Mood Follows Action: A Principle for Motivation
If you have something you need or want to do, don’t wait until you’re in the mood
Listened to the Tim Ferriss Show where he had Rich Roll on his podcast. There were lots of interesting things about the conversation but one that struck me was the headline of this article.
Mood follows action.
Here’s what it means in a variety of contexts:
- Exercise: put on your workout clothes, warm-up, start doing easy exercises or lift light weights. Don’t wait for you to feel energized to work out or get motivated. When you start doing light exercises, you will get into the mood.
- Running: tell yourself you are going to run until the end of the driveway. Or run until the end of the block. That’s it. If you run until the end of the driveway, you’re done running. Chances are though if you run until the end of the driveway, you will want to run a bit longer.
- Writing: Tim Ferriss tells himself to write two crappy pages every day. I might even go farther than that to say, write one crappy sentence every day. It sounds funny to only write one crappy sentence but mood follows the action and as you write that one sentence, you will feel like writing more. Or not, which is okay!
- Work: Have a big report or presentation due? Need to develop that financial analysis but really don’t feel like it? Find something easy to do on that report or presentation. It could be creating the title page or drafting the table of contents. And if that’s all you do, that’s okay.
- Don’t wait for motivation or energy or your mood to strike. Take small steps towards whatever you are trying to do.
- If you take those small steps and don’t feel like doing more, allow yourself to ‘win’ for the day.
- By taking small steps, you will almost certainly feel like doing more (I’ve done this with writing, exercising, work, even cleaning the house).
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