26 Mar

Stop Looking for Motivation

“I want to get this [insert project or goal here] done. But I haven’t felt motivated yet.”

A lot of us wait around for motivation to come. We end up waiting a long time.

The problem is motivation isn’t a cause—it’s an effect. And, like momentum (also an effect), it can serve to keep things moving once it’s in place. But we have to get it started. We do.

Motivation comes as a result of what we feel and think and do. It’s not a feeling in and of itself. We create it—a fact that scares the pants off of most of us, because we’ve often put all our “get things done” eggs in the “waiting for motivation” basket.

But it’s up to us—to our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Those three—thoughts, feelings, and actions—are like points on a triangle. They’re inextricably linked. Our thoughts affect how we feel, how we feel affects how we act, how we act affects how we think, and so on. And that triangle really, really wants to be equilateral.


But sometimes it looks like this…

or this…


Our brains and bodies are a delicate ecosystem that works constantly to keep those three things balanced. When they are, we hum along getting things done, feeling in control, and looking forward to challenges, both at hand and ahead. When they’re not, we lose steam, revert to old or bad habits, feel overhwhelmed, and berate ourselves for lack of willpower and motivation.

In other words, when one point on the triangle starts to pull out of balance, the other two follow along behind.

The problem is, we can’t see our triangle, we can only feel its effects…usually in the form of lost motivation.

Here’s the secret: motivation doesn’t come unless we tell it to.

Like many things, the answer  to “finding” motivation lies within the same framework that creates the problem. When we’ve “lost” motivation, or don’t know where to find it, the power to get it back lies fully within our hands: by putting the triangle back to rights (or rather, equilateral).

You always have three options: change your actions, change your thoughts, or change your feelings. Because the three are inseparable from one another, changing one changes the other two.

Try it. See what happens.