation (or creativity) to strike might work for some people but for me, I’m a big believer in forcing motivation to come to you rather than waiting. I think of it like a muscle – the more you exercise it the stronger it grows but, like a muscle, you have to start small.
The legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp wrote “Take a deep breath, stamp your foot, and shout ‘Begin!’ – you never know where it will take you” Simply beginning is the first step towards building and strengthening the motivation muscle. For me ‘beginning’ meant putting down the doughnut. That was day one. Day two was a long walk and so on until I’m now running 5k three times a week and planning to run a 10k, something I haven’t done since last year.
But it’s not actually all about running – that half hour I carve out three times a week is my thinking time. Since I started running I’ve managed to finish the outline for the next book I’m writing, I’ve eaten better, I’m sleeping better, I get up earlier and work more productively. All because one day I began by putting down the doughnut. A tiny step.
Notching up those tiny steps leads to bigger gains over time. It’s called a ‘slight edge’ and, instead of going from 0 to 1000 and trying to get your entire career rebooted overnight, using the ‘slight edge’ technique can be a comfortable, gentle way to restart things for yourself. Jeff Olson detailed this way of thinking in his book, The Slight Edge.
The theory behind it is super easy. Give yourself a slight edge every day. Save a pound every day and you’ll have £365 in a year and you’ll barely even have noticed. Stretch every day and in a month you’ll be way more flexible than you are now. Do one thing for your career every day and you’re giving yourself the slight edge you need.
The Slight Edge principles are simple;
Have A Good Attitude
Be Committed For A Long Period Of Time
Have Faith And A Burning Desire
Be Willing To Pay The Price
Practice Integrity – do the thing you said you would even after every one else has forgotten you said you’d do it.
Success is not instant (but nor is failure!) – just give yourself a slight edge every day. Or, as I’m very fond of saying – if you want something to change, change something.
What constitutes a slight edge is different for everyone so use the principles to create your own personal contract. I often say ‘do one thing every day for your career’ but that ‘one thing’ is up to you! It might be emailing a casting director with your showreel or sending out an application to an agent. It might be writing five scenes of the short film you’ve been working on. It could be as simple as watching a film and making a note of who the casting director was. It might be attending a workshop and I recently gave some tips on what to look out for with those. The ‘one thing’ can be as big or as small you want it to be – you don’t have to fill every day with huge, grand gestures. One small step, one slight edge.
And give yourself a break! None of us can do our best every single day! If we did then it wouldn’t be our best, would it? It would be our norm. It’s OK to have days where your plan falls apart. It’s OK to give yourself the day off. You can get back on the horse tomorrow.
Stay connected. Stay creative.
Got a question? Email JBR at [email protected]