One cold day, I was on one of my evening runs. I wasn't too happy about being outside but I'd long ago planted the benefits of exercise deep enough that it mattered, so off I went. I happened upon my neighbor standing outside smoking his cigarette so I stopped to chat.
"I used to run a couple years ago, but I quit," he admitted. "I'm going to start again when I get motivated."
I wonder when that will be.
I've always wondered why so many people never do the very thing they dream of doing. We all have them, these big, wild dreams, but so few people pursue them. Why?
Because most people are in desperate need of some motivation.
Maybe you've always dreamed of writing a book but you can't get motivated. Only you can write that particular book and sadly no one really cares if you get motivated or not. But once you've written it, many people will care. Thousands could be blessed by your efforts.
I'm writing this morning, but I don't feel like I have time for it. I'm behind on some things and I have a to-do list a mile long. It would be much easier to say, "I'll wait. I'll do that tomorrow." But I made a commitment, so here I am. Writing. When I don't have time.
Because I'm motivated. Because I have a target that's worth accomplishing.
Motivation can be lofty, elusive, right? How do we get motivated? And how do we stay that way?
Here's the thing: motivation comes from activity.
It's true. You can't wait until you get motivated to begin, it's in the beginning of something that you get motivated. And as you work more and more on your activity, your target, you find yourself more and more motivated.
We often feel like we could accomplish our goals, our dreams, if we were motivated, but the funny thing is, it really works the other way around.
We have to begin.
If you want to write a book, write the first sentence. If you want to start exercising again (or for the first time), take the first step.
"The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs." -Joan Didion
All of our excuses and laziness will soon be overpowered by a motivation that drives us to determination.
I'm reminded of the story about this lazy, stingy man whose ultimate goal in life was to win the lottery.
"Oh Lord," he prayed. "Let me win the lottery."
He prayed for years and years to no avail. One day he cried out in anger, "Lord! Why won't you let me win that lottery!"
A moment later, a voice boomed down from Heaven, "Buy a ticket."
Okay, I don't think God suggested the whole lottery ticket thing, but you get my point. In order to achieve something, you have to take action. You have to begin somewhere. I've heard it said it's much easier to steer a moving car than one that is parked.
So, are you ready to begin? Believe you can take that first step, you can write that first sentence or learn that new exercise, or at the very least you can start the car.
Because the best time to start really is now.