Documenting my life

Tag: motivation

Is lack of motivation your problem?

“Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action.”

James Clear

In this quote, “action” refers to a well-defined habit or task.

More broadly, I would say that we also procrastinate because we don’t know exactly what we are supposed to do or why we want to do something.

It seems obvious and it is surely nothing new, but I still fell into this trap multiple times. To be honest, I still need to remind myself of this. I had the idea for this post exactly because I was procrastinating – then I realized I didn’t know what specifically I was even supposed to do. No wonder I didn’t want to get into something unclear, it is too uncomfortable!

Questions to get started

If you feel stuck and unmotivated and find yourself postponing something you need to do, ask yourself these questions:

  • What task am I supposed to do? Make it as specific as possible. If you aren’t sure, brain dump any task which can be related/helpful as well. Then figure out which one will help you the most if you do that first.
  • Why is this task important to me? Figure out if you really want or need to do it, by refecting on how you will feel once the task is done and what would happen if you continued procrastinating. Talking to someone you trust can help in this area!
  • What do I need to get started? Do I have all the necessary things ? For example, this might mean notes and slides if the task is work or study related. It will bed documents and receits if you need to file your tax returns.
  • What specifically will I do in the first 5 minutes? What will I work on in the first 25 minutes?
  • How long will this take? If it’s more than an hour, break it down into smaller tasks. If you are not familiar with the Pomodoro technique, you should look into it, it will significantly help with procrastination (I used it consistently during my Master’s and go back to it even now when I need to)
  • How will I measure success? Try to have something measurable and within your control.

Motivation versus clarity in habit-building

Being specific and knowing exactly when and how you are going to do something is especially important if you are trying to form a new habit. James Clear suggests having a set time and place in mind. This means there is no question as to if this is the right moment or not. If you know “Every morning at 8 am I will read 5 pages”, you won’t make any decisions, but simply follow through on your plans.

A month ago I started getting back into running. It’s extremely helpful to know when I am supposed to put on my running shoes and to have a clear plan. I am not giving myself the option of “doing it tomorrow” because I am following a schedule. And I don’t have to bargain with myself on how much I will run, as it has already been decided for me by experts who I trust.


Next time you catch yourself procrastinating and putting something off, remember to get clear on what exactly you have to do, check if you know when and how you will start, and make sure you have everything you need ready – or make that your first task.

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Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown book review

In this post, you can find my notes and a personal review of Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown’s new book.

Who is it for?

I would recommend this book to anyone curious about emotions and who wants to learn more. Particularly about when/how they can arise, what they can tell us, and what are the subtle differences between similar ones.

It’s especially interesting for those who spend a lot of time with others, to have a clearer understanding of different experiences and emotions. This will improve their ability to connect more effectively.

Book structure and style

Atlas of the Heart reads like a dictionary or an encyclopedia, so you can jump from one section to another, or skip something entirely.

Each section describes emotions related to a specific scenario, in the form of “Places we go when…”. It’s very practical to skim through and look for what you need.
It is nice to read about many different examples, both from the author’s personal experience and from the years of research she has collated. 

The final chapters discuss cultivating meaningful connection and gratitude.

Brené Brown’s writing style is clearly recognizable, despite this book being similar to a consultation manual. She is often encouraging, especially when describing an unpleasant emotion.

Personal experience

I paused reading the book on multiple occasions, to reflect on my own experience and take notes. This helped me to better take in the messages shared. I will also be able to go back to them and revisit specific paragraphs that resonated.

After reading Atlas of the Heart, I went back to it again, when I was trying to process and uncover what I was feeling. It was useful to dig deeper and it was nice to feel validated and read about others’ experiences.

I will definitely go back to this book multiple times – I am positive it will become a pillar book to reference.

Key takeaways

Brené Brown points out a few things in her new book that stood out to me:

  • The difference between envy and jealousy: “Envy occurs when we want something that another person has. Jealousy is when we fear losing a relationship or a valued part of a relationship that we already have”
  • Expectations: we need to make them explicit within ourselves and other people involved. This is something that feels scary, but will strenghen the connection, help set boundaries and feeling less hurt in the future
  • I discovered the definition of freudenfreude: being happy for someone else’s success. It’s something to look for and treasure any relationship. It can be nice to be more open and celebrate more often, even the small things

Notes and personal thoughts on expectations
Managing and setting expectations is something especially important to remember. It’s easy to assume others “will know” what our expectations are, when in fact they might not be clear at all – sometimes they could be quite different!

It can also help in setting boundaries and having well defined limits as well as key milestones in place.

It’s also key to remember to ask for others’ expectations. Aim to have a clear picture of when they will consider something to be completed or what the final outcome should be. It’s critical in a work environment, but it is useful in other areas as well.

Interestingly, it’s also key to be aware of our own personal expectations for projects or tasks. We want to ensure that they are reasonable and doable. This means we are not setting ourselves up for disappointment or failure, with unrealistic outcomes in mind.

If you liked this post, subscribe to the newsletter!
I send out emails with a wrap-up of the latest posts as well as interesting and fun things I came across recently.
There is a “Newsletter” tab in the menu at the top of the page. Thank you!

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