Have you ever heard someone say something like, "I haven't felt motivated lately," or, "I'll do it as soon as I feel motivated enough?" I know that I have and, truth be known, am guilty of using these and similar phrases myself. You see, I, like many others, used to believe that action only happens through motivation. That, I must wait around for the so-called "feeling to move me" before I will get anything accomplished.
Well, I was wrong. And I believe that I was wrong for two reasons. First is that I was unable to see the 'big picture' – the reason that the 'thing' had to be done in the first place and how that 'thing' relates to other things that I wanted to accomplish, do, enjoy, etc .
And secondly because, quite frankly, I just didn't know how I operated. Oh sure, I liked to believe that I was in control of myself, but why then was I not able to motivate myself if I did indeed have so much control?
Motivation is really like creativity, or any other drive or impulse. We can wait around for it to magically appear, which it often does and often at the most inopportune times (remember all the really great ideas you've had while driving down the road without a notebook or tape recorder to capture it? Or how about the times we're motivated to do something cool that our friends or family would really like but everyone else's schedule doesn't fit our 'moment of brilliance.' Remember?
No, the secret with motivation is to realize that it cannot be relied on to create action. It does, but in no predictable, usable way. Without the unpredictable variable such as luck, coincidence and the like, to rely on an emotional impulse such as motivation to drive us forward is like waiting for food to appear in your cupboards without going to the store to buy it.
How then do we create motivation? The answer, ironically, is in the question itself. How do we create. . .?
To create anything, we take action – we have to 'do' something. And actions themselves come in three forms – as thoughts – as speech – and, of course, as physical deeds. It is here that we find the necessary ingredients for 'creating' the motivation we need.
How? Let's take a look at the grocery scenario and ask another question: "What motivates us to go shopping for groceries in the first place?
Most people would answer, "I don't have any food in the house." But, a Ninja looking at the bigger picture would ask another question focused on the "why." Why don't I have groceries in the house? Because I or someone else ate them. Actions preceding the need for motivation is precisely what 'causes' the motivation to occur. Once we understand this little secret, we are then free to use the same formula to do it again and again.
Groceries are one thing, you say but, what about my goals. After all, groceries are a necessity, my goals are just dreams, wants, and wishes.
Here-in lies the answer to my first problem. Remember?
Right. The inability to 'see' (a mental action) how my goal was a necessary part of living the life I wanted to live. Because, once I was able to see how vital it was that I attain my goal – how I could not accomplish other things I wanted to do, I was then endowed with all the motivation I could handle to do what needed to be done.
So, it is true that motivation leads to action, but only, and I mean only, after it is caused into being by a previous action. There must be something in place, a thought or dream, a promise (verbal action), or something that must be handled (like an assailant's attack) that requires action NOW, before motivation will be the compelling drive for us to move.
Can you imagine using the same excuse for not achieving the goal you want when confronted by an attacker? I really don't think that "I'm not motivated to do anything right now," is going to make him or her go away – do you?