Imagine Health

The Motivational Trap

The Motivational Trap

Motivation is simply the desire to do things. It is the difference between getting up in the morning and staying in bed all day. We are all born with innate motives, these include drinking, eating and safety and they are fundamental for survival. Then we have secondary motives which keep us motivated to do activities and learn and these differ amongst everyone.


The increase of motivational and self-help books in pop culture has led to the overuse of the term ‘motivated’. It might not take you long to think of the last time you heard someone say they were ‘motivated’ to achieve something, for example, lose weight, get a promotion in work or study more. Whatever it may be, are these people just wishing they could achieve their goals? In some cases, people are actively doing something to achieve their goals but most are not. This is when the trap of motivation comes into play!


What is the Motivational Trap?

The motivational trap literally means that we wait to feel motivated before we act. The problem with this is we could be waiting a very long time even a lifetime for motivation to strike.  Research has shown that motivation does not precede action, action precedes motivation. This simply means if your goal is to go for a run before work every day you may not feel motivated at 6 am to run but by just doing it this increases your motivation to do it the next morning. You should just do it without motivation and then after you start doing it, that’s when motivation comes and makes it easy to keep on doing it.


We are all human and nobody is motivated all the time we all have a lazy side. Our lazy side is always there to challenge success. Using the previous example of going for a run at 6am our lazy side will challenge our success by making us think we need the extra hour in bed and we do not feel ‘motivated’ this morning. This is when discipline steps in. Motivation does not help you to achieve your goals, discipline does.

To get things done in life you must act and stop making excuses. Set aside some time to go for a jog, go to the gym or read, whatever it is that you want to do and then when that time comes along go out and do it. You don’t need motivation you just need to do it! You just need to start!



Written by Rebekka Johnston