The Case For Action Over Motivation

action quote

Why Action Beats Motivation

Whatever your goal is – whether it’s achieving a new PR in your sport, a or living a healthier lifestyle – pursue it relentlessly.
Wake up every morning and ask yourself, “What can I do better today?” What is the single ONE thing I can do differently to move me one step closer to my goal?
The people who always seem to accomplish their goals aren’t motivated 100% of the time, or even 80% of the time. They have just the same amount of motivation as you do. What’s different? They take action, even when motivation is lacking.
We won’t always feel motivated, but we can always take action. When motivation wanes, [habit-based] action remains.
I don’t always feel motivated to run, cook meals for the week, go to work/class, or even get up in the morning. But I still do. Why? Because, like my morning coffee, they’re habits.
Patti Sue Palmer, a famous runner, once said, “Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don’t think about them, I just do them. The decision has already been made.”
I first heard this quote way back in my first days of running, when it was really a struggle just getting started. This quote stuck with me in the heat of Texas summers, on the mornings where the last thing I wanted to do was go out at 6 AM in 95 degree heat to crank out a 10 mile tempo run. It still serves as a model for the things I do every day, the mediocre tasks I complete, the times when running feels tough, when working out is the last thing I want to do, and the days when making health-wise decisions are difficult.
So if motivation isn’t the source for achieving our goals, what is?
Preparation. Habits. Action.
Set triggers. When the coffee brews, get in your AM push-ups. Whenever an ad pops up on Spotify, take a sip of water (I had a client do this initially, and it worked! Until she stopped using Pandora…). Make the trigger something that occurs daily, on the regular.
Prepare ahead of time. Grocery shop at an established day and time, say, Sundays before noon. Cook food for the week from 4-6 on Sunday evening when you’re loading up the laundry. Put it into tuppleware the night before, already portioned out, so you just grab it and go.
Take action. The triggers, the preparation, and the habits create action when motivation wanes. Don’t think about it; just do it.
Make it so easy that you don’t have to think about it. The decision has already been made.
Press on. Seek greater heights. Add another weight to each side of that barbell. Run a second faster. Try a new vegetable, a weird one, cooked in a delicious way. Wake up an hour earlier to do the thing you love most. Move in the direction of your goals, and you will reach them.
My Action Toolbox:
Image Source / Quote: Franki Durbin