I was laid up with a bad chest infection at the start of this month which meant I was out of action for a good couple of weeks. Now, I’m not ill very often and not one to bask in it so it really did knock me out for a time.
But you’ll be happy to know that, a few box sets and a course of strong antibiotics later, I’m back fighting fit.
And, this morning signalled my return to the gym.
Now before my little bout of uber-man-flu I was going around 4 to 5 times a week, and whilst I never *loved it I just got on with it. It was something I did, part of my routine. I’d managed to finally make it one of those tricksy habits we all try to get a grip on.
But a habit it was no longer. With the advent of a 2-week hiatus and a coughy chest I was now back to feeling pretty crappy about schlepping myself to the old weights room this morning.
Of course, I knew this was just me having crappy thoughts and my feelings couldn’t possibly be caused by the gym (in the past I didn’t mind it at all so I’m going to suggest the gym is pretty neutral!)
Yet, despite this understanding. I did not want to go. At all.
So you know what I did?
I went anyway.
And this has been one my most important things I’ve realised in the past few years. That I don’t need to feel motivated to do the thing I know I should do. Because with this insight its meant I remove myself from lots of cluttered thinking and stress.
You see there’s a trick of the mind we all fall for when we decide we want to create something new or change something in our lives.
The prescribed wisdom of how to get started when you don’t feel like it is that we need to feel incredibly productive and motivated.
We need to feel confident in our abilities and driven to do whatever is necessary to get there.
And this is why we no doubt just like me you’ve spent hours reading self-help books, singing up for online courses and even scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram reading ‘inspirational’ quotes laid out over pictures of sunsets or Maseratis.
We act as though if we surround ourselves with enough external inspiration that somehow something will switch in our mindset and we’ll be propelled us into action.
Yet I bet what you’ve also found when doing so is that actually you only end up feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and a little stressed with it all. Yes some of the things you’ll read will be motivating no doubt, you might get some good ideas from the courses and guides. But then what?
Because the thing is, all that is happening when we do all this ‘prep’ is that we get stuck in out heads trying to think our way to success. We’re trying to take on the mindset of someone else in some hope that by thinking how a successful person does we too can be successful.
But here’s the thing I know to be true.
Who you are, is already perfect.
You already have the wisdom, resources, resilience, courage, intelligence and capacity to be happy, successful and fulfilled.
And in fact, the thing that often keeps you from starting is a misunderstanding that you have to wait until you feel ready.
A client and I were discussing this yesterday and we came to the conclusion Nike were right all along.
Just Do it.
Thinking your way into feeling motivated will only get you so far.
You see, when you have a limiting thought; such as ‘I can’t start X because X’ you have two options.
Option A: you spend time and energy affirming ‘I can do this’. You read books and work on that PMA (*shudder). You go through the personal development clichés of uncovering evidence of times when you’ve exhibited the behaviour you want.
You know the drill.
But then there’s option B, a little simpler but no less sassy: you start doing the thing you want to do.
When you do this you can’t possibly have that thought anymore that you can’t do it. Because, well, you are doing it.
You can’t hold that thought any longer if you are in motion this way – its impossible.
Now I know there’s a gap here – that what usually what stops us is fear of the doing, of taking action.
But the thing is that fear will be there whether you take action internally (takes ages, doesn’t always work) or externally (takes 0 seconds, always works)
So feel that fear, smile at it, and do it anyway.
You don’t need more motivation or inspiration to create the life you want.
You need to simply stop trying to think your way there and connect with the power of who you really are.
Because when I arrived at they gym this morning I still felt pretty uninspired. But I got on with it. Did my sets, stayed focused. And got through it. Tomorrow will be easier, by next week it might almost feel fun again. But regardless I’ll be going.
Because motivation is optional. Isn’t it liberating and inspiring to realise that?
Stop waiting to feel ready.
Connect with your energy and inspiration and push on through.
Stop too trying to fit into a mould of someone who has completely different way of looking at the world and remember that you are always enough. What got them there, won’t get you there. And vice versa.
And that’s the beauty of creating new things. Its uniquely about you. You will be infinitely more resourceful, resilient and inspired when you move past all the thinking and techniques and simply and authentically connect deeply to your innate wisdom.
This is your inner core, the real you, the powerful person that exists before all the stories and beliefs and crap the world piled on top of you about what you can and can’t do.
By pushing past all the limiting thoughts and motivational self-help gumff and just starting means you are suddenly free to play, try stuff out and create from a place of curiosity, inspiration and insight.
When you can trust that this is the real source of your inspiration and creation and that motivation is optional you’ll know instinctively what to do next and how to do it.
It takes a little trust, but it’s also the best game in town.
Also published on Medium.