There’s no such thing as a magical motivation fairy

Why You Should Never Wait for Motivation (and What You Should Do Instead)

Stop waiting for invisible help to get started

Ellen Goodwin
5 min readSep 9, 2022


This past week, a friend asked me to tell him the easiest way to get motivated. He has a comically-large project looming vulture-like over him, and his deadline steadily creeps closer every day.

Unsurprisingly, he’s been procrastinating on taking even the slightest steps to get started.

“There are too many other things on my plate right now,” he told me. “I’m excited about everything else I’m working on, but I just can’t get started on this one for whatever reason. What can I do to get motivated right now?”

I looked him in the eye and said, “Stop waiting for some Disney-esque magical motivation fairy to descend from the starry skies and bop you on the head with their fancy wand and douse you with bucketloads of concentrated, extra-strength motivation. It’s just not going to happen.”

Actually, no. I told him that the concept of miraculous, project-saving, deadline-squashing motivation just appearing to save him is a lie.

Which definitely wasn’t what he wanted to hear.

You probably don’t want to either, especially if you’ve been led to believe you need motivation to start, continue, and succeed.

Motivation isn’t an elusive magical technique that some people can easily access, and others can’t track down, no matter how hard they try.

Motivation is an emotion, and like all emotions, it’s fleeting.

Think of other erratic emotions: fear, happiness, anger, sadness, excitement, jealousy, and frustration. Motivation slips nicely into that list as well.

Sure, there might be times when you’re raring to go on a project, pursuit, or opportunity, and you leap into it with wild abandon. But it’s not a reliably repeatable solution. Waiting for motivation to show up is a hit-or-miss proposition.

Wouldn’t your rather unambiguously know how to jump in and get going?

Stop hoping for the sorcery of motivation, and start using the steadiness of discipline.

Motivation has no place in writing



Ellen Goodwin

Productivity Consultant, TEDx Speaker, Podcast Co-host, Author of DONE: How To Work When No One Is Watching. Learn more at