Words We Heard: ‘Motivation is a wave with peaks and valleys.’

It’s about time I acknowledge the obvious. I’m a procrastinator of the worst possible kind. Sometimes, when deadlines are looming and all I need to do is sit down and focus, I’ll pick up a random book and start reading. Other times – and this is the kicker – I’ll clean. Clean. Who chooses cleaning over getting actual work done?

It’s a vicious cycle, one that means staying up until 3 a.m. and then waking up at 8 a.m. When I read articles about overcoming procrastination (often during the act), I read the same things over and over. Stay organized! Make a list! Prioritize! Write in a planner! Set a timer! Drink wine!

Okay, maybe I’ve never seen the last one, but a girl can dream.

Anyway, I have applied all of those tactics to my everyday life and not a single one works. Here I am, writing at 12:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning, wondering what in the world I could do to crack the mystery of procrastination. Although I may work better under pressure, like a cloud, eventually the rain will fall. And when it does, I’ll have no umbrella to hide under. Because believe or not, I’ve put off buying a new one.

I’m not sure what procrastination entails. Sometimes I believe my mug of motivation is empty. Maybe I don’t have caffeine for the ideas in my head; I have ideas, but what use are they if I don’t have initiative?

I found this app called “Peak” that consists of four or five mini games each day that are supposed to work out different parts of the brain and over time, improve cognition. So I signed up thinking, “Oh, you know, I’m pretty smart, or I like to think I am, so let’s see how I do.”

And I bombed. Just bombed. Especially in the focus category. It’d be one thing if I scored a 50 percent, but no, take away that zero. I scored a 5 percent.

It’s one thing to let a game determine your cognitive skills, it’s another when it hits you that the game is right. It’s entirely right: I lack focus. Despite having dreams that reach the stars, I lose sight of them. They’re out in space wandering somewhere between black holes and eerie galaxies I don’t even want to think about. So I’ve decided to bring those dreams back down to earth.

Instead of thinking they’re out of reach and therefore enabling procrastination, each day I’ll ask myself: What can you do today, that will help you tomorrow? How will this action help all your consequential actions? Does this glass of wine look a little small?

So as I finish writing this at 1:06 a.m., I encourage you to find the motivation within yourself. It may take a little coaxing, but it’s in there, and it has the ability to wipe out any form of cleaning, Netflix, or other type of procrastination holding you back. But I’ll also leave you with a saying that has stuck with me since sophomore year of high school: “Today, do what others won’t, so tomorrow, you can do what others can’t.”


  • “You know, this is something I really want. I’m going to go after this job. I’m not going to just submit my info and sit back and hope for the best. No. I’m going to push for it.” –Tamia Stinson, founder of Tether and The Style Sample, in an interview with Women of Cincy
  • “The Fine Arts Fund – in a move Kintner calls ‘courageous’ – abandoned a name that ‘was a barrier to the idea that every little gift can make a wave of impact through the arts,’ and became ArtsWave. And the mission flipped from ‘What do the arts need?’ to ‘What does the community need from the arts?’ The discovery sparked a national conversation about the arts and culture as a public good, with the term ‘ripple effect’ entering the lexicon of arts organizations throughout America.” –Cindy Starr, in an article in Movers & Makers
  • “Stanford professor B.J. Fogg looks at motivation a bit differently than most. According to Fogg, motivation is a wave with peaks and valleys, and the goal isn’t to stay at a constant peak, but rather, to recognize the valleys and adjust your effort accordingly.” –Daniel DiPiazza,  founder of Rich20Something and CEO of Under30CEO, in an article in Cincinnati Business Courier
  • “...Do things that will force your mind to dump any stress you may be feeling. Meditation, taking a walk outside, talking to a friend, or even mindfully eating a healthy snack without any distractions are all great ways to recenter yourself. Just make sure to not lose track of time with your break – eventually, you do need to come back to work.” –Raven Ishak, in an article for The EveryGirl
  • “It’s not just about expressing your frustration. It’s about making space for how you feel. Seeing its legitimacy. Locating the tension and what its causes might be. Then picking yourself up and getting shit done.” –Jerico Mandybur, editorial director of Girlboss, in her letter from the editor
Lauren Lewis