What comes first … motivation or action? If you’re always waiting for inspiration, that’s a problem. Action very often precedes motivation. Once you start doing an activity, motivation can follow.
In the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, Dr. David Burns writes about how motivation often comes before action.
Action Comes Before Motivation
“If you said motivation, you made an excellent, logical choice. Unfortunately, you’re wrong. Motivation does not come first, action does! You have to prime the pump. then you will begin to get motivated, and the fluids will flow spontaneously.Individuals who procrastinate frequently confuse motivation and action. You foolishly wait until you feel in the mood to do something. Since you don’t feel like doing it, you automatically put it off.Your error is your belief that motivation comes first, and then leads to activation and success. But it is usually the other way around; action must come first, and the motivation comes later on.”
I think this is a powerful bit of insight. It tells me a couple of things:
- Don’t wait for inspiration to take action; take action and inspiration follows.
- Build momentum. In other words, starting with smaller hurdles first can build motivation.
- Schedule time for key activities versus wait until you’re in the mood.