I couldn’t believe 5am had come so early. I slinked down under the covers a little more, stretched my arm out and quieted the alarm. It can’t already be 5am–it just can’t. I really don’t feel like this. Where was that motivation I felt last night? I snuggled in to the comforter, imaging how tired I would feel the rest of the day.

There are always 2 ways this type of 5am experience can go. #1: I somehow find the force to crawl out of bed, lace up the running shoes and head to the gym. #2: I ignore the alarm and my ambition from the night before and stay asleep until roughly 6:15am when I would have to get out of bed anyways.

On mornings where the latter option wins, I tell myself “I just can’t” as I choose to stay in bed. But for the rest of the day, I can never shake that feeling of disappointment in myself. Why did I give in?

We are all capable of doing things we don’t feel like doing but we learn at a very young age to ignore our drive to be better in the future for immediate comfort.

  • I can’t start this presentation because I’m so unmotivated.
  • I can’t study because I just don’t feel like it.
  • I can’t work on this project because I have too much on my mind right now.

We all believe that if we could just get motivated enough, we would do the work. But believing that we have to be motivated enough to begin is one that holds us back. We are capable of doing things when motivation is missing. Often, when we do the thing we didn’t feel like doing in the first place, motivation follows anyways.

I’m not saying that motivation isn’t a powerful thing. When we are motivated, we tend to enjoy ourselves more, we become engaged in what we’re doing and the work feels effortless and satisfying.

We have to eliminate our idea that we have to be motivated to do something, however.

Instead, we should tell ourselves “I will feel more motivated if I just begin.”

When that 5am alarm rings, I tell myself “I really don’t feel like getting out of bed and I’m going to do it anyway.” Just by acknowledging my feelings that morning rather than ignoring them helps me discover my original motivation that led me to this crossroads in the first place.

It prevents us from being as successful as we potentially could be. It’s one of the ways that we sabotage ourselves. We believe this thought and we treat it like a fact. Then let ourselves off the hook and we don’t do the work. If we’ve deeply integrated this belief, we don’t even feel guilty for not doing the work.

I once heard someone say that motivation is a luxury. You don’t need it, but like all luxuries, it’s great to have.

There’s no way to stay naturally motivated all of the time. By eliminating the belief that we can only do the work when we’re motivated, we can often push ourselves beyond the “no, I don’t feel like it” moment to “but I’m going to do it anyways.” It’s amazing how good that really feels.


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