Motivation {Discussion}

Last week, I asked my Quilting Jetgirl Facebook Page and Quilting Jetgirl Facebook Group the same questions and got some amazing responses. I thought I would lead off by asking those questions here. If you feel so moved, you are welcome to add your voice in a response in the comments.

When you think about quilting, is there anything you need that isn’t available? Is there something you find yourself thinking or saying, “I wish….” when you are quilting?

What is the most difficult part of the quilting process for you (accurate piecing, specific type of piecing [flying geese?], binding, quilting, Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)…)?

Beyond a few responses that are beyond my abilities to fix (“I wish I had a new sewing machine”), a few themes definitely stood out to me in the responses. There are certainly parts of the quilting process that everyone has desires to work on, but the common themes of time management / space management / and motivation popped out at me.

Today I want to open up a discussion about Motivation, and I look forward to reading your responses and invite you to consider reading the comments as well.

I found a very interesting article about how to get motivated, according to science. It suggests that the main shortcoming of productivity systems is that they (and we) fail to take emotion into account: feelings are a fundamental part of why we do what we do. The article goes on to suggest that we procrastinate THE MOST when we are in a bad mood. Conversely, we are the most productive when we are happy.

Speaking of happiness… there is a difference between pleasure and happiness and over the weekend I watched a fascinating half hour interview with Dr. Robert Lustig about his book The Hacking of the American Mind on that topic. In the interview, he offers the following:

The formula for happiness: the 4 C’s:

  1. CONNECT (interpersonally)
  2. CONTRIBUTE (to your communities i.e. family, work, neighborhood — outside yourself)
  3. COPE (to reduce stress to improve serotonin receptors, also reduce exposure to blue screens for more Sleep; Mindfulness — not multitasking; Exercise — tamps down dopamine, increases serotonin)
  4. COOK (Real food e.g. fish, use flax = high tryptophan, amino acid building block of serotonin; Omega 3s–stability to neuronal membranes; also, low fructose).

Going back to procrastinating… what are some tools that help drive forward when we feel stuck? I found another article with 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You are in a Slump. From the two articles, I am going to highlight two that seem to be key:

  1. Start Small
  2. Surround yourself with people you want to be / find an accountability partner

How are you at staying motivated in your quilting projects? Is it even a concern for you? Do you have different tips and tricks to share, or are you looking for more connection and a method that will work for you? I look forward to conversing with you!

22 thoughts on “Motivation {Discussion}

  1. I am so glad you have tackled this topic.

    My motivation has never been a issue for me until recently.

    After the tragic death of my little niece 1 month ago, I lost my motivation in a big way. As most of my quilts was designed and made with her in mind. The only reason I have been sewing at all, was because of deadlines and promises made. For me designing and quilting is my therapy, and this recent thing, where i am having to force myself to sew, has made me rather miserable and unhappy.

    The turning point for me this last week and getting me motivated again, is Father Andrew from my Church. In personal discussions with him he encouraged me to make smaller quilts and donate them to our local charity. The idea got me motivated big time. I love the idea of making pretty or boyish quilts for little kids or teenagers, who needs some love in their life.

    Now I just need to find like minded people in my area, who I can have sewing circles with. That would be perfect, as I find myself isolated with my quilting.

  2. daisyandjack says:

    thanks for the links Yvonne – interesting articles and good advice 🙂 I’ve been pretty unmotivated to sew recently due to work – thankfully things are changing and so I’m going to take small steps to start creating again.

  3. kaholly says:

    Great post! I seldom lack motivation, but if it wanes, sometimes I turn to making those blocks I’ve always wanted to try but never took the time. Eventually, I hit upon one that really calls my name and I can’t stop! Another trick I use is to grab up a handful of scraps and work with them to make zippered pouches.

  4. patty says:

    I surround myself with lots of different project and that in itself provides motivation. But so does playing along with QALs which is perhaps why I love them so much.

  5. hi hi, I recognize myself! seriously, your post is very interesting! my job takes me far away from quilting, but I am motivated by host a QAL for french quilters next year!

  6. I have weeks where I’m unmotivated to make, so when that happens, I start a new project.

    My in-person guild definitely motivates me, even though I haven’t made time for the monthly challenges this year. Just night of people talking about and showing quilts is enough to get me raring to make.

  7. MJ says:

    To keep my ‘mojo’, I like to work on several little projects that I can finish, in between the longer more complicated things. Just finished 2 little mug rugs, a table runner and am hand stitching a binding a larger project that still needs a label…with several completed tops that I’ll get to soon

  8. Beth LaMotte says:

    My problem with quilting is that I want to try everything and find myself having started many more projects than I can finish! Having identified this flaw, I have come up with a solution for me. I try to scale down the size of the project in order to make it more doable. I still am able to work on the quilting concept, but finish it as well. I might wind up with a lot of pillows, table runners, or mini quilts, but they make great presents!

  9. KJ says:

    When I have zero motivation, I walk away and don’t fret about it. I find, if I try to force myself to start something, even something small, I make too many mistakes if I am not into it. So, I give myself permission to step away until the mood strikes again. And I find that, when it strikes again, I am more productive than usual.

    I also have a quilting buddy on the other side of the country. We motivate each other, send quarterly atta girl packets (or sorry, you’ll do better next quarter) and are there for each other, even if it is by email.

  10. I guess you’d have to label me a happy person then, and consequently, that’s the reason I am fairly productive. Setting aside the occasional health concerns (breast cancer), for the most part, I love life and don’t let much get me down. For me, a lack of motivation is rare. In fact, I am usually so motivated that I don’t know which project to work on! Also, a real motivator for me is having something new to blog post and Instagram post about. I do regularly exercise, usually line dancing for a couple hours twice a week, and power-walking. I socialize often with quilters, line dancers, and ukulele-players, and I also eat well which is an extra-good experience for me because the mister does all the grocery-shopping and cooking! Why wouldn’t I always be in my sewing room, making?!

  11. I have never thought about procrastination and unhappiness being connected, but when I think about when I procrastinate, it makes sense. It often happens when I have taken on too many tasks, or when I have not planned well and am overwhelmed at the last minute. When my motivation left after my mom passed away, and I didn’t feel like quilting, I just played with fabrics and colorways. It was a little creative and eventually helped the mojo to come back. Thanks for sharing this, Yvonne!

  12. Julie J Vogel says:

    I think life motivates me toward creating! I have several situations in my life that are beyond my control, and working with fabric or yarn allows me to DO something. Tapping into my creative side is one of the ways I stay content!
    I am not an expert at anything, but being creative is part of my nature. There have been times in the last few busy years that I realized I was pent up and frustrated with day to day life. I realized that I had not been taking time to create. As soon as I got my hands back on some fabric or yarn I immediately felt better! These activities also calm me down and often give me time alone for awhile..
    Having a variety of projects also works well for me. Sometimes I need to think about starting a new project — always exciting! — or finishing something I want to use or give away. At other times, when if life is high stress and I feel brain dead, I do something soothing. I quilt on my sewing machine, knit, or sew on a binding.
    If I am too tired to create or feel like my frustration will lead me to impatience, I look at magazines and blogs. Those keep me planning ahead and inspire me!
    If grief, sorrow or loss has got hold of me, I pray, hug my dogs, and take a nap! After I am rested and have had a break …. it may be time to run back up to the sewing room to create something!

  13. Lea says:

    This is an interesting topic and I’m going to pop back in to read what others have to say.

    I don’t have a problem getting motiviated to work on a quilt. Quilts ideas are always abundant, although I am not the fastest quilter. But when I am working on a quilt sometimes it starts to look ugly to me. Or it starts to become difficult, even the easy things that I normally don’t think about. I make mistakes. Sloppy mistakes. I’ve learned it isn’t the quilt. It’s just time to step back.

    So I start another quilt and the same thing will happen with that one eventually. So I’ll go back to the first one, or move on to a new 3rd one. I know that most quilters have a huge number of WIPs. My number is 3. I’ll go back and forth between three quilts and that works for me. The newness of the other projects keep me motivated. And eventually one will be finished and a new one will start. A new quilt project is always exciting. There are always 3 in progress.

  14. Tu-Na Quilts says:

    There’s nothing like a deadline looming over my head to motivate me into action and get the creative juices flowing. But deadlines also create stress. I’ve even given myself self-imposed deadlines but there’s no fooling me. I know when something really needs to be done and usually underestimate the time it will take to finish. It’s a viscous cycle I sometimes get into.

    What I find difficult with quilting is choosing THE RIGHT fabric to go with THE RIGHT pattern. Sometimes I change my mind about my fabric pulls and sometimes I take so long to decide that the project no longer interests me and then I move onto a different project. Indecision causes me lack of motivation and that brings me full circle again–until the deadline approaches.

  15. I find my worst moments of procrastination are when I’m feeling stuck, uninspired or unsure how to proceed with a project. I try and stay connected with my emotions while working through a project and I’ve found that sometimes those moments of “procrastination” is an indication that I may need to step away for a moment and get a change of scenery. Going for a walk, working on another project or simply cooking up a meal can unlock the uncertainty I’m feeling and give me the motivation to get back to the table and continue on.

    I’ve also found that speaking kindly to myself (“you’re doing the best you can”) and recognizing that moments of not wanting to make are completely normal and to be expected. The creative process is not a straight and clear path and I think it looks and means something different to everyone. Let’s celebrate that!

    Conversely, working on the 100-day challenge taught me that showing up to the table even when I didn’t “feel like it” produced some of my best work. If after 10 minutes I still wasn’t feeling it, then it was ok to walk away and try another day. I think the point, at least for me, is to not give up and recognize that a few days “off” are not the end of the world and can mean I appreciate my quilting all the more when I am in the zone!

  16. Yes! I do this too! Especially when a particular step is long and boring (like squaring up hundreds at HST!!) 😉

  17. Kathleen McCormick says:

    I do find my emotions contribute to my motivation. When I am centered and happy, things flow. When distracted, frazzled or depressed, it is all harder. The work begins by clearing out those obstacles then it seems that getting my motivation back is so much easier.

  18. Kaja says:

    I mostly tick along without worry too much about motivation (or lack of it) but I enjoyed this piece and all the comments. The thing I struggle most with is a lack of space: sometimes it’s okay to pack everything up at the end of a session, but other times it definitely interrupts the flow, though I have developed strategies to cope.

  19. Lisa says:

    Stress for sure affects my motivation and ability to get things done.So I just work at things when I can at a slow pace. At the moment I’m wanting to finish more of my ufos so I’m thinking I will try to finish one ufo before each new start….maybe even two : 0. But I won’t get rigid about it . because rigidity is a sure motivation killer.

  20. Kate says:

    Work and a busy schedule are big de-motivators for me. But I read somewhere, most people can make themselves do anything for 15 minutes. So when I’m feeling too tired from work, I still head up the stairs for my 15 minutes. Once I’m up there, it often becomes an hour or more. But if I’m really too tired to sew, I can quit after my 15 minutes. This year I’ve learned that jotting down a monthly priority list helps too. When I only have 15 minutes, I know what my number one priority is for the month and work on moving that forward. So rather than seeing a whole bunch of unfinished projects, I can see progress on multiple fronts, which I’m hoping translates to finishes in the not too distant future.

  21. sue7oaks says:

    Motivation isn’t something I check up on much because I have a limited amount of time I can spend sewing. To get to there I had to ‘make’ time so it is scheduled and I guard it like a bulldog! It doesn’t matter whether I feel like it or not. I do, however, get bored with what I’m working on from time to time so taking a quick break from that particular project works wonders. Procrastination starts months out for me in the planning fabric pull phase so I’m never hit with it once I’m in the sewing room. Great responses to this question Yvonne!

  22. Thank you for providing some insight into the “whys” and “hows”. Beyond the obvious – happy mood makes for more productive – I hadn’t really given it much thought. Glad to know there are other ways we can help ourselves to improve!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)