The great Bruno Mars once sang, “today I don’t feel like doing anything.” I know exactly what he means right now because I have absolutely no motivation to get anything done. Even though I have to-do list a mile long, I don’t feel like doing any of them. It’s hard for anyone to get off their butt and finish all of the things they need to do when they are feeling lazy.
What do you need to start checking all of those things off? A little motivation? A little inspiration maybe? No!
After years of wasting time doing nothing on lazy days like this, I’ve learned the best way to make myself get things done – momentum.
Momentum is the no energy, no inspiration, no motivation necessary way of getting things done. Let me explain.
WE SPEND TOO MUCH TIME THINKING
How many hours have you spent just thinking about all the things you need to do? You think about the pros and cons or you think about the millions of ways to get something done. We sit and just think instead of actually doing.
I’ve sat for hours writing down all of the possible ways to get more traffic to this blog instead of trying them. There are hundreds of hours I’ve wasted writing down ideas for blog posts instead of actually writing them. I have also spent a few hours saving Youtube videos of beginner ukulele lessons instead of practicing.
All of this thinking and planning adds up to what? Strategic plans that will maximize our time spent achieving our goals? No, it adds up to a bunch of nothing. What we should be doing is spending all of the time we wasted thinking on actually doing.
Not only do we waste time thinking about what to do. We sit there and think about all of the things that can go wrong. We get completely overwhelmed and worry about how much we have to get done or how long those things might take us.
There are times I get so daunted by all of the things I have to do that I stop all together. The anxiety builds in my body and I do something unproductive to rid myself of the negative feelings. There goes another day I could have spent taking action.
MOTIVATION AND INSPIRATION ARE NOT ENOUGH
I know that people are the most productive when they are motivated and inspired to do something. But there is a huge problem with motivation and inspiration – it is limited.
People tend to only stay motivated or inspired for a short period of time. We ride the energy high of these two concepts, work really hard for long hours, and then easily burn out.
A guy that I knew in college would stop at nothing to become a day-trader (short term investing in the stock market). He was inspired by a guy that he saw on TV. This guy had made millions as a day-trader over only a few years and now lived on his own private island. With this inspiration, my friend was super motivated to leave the accounting job that he hated and full-time day trade.
When my friend first started he spent hours and hours of time researching the in’s and out’s of day trading. When he felt comfortable enough to invest, he would spend the entire day glued to his screens. There were days that he made big and then there were days he lost big. But even on the days when he didn’t do well he pushed past the disappointment. He was riding the high that the inspiration was feeding him.
As the weeks dragged on and few months went by, the inspiration he first felt faded as did his motivation. Even though he had made thousands of dollars, and enough to sustain himself, he relied on that inspiration too much. He said he didn’t feel like doing it anymore, which is code for “no longer inspired.”
Without any inspiration to motivate him he stopped day-trading entirely.
If you enjoy what you are doing (which my friend did) or if you enjoy the feeling of completing a task, all you need to do to keep going is cross the start line. I’ll repeat that, all you have to do is start.
Do the first first step of any task.
All my friend needed to do to continue past the hump of “Zero Inspiration Land” was look at his computer or phone screen at share prices. From there the gears in his brain would have started turning. After those gears started, he would start coming up with ideas for stock trades or buys.
Once those ideas came, it could have turned into a full days worth of work. Seriously, a full days work from just opening and looking at the stock market.
How is that possible? It’s possible because once you start anything it creates momentum. With this little push of momentum, you will topple into even more speed and you may find that you have finished what you had no motivation to start.
As I mentioned earlier, I did not have the motivation to do anything today. I was not in the mood. All I could think about was laying around in bed and eating snacks. I was completely uninspired and have no motivation to write.
On days like today, I take the only ounce of mental will power I have and convince myself to at least look at my blog page. Today I took my own advice and did that, which led to the writing of this entire blog post.
AN OBJECT IN MOTION
Once we begin, we inevitably topple into a steady momentum. Does this happen every single time? No.
There are times I will look at my blog or look at Google analytics and close my screen. However, more often than not it will create an irreversible amount of momentum. As we know, an object that is in motion will stay in motion.
This momentum will cause you to stop thinking about and start actually doing it. Writing this blog post will probably topple into cleaning up other posts, doing some social media promotion. I can already feel myself wanting to go on Pinterest and promoting pins of my content. Going on Pinterest usually leads to me making really cool graphics for this blog. Those ideas will have me wanting to create the graphics.
I will have accomplished all of this on a day where I didn’t want to do anything but lay around and sleep all day. If you keep “just starting” you can find a way to be and stay productive until you find a new source of motivation.
KEEP BUILDING MOMENTUM
Planning is good but do not waste all of your time thinking about what you are going to do or how you are going to tackle a problem. Always keep in mind that motivation and inspiration are limited. Reprogram your mind to recognize that you do not have to do work only when you are inspired or motivated. After you have reprogrammed it, reorient your brain to just start.
All you need is to do the minimal first step to get your mind going. From there momentum will do the rest. Then before you know it you will have had a productive day, when you didn’t even feel like doing anything.
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