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Have you ever told yourself that you’d like to save more, spend less, invest more, or follow a budget but you just can’t seem to get motivated?

Does it feel like you are waiting for this feeling called “motivation” to land on your shoulder and gently tap you with its magic wand? Have you been waiting a long time?

Unfortunately, “I just can’t get motivated” turns out to be nothing more than a very popular five-word excuse.

Dr. Russ Harris (2011) tackles the motivation issue head on. First, he reminds us that it is simply not possible to have “no motivation” for a pursuit. It is more accurate to say that we have motivation for several different behaviors, and they all compete—so sometimes the behavior we should pursue does not win out, because we desire something else even more.

He suggests that we shift our focus from motivation to commitment, because there is always some kind of values-driven action we can take to change our behavior in a positive direction. We don’t have to wait for inspiration or a magical feeling to arrive.

In a similar spirit, Dr. Jennifer Gregg (2007) writes that we should think about motivation as something that we just “happen to feel” sometimes before or during an activity. Rather than causing us to be able to do something, it just happens to occur at the same time we are participating in a desired action.

Dr. Harris sums it all up with an important rule: “Committed action comes first; feeling motivated [sometimes] comes later.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Do you ever find yourself waiting for some elusive feeling called “motivation” to descend upon you and make you act upon your financial goals? How well does that work? Is there a better way?