We all have something important we’d like to be doing better than we’re doing it right now.
Pay off our debt. Start investing. Start a side business. Spend more time with our kids.
Every day we spend not doing that important thing is costing us time, money and happiness.
But the trick isn’t knowing we need to do the important thing. We all know we SHOULD be doing it.
The trick is actually DOING it.
How do we find the motivation to not only start doing these important things but to stick with them?
For me, the key is in turning the idea of motivation on its head. It’s a change in mindset that stops waiting for motivation to find us and instead sets out to create it.
The fairy tale of motivation
There’s a fairy tale out there about motivation and it’s killing our ability to make progress.
It’s the belief that we need to find motivation before we can take action.
That is, we think we have to FEEL motivated before we can DO the important thing.
The fairy tale makes sense. After all, we’ve all had those moments of intense motivation where it’s easy to get things done. Once we’ve experienced one of those moments, it’s only natural to think we simply need to find that feeling again to recreate that same level of action.
But here’s the problem. Motivation is just a feeling, and feelings are temporary.
We may feel incredibly motivated right this second, but what about 10 minutes from now? Or tomorrow? Or next week? Or next month? Is that powerful feeling going to stay with you through thick and thin, every moment of every day? Or is it going to behave like every other feeling you’ve ever had and fade in and out through the ups and downs of life?
See, feelings are not really in our control. Not totally. And if we’re relying on the feeling to create action, then we’re putting the power to make positive strides in the hands of something that can let us down.
But there’s another way.
What if we flipped the idea of motivation on its head?
So how can you be different? How can you consistently find the motivation to achieve great things in the midst of your fluctuating feelings?
By realizing that the conventional wisdom is backwards.
You don’t have to wait for motivation in order to act. You can act first, and through continuous action create all the motivation you’ll ever need.
Sounds pretty counterintuitive right? Sure it does. But let’s just think about this anecdotally for a second.
How many times have you found that it’s hard to change one of the routines or habits you have in your life? I know for me I just can’t stop biting my nails, no matter how hard I try. Why do you think that is? Is it because the habit is really central to us and our core values?
Or is it more likely because we’ve simply been doing it for so long so that it’s become an automatic part of our live? We keep up with it not because we summon the motivation to do it every single day, but because we’ve repeated it enough times that it gets done before we even think about it. And the fact that we barely even think about it is what makes it so hard to change.
Changing requires more thought and energy than not changing, so we just let it continue on.
See, that’s all “motivation” really is. It’s the ability to keep pushing forward with something no matter what. It’s really more like stubbornness than anything else, with past action serving as the impetus for future action.
And here’s the kicker: there’s no need to rely on feelings here. We can start acting today, no matter how we feel. And we can act again tomorrow. If we can string enough of those actions together we start creating all the “motivation” we’ll ever need simply through force of habit.
Motivation becomes something that is 100% within our control.
How can you start creating your motivation?
When we look at it this way, accomplishing the things that matter suddenly becomes much simpler.
No longer do we have to wait for some source of grand inspiration to give us the drive we need. Motivation isn’t about a huge rush of energy that lets us do EVERYTHING all at once.
That is a fairy tale.
All we have to do is something, today, that moves us one step closer to our goal.
It can be tiny. But it has to be something and it has to be positive.
And then tomorrow we can do it again. And again the next day. And the next.
And day after day until the action becomes so ingrained in our life that we no longer need to even consider something so abstract as “motivation” because we’re too busy DOING that thing we care about.
So you tell me, what’s one thing you can do today to move you forward on one important goal? It doesn’t have to be big. It can be as small as you want. But it has to be progress.
Can you do it again tomorrow? And the next day? Can you make it such a part of your life that NOT doing it will feel wrong?
If you can accomplish that, you’ll never need to worry about motivation ever again.
Photo courtesy of kaibara87