The Ebbs & Flows of Motivation

Today I want to ramble on about motivation.

I know that my motivation levels change a lot over a short period of time. Sometimes it’s a matter of hours, other times it can be weeks or a month.

I believe that it is normal for motivation levels to go up and down. That’s just human nature. Nobody feels great all the time. Everyone goes through periods where they are feeling a little down, or not up to the task of eating healthy and exercising. It’s normal.

I think that being diabetic straps you down with a whole mess of extra emotions and feelings of guilt and shame when going through a rough period. We are also always loaded down with a bunch of diabetes related work – whether that means checking BG’s, counting and calculating, reacting to highs or lows, planning for anticipated activities or scrambling to recover from some miscalculation or mistake, or from things out of our control (pump problem or situation we didn’t anticipate).

The fact that we never, ever, get a break from all of that leads to burnout. Burnout leads to low motivation. Burnout leads to a “fuck it” attitude. Burnout leads to problems.

Picture from the movie "Office Space" with a quote that says "Motivation - it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care."

Why is it that during high times of motivation, burnout is not an issue? We do what we have to do, and don’t really think much about it? We get on with our lives, and all the rest of the normal joys and pains that life brings along with it.

Burnout with diabetes is inevitable. There is just sometimes too much to deal with – especially when you feel like you are doing everything you can do, and it’s still not working “right”. I think we all often also feel that our diabetic management (or lack of it) is somehow a judgement of us for some reason. Much of this is self imposed, but there have been many a doctors or other health professionals who ask “what are you doing wrong“. Maybe we have been conditioned to feel that way? Maybe it’s easy for a non-diabetic clinician to pass judgement on things – when they can quit thinking about it after 4:30pm.

I am trying to stop thinking in terms of right and wrong – it’s hurtful and of no benefit to anyone. I am also trying to be gentle with myself (thanks ruppert!) during my down periods. Recognizing that they are a natural part of life, and at the same time trying to minimize the time I spend there.

There have been a lot of great comments lately suggesting that I can perhaps simplify things when I’m feeling down. I think that is a great idea. I can be a wannabe perfectionist when I’m feeling “motivationally” high, and I can be a perfect minimalist when I’m feeling “motivationally” low.

I guess the point of this is that it’s completely natural to have ups and downs, and to find a way to roll with the punches might be better than trying to swim against the current.

Until next time – take care!

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. Patient Success Manager, USA for mySugr (All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer).

Diagnosed in April of 1980, I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. Read more…