The Toolbox Fallacy vs Being Unmotivated

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. 

Zig Ziglar

What does the toolbox fallacy mean? Well, you’ve probably fallen into this fallacy without realizing it had a name. The toolbox fallacy is when you disguise your procrastination with the excuse of having a lack of “tools” to get you started. A good example is, “I’ll start working out when I buy a Fitbit,” but you never buy that Fitbit and never workout. You use the excuse of not having that item to deceive yourself into believing you need the Fitbit “tool” in order to start your fitness journey. In reality, you can workout without the Fitbit.

The idea of “I need X in order to do Y,” is something I catch myself doing. This is easier for me to realize as I equate it to want vs need. When I hit a want vs need moment, I know to stop and think about whether or not I’m impulsively buying something or if I actually need it. Using this thought process for the toolbox fallacy has helped me realize how easy it is to make excuses for minimal things when I can easily complete. Another example of the toolbox fallacy is thinking once you have X, Y will come with ease. Just because you purchased acrylic paints and canvases doesn’t mean you’ll be an expert painter. The work still needs to be done once you get X. I have friends who deceived themselves due to thinking if they bought X, they’d become instant masters in Y. They either gave up or became uninterested as soon as the product arrived.

The toolbox fallacy and being unmotivated are, for me, two different feelings. “I need X in order to do Y” shifts to, “I’ll do it later.” When I’m unmotivated, I can’t gather the physical or mental energy to focus on one task. This results in not having the clarity to get started, knowing what I want to do, and the goal outcome. When I don’t have a clear vision, I become semi-frustrated and unmotivated. 10 percent of the time I complete a goal, whether it’s writing, painting, drawing, etc., I was able to visualize what I wanted to achieve and was physically and mentally ready to do it. It’s rare to have my mental and physical self align perfectly to feel beyond motivated. I usually have one or the other and enough partial focus to achieve my goal. This results in me becoming motivated as I go.

This post was sitting in my drafts for months with only the title and first sentence. Why? I wasn’t motivated to write it. Today, I had enough mental energy and focus to create this post. I had no idea what I was going to write, but the goal was to start typing and see where it went. The idea of starting is the easiest yet hardest thing for many to do. Quite sure everyone has their reasons. If you’re reading this and fell into the toolbox fallacy or simply unmotivated, I encourage you to just start. Grab that pen and paper and do a brain dump, Google search what you need to get motivated or inspired, play that song that gets you pumped, find your groove, and ride that energy wave.