What’s Motivation Got To Do With It?


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Healthy Activities, Healthy Eating, Psychology | Posted on 08-09-2017

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[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]

Keep Calm and Carry OnMy husband and I have been playing tennis during the summer for the past few years. This year we started a bit late in the season. It was staying lighter later in the evenings, but neither of us had mentioned tennis. I thought it would be a good idea to play again, but also had many contradictory thoughts. My back hurt, it was too hot, tennis was too much work. Blah, blah, blah. So rather than bring it up, I waited to see if my husband would get around to suggesting it.

Meanwhile I was secretly hoping he’d forget!

Inevitably, the day came when he asked if I wanted to play the next day.  To which I simply replied, “Sure.”

Had my thoughts and feelings changed about it?

Nope. Had my backed stopped hurting? Nope.

I had many thoughts the next day about the impending tennis game. Like hoping my husband might get stuck at work and not be able to leave early enough. But no such luck! He left work early and soon we were at our local middle school’s tennis courts with fresh balls in hand.

Once again, my thoughts had not changed, nor had my back stopped hurting. Yet there I was, playing tennis.

On the court we were pretty stiff and uncoordinated as we hadn’t played in awhile, yet overall, it was a blast!

Almost every day since that first game I have the same unmotivated thoughts about playing tennis, yet each time I just show up. And each time it’s been great fun!

Last Sunday was the worst in terms of motivation. I was at the beginning stages of a cold and felt pretty crappy. I spent much of the day thinking of ways to get out of playing, including hoping for rain. No such luck! At 5:30, without thinking about it, I simply got ready to play. And yet again, I kicked some tennis butt and had a great time. As an added benefit, my cold, sore throat and stuffy nose felt 99% better while playing, and even for a few hours afterwards.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time.

I have no idea why I have resistant thoughts to playing tennis. It doesn’t really make sense given how much I obviously enjoy it. Yet they continue to appear–a lot!

I have resistant thoughts to ton of things in my life.

Thankfully I know they aren’t telling me anything important, and therefore I don’t have to do anything about them.

If I gave weight to my persistent, resistant thoughts–I’d never get anything done! I’d have no blog posts, no ebook, no paperback book, and no audiobook.

In fact, even that last paragraph wouldn’t have been typed! Rather than continuing to write this blog post, I was just about to watch a video. I had it all queued up, but decided to go to the bathroom first. When I got back, however, rather than clicking on the video, somehow I ended up back on this post and just started typing.

I have no idea how or why I do the things that I do.

I just do stuff. (Or I don’t.)

Now it’s possible that I’ll go watch that video after writing this paragraph. But that’s okay. I know I’ll come back to this post at some point and write more. And I know it will be done by Wednesday at the latest, because that’s the deadline I’ve set for myself. And I know it will be kickass, because I’ll spend whatever time it takes to make sure it’s perfect.

In the meantime, I may also procrastinate.

I’ll probably do many other things before I finally finish this post.

What I won’t do is worry about it or wonder if or when I’ll finish it. I just know it will get done.

I’ll also go stand-up paddle boarding at least one day this week (even if my thoughts tell me I don’t want to). I will also go to my Barre class on Friday regardless of how I feel and what resistant thoughts might come up. I will play tennis every night this week that it doesn’t rain. And I’ll also write the proposal to the company that is interested in bringing me in to give an inspirational talk. I’ll also do whatever else is on my schedule for the week.

Will I be motivated to do any of it?

Probably not.

I’d be happy to just lay on my couch all day and listen to uplifting videos while playing Tetris. (And many days I do just that!) Yet somehow, some way, stuff gets done.

No motivation necessary.

Here’s the secret I’ve discovered for those times when I get stuff done and do the things I know are good for me (like exercise and eat healthily) and when I don’t…

When I mistakenly believe my negative, lazy thoughts are telling me something true or important, then I don’t get anything done.

But when I know that those thoughts are just appearing in my head for no particular reason and can be safely ignored, I stay healthy and active and stuff magically gets done.

That’s it. That’s the secret.

If I had to wait to be motivated (or tried to make myself feel motivated) I’d probably be a big ole couch potato without much of a life or a business.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know below!


P.S. After writing this post I had some additional insights which I shared in this 3.5 minute “Wisdom on the Water” video:

Prefer listening? Click the green arrow below!

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CONTACT JILL WHALEN to learn how she may help you be the best you can be.

Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

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I love this and experience the same!!! Great to see you blogged my world!!

Ha! That seems to happen a lot with my posts for people!

I always enjoy reading your posts. Thank you!

Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

Thanks Jill. This puts my lazy thoughts into context. Just thoughts I can ignore.

Much love,


Exactly! But my real insight while writing this was I can ignore ALL my thoughts, not just the lazy ones. They’re all basically the same…how cool!

Jill- You nailed this, can I ask what motivated you to write about it ;} ?

LOL and thanks!

“When I mistakenly believe my negative, lazy thoughts are telling me something true or important, then I don’t get anything done.

But when I know that those thoughts are just appearing in my head for no particular reason and can be safely ignored, I stay healthy and active and stuff magically gets done.

That’s it. That’s the secret.”

The above is SO simple but so easily overlooked. Reading this tonight I really got it and what a difference this makes to everything! Thanks Jill

Awesome, Peter! I actually got my own insights after writing that post. Kinda funny how that can happen!