3 Small Habits That Will Improve Your Motivation for Anything

#2: Sharpen your why

Nick Wignall
7 min readJun 5


Photo by Foto Sushi

1. Think about motivation as an effect, not a cause

If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because there’s some action or set of actions you would like to take, but you don’t feel as motivated as you would like to take them.

The underlying belief here is that you’re more likely to do the action if you possess the feeling of motivation.

True enough. All things being equal, it’s going to be easier to perform an action — especially a challenging one like going to the gym after a long day — when you feel motivated.

But the relationship between motivation and action is a two-way street:

Feeling motivated makes it easier to act, but acting also leads to feeling motivated.

The trouble is only one of these things is something you have direct control over… Sadly, there’s no “Feel More Motivated” button we can just press to get a boost of motivation. If you don’t happen to feel motivated, the only way to get there is to do things that lead to feeling motivated.

Stick with our going to the gym example, it’s usually about 50/50 whether or not I feel motivated to work out — half the time I do, half the time I don’t. But I can’t think of a single time when working out didn’t make me feel good — including more motivated to work out in the future.

Taking action is something we have direct control over; feeling motivated is not.

This means that spending too much time thinking about feeling motivated is going to be pretty unhelpful — especially if it distracts you from there one thing you can do to actually feel more motivated in the long run: act.

When you think about motivation as a cause — something you need in order to act — it tends to lead to discouragement, inaction, and less motivation. But when you think about motivation as an effect — something that you get as a result of action — it often leads to energy, confidence, and more motivation.

2. Sharpen Your Why



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com