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  • Writer's pictureSofiya Pasternack

3 Ways I Keep Myself Motivated

Woohoo! Let's talk about motivation!

And how motivation is a LIE!

A lie? Motivation? What? Huh?

Okay, maybe it doesn’t mean to be a lie. But motivation is like brain candy: it feels great and lights up all your dopamine and you get all hopped up while you’re under its influence. You can do anything!


ACCESS the Motivation PDF


The thing that’s going to make the real difference is self-discipline… the vegetables of the brain. Self-discipline is what you need to live on in order to grow big and strong and get stuff done.

Candy/motivation is fine every once in a while, but it’s not something you can live on. First of all, motivation is unpredictable. You don’t know if you’re going to wake up one day and have the motivation to create beautiful words. What if you don’t? Do you just… not write? What if it’s days before you get motivated? Weeks? Months? Years?

No, no, no. You can’t rely on motivation.

Self-discipline is an essential part of your brain’s diet. It’s what gets books written. Motivation is fun and feels good, but discipline is the rock-solid foundation upon which the motivation can sing and dance.

But… developing self-discipline is hard. So how do you do it?

I don’t know.

But I know how I do it. So let’s talk about that now!

In this post, we'll go through the three things that lend my goblin brain some discipline:


S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for:


What do I want to accomplish?

Why is it important?

Who is involved?


How much?

How many?

How will I know when I’m done?


How can I accomplish this goal?

How realistic is it, when based on other factors such as time availability?


Is this the right time to do this goal?

How is this going to affect others in my life?


What can I accomplish in an hour?

In a day?

In a week?

When you’re setting up a new goal for yourself, make sure you’ve got your S.M.A.R.T. goal detailed out and written down. You can come back to it as you’re working and make sure you’re staying on track.


The ADHD Secret

I’ll tell you a secret: S.M.A.R.T. goals aren’t my friend. Why? Because ADHD does this cool thing in your brain. It makes you not give two poops about extrinsic (external) rewards. I will straight-up ignore things that don’t spark joy intrinsically in my heart.

But what if I have to do something that doesn’t spark joy?

a yard sign that says "JOY'
None of this. >:(

That’s where the S.M.A.R.T.I. goal comes in.

It’s basically the same as the S.M.A.R.T. goal, with one addition: Interest.


What’s super cool about this goal?

Why do I care about doing it?

How does this relate to other passions of mine?

If S.M.A.R.T. goals aren’t usually effective for you, consider adding the I onto the end and seeing what happens. Make it meaningful, and maybe you’ll actually stick with it.


The Power of Pomodoro

If you’re interested in learning more about motivation, odds are you’re aware of what the Pomodoro technique is.

So yeah, Pomodoro. Sure. Been there, done that. What new thing do you have to offer, Sofi?


Just look at those instructions. “Create a list of tasks and work for 25 minutes.”

To my goblin brain, that means, “If you add fun nonsense into your task list, you can do that for 25 minutes!”

No. Bad goblin brain. Bad!

I can’t give myself a list of various tasks to do. It’s like giving a toddler an open bag of flour. It’s going to be a disaster.

But I love using the Pomodoro technique, but only when I pair it with mindfulness. What does that mean? It means instead of giving myself a list of things to do during that 25 minute stretch, I give myself one single thing.

I can do only that one thing, or I can sit there and do… nothing.

And being idle? Y’all, it makes me bonkers. I would rather do something than do nothing, even if that something is boring.

At the beginning of the work day, I have a list of 5-6 things total. And during a single Pomodoro session, only one of those 5-6 things gets done. Only one is even on the table. Only one even exists.

So next time you’ve got your Pomodoro timer going, write down on a sticky note the one thing you’re allowed to be doing and put it somewhere prominent. If you stop doing that thing, you have to stop doing all things. Just it there. Stare at the wall. Be one with nothingness gah I can’t even write that, sitting still is the worst, how do people even do that???


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meet sofiya!

Sofiya Pasternack is a mental health professional, the highly-distractible author of Jewish MG and YA fantasy, and prone to oversharing gross medical stories.

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