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Act. Inspire. Motivate. Act.

I read an interesting concept today: action leads to inspiration, which leads to motivation, which leads to more action.

Action is something that you can just choose to take. No motivation necessary. Just decide to do something even if it so something that you would normally deem insignificant to produce anything of value.

But that's the catch. Your goal is just to do something and basically seeing yourself doing something and right after that seeing yourself having completed something acts as an inspiration.

That's one of the weird things I've also previously noticed about my own attitudes. You can consciously "outsmart" yourself. You don't even need to hide it.

Simple things. Like if you are angry or sad, just the physical act of smiling will change your mood and will inevitably lead to you feeling better. Unless of course, y'know, you like to mope around. Or the thing you are sad about is of the soul-crushing kind. Well then you will get a temporary reprieve from your grief, but nonetheless — the mere action of pushing your face to a smile will trigger events in your brain that will make you happier... or at least, less sad.

But back to the subject. Action begets inspiration, which begets motivation and repeat. This is one of those things that I have been personally feeling under the surface and have already given some advice on 'how can I lose weight / why am I not losing weight' but I couldn't quite put my finger on the logic behind my advice, it was just my gut feeling.

My advice to the question 'how can I lose weight' is simple: watch what you eat and exercise appropriately. This is then followed by "but where do I find the motivation to (count calories / plan my eating / go to the gym)" and I always say the same thing — don't search for motivation, it is fleeting and a bad master. Just do it ™. Maybe I should change that to: just start. No matter if you do it for one day, or for one meal every day or whatever. Just the fact that you started doing proves to yourself that you can do it and it will inspire you to continue.

And of course then you will fail. I know because I have. I know because I am not special. You will fail. I will fail. We will fail. Failure is guaranteed — if you don't get to failure within 30 days of starting, I will give you a money-back guarantee.

That's a problem with how the western world at least is brought up, it's ingrained that we have one opportunity to pass an exam and then we must succeed. Failure is for the weak and stupid. You weren't paying attention or are a slacker. But that does not correlate with real-life in any meaningful way.

In real-life you are taking exams every day and every week, and some you will pass, some will be the exact same exam you took a month ago and then some you will fail, but no worries — you get to retake it either immediately or the next day.

So we are in general poorly equipped to handle the failures of everyday life — unless of course you had great support from family/friends/teachers who actually taught you this valuable lesson in advance. But I digress. Back to you.

Look at your last failure, now back to me, failure, back to me, good.

No, that didn't have anything to do with anything. Just think about your most recent failure to uphold a New Year's promise or commitment to your doctor, loved one, coworker or whoever. Man you felt god-awful when you realized that you done screwed up. Or if you didn't, it might mean that you are jaded and/or don't give a flying... delorean. But anyway!

When you failed the last time, did you lose motivation? I quite often do. There's a very thin line between being too easy on yourself on failure — not accepting lack of self-control — and being just easy enough so that you don't get stuck in the purgatory of your own damnation.

This is where exo-spection (I just made that word up as counter to introspection) is needed. An out of body experience of sorts. Step outside of your head and then anonymize your own body in front of you. This is now an unknown friend of yours. This friend of yours was on a big commitment of quitting smoking / sticking to a diet / exercising and now today due to life being the bitch that it can be, they crumbled under the pressure and broke that commitment with themselves. This friend of yours is now really sad and maybe a little bit angry with themselves and motivation took a really big hit.

They are beating themselves over it and basically resigning this effort with a "I don't have it in me to do this, I knew it! Ah fuck it! And now that I failed already, I might as well just smoke a pack / binge on chocolate / lay on the couch and watch a marathon of House of Cards."

Now think about your reaction to this friend's crisis. (Additional note: you do not know who this friend is, so you do not have any form of resentment to their "history of failures")

Would you tell them "yeah, you do suck" or would you tell them to be forgiving to themselves and just pick up where they left off the next day? Which is a better achievement: During the past 180 days I have been without a smoke for 179 days - I smoked on one day, but then got back on the horse, or I quit smoking for 100 days and then failed and I have been thinking about quitting again, but I have been smoking for the past 3 months again.

No one is judging you on your failures. They are too busy worrying about you and others judging them.

So be a friend to yourself. Be supportive in failure. Don't give yourself permission to slack beforehand but when it happens - for whatever reason - be supportive. Talk to yourself as a friend who sees another in the gutter feeling bad over being human. We humans fail.

There's this awesome picture that perfectly describes this issue. What people thing success looks like "A -> B" when it reality is its "A -> B nope. A -> C nope. B -> D nope. E->Z nope. Y->A nope. K->Q finally"

Be a friend to yourself.

Act. Inspire. Motivate. Act.

p.s. I know that some failures can be of catastrophic consequences like loss of life, causing massive monetary damages to you/others etc. I have not experienced these, so I can't speak for those events, but from what I've read, the best medicine is still the same. Not berating yourself is not the same as not feeling guilty or bearing responsibility. Moving forward can take a longer while, but you should nonetheless not lie in the fire because that is of no use to anyone.

—-

Further reading:
- The "Do something" principle - Mark Manson
- How to quit your day job and travel the world - Mark Manson

In Finnish:
- Kokemuksen arvo - Pasi Sillanpää
- Puhe epäonnistujille - Pasi Sillanpää

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