My father had a stroke at the beginning of June. He was the sole caretaker for my mother, who has Alzheimer’s. My family was thrown into a situation where we needed to step in as caretaker for both parents. There were lots of things to figure out.

Fast forward two months later, both parents are in an assisted living facility and doing well. But there are still loose ends that need to be dealt with. Like getting their house ready to sell (and sold) and the same for their car.

The burnout from taking care of all of this is very real for everyone involved. Finding the motivation to do “one more thing” feels next to impossible. Things have to be dealt with, but they aren’t necessarily time sensitive. Motivation stemming from hard timelines has been spent. So how exactly might we do one of the many things that still needs to get done?

I’m not exactly sure to be honest. But I think it starts with figuring out how to bootstrap motivation. In other words, some system or process for getting motivated about something even when we don’t want, or more importantly, we don’t have to do.

The thought occurred to me yesterday after my wife and I had made significant progress on getting my parent’s car ready to sell and sold in just a few hours. This included driving 40 minutes to get to the car, replacing the battery, dealing with an unexpected water leak in their house, cold calling a dealership to sell, and signing on the dotted line. How were we able to get all of that done so quickly? Short answer - motivation.

But why was I motivated? I certainly did not want to deal with any of that. The answer was that the car needed to go by the end of the week. We had a deadline. Once I gave in to that fact, I was able to think clearly about the steps that needed to happen and I just did them. No complaining (well barely any). Just action.

I think the moral of the story here is to to have some mechanism in place to force the motivation. Like a hard deadline.

Maybe I need more deadlines.