Motion vs. Action

Why getting reps beats almost all other strategies

Among the almost countless insights James Clear sets out in Atomic Habits is the concept of motion vs. action. 

To paraphrase, when we are in motion, we have the feeling that we are making progress, but in reality, we may not be progressing at all.

Conversely, when we are in action, when we are actually doing the thing—rather than planning for it or thinking about it—we are making true progress.

Eating healthy vs. reading the diet book. Writing the article vs. planning the editorial strategy. Sitting down to meditate vs. listening to others describe the benefits of mindfulness.

We have a tendency to get stuck in the planning phase. Paralysis by analysis.

If we want to get fit, we need the perfect diet, the perfect routine and the perfect equipment. 

If we want to write, we need the perfect topic, the perfect angle, and the perfect medium through which to publish.

But in reality, all of that focus on perfection is motion not action. It’s well-intentioned procrastination.

What we need are the reps. I can ask my son to watch YouTube videos all day long about the proper technique for hitting a baseball. But what he really needs is to hit a baseball. And hit it again, and again. 

Creators, myself included, get stuck in a rut of consume, consume, consume. And plan, plan, plan.

We would be better off just getting to it: create, create, create.

Get the reps. It’s the only way to get better. 

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