It’s a common myth that we need to feel motivated before we can do something. Sometimes we feel it, but often we sit around waiting for it and it never comes. As a result, many things never get done that would bring us closer to our personal and professional goals.
Ideally, there is a desire or urge driving us to action. We’re motivated to do something because we want to. We jump out of bed because we’re eager to start the day, or sit down to write an essay because we have something we urgently want to say. But, what about the days you don’t feel like getting out of bed to go to work or feel like writing and you’re on deadline?
You might be interested to know that motivation often follows the start of an activity rather than comes before it. In other words, you may be running 20 minutes before you actually feel motivated to run. For this reason, it’s important to know how to jumpstart activity without motivation. Here are some ways.
First, make a commitment. Research shows you’re more likely to do something if you commit to a particular time and day, rather than make an open-ended commitment. “I’ll run 5 miles Monday morning at 7” vs. “I’ll run 5 miles this week.” Announcing your commitment to others and on social media also increases the likelihood you’ll get it done. It creates a sense of accountability.
Second, when the appointed time arises to act, don’t hesitate. So often we have a plan or idea to do something, but then quickly talk ourselves out of it: “I’ll write a chapter today. No, it will be too hard.” “I”ll go for a run. No, I’m too tired.” To get around this, borrow a page from Mel Robbins and try the “five-second rule.” Once the thought or impulse to do something arises, count down from 5 and spring into action. The counting distracts you from your thoughts and focuses your mind in a new direction.
So, the next time you find yourself saying you don’t feel motivated to do something, try doing it anyway. You just might find you get more done and feel more satisfied with life. Bust your motivation myths!
Dr. Lisa Napolitano is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other mindfulness-based treatments. A licensed psychologist in New York and Florida, she is the Founder and Director of CBT/DBT Associates, a boutique psychology practice group. Dr. Napolitano is an expert in the treatment of stress, anxiety, worry, and emotion regulation problems. She has specifically designed her treatment approach for executives, attorneys, and other high-functioning individuals whom she believes shouldn’t have to sacrifice their careers to manage their stress and work on developing their potential.