How To Stay Motivated When Everything Feels Bonkers

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

B. Lorraine Smith

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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…

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B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact. https://www.blorrainesmith.com/