Action before motivation – Why you need to stop waiting for motivation

One of the most insightful things I learned from CBT was about “behavioral activation” – the concept that actions help you get motivated.

The thing I like about CBT is it’s solution-focused methods.
It doesn’t really look into the issues (like conventional psychological), but rather focuses on what’s happening now and how to deal with them.
And this concept of behavioural activation hinges on getting you moving, in order to help you with low mood and motivation issues.
The idea is that rather than waiting for motivation, you can do something right now which in turn will help you to get motivated.

I’ve written in the past about how physiology affects our mood.
This is related to that.

Here’s how it works:
Figure out your ideal outcome and what it is you want to do.
Then start doing it in small chunks.
Do this consistently, and build on that over time.

For example, if you struggle with social anxiety, here’s how it will roughly work:
Ideal outcome = talk to people without feeling anxious.
Small actions = talk to at least one new person every week/day.
Consistent action = do this every day/week for the next few months, until the thought of it doesn’t bother you as much anymore.

Or, if you want to start writing, rather than expecting yourself to write a thousand words right of the bat, you’ll start off by writing 50 words/day, or whatever is a really doable amount for you, and do that consistently until the writing isn’t a struggle anymore.

The key is to get moving and to do only a small part and do so consistently.
If you keep doing it consistently, you will get better at motivating yourself to do it.

So if you struggle with getting stuff done and motivating yourself, here’s a hack to motivate yourself:
Start doing the thing.

Stop waiting for motivation.