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Productivity Hack: Action Precedes Motivation


The idea that we need to find some sort of inner motivation before we decide to act can make it incredibly hard for us to achieve our goals.

Waiting around for yourself to find motivation can lead to you making no real progress towards your goals because it's just so inconsistent.

You may find yourself being incredibly motivated on Monday and then not finding any motivation until Saturday. That means you've just wasted 4 days not making any progress towards your goals.

Productivity Hack: Action Precedes Motivation

Instead of relying on this idea, you need to realise that action can often precede motivation and use it to your advantage.

Below are the two main reasons why this theory works:

Why is This Strategy Effective?

Reason #1: It helps gather momentum

The first reason why this strategy is effective is it can help you build motivation instantaneously rather than waiting around for motivation to come to you which can be very inconsistent and sparse.

The idea behind letting action precede motivation is by just getting the ball rolling, you can build momentum and your motivation levels will naturally rise with the more momentum you can build.

Productivity Hack: Action Precedes Motivation

All that's required is for you to begin to get the ball rolling. Pick a small task which will help you to progress towards your goal and force yourself to start working on it.

You may realise that after you've completed it, you feel inspired to keep going. This is because our brain releases dopamine (a neurotransmitter responsible for our ability to feel pleasure) once we've accomplished something.

Therefore by accomplishing this small task, we begin to feel great. The great thing is this sense of pleasure is addictive so we tend to want more.

Because we want to feel like this again, we become motivated to continue to work and accomplish other tasks!

Reason #2: It allows you to Stay Consistent

The second reason for why this strategy is so effective is because it allows you to stay consistent. As any high-achiever will tell you, consistency is the number one driving force behind their achievements. 

Dwayne Johnson best highlighted the importance of consistency when he stated “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”

He couldn't be more right, consistency allows you to build routines which over time will become habits. These habits can them become second nature, making it much easier to achieve your goals!

The famous playwright - Woody Allen highlighted the importance of consistency when achieving your goals when he stated that "80 percent of success in life is just showing up".

If you can just commit to working on something everyday (it doesn't matter how inspired or motivated you are), you will succeed. It's as simple as that.

Examples of How to Use the Strategy

The Marathon Example

Lets say you've set yourself a goal to run a marathon by the end of 2021. 

To do this, you know that you need to consistently increase your mileage every week until you feel comfortable that you can run the 26.2 miles.

You've got two options.

  • Option A is to wait until you're motivated to go out and train
  • Option B is to let action precede motivation 

Productivity Hack: Action Precedes Motivation

Imagine you choose the Option A route. Maybe you feel inspired twice a week on average. This leads to you running 104 times in a calendar year. You can definitely make good progress this way. 

But imagine you've chose the Option B way. You decide to let action precede motivation. You go out every morning and run. This leads to you running 365 times in a calendar year.

Therefore by choosing option B, you're making over 3 times more progress just by allowing action to precede motivation.

The Coding Example

For this example, lets imagine you've set yourself a goal of learning to code this year.

Again, you've got the same two options:

  • Option A is to let motivation precede action
  • Option B is to let action precede motivation 

Productivity Hack: Action Precedes Motivation

Often what happens when you decide to go down the Option A route is your motivation fluctuates. Maybe you feel motivated throughout January and commit to spending one hour a week learning to code. But then you lose motivation for a couple months. Then you become motivated again in July and then not again until December. Consequently, over the whole year, you've spent only 12 hours learning to code 

Now imagine that you chose the Option B route. You commit to spending one hour a week learning to code. Instead of deciding whether to code based upon your motivation levels, you start learning regardless of how you're feeling. This leads to you spending 52 hours learning to code.

Therefore, by choosing option B, you are going to make 4 times more progress. Consistency is king!


I hope that this guide inspires you to start employing this productivity hack in your own life. Stop waiting for motivation to hit you, because the truth is you could be waiting an awfully long time; instead, let action precede motivation. Focus on consistency and go after your goals each and every day, the results will show for themselves!

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