Action Begets Motivation: Just Do It

Given how popular inspirational quotes are on Pinterest and Instagram, you would think that people need to be constantly looking at this type of material to become motivated.  And I do this too.

I sometimes throw these artistic renderings of inspirational quotes into my blog posts and I will probably through some of those in this post because although I haven’t searched yet, I guarantee they’re out there.

But do these images actually provide you with on-going motivation?  Or do you see the quote-picture your friend posted, hit like or maybe re-pin to your own board, and then forget about it and move on?  I typically will browse Pinterest, pin a whole bunch of quotes I like, then go back and find one to post on Instagram when I feel like one applies to my current situation or the workout I just did.  For example, I posted this guy a few weeks ago:


On Saturday morning, I really didn’t want to run.  But I knew I needed to.  It helped that I knew my mom was coming downtown to help me with some condo stuff so I had a set deadline I needed to get this run done by.  But that didn’t make me actually want to do the run.  And then I thought about a quote I had heard that has resonated with me.  I actually did NOT see this quote on Pinterest, but rather from a counselor.  Actually, maybe it’s not even a quote, but rather a proven concept of psychology.

And that is “Action begets motivation.”  Or a different, yet similar rendering – “Action begets action.”  Motivation or inspiration is not what ultimately leads to action.  The action itself leads to the motivation and then even more action.

So I got myself out the door to run.  I ran north down my street.  And in those few blocks before I got to the lakefront, I considered turning back.  But then I asked myself what I would do if I turned around?  I would maybe do some work or clean my condo, but that wouldn’t make me happy.  Running was the action I needed to do.  So I kept running.  And during the 4th mile, I told myself I need to do a 5th.  And during the 5th, I told myself I have to do a 6th, and so on.  I just needed to keep doing the action.

I didn’t really have a problem running those 12.5 miles.  Why did I think I would?  Why didn’t I want to do it in the 1st place?  Because as good as running is for my body, all I thought about was how long of a run it is and how I’d have to exert myself for over an hour and half.  But by breaking it up into pieces, and just performing 1 action or 1 step or 1 mile at a time, it is manageable.

Nike really got it right with their slogan – Just Do It.  It’s almost cliche at this point, but that really is the answer.  Just do it.


And there’s so many more similar quotes:

“The first step out the door is the hardest.”

“The best way to get things done is to simply begin.”

But in short form: ACTION begets MOTIVATION.

I not only have this problem with running, but also with other activities.  I’ve especially noticed my reluctance to start a new book.  I love reading.  That is, I love reading once I get into a book.  But then after I finish one book, I struggle to start the next.  I’m not sure why, but the thought of starting a new book is not appealing.  Only after I finally make myself just sit and start one, do I begin to get into it.  And then, I usually can’t put it down.

Back when I lived in Cincinnati last summer, I played on a volleyball team with friends.  They were my best friends and I loved being around them.  but our games were on Sundays and I was typically hungover and just wanted to be lazy.  And one Sunday Kristin said something along the lines of “I never want to come, but once I get here I have a great time.”  And that’s exactly how I felt, too.  I had a fun time playing volleyball with everyone each week, but I never had any motivation to go until I got there and started playing and interacting.

So yeah, just do it.  And you’ll be glad you did :)

For what type of activities do you experience the whole “action begets motivation” concept?

Do you break up your runs/workouts or any other activities/tasks into smaller pieces to make them more manageable?

Do you enjoy looking at quotes on Pinterest or Instagram?  What are your favorites?

2 Thoughts on “Action Begets Motivation: Just Do It

  1. I feel that way with running when I get into the doldrums of a training cycle all the time, and I pretty much always feel that way about going to the gym. But 99% of the time, I know I’m going to be WAY more upset at myself if I skip my run/workout than if I just sucked it up and went. And I’d say 99% of the time, once I get a few minutes into it, things are just fine. I can barely think of any times where I hated a workout for its whole duration. Knowing that makes it a lot easier to get over that initial, “Ugh, I don’t want to do this,” feeling, too – that once I get started, I’ll be just fine.

  2. Yeah, that’s what I try to think of too – I’d be way more upset not running than how I’m going to feel WHILE I’m running. But the feeling just happens wayyyy too often I feel like :(

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