Excessive heat and poor air quality make everything more challenging. (Wildfires are burning in the Pacific Northwest.) Fortunately, most of my Body Results clients are climbing or have finished their summer adventures, so I am calling late August my “summer vacation.” But not without plenty of hard work. In addition to working through my 20-week-long Master Health Coach course, I’ve been eliminating addictive tendencies. I’ve discovered that taking action before motivation strikes is the key to getting unstuck. If you wait for motivation, you may never act.
Return to Whittaker Wilderness
Pondering the complicated nature of addiction, I returned to Cougar Mountain with Ajax to celebrate a break in the heat. Saturday dawned in the low 50’s — perfect hiking weather. The morning’s weather report warned that shifting winds would bring wildfire smoke into the Puget Sound area. I didn’t want to risk getting caught in smoke like we did last fall (see my blog about a hike to Melakwa Lake). Even though I avoid hiking on weekends, we couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
The last time I hiked in the Whittaker Wilderness, I wrote about “Expecting the Unexpected.” In it, I shared how all three of us struggled with different aspects of the hike. On this trip, ready to redeem ourselves, Ajax and I hiked in the opposite direction, reaching the summit via the Gombu Wilderness Cliffs trail. We also visited Shy Bear Marsh, Long View (without a view), and Doughty Falls (which is now just a puddle), complete with a geocache we missed on our first visit.
Tsonduko: Love of Lots of Books
As we hiked, I wrestled with my thoughts. I’d successfully broken my addictive tendencies around chocolate, fruit, and playing a game on my phone. How could I break my addiction to books? Authors have the best excuses in the world for collecting them. We study them for craft. Keep books we love or stories by authors we wish to emulate. Celebrate writing friends’ successes by buying their new releases. Accumulate piles of those we want to read someday. There’s even a Japanese word for such amassing.
Tsonduko refers to the shelves of books you’ve acquired but haven’t yet read. In his Big Think article about the art of amassing books, Kevin Dickinson concludes that “the value of an unread book is its power to get you to read it.” Enter my problem: Faced with too many choices, I have been reaching for pen and paper rather than books. I needed to make some changes.
At the start of summer, I promised myself I would pare down. But with Labor Day in two weeks, I hadn’t gotten motivated enough to start. Fortunately, my daughter loves books almost as much as I do. But she doesn’t have the same collection tendencies. She’s asked several times in the past few weeks, “Ready to sort books?”
Action Before Motivation: Don’t Wait
When Ajax and I returned from our hike, I felt something shift inside. I remembered what Marie Kondo suggested about gathering similar items together. Without a second thought, I grabbed an armful of books and carried them downstairs. Before I realized it, I’d moved all the books from the shelves in the guest room and home gym. No turning back!
My daughter’s interest in helping me provided the tiny spark I needed to begin. I simply took action before motivation ever appeared.
Now all of my books sit waiting in the basement. Every time I pass through there, I remember my commitment. Whenever I walk Ajax, I load books into a backpack and return the discards to Little Free Libraries so other community members can enjoy them.
Takeaways of Action Before Motivation
Several takeaways from this experience stuck with me.
- I don’t know what made me grab the first few books. Thoughts about the successful Yard Share event? Not wanting to disappoint my daughter? Getting fresh air with Ajax? I know that taking action before motivation works. Nothing will stop me now.
- Sometimes we need to contemplate change for some time before we’re finally ready to act. Last week I discussed the five stages of change and reflected on whether I was in the Preparation phase. Hiking, participating in the Yard Share event, and having my daughter offer to help have all moved me into the Action phase.
- Think about a big change you want to make. List all the reasons (are they excuses?) you haven’t yet made the change. If “lack of motivation” tops the list, break your list into steps you could take. Make them into small actionable items. Then take the first step. If your goal is to climb a mountain, it requires one step at a time. Take action before motivation and your motivation to follow through will grow.