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Motivation: it comes after action.

a pile of folded blankets
One task at a time.

There's a myth I often hear in my work, it's this, "if I wait long enough, something will inspire or motivate me to do that next thing." That next thing can be something like taking out the trash or scheduling a check up with your psychiatrist or PCP. Usually, it's something that needs to happen, but it's been put in the back burner.

A lot of my patients are waiting for motivation to show up before they take action.

Here's what I tell them: you can't wait. You must act.

Part of therapy is looking at behaviors and identifying new ways to see those behaviors. And, we take action. When it comes to motivation, you have act before you get motivated.

Essentially, action = motivation

I saw this article about this the other day, and the writer said this about practicing motivation (or making changes),

"A consistent practice may take at least a little motivation to get going, but over time the equation is reversed. Dedicating yourself to the practice, no matter how you feel, is what builds motivation.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps individuals through a range of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, places an immense focus on the “behavior” part of the equation. That’s because it’s hard, if not impossible, to control your thoughts and the subsequent feelings they generate. Longstanding research has found that the more you try to suppress a certain thought or feeling the stronger that thought or feeling becomes. And the inverse is also true: the more you try to will a certain thought or feeling into being, the less likely it will happen."

So, we have something to think about the next time you find yourself waiting for the motivation to fold the clothes sitting in the dryer.


Stulberg, B. (2019, May 16). Show Up. Mood Follows Action. - Brad Stulberg. Retrieved December 3, 2019, from

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