Wouldn’t it be lovely? (the magic words that inspire me to get sh** done)
Lately, I’ve had a lot of things to do, but very little motivation to do them.
I’ve barely had the motivation to get dressed, much less to do something impactful, useful, or even necessary (like work… for money… to pay my bills). What a DRAG.
I know I’m not alone. You might relate if you are chronically depressed or anxious, and you might relate simply because you’re human and we all have things we do and do not want to do. Regardless of your relationship with mental illness, we all (thankfully) have a trick or two up our sleeves to give ourselves that sometimes necessary jumpstart: we endure a cold shower and put on actual clothes instead of sweatpants; we make the bed; we go for a walk or a long drive; we sing at-home karaoke to a classic Ariana or Nicki bop; we cook; we clean; we give some undivided TLC to our furry friends… but even then, it’s easy to feel like garbage because nothing is actually getting done.
How do you convince yourself to do something when the motivation isn't there? The simplest answer I’ve found is to ask yourself, “Wouldn’t it be lovely?”
I know it sounds hokey, so let me explain.
A few months ago...
… I moved into a new studio apartment, living alone for the first time since college. It was glorious and, although it is literally a single room (A STUDIO), I was ecstatic. I had these grandiose visions of farmhouse-chic-meets-modern-gallery interior design, plans for total organization domination over the extremely finite closet and tight cupboard spaces that accompany all studios, and dreams of cutesy parties where my friends would endlessly compliment my home and I would bathe luxuriously in their validation and praise.
A month after moving day, my one-room oasis was still a total clusterf***. Where did all that juicy move-in motivation go?! I had hung the TV on the wall incorrectly (too high, too far to the left) and couldn't muster the energy to fix it, my closet was a wreck, and it seemed like none of the furniture I had scoured from Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist was producing that divine modern-farmhouse-chic outcome that was supposed to woo my friends. Quarantine aside, at this rate, I would never, EVER be throwing a housewarming party.
I really wanted my home to be that comfy overlay in the Venn diagram of my life where I could eat, sleep, play, and work happily ever after. So I tried all the tricks my sleeves could hold (see first big paragraph at the top ⬆️ ) to get motivated before I caved and embarrassingly yet aggressively brought it up with my therapist:
“What the f*** is wrong with me?! I’m a f***ing adult, why is it so f***ing hard to handle such simple f***ing tasks? Why can’t I f***ing do anything? F***.”
I fall down a lot of self-loathing slippery slopes and I have a penchant for employing the F word, especially in therapy. My therapist gently suggested I stop being such a tough critic, and then to ask the question, “Wouldn’t it be lovely if _____?”
“Wouldn't it be lovely?? Like wouldn’t it be lovely if I could get my f***ing shit together?”
Still too harsh, and not very specific. I took a deep breath.
“Wouldn’t it be lovely if I found the inspiration to remount my TV in the perfect spot so I could watch TV without breaking my neck? Wouldn’t it be lovely if I was motivated to clean my closet so I could actually find something decent to wear in public?”
It's called growth.
Please don’t misunderstand me-- this wasn’t a magical cure where little birds and field mice came in Disney-style to fold my laundry while I crooned a reimagined version of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?” with my new mantra:
“Wouldn’t it be lovely? Wouldn’t it be wonderful?”
It took at least another week or two after that therapy sesh for a “lovely” TV-remounting moment, and probably a week or two after that for a "lovely" closet re-org. But those inspired moments did eventually come; and when they did, they actually were really lovely, and the results were far better than the uninspired versions ever would’ve been.
Perks of asking "Wouldn't it be lovely if [action] so [result]?" :
Gently identifies the issue while giving you room to creatively problem-solve.
Eliminates feeling "behind" or like it's too late to accomplish the action or achieve the result.
Removes any unnecessary and arbitrary expectations surrounding the "quality" of the action.
Allows for a super fun, meaningful, productive, surprise mystery experience that you've kind of been looking forward to, and it magically occurs in your life at a time that you actually feel good.
I think what makes this method work is that no matter the question, the answer is always the same:
"Yes, that would be lovely [if I cleaned out the fridge so it wouldn't stink]."
"Yes, that would be lovely [if I dusted so my allergies weren't so bad]."
"Yes, that would be lovely [if I remembered to pay rent on time so I can keep my apartment]."
"Yes, that would be lovely."
When I first mounted the TV, it was awful. My neck would get sore enough that I would only watch a single episode of Insecure, Sex in the City, Wandavision, etc. -- the most bingeable of TV shows. By waiting to remount the TV, however, I gave myself time to envision how I wanted to paint the wall. When inspiration struck, where to hang the TV became a no-brainer.
Regarding my tornado of a closet: long story short, I had a minor health scare earlier this year that semi-forced me to strictly regulate my diet and consequently lose ~30 pounds in a quick two months. Moving into my studio was at the beginning of this health journey and by waiting until organizing my closet felt lovely, I ended up keeping a bunch of cute clothes that I would have probably thrown out (READ: “donated,” because I’m not a monster) a mere two months earlier. Waiting until the lightning of motivation strikes has its perks-- like a jam-packed, finally color-coded closet of really cute clothes.
Of course, this doesn’t always work-- life regularly has deadlines that don’t care if the timing is lovely or not. And in those time-crunch moments, we have to 1) appreciate having an end date (yuck), 2) throw any inklings of perfectionism out the window, and 3) acknowledge that sometimes doing the damn thing is just as much of a feat as doing it well. 🏆
If you can afford to wait for a lovely moment of inspiration, I hope you think of my stylish DIY wall and my schmexy born-again wardrobe as proof that lovely results are worth waiting for.
Writing your priorities down can make it all the more real. Tell me where you need a little motivation by filling in the blanks and replying below: “Wouldn’t it be lovely if [action] so [results]?” Now THAT would be lovely. 💕
Let’s get it (together),