My high school math teacher used to tell us, “If you don’t know how to work the problem, just start writing something down, your brain will begin to figure it out as you go.” And sure enough, she was right! The mere act of writing something down inspired new thoughts and ideas which helped us solve the math problems.
This phenomena also exists in other parts of our lives. Once we get “in motion”, we gain insight on the next steps needed to accomplish a goal. But that new insight never comes if we simply just sit around contemplating what to do next.
You see, motivation, for all the attention it gets, is a “supporting actor”. The leading role is always action. Robert McKain said it best:
“The common conception is that motivation leads to action, but the reverse is true — action precedes motivation. You have to ”prime the pump” and get the juice flowing, which motivates you to work on your goals. Getting momentum going is the most difficult part of the job, and often taking the first step is enough to prompt you to make the best of your day.”
Indeed, motivation comes from taking action. And this is also true – procrastination comes from waiting for motivation!
If you’ve struggled with starting a savings program or attending to a pressing financial situation, it may be due to a lack of motivation. “Why bother?” many say, and simply proceed to do nothing. But one drop becomes two, then four, eight, sixteen, and fairly soon, significant headway has been made towards your financial goals.
The next time you feel the creeping paralysis of procrastination taking hold of you, make a commitment to do just a few minutes of what it is that you are avoiding. You’ll probably find that after the first few minutes, motivation will show-up and you’ll continue the task with ever-increasing interest and enthusiasm. Have you ever noticed that even after putting-off exercising for a while, once you start you can’t seem to quit? Action produces momentum.
Another useful method for beating procrastination involves recognizing that the way you think may interfere with the process of getting started. “I’ll start saving after I get a raise.” “I’ll worry about my retirement when I get older.” “Once the children are finished with school, I can focus on investing for our future” are all examples of interfering thoughts. “If I save a little now, I can enjoy even more of my raise when I get it,” and “Better get started on my retirement now in case something comes up between now and then” and “Let me start investing right now so I can relax in my senior years without the thoughts of an unfunded retirement hanging over my head” are all examples of activating thoughts.
So, take stock of your thoughts. Are you accepting interfering thoughts or fostering action thoughts toward your financial freedom goals? Act or accept?
Accept, in the context of this statement, means to “tolerate” or “to endure without protest or reaction” the consequences of inaction. It means either you make your own future, or you accept the consequences of not acting.
For example, can you bravely accept the consequences of not funding your retirement? If the answer is “No, I can’t accept the inevitable depression/self-loathing/high blood pressure that will result from not being able to retire”, then you must act.
Most people only commit to action if they feel a certain level of motivation. And they only feel motivation when they feel an emotional inspiration. People only become motivated to fund their retirement when the dark consequences are right in front of them. As Warren Buffett says, “the chains of habit are too light to be felt, until they are too heavy to be ignored.”
I want be clear here, I’m not talking not laziness. Laziness is a myth. Rather, failing to act is usually a symptom of larger issues such as fear or depression.
You see, the gap between capacity and action is no myth. The uphill battle from idea to action is a daily reality. The chasm between where you are today financially and were you want to be may seem cavernous. That investment book you need to read, seems to weigh a thousand pounds. The cognitive effort to organize your swirling thoughts into a plan for achieving wealth may seem Herculean.
And if left there, this is what will occur – All the good that can happen in your life will remain undone.
Know this – Motivation is a welcome friend who visits too rarely and leaves too soon. So, don’t rely on it. Instead, commit even when you don’t feel like it; honor the commitment you’ve already made to yourself. This is the best way to turn a desired change into a habit. Be intolerant of apathy, and view your talents as gifts, not to be squandered.
Sparks become a fire, motion begets momentum which in turn begets more momentum… until you become an unstoppable force hurling full speed towards your goal. Your success starts with a single act.
So go ahead. It’s your choice.
Act or accept?
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
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P.S.S. What’s this got to do with you? If you don’t take action, absolutely nothing. But remember this – most people fail to achieve what they want in life simply because they never start. If you’re ready to escape the rat race and live life on your terms, don’t wait. Start today.
Ready for more tips on how to achieve the free life? Check-out more articles from the blog archives below: