The Simple Yet Effective Not-So Secret Strategy For Motivation

Are you waiting for a sign?

The skies to part and a splendid sunrise to stir you?

Receiving an unprompted letter in the mail encouraging you to take action?

A fortune cookie message unleashing your inner drive?

Why do you feel unmotivated?

You may be waiting for a wave of motivation to get started on your project.

You find it a struggle to start an exercise regime, to write a new blog post or start that new creative business you’ve been dreaming about.

Instead of achieving your potential, which you know you have in you, you’re waiting for a burst of inner inspiration to strike.

What’s holding you back?  

Overwhelm. You feel like the task at hand is too much to handle. You’re dazed by the small and large tasks necessary to complete the project staring at you.

Fear. You’re afraid of failing and simply don’t want to screw up the project at hand. You don’t have be scared when you don’t start up a project. Fear only ramps up when you decide to take action.

Anxiety. You’re nervous because you’re afraid of not doing the task the right way. You feel pressure because you don’t have all the answers and there’s uncertainty to deal with.

Doubt. Let’s set aside your own doubts which you feel like is crushing you. What will others think about your project? What will they say? Do you have it in you, your taunting mind asks.

With all of these thoughts and resistance swirling around in your head, how do you even get out of bed?

How I went from a walk around the block to 3 miles daily.

After a recent trip enjoying rich and fattening culinary treats abroad, I got back home for a not so pleasant surprise.

My weighing scale didn’t recognize me. In fact it told me that I was ten pounds heavier than before I left.

I smiled in amusement and wondered if it was broken.

It wasn’t. I had gained weight and couldn’t fit into my pants.

The day after my vacation, I was waiting for a dose of motivation to hit me so I could go for a 5 mile run. It didn’t happen for a week.

Then, I had no choice but to wake up one morning and put my walking shoes on and sauntered around my apartment complex. 10 minutes tops.

I marched around the complex again the next morning for another 10 minutes. And for another day and another day. Then I felt like walking more.

A month later, I’m still walking but up to 3 miles now. I’ve lost half the weight I gained and now can’t get started with my day if I don’t get in my morning walk.

Since motivation will not zap you like a spark of electricity, try this instead.

Motivation won’t commonly ignite in an instant. And especially not when you require it.

So instead of anticipating it, take some action instead. Not just any action but the smallest of steps.

In the book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, Dr. David Burns discusses motivation.

“Your error,” he writes, “is your belief that motivation comes first, and then leads to activation and success. But it usually is the other way around; action must come first, and the motivation comes later on.”

Motivation comes after you’ve taken a couple steps on your own. A couple baby steps.

Follow these 7 steps to help you get started on your next project:

1)      Admit you’re having problems getting motivated. Acknowledge to yourself you’re not starting.

2)      Consider the task to be done and explore what would be the very first step to accomplish the task.

3)      Think of the simplest, absolute most basic task to perform. What is the absolute first step? Do you need to buy a tool? Map out an idea? Write an outline? Brainstorm?

4)      Do that smallest task and stop with that task today. To avoid overwhelming yourself, take only small actions each day until they continue to have a snowball effect.  

5)      As you start on small steps, you’ll find yourself getting motivated to take bigger steps. Be inspired by your “small wins” to take slightly bigger steps each day.

6)      Remove the guilt from taking small steps daily or for not completing the entire task. Know that you’ll get it done at your own pace.

7)      Complete the task, the project, or your goal. Start over with a new one and keep on achieving.  

You initiating a task will help induce motivation. Motivation will then kick in and help you ramp it up to the next level.

The small steps and small “wins” strategy works because it keeps you energized to keep going.

You’ll feel more excitement as you achieve a small step and that positive reinforcement will help you take the next.

You will find a wave of motivation rolling over you after you take first stroke of action.

What are you waiting for? Forget getting motivated, what one step will you take today to start? 

Vishnu writes a self-help blog for self-help junkies and spiritual souls.  To become inspired or enlightened, sign up for weekly tips at


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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