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December 3, 2017

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Action vs. Inaction

December 3, 2017

 

How you can be super motivated and still get nothing done, and what to do about it

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s blog isn’t necessarily related to car cinematography, but it definitely impacts all of us.

 

 

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What happens

 

Do you ever go to lay down at night and think to yourself, “I feel accomplished, but I didn’t really do anything today?” Yeah, me too. Weird feeling, right?

 

For me, it happens all the time. So, I decided to look into what’s going on, and why things weren’t getting done.

 

Here's how it usually goes down: 

 

I’d sit on my bed, scrolling through Instagram, looking at awesome pictures and videos that I knew I could replicate, if I only had the inspiration and motivation.

 

From there I’d go to YouTube and watch about a dozen videos, and one or two of them would inevitably be some “motivational” video. I’d purposefully watch these to try to get myself to get stuff done, to finally start kicking ass at life.

 

The videos would do their job; getting me pumped up and feeling like I could take on the world. Like I could get two days’ worth of stuff done in two hours. (naivety is great, isn’t it?)

 

I’d start getting ideas of what I could work on, how I could make something amazing. Coming up with a plan was the easy part. But that’s as far as I’d get.  

 

Because I know you know what happens next…

 

I’d continue to sit on my bed, repeating the process over and over again, from Instagram to YouTube and back to Instagram, until my stomach starts gurgling.

 

It somehow got dark. I should probably make dinner, realizing that I didn’t even eat lunch either. Whoops.

 

I achieved none of the things I wanted to do. But I still felt accomplished because through the magic of YouTube I now know how to “gain 1000 Instagram subscribers in 24 hours.” Great.

 

But in reality, I didn’t do a damn thing.

 

Sorry, this is hitting a little close to home, isn’t it? I’ll try to fix that by the end of this article, I promise.

 

 

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What’s really going on

 

After a while, I got tired of achieving noting yet feeling satisfied. But I didn’t really know why it was happening in the first place.

 

Bill Gates said, “most people overestimate what we can do in one year, and what they can do in ten years.” Great quote, but I like to shorten those time frames. I think I can get so much done in 60 minutes, but underestimate what I can do in one day, or even a week.

 

And that mindset needs to change, because obviously nothing meaningful is getting done.

 

I asked myself why I was sitting around watching videos all day on getting stuff done, but not actually getting any of the stuff done. Why I felt both accomplished and defeated at the same time.

 

A few things occurred to me:

 

  • I was getting a dopamine dump just by watching the videos, even if I didn’t take action afterwards. Chemically, my brain was getting rewarded, but not for the right reasons.

 

  • The reward (dopamine) was enough to leave me satisfied enough to not feel the need to work on actual tasks.

 

  • Motivation is very temporary. It comes and it goes. Plus, I only wanted to work on difficult tasks when I was motivated to do so.

 

Therefore, to get things done, we need to do stuff even when we’re not motivated. And that’s much harder than it sounds.

 

 

Whether it’s called “laziness” or “procrastination,” one thing is certain:

 

It’s gotta end.

 

 

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What you can do about it

 

So I know what I’m doing, and now I know why I’m doing it. Good start. We can be done now, right?

 

Nope. Not gonna fall into that trap! I just spent a long ass time writing about this exact thing 5 lines up.

 

Here’s what I do to combat it:

 

1.       Practice doing work when you’re not motivated

 

I know that sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out: you have to be able to sit down and write something even if you don’t like it. And yeah, that can suck. But if you practice this, eventually you’ll form a habit and it won’t suck so much. Scheduling your un-fun task will also help.

 

2.       Write down a DETAILED list of actions for your to-do’s

 

I find that if I don’t know what step to take next, I tend to “take a break” (i.e. give up) and not finish what I needed to do.

 

What I do is write down a super detailed, step-by-step process of exactly how I’m going to accomplish this task. That way, I don’t ever go, “I don’t know what to do next” and end up checking Instagram again.

 

(If you can’t tell, I like Instagram.)

 

Try this process next time you’re about to start a project, and refer to it when you don’t want to continue working. Chances are, you’re just stuck and need to see what step you need to do next.

 

3.       Avoid breaks (or make them really short)

 

Breaks are great, but if you spend too long checking Instagram then you’ll get sucked into an unproductive hole again. This is why if I’m working on some unpleasant task, I try to avoid taking a break. I just power through it.

 

If you do feel you need to take a break, limit yourself to a set time, say 3 minutes. Short breaks prevent you from losing your drive and focus, and you can quickly get back on task.

 

4.       Be positive

 

Throughout all of this, it is important to realize that we’re all human, and nobody likes doing unpleasant things. I get it.

 

But to have those unpleasant things get in the way of where you want to be in life?

 

Not cool.

 

Staying positive and accepting that not everything that we want comes easy will help you get in the frame of mind you need to tackle those projects you’d rather not do. It’s all in your head.

 

 

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I hope these tips help you when you’re feeling the same way I’ve felt countless times: both accomplished and disappointed. If you have any other ideas on this subject, leave them in the comments below; I'd love to hear them!

 

 

Until next time,

 

-Preston

 

 

 

 

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