How do you feel when you think about doing something or tell people you want to do something…and then you don’t do it?

If you’re like most people, your insides fill with remorse, anxiety, negative self-judgment, shame. Then, for free, negative emotions cycle through the mind on repeat, much like a scratched favorite song on a favorite album from years ago.

It is said that we are what we focus on and I am a believer. If you doubt this, here’s a quick experiment. Consider the nature of thoughts that fill your mind or the spoken thoughts of someone you know.

How do dominant thoughts and language track with observable behavior?

Make no mistake. There is a difference between those who act on what they want to do and those who don’t.

Motivation plays a large part. It’s so important that it is one of a few pointed questions I ask each person who meets with me for a coaching strategy session.

I ask, “How motivated are you, on a scale from 1-5, to achieve the change you want?”

If the answer is not a 4 or 5, they will not become my coaching client.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know: a person doesn’t need to know yet the What or the How to succeed at getting where they want to go.

Clarity and completion naturally follow when the motivation level is high.

So, what about when motivation, stimulation and imagination are sagging? It’s not just you. It’s a common reaction as we live in uncertain times, under volatile circumstances and in a pandemic that can seem never-ending.

Here are a few of the biggest mistakes I see when motivation goes M.I.A. (missing-in-action):

  • Waiting-for-someday for it to return
  • Expecting it to return without effort or intentionality
  • Focusing on too many things at once
  • Allowing things that matter-less to be prioritized over engagement that matters more

Which of the mistakes I list sound most familiar?

There are those who want PROOF that bringing motivation back will be…WORTH IT.

A very important thing to know is…Motivation doesn’t hit its stride until you are already engaging in what matters to you (need help? Start here.)

Once we get started, motivation is what revs the engine, keeps us showing up and no longer has us denying/hiding/running from what we truly want.

A strong first step is to carve out time to engage in a high-priority activity. The most creative people don’t wait to feel ready, don’t merely set schedules, they build rituals.

Twyla Tharp is one of the greatest dancers and choreographers of our time. She writes about the relationship between ritual, creativity and success. I highly recommend her best-selling book, The Creative Habit.

Clearly, there is much more to say on motivation and its connection with a lightness of being (to borrow a title phrase from the esteemed author Milan Kundara). We’ve only just begun to poke around the edges of an essential quality that brings about the change we want to see.

To understand more about motivation and for tips on how to boost yours, here’s an excellent guide from James Clear (his is one of a handful of newsletters that I subscribe to)

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Quote: “One of the greatest predictors of creative achievement is actually openness to experience.” —Lisa Congdon, Author and Artist

Activities: Hiking in the woods. Coaching and writing outside on the deck.

Recipe: Red Lentil Soup with Lemon by Melissa Clark.  It was my first time making red lentils. It’s got a kick and it’s a keeper. (I’m gaga over the NY Times Cooking app)


Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firooseh Dumas. A heartfelt and humorous look at the author in the context of her Iranian family and a refreshing take at what it’s like to be an immigrant.

How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Katy Milkman. This book is packed, in the best way, with breakthroughs on how to improve habits to change behavior.

TV Show: Ted Lasso. Characters that feel and fail. Storylines and acting worth watching for the laughs and recognition that we are connected and all human. I’m filled with envy that Jake Tapper received a Lasso swag bag (as shown on Twitter) and I didn’t.

Podcast: Brene’ Brown with Amy Cuddy on Dare to Lead Podcast: On Pandemic Flux Syndrome.

Anytime YUM snack: Soom Dark Chocolate Tahini with Sea Salt. Spread on banana, whole wheat bread, a spoon. Fun fact – the three founders are sisters and one of them went through school with our son. They are growing an international brand and I’m always happy to support women-owned businesses (especially when they’re this sweet).


LATEST BOOK NEWS: My Memoir, Carrying My Father’s Torch

Sharing is caring! I welcome your reactions to my book and encourage you to share or gift it to others who enjoy memoirs and stories of triumph over tragedy. If you like our story, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads (it helps others find it) and link to it on social media. My memoir touches on topics of family secrets, resilience and hope for a brighter future. I am happy to speak with book groups and organizations. I am honored that my book is shelved at Y’ad Vashem in Israel, the USHMM in Washington, D.C., The Simon Wiesenthal Center Library in Los Angeles, at university and public libraries, and bookstores. If your local library or bookstore does not yet carry it, they usually order it upon request.


YOUR TURN. I want to hear from you — what’s your favorite tip or resource from this issue?

What tips for motivation would you add to the list?