Wait For It: How to Motivate Yourself

A woman waits for it: She visualizes what she wants to do as she builds motivation to do it.

Do you have trouble staying motivated? Want to learn how to motivate yourself? This simple, three word positive self-talk phrase is a useful emotional intelligence tool to add to your toolbox.

Have you ever heard any of these sayings:

“There’s no perfect time. Only now.”

“If you wait for the right moment, you’ll be waiting forever.”

“Don’t wait. Don’t think. Just do.”

The goal behind these sayings is to help you fight procrastination.

But I’m here to tell you that many times, this advice is just plain wrong.

For example, when I first started writing online, I thought often about quitting my job and building a business. I no longer enjoyed my job, and the commute was taking its toll. I was already writing as a side hustle, but with a family to support, I wasn’t ready to make the jump.

Of course, I could have listened to advice like the three phrases above…but that might have led to disaster. Instead, I kept my day job, and kept writing on the side.

One day, my boss came to me with bad news: The company had financial trouble. They wanted to keep me, but they also wanted me to work more hours…

For the same pay.

The moment had come. It was time to leave and work for myself.

Fast forward years later. I was facing a different challenge: As a dad running a small business, fitness had taken a backseat. I needed to get more exercise.

Sure, I could have just forced myself. Maybe that would have even been better for me. But somehow, I just wasn’t ready.

Until one day, I was.

So, what’s the framework that can help in these types of situations? What can you tell yourself when you really want to do something—or you know you need to do something because it’s good for you—but your emotions are keeping you from taking that step?

I’ve found a three-word positive self-talk phrase a useful emotional intelligence tool in such moments:

Wait for it.

How can telling yourself to “wait for it” actually help you motivate yourself? Let’s break it down.

How to Motivate Yourself: Wait for It

Typically, just telling yourself to wait isn’t very helpful. (If you don’t believe me, just ask my kids.) But the beauty in this self-talk phrase is in its structure.

Think about it: To simply wait is to delay action until a particular time. But to “wait for it” implies that that “it”—the thing that you want to do—is coming. Wait for it implies that it’s in process, that it’s just a matter of time before you start. When you’re not ready to take full action, telling yourself to “wait for it” can help you reinforce that you really want to do the thing you’re waiting for…while building up the emotional push you need to actually do it.

NOTE: There are two very important caveats to this advice.

1. Do NOT use “wait for it” to help you procrastinate. To procrastinate is to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring.

If you’re struggling with procrastination, there are other tools you can use to help, like “the 5 minute rule” or “run the experiment.”

2. Be careful not too wait too long. This is especially true if others are involved. Otherwise, opportunity may pass you by.

Sometimes, though, you’re simply not ready to move forward with something, no matter how much you’d like to be. At these times, “wait for it” can help you get ready.


For the “wait for it” framework to be effective, you have to do a few things to help transform “it” into reality at the right time:

  • Think about what you’re waiting for.
  • Visualize what it will look like.
  • Talk to others about it, and seek advice.

For example, when I wasn’t ready to build a business all those years ago, I kept thinking about what working for myself would look like. No more commute. Setting my own schedule. Doing more of what I loved, writing.

It was the same when I wanted to start exercising again. I knew I didn’t want to continue delaying indefinitely. So, I kept thinking about that exercise: What type of routine would work for me? I sought advice from a colleague who I knew was pretty fit, even though he’s a few years older than me.

All of this is useful because of a simple principle of emotional intelligence:

Thoughts influence emotion. And emotions motivate action.

When you’re not ready to do something, often the problem is that your emotions are not motivating you to do that thing. But when you consistently think about something in a positive way, you shape the way you feel about it.

This takes time. It’s a process; you can’t force it.

But it’s important to put in the “thinking work” first, otherwise, you won’t have molded your feelings enough to take action when the time comes.

So, if something’s been gnawing on you, and the time just hasn’t been right…

Wait for it.

While you’re waiting, use your time wisely: Think. Visualize. Talk to others.

Because if you do, when the time is right, you’ll know it.


If you liked this post, you might enjoy more of our emotional intelligence tools: simple frameworks to help you better understand and manage emotions, communicate more effectively, and build stronger relationships.


You might also like:

How to Control Negative Thoughts: Use the “Blue Dolphin Rule”

The Rule of the Chess Player: How to Show Empathy

How to Use Your Strength: The Rule of Strength and Weakness




Related articles

Get a quick glance of what our readers like the most
A woman waits for it: She visualizes what she wants to do as she builds motivation to do it.

Wait For It: How to Motivate Yourself

A woman learns how to use her strength of confidence without it becoming a weakness

How to Use Your Strength: The Rule of Strength and Weakness

Abstract image of two women thinking different things, showing that perception is reality

Perception Is Reality: How to See From Other Perspectives

Two persons playing chess, illustrating how the rule of the chess player teaches you how to show empathy

The Rule of the Chess Player: How to Show Empathy

Two people building a bridge, symbolizing bridging the perspective gap

The Perspective Gap: Why Showing Empathy Is Hard

abstract clock frozen in time

Don’t Freeze Them in Time: How to Change Your View of Others

Blue dolphin

How to Control Negative Thoughts: Use the “Blue Dolphin Rule”

Build Your Emotional Vocabulary: Emotion Words List

Why You Over Explain—and How to Stop (Using Just 6 Words)

What Is FOFO? Beware of The Fear of Finding Out (And Learn How to Fight It)

Raise your EQ.
One week at a time.

Join a community of tens of thousands building their emotional intelligence with EQ Applied.

Join the weekly newsletter
You really make the concepts very easy to understand.
You’ve helped me in so many ways.
Really practical advice delivered in a simple form.
I feel like I just had a psychologist appointment. Thank you!
This is exactly what I needed at this point in my life.
Your EQ Rules of life have helped in more ways than I expected.
The language you chose to explain EQ was simple and clear, which made it understandable.
As a social worker I really found this to be helpful.
I have adult ADHD, so these tips are amazing for people like me, for time management.
I especially appreciate your heart centered approach.
I enjoy every lesson.
Really helpful advice & lovely writing style, not to mention perfect timing.
I truly look forward to each email.
The simplicity and reality of the rules fit in with any stage of life.
Loving your course. Wish I did this 30 years ago.
Your emails are on my "open first" list. Excellent advice and insights.
So inspiring, encouraging, and educational.
I think this lesson has definitely made me a better person today.
Truly life-changing!
Your emails are the basis for conversations I have with my son and nephew.
Thanks for being real, legit, and genuine. Rare qualities.
I absolutely love this.
Sometimes you are better than my therapist.