Home Presence Going Through the Motions | Quotes and 7 Ways to Stop

Going Through the Motions | Quotes and 7 Ways to Stop

by Derrick
people going through the motions on daily commute

Does every day seem the same? Get up, go to work, eat dinner, take out the dog, go to bed. Repeat. If you feel like you’re just going through the motions, this articles is for you.

What Does “Going Through the Motions” Mean?

“Going through the motions” means completing tasks without exerting much effort to ensure it’s done well. It’s a process involving working without enthusiasm or trying to make it seem like you are committed.

While you might successfully complete the tasks required or pretend to be filling a need, you definitely are not enjoying the activities.

It is common when you are really not living through; you are just doing it for the money or looking busy.


The phrase “going through the motions” is synonymous with the following:

  • put on an act
  • being superficial
  • make-believe
  • walking through it
  • disinterested

How to Stop Going Through the Motions

When you find yourself stuck in the same repeating activities over time, it is more likely you’re just going through the motions. You will probably lose the sense of wanting to be genuinely involved; there will be limited interest or motivation for such a routine.

This is a natural process. Without new activities to keep it interesting, it gets boring and your drive fades away. But there are ways you can manage this and at least make the best of the conditions around you. You can be in control and actually live.

1 – Stop. Breathe.

Do not be absent in your life. Many people are so engrossed in the daily processes that it’s more of a repetition. No need for creativity, nothing new, just rushing through the same events daily. Slow down! Be present in your own life, and try as much as possible to be intentional about your life.

2 – Simplify

As it is popularly said: Simplicity is genius. Albert Einstein said: “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” Be simple and easy with various aspects of your life. Keep your relationships, belongings, work, leisure, and beliefs simple. Don’t get worked up; nothing is worth getting overwhelmed about. You deserve your peace; give it to yourself.

3 – Create Healthy Habits

It is important to have a healthy lifestyle. Regularly exercising and a balanced diet will keep you fit and your head straight. Having a clear mind, not bothered by unhealthy routines, will help boost creativity and solve problems with a ready mind.

4 – Live for Yourself

Are you doing what you want to be doing? Or are conditions related to others the reasons for your way of life? If the latter is so, you are not being fair to yourself. First, it’s your life; you should be living to satisfy yourself as much as you are not harming anyone else. Don’t give your life to people directly or indirectly to control the flow of your life.

It is also important to share more time with the people you love. Don’t allow work to take that from you; it’s only a means to an end. If you’re not the one steering your life’s boat, you need to gain control of your life back. The quality of life is not centered on how well you satisfy others; it is based on how happy and fulfilled you are with yourself.

5 – Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

It is not uncommon for people that are not challenged by any circumstance to remain undeveloped and unmotivated. Leave your comfort zone. Face different phases of life and learn to cope through. The more you face new challenges, the more you know how to survive them.

Trust me; you’d enjoy the process — your little wins, big wins, and success story — all these will not exist if you remain in your comfort zone. Nothing will change. Get a grip of yourself and go for new challenges. Yes, you will not always win; but you will eventually win.

6 – Surround Yourself with Positive People

We are social beings; the relationships and connections we make with people as we live go a long way in dictating our quality of life. As a person intending to have an improved lifestyle instead of a rush of similar daily activities, you should consider checking the standards of people you allow into your circle.

You can have as many acquaintances, but when it comes to your personal space, your inner circle, do not allow negativity. Make more friends that will encourage and support you. It is more difficult alone; it is worse with negative forces around. But resting your shoulders on people with positive mindsets will make the walk a lot easier.

7 – Be Present

Be aware, and make conscious decisions. After a series of routine activities, like daily work, most people are barely aware of the process; they are just going through the motion. At some moments, pause, be conscientious of your efforts, and be sure you are “doing.” You don’t have to be a robot, all in motion but not alive.

Activities like meditation help to clear your mind and think with a clear head. With a better sense of self-awareness, you can make more life-changing decisions.

Going Through the Motions Quotes

contemplating life

“Obviously there are times with acting when exactly what is required is just going through the motions, and when doing nothing is the best thing. But at other times, you have to make that leap beyond the immediate environment of people putting up lights on the set.”

— Christian Bale

“I am two people. One goes through the motions, rolling from one thing to the next; the other is withdrawn, watching a complete stranger.”

― Doug Cooper

“When I was practicing psychology, I used to tell myself if I ever get to where I’m just doing this for the money or I’m just going through the motions, I’ll quit.”

— Phil McGraw

“I don’t want to be overly dramatic about it, but I think people more and more wonder, is this living, or are we just going through the motions? What’s happening? Is everything being leached out of life? Is the whole texture and values and everything kind of draining away?”

— John Zerzan

“For much of my life, I felt like I was just going through the motions. It was like, ‘When am I gonna be who I am, so I can start living?’ And then it happened: My son was born, my daughter was born, and suddenly, it feels like you’re really living. I decided I was going to stop thinking about things so much. I got this push from behind – it was like, Just do something. Just go. Do it. Live.”

— James Marsden

“I just get a feeling sometimes that everything is predetermined, and I am going through the motions of tracing an existence that will be what it will already be.”

— Reif Larsen

“Existing is going through the motions of life with no zeal and feeling you have no control; living means embracing all that this large world has to offer and not being afraid to take chances. The beauty of living is knowing you can always start over and theres always a chance for something better.”

— J’son M. Lee

“Attempting to write vocal oriented songs to me felt like going through the motions and if you are going to go through the motions you might as well just do any gig that caused you to do repetitive motions like banging a hammer or serving fries.” 

— Ronnie Montrose

“I felt wrapped in a fog of dull pain that hurt only enough to remind me that it, too, was without purpose, and there seemed no point to going through the empty motions of breakfast, the long slow drive to work, no reason at all beyond the slavery of habit.”

— Jeff Lindsay

“Life is full of what-ifs. You can’t let it hold you back. If you do, you’re not really living at all, just kind of going through the motions with no meaning.”

— Bethany Hamilton.

“I don’t want people to remember me going through the motions.”

— Bobby Rahal

“There were entire days where I did nothing but cry; others where I felt like I’d swallowed a lead plate; some more where I worked really hard at going through the motions of getting dressed and making my bed and studying my vocab words because it was easier than doing anything else.”

— Jodi Picoult

“The only way to prepare for social life is to engage in social life. To form habits of social usefulness and serviceableness apart from any direct social need and motive, apart from any existing social situation, is, to the letter, teaching the child to swim by going through motions outside of the water.”

— John Dewey

“I used to think the world was divided into good people and bad people, that you could pin responsibility for evil on certain definite people and punish the guilty. I’m still going through the motions.”

— Ross Macdonald

“We can change so many times in our lives. We’re born into a family, and it’s the only life we can imagine, but it changes. Buildings collapse. Fires burn. And the next second we’re someplace else entirely, going through different motions and trying to keep up with this new person we’ve become.”

— Lauren DeStefano

“There were times I wouldn’t come to practice, because it didn’t excite me. It wasn’t interesting. I was kind of going through the motions.”

— Michael Phelps

“I feel like I’m living my life instead of just getting by. I’m doing something, being somebody. Before this … I was just going through the motions. Now I am the motion.”

— Karina Halle

“We all run on two clocks. One is the outside clock, which ticks away our decades and brings us ceaselessly to the dry season. The other is the inside clock, where you are your own timekeeper and determine your own chronology, your own internal weather and your own rate of living. Sometimes the inner clock runs itself out long before the outer one, and you see a dead man going through the motions of living.”

— Max Lerner

“One thing I cannot stand is when people say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ and they don’t wait to hear how I am. They’re just going through the motions. I say to people: ‘Keep it human. Keep it alive. Don’t turn into a robot.’ You have to hear what the other person is saying clearly.”

— Judith Jamison

“You and I want our lives to matter. We want our lives to make a real difference – to be of genuine consequence in the world. We know that there is no satisfaction in merely going through the motions, even if those motions make us successful, or even if we have arranged to make those motions pleasant. We want to know we have made some impact on the world. In fact, you and I want to contribute to the quality of life. We want to make the world work.

— Werner Erhard

“What gets me upset about with the newer players is their lack of intensity. They tend to go through the motions a little bit. They don’t understand that you’ve got to practice the way you play.”

— Al Kaline

“I was going through the motions of life, instead of really living, and there’s no excuse for that. It’s not something I’ll let happen to me again.”

— Charles De Lint

“Curiosity, especially intellectual inquisitiveness, is what separates the truly alive from those who are merely going through the motions.”

— Tom Robbins

“No one ever got ahead by going through the motions. You have to constantly be improving yourself. Make your life the masterpiece you want it to be.”

— Queen Latifah

“Money is the string with which a sardonic destiny directs the motions of its puppets.”

— William Somerset Maugham

“No, life has no soundtrack, just the daily grind occasionally alleviated by short-lived bursts of happiness — a vacation, the birth of a child, retirement. This is my life and the life of everyone I know — all my friends, all my family members, everyone with whom I have more than a passing acquaintance. I’ve spent nearly forty-five years on this planet, and the majority of those years — my adult years, my reality-based years — have shown me that the adventure Molly and John had no longer exists. This is why I so want Molly to wake up and tell me that I’m wrong.”

― Ray Smith


A funny fact is that a lot of people going through the motion get caught up in the process that they see life through that lens. Seeing their routine activities as the whole world, finding it difficult to see the other side of life. Not exploring life. They are not living yet; they are still alive.

Perhaps you are a victim of the process; the seven easy approaches above will bail you out. Free yourself of the burden of getting cut up with life’s activities. Live; it’s now or never.

Feel free to comment and add your favorite quotes on going through the motions.

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