With everything you have to accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, it is easy for you to get burned out. Frustration is a close friend of apparent failures and setbacks. Forgetting to mop the house. Watching the clothes in the laundry basket pile up. Not meeting a deadline. Getting a better paying job. These are just a few things that can settle in our minds as seeds of doubt, and the ensuing disappointment grows. This sort of response can suck the determination out of you, and that’s a recipe that only produces things too hard to digest.

Wouldn’t it be easier to take on each day with the right attitude? One that is resilient, changing, and positive? Of course, it would. That is where motivation comes in.

Social media, especially Pinterest, is filled with memes, graphics, photos, and quotes that can truly move you. Whether it is a quote from a famous philosopher or a snippet of a disabled athlete’s biography, motivation can fuel an individual no matter what they do or where they come from. There are many sources to find the spark you need. All you have to do is tap into it, and let it tap back.

Ha! If only it were that simple. 

How many times have you randomly come across something that threw gasoline on your fire, only for it to die down 5 minutes later? Trust me, you’re not the only one. Even though the distance between inaction and action seems to be getting shorter, it isn’t. In fact, many of us think of motivation the wrong way.

Negativity is not an effective motivator.

The Problem with Motivation

Motivation is widely believed to be the drive before the action an individual wants to take. To make things easy, let’s break this down into a simple equation:

Emotional Inspiration Motivation Desirable Action

One may clean the kitchen after the stench of piled up dishes reaches the living room, and who wants to smell that after a long day of work? You may decide to hit the gym after your doctor diagnoses you with a disease that could’ve been prevented. A person may finally enroll in that doctorate program after being on the job market for over a year and yielding few callbacks.

What’s the pattern here? Many people need a strong negative feeling to push them into action. At the same time, negativity is what deters us from taking action. This contradictory model is a norm for many, and can easily explain the disgruntled relationship we have with reaching our goals.

Motivation is often thought to precede action, but this is wrong.

A Better, More Sustainable Way to Motivate Yourself

So how can we effectively motivate ourselves on a consistent basis? Well, let’s tweak the above equation.

Action Inspiration Motivation ( Action Inspiration Motivation)

Unlike the first equation, this one shows us the cyclical relationship between action and motivation. The result is no longer the ends of the equation, but is now the launchpad for something more. By giving your actions both a cause and effect, it is gives us the opportunity to do something to increase our desire to do even more.

Next time you find yourself struggling to take the next step, start small. A to-do list will help prioritize your day. Simply writing 200 words a day can bring you closer to finish that novel you’ve been dreaming about. Whatever it is you want to achieve, work towards it by taking action. The motivation will come.  

Act first, and the motivation will follow.