June 22, 2017

Motivation and Action: The Two Powerful Change Agents

Discover the powerful relationship between motivation and action. Learn why action, in and of itself, is a powerful motivator and use it to your advantage.

Imagine living in freezing cold temperatures for months when finally, the feeling of a long-awaited summer holiday begins to approach. It spurs you to take a shopping trip to buy a new swimsuit. As you try on the latest trends, the quick glance in the mirror brings a sudden realization that you're not comfortable with what you see. It appears, after a winter of Netflix binge-watching and junk food eating, your shape doesn't go well with the sexy new swimsuit. The reality hits you, but it's not enough to spur on any motivation and action to make a real change.

Weeks later, after being away, you finally return home. Your relatives are happy to see you, but they seem to express concern about your significant weight gain. The reality hits you again—but this time something's different. For some reason, the family reactions and comments seem to strike the emotional nerves. You feel embarrassed, and compelled to finally do something about it. The combination of events finally ignites the motivation and action needed to make some real changes. As a result, you begin to exercise regularly and eat right.

That Push Over the Edge

Such realizations aren't anything new to any of us. We all know the importance of exercise and keeping a balanced diet. But, it's until a trigger event occurs, rarely do we ever do anything about it. And it doesn't just apply to our health. Without motivation and action, we procrastinate about other areas of our life. Our relationships, work, finances, well-being—you name it. We convince ourselves that eventually, we'll get around to getting "something" done. With no definite deadline, we pencil in a vague point in the future for when we'll make it happen.

We've all been there. Allowing our lives meander along, without any rhyme or reason. That is, until one day—something happens. A wake-up call, that makes us reconsider everything we've been doing. A realization that everything around us is moving along and it's not stopping. Inside of us, something begins to spark. Something that's always been there but is now compelling us to do something. That something is called motivation sparked by an emotional reaction. The push over the edge that finally makes us take action.

Live Without Fear

At one point or another, procrastination gets the better of us. Whether it's starting a new diet, studying for an exam, or finally joining that language class, it's not unusual for us to put off things we know are good for us. That is, until, an event or series of instances ignite an emotional response so strong—that we can no longer ignore it.

The problem with waiting for "the perfect moment" or, something "big" to happen is exactly that—it may not. Maybe a friend's remarks, a high number on the scale, or a negative on your bank balance isn't enough to push you over the edge. But, should waiting for some painful occurrence to spur 'change' be the best thing? If so, are you then living more out of fear than you are with faith?

The truth is, the dynamic of motivation and action from fear is a powerful force. One that can either be good, or bad for us. For instance, the same fear that springs some people into action—has the opposite effect on others. For example, the fear of public speaking may motivate some people to take action and join a Toastmasters club. Whereas for others, it would be a fear they would try to avoid the rest of their lives.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
"How then, do I face fear when I don't feel motivated?" you ask. You start by taking action.

Action as Motivation

What if we've been looking at it all wrong? What if action isn't just a 'byproduct' of motivation but rather a catalyst that sparks motivation? What if taking action creates a positive feedback loop that sets into motion a veritable juggernaut of motivation and results? What if it worked for everyone, including you and I?

More and more, people are discovering that this is the case. Have you ever thought about how the very act of taking an affirmative step towards achieving your goals creates inspiration and motivation? What if the very events that you might want to avoid experiencing again, due to the immense emotional toll they often take, naturally fall by the wayside—as a result of your actions? Would it motivate you to do something about it?

Use the Power of Motivation and Action


As an international speaker and performance coach, Jensen Siaw encourages; "Don't wait until you are ready to take action. Instead, take action to be ready." Remember action, in and of itself, is a powerful motivator. So use it to your advantage. Stop to think about the things you want to have in your life. Are there things you don't have, due to them being put off for no real good reason? Then try this simple exercise.

On a piece of paper or a spreadsheet, list the following in 3 separate columns:
  • For the first column, list all the things you would like to be, have, and do.
  • For the second column, write down one single action that would set you on the path to obtaining that particular thing.
  • In a third column, write down what you think might happen within the next 5 years if you didn't take that particular action.
Did you make some realizations?

If you're completely honest with yourself, you'll discover that the pain of not taking action right now is infinitesimally smaller compared to what you might experience 5 years from now. Feel more motivated?

Redefine Your Roadmap

Just because you've always done something a certain way, or worked for other people, doesn't mean it has or should stay that way. Many students, professionals, and entrepreneurs battle through periods of self-doubt and anxiety. We all experience it. The difference is how we respond to it. Those who take immediate action and have the will to persist, despite obstacles and setbacks, are often the ones who succeed.

Apply the same winning mindset to your life, whether it be on a personal or a professional level. Set personal goals. See the big picture, the destination, and don't let the journey ahead overwhelm you. If something hasn't worked in the past, redefine your roadmap. Then, move towards your dreams step by step. Visualize yourself accomplishing your goals, living your dreams, and let it be a source of inspiration. Practice visualization every day because, "studies show that visualization increases athletic performance by improving motivation, coordination, and concentration" writes Frank Niles, Ph.D. in his article on Huffington Post.

Prolific novelists use this same practice to generate great works of art. They're motivation and action is interdependent of one another. Many of the great writers of our generation hold themselves accountable to writing a certain number of words each day. Why? Because, an idea generated, during the course of writing their daily quota may lead to hitting upon a story thread that naturally turns pages into chapters.

See alsoHow to Motivate Yourself and KEEP Yourself Motivated.

Overcome the Resistance

Steven Pressfield believes "resistance" is a powerful negative force that causes us to not take action and do what is required. In his book, The War of Art, he states that; "the more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it." Whether it be battling procrastination or trying to overcome perfectionism, we all experience it. And, while it's true that motivation can break the spell of resistance and inspire great actions, the converse is also true. Taking a step (even a small one) towards meeting your goals is a tremendous source of motivation and inspiration. So let your motivation and action ignite and be a source of inspiration.

If you've been trudging along waiting for the stars to align or a mysterious stranger to visit you in a dream and tell you what to do, wait no longer. Get up. Get out there. And take action. As Pablo Picasso once said; "Action is the foundational key to all success." So do something—anything—and the results will follow.