Monday, February 29, 2016

Seeking Motivation

It's not that I've fallen out of love with my ancestors.  No, I love them as much as ever.  But I've lost the motivation to find them.  Has that ever happened to you?

I'm using a British definition of "motivation" here which is, according to, "desire to do; interest or drive."   Unmotivated, the opposite of motivated is, in my case, lack of drive to seek out my ancestors.  I'm interested and have the desire but I just can't seem to make myself do it.

It began last year after I cleared off my desk and put everything away to participate in the Genealogy Do-Over/Do-Better.  That was a good idea until I began mentally grueling full-time work with little mental energy left to seek my ancestors (or to do much serious thinking of any kind).  And the year went on.... 

So here I am now, knowing I should be working on my family history (knowing the importance of it because of our LDS teachings about finding our deceased ancestors) but without the motivation to do it.  I thought watching RootsTech would help.  It did -- for about a day.  But here I am again, stopped in my tracks.

Research on the internet about lack of motivation suggests it may be more common than I thought.  Though none of the articles specifically mentioned family history research I found some good general recommendations from several articles which make me hopeful.  (See Notes at end of post for sources.) 
  1. Take a small step on a long-term project or take a step forward on an unfinished project.
  2. Use personal habits to reach goals.  Wise use of time is motivating.
  3. Plan your work around your most productive time of day.  Create a to do list that includes not only what you have to do but the choices you'll have to make.  
  4. Just start.  Set a brief time to work even when you're not motivated.  Then take another small step toward a larger goal.  As you make progress, motivation will catch up.
  5. Use to do lists.  Work in focused bursts.  Tidy up your environment.
I have no problem thinking about family history.  I am able to focus on my ancestors, on specific ancestors.  I know next steps for some of my research.  I just can't seem to make myself do anything.

Here are several ideas that I plan to implement:
First:  Review my pedigree chart, family group sheets, and my RootsMagic files, plus the list of in-progress work that I set aside when I begin the Genealogy Do-Over/Do-Better.  Also review my tree at FamilySearch.

Second:  Make a to do list of simple things that will take a short time to finish (rather than hours or days of involved research).

Third:  Create a habit.  A few months ago I read Better than Before:  Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin.  One of her suggestions was to piggy-back a new/desired habit onto a well-formed habit.  My morning habits have been in place for years -- shower, brush teeth, eye drops, hand-work, scripture study.  I can add family history work to that sequence of habits.  With a to do list in hand, I should make progress.

Fourth:  Set aside one hour every week for family history as a "Power Hour."  Power Hour is another of Gretchen Rubin's ideas:  an hour to work on non-time sensitive activities that often get put off.  Without the motivation to work on family history, it's one of those things that I just don't do.

I hope these steps will move me past these doldrums into motivation to search for my ancestors and  research their lives and times.

If any of you readers have overcome lack of motivation I hope you'll leave a comment and tell me how you overcame and made progress.

Sources (corresponding to the numbered list above)
1.  Feeling unmotivated or depressed? Here's how to move forward by Patrick Gray on TechRepublic 
2.  10 Reasons Why Some People Are Always Unmotivated by Robert Locke on Lifehack.
3.  Feeling Unmotivated at Work?  7 Ways to Get Back in the Groove [Infographic] by Lindsay Kolowich on Hubspot Blogs
4.  What to Do When You Feel Unmotivated:  My 3 Favorite Tips by Henrik Edberg on the PositivityBlog
5.  How To Be Productive Even When You’re Unmotivated by Brittni Rogers on Creatives In Transit


Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Oh My Nancy! This comment will not help because, I am going through the very same thing! I did not attend Roots Tech this year and happy I didn't. I just finished cleaning out all my files and got more organized; cleared off my desk and realized all what needs to be done. I think of how I'm not getting any younger Ha Ha. So many thing going through my head that I'm not doing. Here it is the end of the day and very few check marks on my list. Maybe by my telling you this will help. Just letting you know you are not alone. My motto at present: "This too shall pass"

    1. I like your motto, Renée. Sometimes I feel like this lack of motivation is a phase that I'll get through. Other times if feels like it will never end. I just finally decided I should do something about it to help it along. I was thinking this morning that looking through my working files should be enough to get me going again, especially along with the other ideas I mentioned in this post. I'm not getting any younger either, so I really need to get going!

      Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment. I appreciate it.


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