Motivation Can’t be Planned and Scheduled

I wish I could plan my motivation and schedule it. Who else is motivated when making plans but no so much when it comes time to follow through? 

Should you be doing something else right now? Is reading this really the thing that you will thank yourself for later? Actually, it could be if you are a chronic procrastinator and this changes your approach.


Right now I’d love to be doing other things, and I almost did them instead of writing this. Like what?

  • Walking the dog
  • Laundry
  • Editing my podcast
  • Eating

Those things aren’t even that exciting, it’s just that I’m really not motivated to write this post but I had it planned. It was in my calendar. And I’m working on follow through for things like that. 

I was extremely motivated about writing this post right now when I scheduled it last night. I decided to schedule it after prioritizing multiple items that need to be done, and with clear insight as to why this post ties into my goals. 

My motivation problem:

  1. I’m always more motivated when I’m making plans than when it’s time to follow through.
  2. When I’m planning I ALWAYS believe that when the time comes I will be able to summon up the motivation I need. Spoiler alert, I’m not. 

Motivation and Science:

There is a reason it’s easier to plan than follow through. The human brain’s design is such that we are better equipped to plan than we are to consciously execute on our plans. In fact, we can even get a dopamine hit from planning, as big a hit as from having completed the activity.

Many professional procrastinators are hardcore addicts of this planning dopamine.

The catch is that motivation is a feeling. You can’t plan feelings and then rely on them to get stuff done. They rarely show up on demand.  

Casually Coaching Strangers Podcast:

Chatting with a caller about his chronic procrastinating and discussing a completely new approach.

Assuming Motivation Will Stay

Isn’t it weird that most of us subconsciously believe that we can control and predict motivation if we just try really hard? But it doesn’t work that way. Motivation is a strong emotion and rooted in determination and certainty. That’s why it surprises us so much that we can’t hold on to it.

There are so many articles and videos on the internet on “how to get motivated”, and of course some things work sometimes, but the advice isn’t actually practical in real life. Here are some of the tactics  you can find in 30 seconds for “how to get motivated”:

  • Get a massage
  • Watch a Ted Talk
  • Call a friend
  • Connect to your “why”
  • Give yourself a reward…

Look, some days I feel unmotivated many times, I don’t have the time to spend even more time getting motivated. And if I’m not motivated to do the work thing, there’s a pretty big chance that I’m not going to be motivated to do the work to get motivated (*connecting to WHY is critical and effective but some days it’s really difficult to find the emotional connection needed to stir motivation)

Motivation is unreliable

But there is a trick (I wrote this post for a reason, not just to make you feel worse) You don’t need to wait for motivation if you have this other thing:


Discipline is about following through whether or not you are motivated or in the mood to do so. Even if you are tired or if you can justify taking a break. Discipline is nowhere near as shiny and fun as motivation, but you can count on it. And even if you are reading this and you are thinking that you have no discipline, the best part is that you can build it like a muscle.

I’ve been working on this whole discipline thing and the most frustrating part is that you can’t build it on demand immediately. You have to start small even if you feel like you don’t have time to build it gradually. But it’s a game-changer.

Imagine if you knew, with absolute certainty, that you were going to follow through with your plans? Ironically, you might initially need to find the motivation, as a catalyst,  to begin training your discipline muscle.

But you can figure it out… just act immediately while you are motivated. Don’t plan to do it later.

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