The Blog.

Mindset and Motivation: The things you notice…

20 Mar 2012 | Happiness, Personal Productivity

It’s 1am. I can’t sleep. Correction. I was sleeping well, until I leapt out of bed to the sound of my 3 year old crying “Wet!”

After sorting out the child, and the bed, I found I couldn’t get back to sleep. So after some futile tossing and turning I decided get up and write this instead. Like you do.

It’s funny the things you notice when you’re thinking “I can’t sleep.”

Like my decongestant wearing off and my sinuses getting heavier with each breath. Like all the things I have on tomorrow that I need to be awake and alert for.

Like my husband snoring. Crikey, is it just me or does snoring seem to get louder and louder as soon as you notice it? Is this what they mean by sound asleep?

Which reminded me of something I teach my clients.

What you notice grows. 

The more you notice something, the more there is of it to notice. And that has such an impact on how we experience things.

Take running for example. I started running at the beginning of this year. There have been days when I’ve been motivated and raring to go. And days when I notice my aching calves and feel tired before I’ve even gotten out of bed!

Which of course, directly affects my motivation.

Take a look at this perspective for example:

Compared with this one:

 Excuse the badly drawn stickmen!

Notice the difference? Both are arguably as true as each other. With completely different effects. One makes me feel drained just looking at it. The other is stimulating and energising.

Try it yourself. What are you resisting, feeling demotivated about, getting stuck on, or otherwise experiencing in less than helpful ways?

Write it down at the centre of two sheets of paper.

On one sheet, give yourself full permission to rant. Get all the unhelpful words and thoughts you have about this out of your head and onto paper.

On the other sheet, collect and write down all the positive thoughts and helpful words that you associate with this thing.

I find these are most powerful when they come from a place of honesty. So if you want to write ‘easy’, but find that your instant reaction is to scoff at it, because you don’t quite believe that yet, then try adding “What if”, for example “What if it’s easier than I think?” or point it in the right direction e.g. “getting easier”.

The beauty of this exercise is it’s all about what’s going on in your head. Which means you have full control (unlike my husband’s snoring!) So you can choose which one you focus on. Keep it visible, perhaps at the desk where you work, on the fridge or the mirror, or by your bed. Look at it and let the words soak in – before getting started, before you get up in the morning, or even last thing at night. Notice the difference.

As for me, I’d better get back to bed, taking with me thoughts of peaceful rest, deep breaths and hmm… selective hearing I think. Wish me luck! And let me know how you get on in the comments below.



  1. Naomi

    Brilliant post Grace and I think it could motivate a lot of people if they did the list and saw all the pros. I love lsits and find them inspiring and movational.

    • Grace Marshall

      Ah glad you love it Naomi. I’ve used it so many times myself, when I find myself doing doubt, delay, etc. Makes such a difference every time. Appreciate you stopping by to comment, thanks!

  2. Lianne-carla Savage

    Interesting I will have to do this. I would say tomorrow but it is technically later today as I should be sleeping now myself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Grace Marshall

      You’re welcome, let me know how you get on!

  3. Katherine

    Hi Grace, I’ve just done this – also around exercise – and had many more great things than negative things to write down yet I’ve continued to neglect the benefits exercise has been giving me. Guess who’s exercising again! Thanks for sharing, Katherine x

    • Grace Marshall

      Yay! Great to hear this has helped you and spurred you into action Katherine! Thanks for stopping by to comment x

  4. Juedrop40

    this is brilliant and so simple! of course what we notice gets bigger..notice things the way we want instead of what we don’t want! thank you

    • Grace Marshall

      Exactly! Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for your comment!

  5. Zoe

    Grace, this is great!
    I felt totally unmotivated yesterday. And I didn’t run as a result. Couldn’t muster up the energy to get off the sofa. I’m going to make sure I do this tomorrow if I feel the same way, and get out there and run!!! I shall also be using this strategy on those jobs that I really need to start but keep putting off!!!

    • Grace Marshall

      Great stuff Zoe! Glad to hear you’re inspired to put it into action. Let me know how you get on!


  1. It’s here – the Business Mums Blog Carnival! | Grace Marshall Life and Business Coaching - [...] own offering is one I wrote when I couldn’t sleep! It’s funny how the things you notice…  can have…
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About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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