Follow Intentions With Actions: Bridging The Gap Between Motivation And Actual Action

Today’s ambitious 20-somethings have an abundance of resources at their fingertips. Most pressing questions are a mere Internet search away from an answer, which is narrowing the gap between aims and actual achievements. One such search that I’ve found myself typing now and again is "how to get motivated."

Of course, there are lists upon lists of advice, tips and methods, both in written and video form. Yet, I still get stuck; I still generally end up in a state of procrastination — a place of pristine tidiness and excessive coffee.

So, what’s stopping us? There’s definitely a straight road available from motivation to action, but time and again, that turn to procrastination is the one more travelled. It feels unreasonable that motivation can wane when the goal is something we want to achieve.

The trouble comes in the fragility of motivation. When the will to put in the work is weak, the drive disappears. Often it’s not the goal itself that’s the problem; it’s maintaining the right mindset to finally reach it. Impatience and lack of confidence can turn the “ambitious” aim into a daunting task. Unfortunately, this can be a quick switch and you may question the point of it.

When we choose to achieve something, acting is simply the first step. If you decide you want to make a cake, you still have to get the ingredients, have the equipment and follow the recipe. You also know you may make a mistake, burn it or eat too much of the batter; plans often go awry. Still, the delicious idea of the cake spurs the actions.

With bigger goals, of course, there’s more to it, like a larger time scale, more room for discouragement, distraction and losing sight of the end result. So, you must make sure you have the right ingredients to take motivation and turn it into action.

Where’s your head?

A negative outlook or low mood can greatly reduce motivation. Simple tasks can be strenuous and the idea of pushing the boundaries is out of the question. Self-doubt and low confidence levels can deter us from striving for anything. It may feel like failure is inevitable before the fire ignites within us.

If you’re going to get anywhere, your head has to be in the game. There’s a reason you wanted to get more. To get more, you must do more. Build yourself up — no one will do it for you. Visualize yourself being successful, what it feels like and what it means to you.

Think about it constantly; think about how you’re going to achieve it and all the little steps that will carry you on your journey. Most importantly, do it. You’re likely to have already done plenty of thinking, but now is the time to get active about your thoughts.

Thoughts travel easily elsewhere, but actions tend to stay fairly on point. Make lists, tick boxes and give yourself that pat on the back you deserve for every proactive step you’ve made in the right direction.

Where’s your body?

When you’ve grown confident about your goals, you’ll need your main instrument of action to be in good shape. This is where you might run into a little bit of resistance; making realistic goals means knowing your capabilities, but also knowing your limits. If your expectations are too high, then simple things, like fatigue, will dampen your enthusiasm.

So, recognize your body’s signals. Nothing steers you toward procrastination more than early burnout, which pushes the finish line further away and makes remaining on the couch seem a lot more appealing.

Nourish yourself properly to have peak focus and concentration. Trying to get things done when hungry or on a sugar crash is nearly impossible. Get enough sleep so that you have the energy to persist and aren’t more susceptible to low moods, distractions or the lure of staying in bed all day watching funny Youtube videos.

I don’t need to tell you how to get motivated — all of the information is available. It really just comes down to what you’ll do next with that motivation.

When the aspiration comes to you, grab it. Figure out your plan of action and dive right in. Time will keep moving whether you do or not, so it’s in your hands to make the most of it — or live in the bubble of procrastination, constantly wishing for more.

Photo credit: Victor Habchy, click here to see more of his awesome work.