The fundamental lie (superstition) of working out and eating well is that motivation comes before action.
Lets take a look at the reality:
What do you notice about all of those examples?
Yes, motivation came after action.
Sometimes, motivation comes immediately after taking the action. Sometimes motivation comes a month after taking the action consistently. Sometimes it takes a year.
So, we start to see that if our plan is to look for motivation to take the action, we’re pretty much screwed right from go.
I’m not saying that never happens. Once in a great while you can get lucky like that, and get motivated before doing something. Which is terrible, because that starts the motivation superstition: “I felt so motivated yesterday and went and ate all of my meals slowly! It was awesome!”
And then you start to think that that’s how it’s supposed to work.
In reality, motivation is fleeting. Motivation is like the weather. Some days are sunny, some days are cloudy. If you only went to work on sunny days you’d get fired. You’ve got to go to work even when it’s cloudy.
So we start to see that there’s only one game worth playing: Taking action when we aren’t “motivated” and when we aren’t “feeling it”
Now we’re talking! It turns out there are some great ways to keep taking the actions that matter to you, even when you aren’t “motivated”.
There’s a great book called “The War of Art”, that has a basic premise that waiting for inspiration and motivation are stalling techniques. That the real work of creating art happens after people have done so much work on their art that they’ve actually started to hate it.
I really, really want people to enjoy their workouts, and enjoy eating well. But I know it doesn’t show up like that every time. Sometimes you aren’t feeling it, and you do it because of someone else waiting for you, or because it fits your values, or because it’s on the schedule.
And if you do that often enough, you just might even feel “motivated” sometimes also.
The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Your most reliable access to motivation is taking action.
The game you should be most interested in is finding ways to consistently take action when you aren’t motivated: Involving other people, noticing learning, noticing progress, doing it just because it aligns with your values, and having triggers in your life and doing it at a certain time.