How To Stay Motivated During “The Dark Times”

Photo via Catie Rhodes ~ WANA Commons

Photo via Catie Rhodes ~ WANA Commons

Welcome to Thoughty Thursday here at More Cowbell!

Thanks to more than a week down with the flu, I’ve got motivation on my mind. I need some BAD, to get me moving from my bed this week when pretty much I want to curl up and go back to sleep.

The only other time I needed motivation to get out of bed, I was in sales. (We call that “The Dark Time” at my house.)

Sales was a terrible job for me and I needed a TON of pick-me-up every day.

Why did I hate it? Besides the crappy boss and all the paperwork?

I’m a trainer and a writer, both in equal measure. In fact, writing is easier if I teach often and teaching is better if I write often. I love to interact, to watch people learn, to see the light bulb go on. And I love to tell stories. I like to BE in the moment, and then I like to go home and write some stuff. Most of sales happens on the phone.

My life got a lot better when I realized this and left that sales job behind me.

It takes a lot of motivation to keep doing a job you hate and the guy who could keep me hopped up was Zig Ziglar, one of the greatest motivators of all time. (Y’all know he passed late last year, right?) Zig was ALL about people, as the best sales and motivational people are, and he could keep me fired up.

He still keeps me fired up.

This was the Zig advice that got me out of bed this week:

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Another of my fave motivators, Harvey Mackay, put out the following collection of Zig quotes in one of his newsletters. I’m positive the quotes below will be useful to you as you prepare for your weekend.

As Ziglar said, “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Ziglar realized the important truth: in order to educate, you need to entertain. And he knew that stories and thought-provoking quotes could be great teachers, which is why he collected them and wrote them down.

On marriage:

  • “Many marriages would be better if the husband and wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.”

On success:

  • “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”
  • “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time”
  • “Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission.”

On failure:

  • “Failing is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night.”
  • “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days.”
  • “If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.”

On character:

  • “Every choice you make has an end result.”
  • “If you go out looking for friends, you’re going to find they are very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”
  • “It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.”

And my absolute favorite Zig quote EVER:

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Are you helping other people get what they want? Are you helping yourself? Who is your favorite motivational person? What quote helps you keep going through “the dark times?” Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!



About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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48 Responses to How To Stay Motivated During “The Dark Times”

  1. Timely post, Jenny.

    HUGS from the stars over Texas to those over So. Cal.

    I hope you soon feel best (and, not just better).

    Thanks for the exponential growth of gumption brain cells with Ziglar quotes. My favorite *at the moment*? “Failing is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night”

    Another day? I might pick a different one. That’s the magic of Zig Ziglar’s words. A quote of his will hit home no matter where I am in the journey.

    My intentions train veered off track again yesterday. No excuses. I made choices.

    I sat here this morning wondering if I still had time to hit deadlines established months ago. Until I read this post, I was on the proverbial white-picket-fence-with-pointy-ends. [Ouch!]

    Now? Yes. I do have time. The voice that’s motivating me now? My own.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Yep, the pointy ends on that white picket fence always seem to aim straight at the dark places, IYKWIM. I’m glad you picked yourself up and went barreling at your new day. You have tons of amazing-ness to offer the world. 🙂


  2. I hope you’re feeling oodles better today. I have a ritual that gets and keeps me going daily. I get my coffee and open my inbox, and then read three emails: 1) Daily Word, 2) Notes From the Universe, and 3) Seth Godin. At least one of them sparks a fire, and sometimes all three. 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That’s a fabulous ritual, Ellen. I know about Seth Godin, but I hadn’t scoped out the other two. See why I love y’all? You expand my world. 🙂


  3. Julie Glover says:

    I’d go with Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” “Never, never, never give up.” “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” “We are all worms. But I believe that I am a glow-worm.”

    Of course, I also find great encouragement and comfort in Scripture. Hope you feel much better!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Fab-O quotes, Julie!! I love that Churchill one, and I keep it in mind. The helling parts of life feel so long and strong compared to the joy sometimes. And you are DEFINITELY a glow-worm. 🙂


  4. Laura Drake says:

    You know how I love motivational quotes, I Loved and saved every one of those!
    Get better — my life is much more staid when you’re in bed!
    My favorite is from Randy Pausch (If you haven’t read his “Last Lecture,” you really must)

    “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I get happy every time you share that quote with me, Laura. We all let the brick walls stop us sometimes. One of the comforts of being pals with you is you are “the engine that could” (and does, and keeps going always). I love it!


  5. K.B. Owen says:

    You know how you don’t realize you’re stuck (or limiting yourself in some way) until you read a post like this? Bingo! *taps nose* Thanks for the warm fuzzy butt-kick, Jenny, and hope you’re better soon! 😀


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m getting much better by the day. Those damn Texas germs linger.

      You’re welcome for the fuzzy butt-kick…it comes with a complimentary pair of dice for your dash, you know. 🙂


  6. S. J. Maylee says:

    Training fuels your writing and writing fuels your training <–this is so interesting. I love Nia and most things dance related. I've felt it many times and it's so true, these two fuel each other.

    I love Zig's advice. “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” <– I can do the start part, lol, and the second quote will help me to keep at it.

    My dreams keep me motivated and my motivation keeps my dreams alive.

    Great post, Jenny. I hope you're feeling better.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Sidney! And I’m delighted that you’ve found the counterpart to your writing. It makes a huge difference to have one of those. People simply MUST have more than one passion, in my opinion, to help all the passions stay fueled. 🙂


  7. Jane Sadek says:

    I’m having a different kind of Dark Time – another family crisis. This time Mom fell. How one little 85 year old lady can take up so much time when there’s entire rehab hospital to take care of her, I don’t know. Yesterday, I took her back to her apartment at the independent living facility, but all I’m doing for the next few days is meeting with home health care personnel and taking her to doctor’s appointments. Writing? What’s that?


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh, Jane…it’s so hard when you’re worrying about the care and keeping of a loved one. It takes oodles of time and mental focus. Worry is exhausting.

      Your writing will be there when you’re ready for it. And in the meantime, perhaps you can scribble ideas in a notebook in between appointments. It will make you feel more like yourself.

      Sending you a great big hug!!


  8. Sharla Rae says:

    I’ve spent almost 2 years putting off life for a family member’s health issues and now my own. Just yesterday, my husband surprised me by asking if i had made any mind-set changes. I thought about that a moment and realized it boiled down to the old adage, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I tend to worry about everything! I’ve learned to let all the wins, even the tiny ones, motivate me to keep going. Jen learned that her sales job was holding her back and I’ve learned over stressing does the same. From now on, I’m “allowing” myself to rejoice in the wins no matter how small and I’m allowing them to motivate me to power on no matter what. 🙂


  9. You are fabulous. Truly. Success is an outlook. Some people seem to be more resilient than others, which always fascinates me. Glad you’re feeling better!


  10. All excellent quotes. I need to hear them every day. Thanks for posting this.

    Glad you’re back up and at ’em.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  11. Was it something I said? lol. Great post Jenny! Took some motivation to write this post with the way you’re feeling. I think this one apply applies, “It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” And look at what an excellent post you wrote! In fact, I think this is one of your best. Just sayin’. So continue to rest girl. I am working on getting all the ingredients for the chicken soup. It’s on its way! 🙂


  12. zkullis says:

    I hope you get feeling better Jenny. *bear hug*

    Your favorite Zig quote is a great quote! I am a giver. But, I’ve found that you need to be cautious with the help and giving. Don’t forget to help yourself on occasion.

    The most important lesson I’ve learned about motivation has to do with empowerment. The moment I allow something external (another person, an event, or any kind of outside stimulus) to have undue influence on my emotions, sense of self worth, or my perspective on things, I have given up my ability to control how I feel. I may not always have a say on the path upon which my feet tread, but I can ALWAYS have a say in how I react to that path.

    Smile, get feeling better, and know that you are cherished.


  13. Phil says:

    Hope you feel better! I have read some of Zig’s quotes before. Great stuff. Being in ad sales for a living I know what you mean. Sometimes we do need to dig deep to motivate ourselves for sure, then at others it comes easily. When I help and motivate other people around me it does feel uplifting. Just have to keep at it!


  14. Catie Rhodes says:

    Because I’m from Texas, here’s my inspiring quote:

    “I shall never surrender or retreat.” by William B. Travis, regarding his position at the Alamo.

    I’ve actually thought about having this tattooed on me.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oooooh, that’s a good one. If I were going to actually brave a tattoo, I think that would be my pick too. (But we all know I’m NOT brave enough. 🙂 )


  15. I have many spiritual quotes that keep my happy up daily, but the one I usually go to when times are tough is this: “If you have to eat a sh!t sandwich, there’s no point nibbling.”

    Hope you’re feeling better.


  16. When I’m hip deep in it, I turn to the scriptures. I try to remember it is not always about me. If I help someone, that somehow helps me. I still remember this couple we saw at MD Anderson. She was in a wheelchair. Had a beautiful, tragic face. Her husband was holding one of those pink kidney things for her–and holding her hair back. He had such tender love in his face as he provided this service for her. I felt like an intruder on a private moment and grateful, too. It was such a great example of service.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      What a gorgeous story, Pauline. I can see it perfectly, and see my husband doing the same. Thanks for that picture. 🙂


      • You are most welcome. The good guys stay through the hard stuff. I was in all my morning UN-glory, giving the hubs a look because he hadn’t taken his meds last night and he tells me, “You are so cute.” The guy is totally a keeper. 🙂


  17. Hi Jenny! Serendipity calls 🙂 I am a trainer at the day job (actually training coordinator, but I keep my toes in). I have also found that the training feeds the writing and that the writing feeds the training. My dream is just to write, but while I work, my ideal job would be as an instructional designer.
    When I’m down, I write. I love it that much. It never fails to cheer me up.
    Hugs and kudos for overcoming. It’s hard, I know (I suffer from depression my wee self).


  18. Jess Witkins says:

    Great quotes, Jenny! I know how you feel. For the first time since high school, I’m unemployed and some days my motivation isn’t just gone, it’s left the house without me! I’ve been having a better week and that’s thanks to some direction I got when Kirsten Weiss did a Tarot reading for me. I had never had one before and found it really helpful. That, and all my social media peeps, such as yourself who make the writing life so fun.

    I miss you. BTW. And I’m voting you and your hubby as the Cutest Couple at DFW. *hugs*


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You have so much talent and verve to offer the world, Jess. You’re not unemployed, you’re just exploring your dreams for a little while. I’m proud of you!

      I miss you too, and I’m glad y’all got to meet Hubby. He’s a rockstar. 🙂


  19. Aww…hope you feel better soon. I’m not going to complain about the cold I caught when some moron brought their small, sick child to Iron Man 3 on Saturday anymore (okay, I probably will). Beats the heck out of the flu…whether it’s stomach or respiratory.

    I love Zig Ziglar. In fact, I’ll watch his videos on YouTube if I feel in need of motivation. Maybe I should listen to a few tomorrow – today for those of you who keep normal hours. It’s still today (yesterday) to me until I go to sleep and wake back up. 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Dude, the flu SUCKED. But a cold in May (and for such a stupid reason) is awful. I don’t know why I get offended to be sick May-August, but I do.

      Ooooh, Zig videos on YouTube…I don’t know why I never thought of that. I’ll go hunt them up tomorrow. Remember, you and I keep similar hours. 🙂


      • I’ll bet it did! I totally agree. We should be illness and injury free for the duration of the hot months. Unless you’re like my brother who is supposed to be coaching a ball team but played catcher when a teammate just dropped off without warning. Now he’s having surgery for two broken bones in his hand and wrist. Can you imagine any sort of cast in the summer? Yuck!

        And yes, ma’am. Right on YouTube. Smart man. These hours kind of suck, don’t they? 🙂


  20. I loved the “sales” part of being in sales. I also loved being able to utilize my natural ability to teach and train both on my employees and my customers.

    I don’t really have a favorite “inspirational” person. I love Eleanor Roosevelt, Brian Tracy, Tom Landry….and could keep going.

    My favorite quote(s):
    “Use the talents you possess; for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best.” ~ unknown
    “Attitude reflects leadership” ~Remember The Titans
    “Amateurs practice till they get it right. Professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.” ~ Nike commercial
    “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” ~ Chinese proverb
    “Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.” ~ Richard Bach
    “Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
    “After the verb ‘To Love’, ‘To Help’ is the most beautiful verb in the world.” ~ Bertha von Suttner


  21. Oh my god, Girl, get better! Seriously. These are awesomely perfect quotes. I adored Zig. Man, I miss him.

    Here’s my favorite quote:
    “Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes its built on catastrophe.”
    ~Sumner Redstone

    Yep. Failure and catastrophe. Sometimes I have to remind myself that if I don’t get it right the first time, that’s okay. Learn from it and move on.

    Huge, healing hugs to you.


  22. I hope you’re feeling better already and have found your motivation again. Thank you for this post. I really needed a pep talk right now. Zig was a smart man. R.I.P.


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