Have you ever said to yourself “I want to do X, but I’m just not motivated?” or “I need to motivate” or “I’ll do it when I get motivated”.
Well, I call “bullshit”.
Or, actually, science called bullshit. Lots of research suggests that, while we think that motivation leads to action, actually, it’s the other way around.
Action, leads to motivation.
Motivation is overrated. At least as a catalyst for doing the thing.
Motivation won’t get you there. Action will.
Because we’ve got it all backwards. Here we are thinking that motivation begets action when the reality is that it’s the other way around.
You want to get motivated? You want to be pumped?
Then do the thing. Take action. And the motivation will follow.
Not quite sure you believe me? Let’s use the example of exercise.
- You’ve decided to go for a run. (And I’m going to assume you’re not one of those people—of whom I’m very envious—that truly enjoy and look forward to exercise. If you are, I bow down to you.)
- You know going for a run will be good for you. But you’re not “motivated” to do the run. You’re not feeling pumped about it. You’re feeling a bit resigned to it.
- But you start off on your run anyway.
- Now how do you feel? Pretty motivated, right?
- You’re motivated to keep going. You’re motivated to finish. And when you’re done, you’re proud of yourself and you feel good. You want to do another run tomorrow.
How about another example:
- You have a big report to compile for work. You’re not super excited about it. But you’ve got to do it. So you get started.
- And you know what? It’s not that big of a deal. You’re plowing through it. You’re motivated to get it done. You get it done. You feel good.
You weren’t motivated to start, but once you started, you were motivated to finish.
So the next time you’re putting off doing something because you’re simply not motivated, remember that you have a superpower: You can create motivation out of thin air.
All you have to do is start doing the thing. That’s all.
Just start. The motivation will follow.