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Preparation is not Motion

I recently have been reading an excellent book, Atomic Habits. It teaches powerful principles to help build good habits. It changed the way that I think about many topics. The principle that is impacting me the most right now is that preparation is not motion.

The following might sound familiar to you. How many great ideas have you had in your life? An object that you know would sell and make you rich if only you knew how to create it or had the investors to do so. Maybe it was the idea for a social media page that would go viral only if someone with a lot of skill or followers would create it. Maybe it is a philosophy that if more people would just listen to you, you could change the world with it. You then go and tell your friends about your idea, and they either agree with you that it is the greatest idea, or they shut it down. If they agree with you, you feel good about yourself and you give yourself a pat on the back for great thinking.

Maybe you have even taken it a step forward. You thought of a great side hustle idea, so you started to research how to do it. You discussed it with a few friends to get their thoughts. You might have even written down some thoughts that you brainstormed about how to accomplish this business.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, then I have something in common with you. I have thought of a lot of side hustle ideas and researched and prepared them. However, I failed to actually create them. I have been afraid of the commitment that going forward would entail. I might lose some money, or I might waste some time. Maybe it’s even just the fear of failure, but I have not followed through on a lot of my ideas.

Atomic Habits taught me that there is a difference between preparation and motion. Preparation is exactly what I just talked about in the above paragraphs, and motion is actually taking action and working on something. Preparation is a false motion. It makes you feel like you are in motion when you are not. When you go and tell others about your ideas, you feel like you are making progress while in fact you aren’t doing anything substantially productive.

Why does this matter? Because motion is a great teacher while preparation is not. Preparation is required for motion to happen, but if you only prepare and never move, then you will not learn the lessons that you need to grow. Even if you “fail” in one of your side hustles, you still have learned valuable lessons and skills that can benefit you in future endeavors. One example for me is that I have been editing videos for a while. The company I edit for hasn’t given me any financial benefits yet, but I recently grew another side hustle centered around my video editing skills that is bringing me financial benefits. If I had not have acted for a while, I would not have gained the skills needed to make a better side hustle.

One more example. I made some T-shirt designs that I was sure would sell huge if only I could convince a famous man to sell them. I sat on those designs for 2 years just hoping that I could figure out a way to present them to him. After reading atomic habits, I decided to move. I sent him the t-shirt designs. Was my pitch the greatest? Probably not. Has he started selling them and now I’m making thousands of dollars? No, he hasn’t even replied (he still could, I’m not giving up hope yet), but I learned something important from the process of pitching it to him, and I will be able to use that knowledge to improve my future efforts.

Stop talking about your great ideas, and start acting on them. Talk is cheap, while action is where the real value, both to us and the world around us, is created. I’m not saying to take unnecessary financial risk, but do what you are able to do, take steps on what you have the power to do, and you will find that what you are able to do will grow.


At Believe, we are working to build a community of people who are willing to “Be the One” and help find solutions to the issues of our day. We will help you move instead of just preparing to move. We would love to have you join us. The world may never be the same.

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