A golfing friend of mine commented once about how he hadn’t felt motivated to practise over the last week or so. My response to him was, ‘you don’t have to feel inspired or motivated to take action.’ Something I’ve started noticing a lot more for myself recently. He messaged me and asked me if I could expand on that statement, which I did (from how I am seeing it at the moment but who knows, I may see things differently or more deeply in the future), and since he found my response helpful, I thought others might too. And so begins this blog post….
When you think about it, how motivated do you really feel on a daily basis? Do you jump out of bed everyday with a spring in your step, pull back the curtains and shout ‘Good morning world’? Is your family breakfast routine akin to that of the famous Morcombe and Wise sketch? What about doing the housework or taking exercise? How often are you fired up to do either of those? And then of course there’s work….I don’t care how much you love your job, there will always be days when you just want to pull the duvet over your head and go back to sleep. But on the flip side, there are also days when the opposite feels true. When we are inspired by the day ahead, when we do look forward to work, and when exercise and housework just don’t bother us. So what’s the difference? What’s going on that either motivates us or not? Quite simply- it’s always and only ever how seriously we take our thinking!
When we have thoughts about not doing stuff that we take to be true, we just don’t do that thing. Looking through that filter, we’ll find every excuse under the sun not to do it. Let’s take exercise as an example, ‘I’m too tired,’ ‘I didn’t hear my alarm clock,’ ‘ I couldn’t find my other trainer,’ ‘ the dog ate my gym shorts!’. But with a clear head and without much thinking going on, we’re just propelled into action. We get up out of bed, get our kit on and before we know it we’re pounding the pavements.
When we’re struggling to do things, we don’t see that it’s our thinking that’s getting in the way, and we look at other people and think, ‘I wish I were them. They’re always at the gym. They must have real motivation to do that everyday.’ We try and figure out why they find it so effortless whilst we find it so difficult. Perhaps they have strategies. So we put some of our own into place to assist us. We get our kit ready in advance as a prompt and leave our trainers by the door so there’s less chance of us hitting the snooze button, rolling over and going back to sleep. Sometimes that might work, sometimes it won’t, and that’s because it’s never strategies or techniques that are the cause of our actions….our kit being ready is not the reason we go to the gym, (although it may really look that way). It’s always our own thinking! That’s the only variable – the one thing that’s constantly changing.
Willpower is Not the Answer
We may also think that we need to think more positively or have willpower to push through things. But that’s just not the case either! Thinking things like ‘I must go to the gym’ or ‘I can do this’ to try and encourage us into action is just adding more thinking to an already busy mind. And when we do stuff because we think we should, well that’s resentment right there: more unnecessary thinking to add to the long list we’ve already got going on. Inevitably we feel worse and so into a downward spiral of thought we go! When we have less on our minds, we naturally propel ourselves into action.
But wait a minute…..this blog post is about not having to feel motivated to do stuff, so let’s take a closer look at what’s going on there! How is it, on those days when we really, really don’t feel energised to do something, we just do it anyway? When we feel poorly, but still have to look after the children. When we get home from work after a hard day and the last thing we feel like doing is cooking a meal for the family or when we have to clean our house top to bottom because we have friends coming over. The fact we’re able to get on with these tasks is not because we are in the right state of mind, that’s for sure!
Our Feelings Do Not Impact on Our Ability to Take Action
So what is going on? Well here’s how I see. There’s a bit of a misunderstanding around how we feel verses what we do in the world. We think we have to feel a certain way to take action, but as I see it, we really don’t. Yes it’s true that we find tasks and activities effortless when we don’t have much on our minds, but our ability to get things done is not dependant on it. If that was truly the case, we really wouldn’t achieve much in our lives (just think about all of those duvet days you wish you could have had!). The universal life force energy that powers us up is always running through us, so we never have to wait until we are in the right state of mind or until we feel ready or inspired to do something; and because of this our potential to achieve in the world is always the same regardless of how we’re feeling. All that’s happening is that we find it easier to do things with less thinking about it, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t do it just because our head isn’t clear. In other words, a few clouds in the way doesn’t affect the sun’s ability to shine. It’s always there, as is our potential to take action.
Whether it’s taking that cooking class, writing a blog post, washing the car, painting a picture, giving up smoking, or going on a date. The truth is, whatever it is we’ve been waiting to do, we’ll never feel ready. Why? Because ready is made up. It’s just an arbitrary word that we attribute our own meaning to. If we sit down and think about all the things we think we need to be or acquire before we feel ready to do something, we’d never get off the starting blocks. If we say to ourselves, ‘someday, when I’m ready I’ll do that?’ then we’re setting ourselves up for a fall because as Mara Gleason says in her book, One Thought, ‘someday doesn’t exist.’ All we have is this moment.
Nature Isn’t Motivated – It Just Is!
But regardless of whether we feel ready or not, it’s important to know that as long as we have energy flowing through us, we’ll always be ready, in the same way as birds are ready to migrate every winter or seeds are ready to shoot up every spring! They don’t have to feel motivated – life just happens through them!
Every moment is a blank piece of paper, just waiting for us to create, so however you’re feeling you can still get your crayons out and produce a masterpiece. Think about it. A lot of artists and musicians produce their very best work when they’re going through tough times and I’m guessing they weren’t feeling particularly motivated at the time, but they were still able to take action. Do you think Sir Richard Branson or Sir Alan Sugar waited until they felt ready or good enough before taking their first steps into entrepreneurship? My bet is they just showed up in the world, the best they knew how at the time….and the rest is history.
Our Wisdom Within Always Points Us in the Right Direction
Also, to point out that there’s a difference between not doing something because you don’t feel like it, and not doing something because not doing it feels like exactly the right thing to do. You’ll know the latter because it will come with a specific feeling; that instinctual knowing. We’ve all heard stories of people not getting on that plane/train, only to find out later that something catastrophic happened. Not doing something, might be right if that’s what wisdom is telling you. Which brings me back to my golfer friend. Although he didn’t see it at the time, on reflection he thinks that it wasn’t that he wasn’t motivated to play golf, but rather his wisdom was letting him know that he should spend a bit more time at home, rather than on the course. It turned out to be exactly the right thing for him.
So whether you’ve been avoiding that pile of dishes on your draining board or you’ve been waiting to take your first steps into setting up your own business, just know that whether you’re in a high or low state of mind, life is always moving through you and as such, the capacity for creation is always available. You’re always ready to take action, regardless of how you feel and you’ll probably find that you’ll actually enjoy whatever it is you’ve been putting off and that it was never as bad as you imagined (isn’t that always the case?). You might also be surprised at what unfolds for you. And if you are…I’d love to hear about it.