“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”

– Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

A person who is truly motivated is unstoppable. They will achieve what they set out to do. Conversely, a person who lacks motivation will never achieve. They will never have a chance to finish, because they either never started in the first place, or never continued on to it to complete it.

These are the two extremes of the motivation continuum. As you read this you will find yourself somewhere in between. But your level of motivation is not fixed or locked in. Like your emotions, your thoughts or your energy levels, it varies. By this time tomorrow, it is likely your level of motivation will be different to what it is now.

The question is how do we harness our motivation in order complete our projects and achieve our goals?

Unlocking your motivation

The secret to unlocking your motivation may be found in considering motivation from a different perspective. The most common view of motivation is that it is needed for action to take place. Such a belief causes you to wait until you are motivated before you start a project, whether that be a job at work, a lifestyle change or simply cleaning the house. Such a belief also creates difficulty when you comeback to the project and you no longer have the same motivational level you had when you begun. This is where projects go unfinished, gym memberships go un-used and goals fall by the wayside. This is where you fail to achieve purely because you do not finish.

What happens however, when we consider motivation is a byproduct of action, rather than a precursor to action?


The truth is, when we start a task, half way through we get motivated to see it through to the end and finish it. How many times have you begun to clean the kitchen and half an hour later and the laundry and lounge room are cleaned as well? Have you ever just started to make some extra space on your desk and next thing you know that pile of filing that you have been putting off for a week has been done? Recently I was working with a particular team who after four years on a particular project had lost their passion for their work. The majority of the team no longer enjoyed the work they were doing, or being away from their family for extended periods. When asked why they continued on this particular job, they all indicated that what motivated them to continue was seeing the projected completed.

The fact you started allowed you to see progress and progress builds a sense of achievement. This is what creates motivation within us to keep on going. Once this happens, a cyclic reinforcement process begins:

Bear Grylls in his book ‘A Survival Guide to Life’, describes his philosophy regarding his exercise – how he stays motivated to train his body physically to climb mountains, jump out of helicopters and survive in the wild. He allows himself to stop exercising whenever he wants – but only after the first three minutes of training. No matter how unmotivated he feels, he makes sure he starts, knowing that after only a couple of minutes the motivation to finish his training will come. He rarely fails to complete an exercise session.

The key to unlocking your motivation is simple: start. The action of starting will create the motivation to finish.

What are you facing today that you find yourself unmotivated to begin? What project have you begun that you can’t find the motivation to finish? I encourage you to start and the motivation will come!