Social change work is hard and frustrating and wonderful and terrible; it is also, at times, funny, quirky and just plain fascinating. With this blog we hope to capture all that goes into what we do at Capital Good Fund, and we invite you to join the conversation!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Five Ways To Stay Motivated

When we were getting started and the going got tough, I would frequently receive the following advice: "Don't worry, it gets easier."  Nearly six years on, and I'm no longer waiting for that!  Instead, I've come to anticipate, prepare for and ride out the inevitable moments of frustration and despair, the way a sailor quickly adjusts to the roiling sea.  Still, no amount of preparation and acclimatization can inoculate you from burnout.  So here are five ways to stay motivated:

  1. Let it out.  Something frustrating happen at work?  Go home and yell, or write an angry journal entry!  Sure, don't do anything stupid--no outbursts at the office, no emails you'll regret in the morning--but don't deny that you are a human being.  Remember the famous Seinfeld line, "Serenity now.  Insanity later."
  2. Change It Up.  I am a creature of habit.  As a case-in-point, I eat two bagels with avocado for lunch nearly every day, and I never tire of it--well, almost never.  Every once in a while I have a sandwich or pizza or bowl of pasta for lunch.  Our jobs should be like those bagels--something we enjoy and look forward to, but we inevitably get sick of it at times. In those moments, you've gotta try something else.  Feeling antsy?  Why not take an hour break and go for a walk?  Bored? Watch a funny TED talk or a satirical expose of payday lending.  The idea is not to just goof off, but rather to engage your mind in a different way.  Yea?
  3. Rest.  Sometimes you just need to step away, and when you do that, don't half ass it: rest means rest.  It doesn't mean checking your phone 50% of the time; it means shutting it off and going for a walk, bike ride, seeing a see what I mean.
  4. Reconnect.  When I'm really down I like to read essays, watch videos or listen to talks by people who inspire me.  You can't go wrong with Letter From A Birmingham Jail, Civil Disobedience, or Making The Impossible Possible.
  5. Get Over it.  Sure, we all know it, but it's worth remembering: we've got it pretty good.  Running water, AC and heat, enough to eat.  A little perspective goes a long way, and at some point you have to just suck it up and get back to work.
What do you do to stay motivated?


  1. Great tips, especially taking a walk. I would add, go look at art somewhere. I hope you aren't in need of these therapies often. Seems a shame when you are doing such important work. It's important not to burn out.

  2. Thank you! Exhaustion is certainly an ever-present danger, but I do my best to put my actions where my mouth is and stay motivated!