Doug and Lynn Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

What is something that you have been putting off because you really don’t want to do it? We all probably have at least one of these things. It can involve doing something physical, or something emotional, or both.

Here are some examples. Doing something physical might involve vacuuming. Something emotional might be mending a misunderstanding. Something both emotional and physical might happen when selling a home. That situation involves going through old pictures and memorabilia that bring emotions about family times. Then there’s the physical part of making sure all the furniture and boxes are out before the closing. Maybe you, or someone you know, has recently faced these challenging situations.

Notice how these activities take energy. Activities that involve both physical and emotional energy can leave people feeling very tired. We realize that we have a storage area in our lower level that we really feel has been “growing stuff.” It’s like a new crop that we aren’t tending to that just sprouts in the dark. It’s time, we say to ourselves, to tackle it. Yes, tackle it, like it’s our opponent. Do you have anything that seems like an overwhelming task to you?

Recently, we came across pictures that were taken of the storage area when we moved in to our home years ago. It was nice and spacious. As you may know, we like to do videos and we want to use this area for creative projects. We need to get motivated and start to declutter it. Barbara Hemphill said, “Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.” Looks like we’ll be catching up on making decisions!

Here are some ways we’ll use to get motivated to start.

  1. Positive mindset can make a task more pleasant. We teach everyone else to use positive thinking to make a task more enjoyable and we plan to do it, too! We also decided to try to make the task at least somewhat fun. We both like music so we’ll get some lively music playing that will get us moving and “whistling while we work.”
  2. Vision the end result. Why is it important to do this project, even though we are dreading it? We can imagine what it will look and feel like when everything gets cleared out. Realizing that the end result will be worth it will motivate us to keep going in the decluttering process.
  3. Set small goals, so progress is evident. We could divide the area off and do a section of it at a time so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming that we want to quit. We could have boxes labeled “donate” or “toss” and have goals to fill those boxes. We may even have to include a box labeled “undecided.”
  4. Allow breaks to rest and renew. We will want to remain motivated and if we get too exhausted, it would be easy to just give up on the whole project. Getting some water, juice or snacks may help to keep energy up.
  5. Celebrate steps along the way to the final goal. To stay motivated, it’s important to acknowledge accomplishments, big and small. And of course, we’ll celebrate when we complete the goal of having the storage area cleared.

To increase motivation, some people set rewards like doing something they like to do more than the unpleasant task. This reward might be sitting down to read a book or call a friend. Some people like to purchase something as a reward — but that’s more “stuff”. So for us, the reward will come just from standing there and taking a picture which looks like the picture of the area when we first moved in.

The steps we outlined that we’re going to use to stay motivated actually are pretty basic and work for many situations. John C. Maxwell said, “Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing.” We’ll use motivation to get our storage area cleared but we know that we’ll need discipline to keep it from filling up again!

What about you? What is something that you’ve been putting off that you want to gain motivation to do? You may find that completing the tasks you want to do least will bring you the most joy. By sharing our ideas on motivation, we hope they’ll be helpful for you, too. As you’re motivated to address things in your life that you don’t want to do, you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Chanhassen residents Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at