I was reading Atomic Habits by James Clear last week. There were lots of interesting things but there was one that really struck me – the concept of motion vs action.
Basically, when we’re trying to get stuff done, we have 2 processes. Motion is the planning, researching, organising process. And the actual doing of things is action.
Motion can be lots of fun. We get to feel like we’re making progress but we don’t have any of the risk. We often get caught in motion because we’re afraid of failing or we don’t believe in ourselves enough or it’s just outright uncomfortable.
I’ll give you an example. I’ve been learning to sew for a couple of years now. I watched a lot of ‘how to’ videos, read some sewing books, and spent a lot of time choosing fabrics and patterns (my favourite part). All of that was motion. No sewing involved.
When it eventually came to actual sewing, despite having done all this preparation, I was still a bit shit. And that’s where the discomfort came in. My action was producing things that were not lovely and looked quite homemade.
But…it was the action of sewing that got results and resulted in improvement. It was the action that eventually resulted in the sewing of clothes that I’m not embarrassed to wear.
I could have become an expert in everything to do with sewing (motion) without ever laying hands on a sewing machine. Then I could feel good about my knowledge without ever having to face producing something rubbish.
I realised I do this in quite a few areas of my life – lots of motion, not much action.
Motion is really rewarding so we want to keep doing it. Action is just as rewarding but it’s long term gain rather than immediate gratification.
You may find you do it too – maybe you’re preparing to get fit and you’re going to start on Monday. You’ve researched gyms, bought new exercise gear, and have picked out the classes you’re going to attend. That’s all motion.
It’s the getting up earlier, or going when you don’t feel like it, or continuing with the class when you feel tired halfway through that is action. And they are all uncomfortable. And they will all pay off in the long run.
See where you get stuck in motion and see if you can move yourself into action. It will definitely be worth it.