Oftentimes, we only do something if we are motivated to do it. And we only feel motivated when we feel that spark of inspiration.
The problem with relying on motivation to propel us into action is that motivation is fleeting. It comes and goes, sometimes arbitrarily. I might feel motivated to do something one day, but the next day the motivation could be gone.
Moreover, motivation is situational. It is based on how you feel at a given time. If you feel like doing something, you’ll do it. But if you’re not in the mood, you won’t.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am very guilty of succumbing to this mindset. I allow my emotions to determine my actions. Too many times, fear, the desire to make something “perfect” (the antagonist of my productivity), or simply, my propensity to put things off (procrastination…) has inevitably led me to inertia; to not do that thing at all.
The thing is, motivation alone is not enough. Far from it. The most successful people in the world seem to possess an endless supply of motivation and energy. The reality is, we are all human; we all lack motivation from time to time. What separates the extraordinary from the ordinary is really discipline. Successful people; individuals who excel at what they do and are masters of their craft are disciplined and commit to action, regardless of how they feel.
Today I came across a great article by Mark Manson (he’s awesome btw) about the “Do Something Principle”. In this article he posits that:
“Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of it.”
The theory proposes that if you feel stuck with a lack of motivation, if you are waiting for that stroke of inspiration to drive you to action, then just do something. Do anything. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be good. This simple theory holds a lot of truth. Manson goes on to say that even the smallest of actions will soon provide the inspiration and motivation to do something else. When we start doing something, we are sending a signal to ourself “OK, I did it. It wasn’t so bad. I guess I can do more”. He provides an example of a novelist who had written over 70 novels. When asked how he was able to write so consistently and remain motivated everyday, the novelist replied: “200 crappy words per day, that’s it.” The idea is that if he forced himself to write 200 crappy words, the simple act of writing would inspire him and before long, he’d have thousands down on the page.
The thing is, success has less to do with intelligence and talent, but more to do with action, discipline and persistence. In the words of Manson “You can become successful at something without having much particular talent at it. But you can never become successful at anything without taking action. Ever.” I personally have a lot more “doing” to do.