DO NOT Mistake Motion for Action

This is something that we all struggle with at various moments in our lives.


Because being in motion and taking action are similar, but not the same. They both give you something to do, but…

Motion vs. Action

Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but that task will never produce an outcome by itself. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will get you a result.

Here are some examples…

  • If I outline 20 ideas for articles I want to write, that’s motion. If I actually write and publish an article, that’s action.
  • If I search for a better diet plan and read a few books on the topic, that’s motion. If I actually eat a healthy meal, that’s action.
  • If I go to the gym and ask about getting a personal trainer, that’s motion. If I actually step under the bar and start squatting, that’s action.

Sometimes motion is good because it allows you to prepare and develop a strategy. It’s also learning new things. But motion will never — by itself — lead to the result you are looking to achieve.

It doesn’t matter how many times you go talk to the personal trainer, that motion will never get you in shape. Only the action of working out will get you the result you’re looking to achieve.

Motion is learning about a new way of life, while action is applying it.

Why We Find Ourselves in Motion

If motion doesn’t lead to results, why do we do it?

Sometimes we do it because we actually need to plan or learn more. But more often than not, we do it because motion allows us to feel like we’re making progress without running the risk of failure. Most of us are experts at avoiding criticism, rejection, or failure.

It doesn’t feel good to fail or to be judged publicly, so we tend to avoid situations where that might happen.

And that’s the biggest reason why you slip into motion rather than taking action: you want to delay failure.

Yes, I’d like to get in shape. But, I don’t want to look stupid in the gym, so I’ll just talk to the trainer about their rates instead.

Yes, I’d like to land more clients for my business. But, if I ask for the sale, I might get turned down. So maybe I should just email 10 potential clients instead.

Yes, I’d like to lose weight. But, I don’t want to be the weird one who eats healthy at lunch. So maybe I should just plan some healthy meals when I get home instead.

It’s very easy to do these things and convince yourself that you’re still moving in the right direction.

Motion makes you feel like you’re getting things done. It’s like one of those rocking chairs… they never go anywhere, but give you the impression of moving…

But really, you’re just preparing to get something done. And when preparation becomes a form of procrastination, you need to change something.

Ideas for Taking Action

I’m sure there are many strategies for taking action, but I can think of two that have worked for me.

1. Set a schedule for your actions.

2. Pick a date to shift you from motion to action.

3. Force yourself to do it.

Choose Action

“Never mistake activity for achievement.” –  John Wooden

Motion will never produce a final result. Action will.

When you’re in motion, you’re planning and learning. Those are all good things, but they don’t produce a result.

Are you doing something? Or are you just preparing to do it?

Are you in motion? Or are you taking action?

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8 thoughts on “DO NOT Mistake Motion for Action

  1. Great suggestions as to how to start being in action.
    Motion is like a warm up/ stretching. I think it’s a good idea to go through that phase before jumping into action.
    Nice comparison and reasoning in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. never thought about the difference before, but now that you mention it, it has never been so obvious. i read something recently about motivation vs discipline and that really resonated with me, as did this. thank you for writing! I’m going to go get something done now.

    Liked by 1 person

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