Mental Health

Motivation Does Not Cause Action

Motivation Does Not Cause Action

I have to remind myself of this a lot. It’s easily forgotten because we hear the same thing all the time. If you’re feeling motivated you get things done. If you don’t feel motivated then you have to get motivated.

An issue arises when people think that motivation comes to you out of thin air, wrapped up in a bow and waiting for you to get on with it. That is not the case. No matter what anyone tells you, motivation doesn’t just appear and make things happen.

People will always say that to get motivated you need to make a plan. You need to remember why you want to do something in the first place. You have to set your priorities straight. No-one ever tells you the one thing that actually works.

It’s likely because no-one wants to hear it. I know I didn’t when someone first told me, but even as they did it made sense. I’ve tested it out too and so far it has a pretty decent success rate.

What was I told?

“Motivation doesn’t cause action. Action causes motivation”

Sucks, doesn’t it?

You might think that’s counter productive. How can I do the thing if I’m not motivated to do it in the first place?

I will say, it’s not a cure all. It’s really damn hard. You have to start small, especially if you’re struggling mentally. And when I say small, I mean small. Do one thing. Just one.


For example, if your aim is to tidy your room- choose one from the list:

✨ Change your sheets (and I mean change them. Don’t just take the sheets off and call it a job well done, because you know the truth).

✨ Clear any rubbish.

✨ Clear one section of the room – be it drawers, or desk, or bookcase. Whatever it is, just one section.

✨ Clear your bedside table.

✨ Take the glasses and cutlery to the kitchen.

The Plan

Essentially what I’m saying is, break it down. Make a plan to do one thing each day. Start with the easiest and work your way up.

Even if the thing you do that day is getting in the shower. Congratulations! You did a thing! I am being completely genuine. When it’s all you can do to get out of bed, getting a shower and feeling a bit more human is the biggest achievement and YOU did that.

To-Do Lists do in fact help, but don’t aim to check everything off in one day. If you don’t complete it you won’t finish feeling motivated. You’ll finish feeling exhausted and deflated. That’s incredibly damaging if you’re already feeling drained.

Trying to remember why you want to do the thing in the first place might help. But if you’re like me when you’re struggling mentally, the chances are you can’t focus on anything other than lighthearted content and video games for longer than five minutes at a time. You might feel exhausted by it. You might get headaches when you try.

When you’re anxious or depressed, remembering the reason why is not the issue. The reason why happens to be the reason you’re beating yourself up for not doing it in the first place.

This is why I find to-do lists help somewhat. They help to clear the static in your brain for a moment so that instead of trying to focus on a 100 things, you can try to focus on one small thing. And when you’re done with the one thing, that’s it! Congrats, you did it! Now you can get back to bed and back to youtube, or twitch or gaming but do so with the small satisfaction that you did something.

Maybe tomorrow you can do the same? One small thing. Or maybe you can do a bit more. Perhaps two things?

No Motivation

Please don’t try and take on the world when you yourself are at zero capacity and the tank is empty.

If you didn’t do the thing, if the headaches and the static and the exhaustion got the better of you – that’s OK. It’s not one size fits all and it’s definitely not a one chance and you’re done kind of situation. There is always another day.

There will always be ups and downs. Not every day will be a day where you smash all your goals. Some days are going to be really damn hard. Don’t beat yourself up for those days. Don’t think you’re not allowed to feel the way that you feel for whatever reason your mind is telling you.

Know that you are worth it to take care of yourself. You are worth it to prioritise yourself. And you are worth it to take a break and a step back when your mind is telling you it can’t take anymore pushing. Push through, push through is what you tell your mind but when your mind starts fighting back, it’s time to listen.

And remember, you got this. Perhaps today isn’t the day, but you’re here and you’re fighting and you’re trying. So even if you don’t feel like you got this, you do. And don’t let anyone, especially not yourself, tell you otherwise. 

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