For many years, I operated under the illusion that I could make decisions based on how I felt and was simultaneously frustrated that I wasn’t getting the results I was looking for. I never realized the two were connected.

Cue the virtual 2×4 across my forehead.

Let’s break this down.

First, we have to acknowledge that we usually think like this:

Motivation –> Action

We wait to take action until we feel motivated, and we rely on those feelings to feed our willpower.

It’s why we feel like working out after an inspiring movie or eat well for a few meals after visiting with a friend that’s lost weight recently.

Then what? We fail at continuing to take action. The feeling doesn’t last.

In his book, The 1% Solution, Tom Connellan proposes that, “the more you get done, the more motivated you are to do things. So you do more things, and you get even more motivated. It’s a self-feeding cycle.”

In other words:

Action –> Motivation –> Action

Intuitively, most of us know that motivation starts with action.

After a workout, we experience the “high” of an endorphin rush. We make plans for the next one.

After a healthy meal, we feel great – satisfied and refueled. We may even talk about doing the same thing tomorrow.

But knowing this usually isn’t enough. It wasn’t for me, and I’m guessing it doesn’t work for you either. Eventually, there’s an interruption in the actions, and we’re not able to continue the cycle.

Then I realized there was a hidden layer.

Habit –> Action –> Motivation –> Action

We know that motivation is fleeting, and forced actions aren’t effective for very long. Habits are different, though. They have tremendously more influence and predictability.

They’re like the recipe for your Nana’s delicious strawberry cake. They can be systematically developed and produce a consistent result time after time.

Here’s the best part: your brain already knows the recipe. You just have to select the ingredients and start cooking.


photo credit: opensourceway