Time to Lighten Up! How to Stay Motivated in the Middle of the Daily Grind

In the past few months, I’ve been feeling weighed down. Quite literally. I’ve been weighed down by work, age, my body, and the million different distractions and important things alike that are vying for my attention.

In reflecting on my intention for the year ahead, I realized that this inescapable weight was cluing me into something really important: In the next half-century of my life, I want to give more space and energy to lightness.

By lightness, I’m talking about levity, joy, gratitude, the capacity to not take things in my life too seriously, and the ability to clear out any people or situations that feel overly burdensome or heavy. And of course, I’m also talking about literal light! (In the new house that my husband and I are building together, we have enormous windows overlooking the lake, and simply gazing at them brings me a sense of peace and possibility.)

I realize that I’ve spent many of the last few years encouraging women to dive into their darkness. This is still vitally important to me, because of the sheer amount of spiritual bypassing and love masking that can leave us in a state of total disconnection from ourselves. We have to make space for our darkness. But balance is crucial. And nowadays, I’m beginning to recognize that I’m all too familiar with my darkness, often to the exclusion of my light.

I understand that allowing myself to let in the light isn’t as easy as throwing a curtain open and being washed over by the radiance of the day (cue the choir: “Let the Sunshine In!”). Often, when we set intentions, the universe throws us purposeful challenges, as if to ask us, “How much do you really want the thing you say you want? And how willing are you to change your life in order to have it?”

Many times, when we set an intention, the universe gives us precisely the challenges we need to walk through in order to experience real and lasting transformation.

This is the magic of manifestation, which I talk about in depth in my book, Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. True manifestation forces us to engage with every single part of our messy brilliance: the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between.

To manifest, it’s not enough to simply “think” your way into levity, joy, or whatever else you desire. The journey toward full self-expression and wholeness is nonlinear, and it will always reveal our blind spots and the ways our intentions aren’t aligned with our actions, habits, words, and behaviors.

That’s why I realized that in order to claim lightness for myself, it’s necessary for me to acknowledge the places where my life is a little too dark and heavy. It’s necessary to discover the light not at the end of the tunnel, but rather, in the simple act of striking a match in the darkest of places.

The process of manifestation that I outline in my book is not about magically overcoming the obstacles that often weigh us down; it’s about discovering opportunities for growth and change right in the midst of those obstacles. Instead of rising above them, you turn them into fuel.

How does this work? Well, when you set your intention on something, it’s often like dusting the dirt off a mirror. In the simple act of paying attention, you are likely to find a ton of dirt, especially if your intention is meant take you to a space that is radically different from the one you’re currently in today.

Trust me, this is not an easy journey. Sometimes it even feels like a million tiny paper cuts. But I’m learning to ask myself how I can move into gratitude without cursing all those damn paper cuts. In my case, I’ve had to take an inventory of the places in my life that feel heavy and dark, and to take some responsibility for exactly how they got to be that way.

The process of taking inventory and “checking” your progress can often feel overwhelming. How many times have you made a New Year’s resolution, only to constantly feel like you’re failing at it? This sense of “failure” often becomes an excuse for us to quit trying at all. It shouldn’t be this way. The sense that we are not living up to our own expectations is a beautiful signpost leading the way to greater clarity and awareness. If we take it as such, we are actually on our way to manifesting our intention.

It’s easy to become discouraged, but change truly is incremental. Sure, it can be dramatic, but it is often slow and steady that wins the race. Even when it feels like I might not be getting anywhere, I understand that awareness in and of itself is a mark of progress.

We must be honest with ourselves, and experiences of fear, disgruntlement, confusion, and dejection are simply part of this journey. We can use them as prompts for opening up into greater spaciousness, self-trust, awareness, and compassion.

So if you’re feeling like you’re leagues away from the intentions you may have set for yourself early in the year (just a month ago!), give yourself a break. Take time to note the progress you’ve made, and to identify the behaviors that might be hindering you from having the life you want. Don’t be dissuaded by the mistaken assumption that you are simply spinning your wheels and that nothing is changing. Because at some point, the mirror of your messy brilliance is going to be so spotless that it finally radiates the light you’ve been searching for.

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About the Author | Kelly McNelis

Kelly McNelis is the founder of global community, Women for One, a speaker, coach, facilitator, and bestselling author of Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. With more than 25 years of experience as a nonprofit and small-business consultant, Kelly empowers generations of women around the world to build the relationships, community, and confidence they need to achieve their wildest dreams. She finds daily inspiration in spending time with her husband and children in her home outside of Seattle.

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