How Do You Motivate Yourself to Get off Your Bump?

Painting ideas for fun things to do in retirementAs a student of motivation most of my adult life, I’ve concluded most people do what they want to do. Except, when they don’t.

I’ll put my own life under the microscope as a case study. Throughout my blogs, I share about my return to art in my late 40’s. It became an important part of my life and something I engaged on a regular basis.

Creating art is usually considered a solitary activity. When I decided I wanted to learn to paint, I took classes. Ultimately I found a teacher in an unstructured environment. Tuesdays were spent hanging out with the group painting. In addition to art critiques and instruction, there was companionship, support, and laughter. It was my therapy.

Even when I created a studio at home, it wasn’t off in a private room. We put my drafting table behind a pony wall in back of the television in the family room. Most of my painting occurred on weekends. Autumn Sundays were spent with my husband watching football while I painted in the same room.

All of that changed when we moved to Arizona. Not only did I lose my painting companions, but the routine we had in California. Finding a way to have painting in my life has been a struggle. Even though I truly want to paint, days and weeks go by without my picking up a paintbrush. How can that be?

Tama Kieves, bestselling author of THIS TIME I DANCE! wrote the following that seems to fit many of us who are not doing the things we want to do.

I’ve committed to write more this year. It’s what I want. Now that I’ve said it, I know I will drag into my writing room, and it will feel as though I have to hoist a dead body out of the way, just to sit down and type out a sentence. I’ll want to wash my hands, and then research how soap got invented, and then perhaps start a small organic soap company…. But I’ll stay there and write instead.

There are many reasons why we don’t do what we want. Inner critics, distractions, both real and imaginary, or a lack of structure can all hold us back from our dreams. The analogy of the moving versus still locomotive creates a great visual image. When at a stand still, a simple block of wood can keep a train from moving. Once in motion, it can burst through a solid concrete wall. (The 1976 movie Silver Streak, starring Gene Wilder and Jill Clayburgh comes to mind.) How do we create momentum when at a standstill?

I saw a notice in the paper last week that the local artist guild was having a tea on Friday. I decided to go and check it out. It’s a large group, made up mostly of retirees. They meet monthly, but what impressed me was they have art shows going on throughout the community. There were at least 6 locations with exhibitions.

My art needs a purpose. I don’t want to spend a lot of energy trying to sell my work, but painting to have it end up in a bin in a back room isn’t much fun either. This weekend I ended up painting on both Saturday and Sunday. Something I haven’t done for a very long time. I had other things going on, but I made the time to also paint.

I’m excited about the group and the possibility of sharing my art with others. It feels like I’ve turned a corner. I still miss my group in California. I’m not there and won’t be, so it’s up to me to find a way to have art back in my life.

Have you every gotten stuck and not been able to do what you wanted to do? If you overcame the barrier, I’d love you to share how you did it. If you’re still stuck and struggling, maybe we can help, so share that also.



  1. Yes, I’ve been stuck doing what I didn’t want to do for a living and, more importantly, feeling totally dispassionate about it and resentful every day I sat down to work. So, I changed that two years ago and followed my heart. I’m a baby boomer who feels like I am in my 30′s. I wanted to help others master social media, like I did and become a mentor, consultant and public speaker, focusing on why social media is not a fad; it’s not going anywhere so one might as well jump on the bandwagon. I love what I do and look forward to each day. Being an avid runner, I have a deep sense of self-motivation and I think it carries over to my professional life.

    • Cathy Severson says:

      Finding a passion is so important and being willing to take the necessary risks to bring your dream to reality is also key. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Renee says:

    Cathy, I’m smiled when I read your first paragraph. I work so hard to avoid what I don’t want to do! But I also get stuck when I’m doing what I want to do. Your header reminded me of that.

    For some time, I’ve had a domain/tagline and ideas for starting a coaching business related to the transition to retirement. Because of restrictions related to my “day job,” I wasn’t able to get the website/blog to work (in my mind) — yet. When I started focusing on another midlife/aging related area (family caregiving), I have been able to move ahead.
    I’m still “chomping at the bit” to move forward in non-financial areas related to retirement (and nontraditional retirement planning for retirement years). Paying more attention the timing in conjunction with other balls I’m juggling made the difference. In this situation, timing was everything in developing clarity.

    • Cathy Severson says:

      We have a couple of similarities. I too am my mothers’ caretaker. I’m lucky there is other support, but I’m the one who has to drop everything if there is a problem.

      Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you with your retirement coaching. I spoke at the Conference on Positive Aging a couple of weeks ago about my Retirement model. Hopefully, there were be some video on youtube shortly. I’m hoping to license the program by the end of the year. Because so many of us coaches aren’t great at marketing, we’re hoping to provide a network of support and information.
      Regardless, good luck in your endeavor.

  3. Holly says:


    I lack external structure, and I have minimal support living alone. I no longer have a job, and my business is still very new. So, I’m alone working a lot, and I live alone, too. My other connections make a big difference.

    My mentor coach helped me keep moving for over three months. I also have coach friends from my certification class around the country, Now I’m in an online marketing/coaching program, and I just connected with a freelancer who also wants to work on the buddy system.

    I’m still looking for local groups that fit my interests in journaling and art journaling. Occasionally, I take art and photography classes, Yours sounds ideal.

    • Cathy Severson says:

      Much of what I write about, I’ve experienced. When we moved to Prescott, Arizona, I came armed with my counseling, coaching and entrepreneurial skills. I found the move much more difficult than I expected. For me, the biggest thing is to not give up. Like you, I spend much of time connected to people outside my immediate location, but I still want to be an active, participating member of this community. Let’s stay in touch and give each other support.

  4. Purpose is what drives us, whether in our personal lives or professionally. And when purpose intersects with passion, WOW! That’s the point at which we both self-actualize and others sense the calm that typically descends upon us. In much of my coaching and teaching, I focus on these aspects, because above nearly all else, if one can leverage passion and purpose, transformation becomes not only a possibility, but a probability. Great post, Cathy!

    • Cathy Severson says:

      We must be kindred spirits. I agree with everything you said. Passion is purpose in action! Thanks for your comment.

  5. evelyn says:

    I hear what you are saying Cathy, and I think the sentence, “There are many reasons why we don’t do what we want. Inner critics, distractions, both real and imaginary, or a lack of structure can all hold us back from our dreams.” resonates with me. My inner critic comes from my childhood experience and I found it hard to trust myself until I found the Art of Coaching. It truly is an art and my passion. However, my inner critic still has a hold on my releasing my talents. This blog resonates with me and I am so happy you found your passion anew. Passion is purpose in action. Maybe you can use that as a tag line. If you don’t want it, maybe I will switch from Believe, Trust, Succeed. Great post.

    • Cathy Severson says:

      Thank you for comment, Evelyn. I think you speak for a lot of people about the inner critic. Certainly, it’s been a force in my life. As we get older, there’s the potential of imploding if you will or choosing to move beyond the fears and barriers. You did through coaching. As a result, you provide a model for others to do the same.

  6. MARY says:

    HI Cathy,

    I found your lovely blog by way of your lovely thread on LinkedIn on, well, blogging! :-)
    I get unstuck my putting my good humor cap on taking whatever it is less seriously. I should be able to do that because I am a laughter professional, after, all, and I best walk my talk! Not always easy with the ones I am closest to in times of stress, but at least we have the tools and usually one of us remembers to use them. Laughter does wonders for the inner critic, by the way, among other obstacles in our way. It is not an end all cure, but has been known to cure illnesses too!

    Thanks for blogging your heart out. Blog on!

    Mary Rives

    • Cathy Severson says:

      Mary, one of the things I most value about my marriage is after 35 years, we can still laugh-almost daily. In fact, I wrote a blog about the health benefits of laughter. I love that you share that with the world.

  7. Cathy, loved the post. I especially like the “hoist the dead body” as I’ve been there before. There are days where I know I should be blogging or working on my business but anything and everything suddenly becomes more interesting. Or I’ll sit down to write and end up staring at the screen with my fingers poised over the keyboard and realizing I’ve got nothing to say. When that happens I go find people to hang out with. Good conversations will act as a catalyst for things to blog about. I know when I leave a Mastermind session I have at least five topics for my blog.

  8. Cathy Severson says:

    I agree, Larry. Support, especially from a Mastermind are so important. Any kind of support is invaluable. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. My favorite quote to use when speaking to audiences is from Mark Twain… “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”.

    I find that it explains the transformation that I went through when I found myself sitting at my desk and suddenly realized that I was meant for more. I wish more people in the world could find their ‘why’ and entered coaching to help that happen.

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