in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

• Last updated: June 1, 2021

Sunday Firesides: Feelings Follow Action

Poster by Sunday Firesides about feelings follow and action.

Around here, we’re pretty bullish on the power of motivation. 90% of the time I do the things I do – even those that seemingly require discipline like working out and just plain working – because I feel like doing them. 

But every once in a while, my feelings fail me: I’m tired and grumpy, and don’t want to get under a 300-lb barbell; I’ve been invited to some social event, and would rather stay home; an old lady from church needs help moving, and I just want to relax.

In these situations, I remember a few of my favorite lines from Kyle Eschenroeder’s Pocket Guide to Action:

Action motivates.

I don’t feel like working out until I get my blood flowing. I’m too tired to have sex until we’ve begun. I don’t want to go to the party until I’m there.

Motivation will follow if you have the balls to go without it.

While feelings can precipitate action, they also invariably follow it.

It’s like the way you have to pull a kite along the ground before the wind lifts it into the air. Or how you have to break a glow stick before it phosphoresces.

Of course, this sets up something of a Catch-22: if you’ll feel like doing something once you start doing it, but you don’t feel like starting, how do you get going on it in the first place?

Sheer discipline helps. But so does memory. Reflect on past results.

I know when I look back, I’ve never regretted doing a workout, rather than not. Never regretted going to see friends, rather than staying home. Never regretted doing an act of service, rather than keeping to myself.

Just take one step out the door, break the seal of your inertia, and the glow of feelings will trail in your wake.

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