Motivation Follows Action

by Tom Swift

What a wonder it is that you can sometimes be ignited by things that previously dampened your flame.

For months you had subscribed to a podcast[1] you avoided listening to. As the episodes downloaded — and episodes of this particular one are produced several times a week — you would scan the show notes. Almost always you found one or more topics of interest and which had potential practical use to you. You were engaged in a project to find your way, workout-wise, in your post CrossFit life, and here were three teachers coming into your living room for free. You didn’t want to listen to these shows but you didn’t want to delete them, either. You resisted. Another one already. Why are these so long? Is this one I can delete because it really doesn’t apply to me? — no, shit, OK, save.

But three weeks ago, you listened to one. Then another. Then you started taking episodes with you on walks and on the way to work. You would listen as you fell asleep. Just a few minutes here or there. Suddenly, you had caught up with all of the episodes you had saved.

As you listen you don’t agree with everything you hear and sometimes topics that you thought would be helpful are not.[2] Yet something happens. As you listen to the words, listen to three guys who seemingly live to train people how to move their bodies, gears turn, and you begin to move your body in new ways. Not long after you do, your muscles get happier than they’ve been in a year.

This dynamic shows, too, with books sometimes: you pull one from the shelf, one that has collected dust, a title which you previously set down almost as soon as you cracked it open. Then, suddenly, a year or a decade later and, poof, you read the words and the words change you. The words change your life.

There is a tension here that fascinates. Action is necessary. Action allows for possibility. But action alone is not what you are talking about. This is not a matter of pure force of will. You have to be ready to ready to read. You have to be able to hear.

When you will be ready, it’s a mystery. When you are ready, it’s magic.


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[1] Quah, by Mind Pump talking heads Sal, Justin, and Adam.

[2] The goal is not agreement anyway, of course.