A long-time StrongFast Planet reader asked me to comment on this article about motivation. It's titled "Motivation is Overrated" and is from Outside Online prompted by ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll.

He suggests that "Mood follows action." Regular readers of The Planet will find this a familiar concept. And of course I have more to say about it.

First, what is "motivation"?

The simplest definition of motivation boils down to wanting (Baumeister, 2016). We want a change in behavior, thoughts, feelings, self-concept, environment, and relationships.

(For way more than you ever wanted to know about motivation, click on the link above.)

Note that motivation is different from willpower. Motivation is wanting whilst willpower is doing. (I'll probably write about willpower soon.)

The Outside Online article is, unsurprisingly, in the context of fitness. It starts with the dwindling motivation associated with New Year's resolutions. I wrote something about this in a post called Start Slow to Stay Fit. Doing too much too soon can effectively deplete one's motivation. That is, it becomes less important. We want it less.

According to Roll:

If I’m down or in a rut, I force myself to move my body, even if only a little bit,” says Roll. “This helps shift my perspective and reset my operating system—and more often than not, the sun starts shining again.

Now, this is a sample size of one that is wildly skewed: most of us are not ultra-endurance athletes. But it's also not a radical concept. In fact, you read something very much like it in The Planet's post Something Is (Way) Better Than Nothing. That was six years ago. Maybe Roll reads The StrongFast Planet? It takes some willpower to act when your motivation is lacking but hey, that's what it's for.

The article ends with a quote from the book Mastery:

To practice regularly, even when you seem to be getting nowhere, might at first seem onerous. But the day eventually comes when practice becomes a treasured part of your life. You settle into it as if into your favorite easy chair. It will be there for you tomorrow. It will never go away.

I haven't read the book (although, from the summary, it looks interesting) but have encountered the concept of mastery in Daniel Pink's book Drive (which is a good read). Mastery is a bit of a leap from "mood follows action" though. I guess the quote is there for the "onerous" part.

It's always nice to see new evidence for old advice. When in doubt, do something. It builds a habit, makes you feel better, and apparently even increases your motivation. Go figure.

Hope that helps, long-time reader!

Be seeing you.


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