How To Stay Motivated When Everything Feels Bonkers

Three things I consistently do to keep going — and love the journey

B. Lorraine Smith


I encountered this “lane closed” sign at 50km of an 88km run, part of a conversation I had with the St.Lawrence River in 2020. Listening to other life forms is one of three motivational practices (Photo by me.).

During a talk I gave to some university students the other day, a member of the audience asked me, “How do you stay motivated?” We had been exploring the role of business in big global issues. I had just illustrated the gaping chasm between most company’s actions compared to what we actually need to thrive, and the scope of what’s required to get there. It’s, well, a lot.

In spite of observing what could be termed catastrophic failures and intractable dilemmas resulting from centuries of systemic harm in huge systems far beyond my influence, she noticed that I seem to be carrying on. With a sense of mischief and joy while I’m at it.

This student — staring at the beginning of her career in business, and seeing how much work there is ahead for industry to not suck — was trying to figure out how I keep the faith.

Below is a version of what I said.

Before I go further, rest assured I have my very (very) low moments. It’s not all roses — or, it is all roses, and roses have thorns! But looking back on years of being me, I can say honestly that what I’m about to share is how I roll. This isn’t an instagram feed — it’s real me.

These are actual practices that inform and shape me. They keep my ideas flowing and my heart pumping. And they have steered me away from the edge of — or at least rescued me from — the Bottomless Pit of Doom.

I share these three practices in case they’re useful for you. Because we’ve got lots of work to do and no time to wallow in the Bottomless Pit of Doom.

0.0 — I am guided by my purpose

But first: the three things I outline below are held together by my purpose, which is to foster the shift towards an economy that works in service of life.

I hold this purpose close. It evolves, narrows, widens; words shift and shuffle — but directionally it’s been consistent for a long time. It’s why I wake up and it’s why I fall asleep and dream.

As Henryk A. Kowalczyk wisely pointed out the other day, we are more likely to be successful when we have…



B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact.